Harper & Declan – Your Birth Story

** I never realised how traumatised I was about the whole process of your birth until I wrote this post. Or should I say until I attempted to write this post. I would sit down and start again, and again, and again. I started when you were only two weeks old and yet I would get to the part where I had to write about the hospital, theatre and recovery and would stop. There was always something I had to do then and there. Whether it be one of you cherubs calling for me, your sister to play with, a need to shower, eat, something I really wanted to watch on TV, paperwork for Centrelink (OK they WERE important) it seemed anything and everything was more pressing. I have even written other posts and begun drafts for more. Then it clicked. Although outwardly I feel fine, really good and positive in fact, somewhere in there I am far from fine. Upset, scared or panicked in fact. I am scarred. Then I thought about it some more and realised this blog post isn’t the only thing I have avoided. I have still not put any newborn / hospital photos on Facebook (so very unlike me) and actually no photos at all other than tagging myself in your gorgeous professional pics. So here I go at attempt 12 of writing this post, wish me luck. It’s time to face my demons. xoxo **

It’s been six wonderful weeks today since you both finally came into this world and our lives, and I thought it was about time I wrote your birth story for you to one day read and share. I wish I had had a blog when I had your sister, or at least the thought of doing the same for Niamh. She will have to rely on my memories of her birth but I am sure I will be able to tell you all wonderful stories about your first days on this Earth.

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We had been awaiting your arrival for so long and near the end I was in a lot of pain and so uncomfortable that I was becoming impatient (you can read about how over it I was here, here and here). We were given very late notice of your Caesar but everything fell into place nicely. Your nanna (your daddy’s mum), came to stay the night to look after Niamh the next day, and it was nice to have Niamh home with us that night so we could enjoy our last night of being a family of three.

As per any surgery I was not allowed to eat or drink anything after 10pm. Unfortunately for me that also meant no quickease, which had become an addiction of mine, a necessity to help me get through the night. Needless to say what with the excitement, hip and back pain, and the absolutely tormenting heartburn / reflux, I didn’t really sleep. 5am arrived and I was up and showering, butterflies going mental in my stomach. It was finally here, the day you would both arrive and make our family complete.

When we arrived at the hospital there were some questions to answer, tags to put on, and a gorgeous set of gown, hat and slip on bits of material that supposedly passed for shoes, to put on. Your daddy and I then had an hour and a half to sit and wait, to talk about your imminent arrival, try to narrow down your names (still no luck, we decided to wait until you were both here and see what you looked like), and pretty much dispel our nerves until it was my turn to go and be prepped for surgery.

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After what seemed months the anaesthetist and a midwife came to get me and I was led to my doom the theatre. That’s when the horror fun began. I’ve had a Caesar before so I was aware of the process of getting a spinal and was prepared for the cold smear of antiseptic solution, the sharp little pricks of the local, and then the pressure as the spinal was administered. The whole process was a breeze last time and I had no qualms going through it all again. What I wasn’t prepared for was the absolute shocking pain that then ensued. Turns out when you have been in chronic pain for the last 8 weeks or so it makes your back, or more accurately, your muscles HYPER SENSITIVE. So instead of pressure as the spinal and epidural was being administered I experienced excruciating pain in my right hip and mid back. Pain that had me screaming and pulling away from the needle, although I was trying my hardest to stay still. I was begging them to get it done quickly but of course they couldn’t even get the needle into the cavity between my vertebrae as my arthritis had calcified the bone.

Now if you’ve never had a spinal block before you may not know the awkward position you are in whilst it is happening. Here I was hunching over, hugging a pillow to my large stomach, pushing my spine out. An orderly was pulling one of my shoulders forward and my head down and a midwife was holding my hand and holding down my other shoulder. I feel so sorry for that poor midwife. I wouldn’t be surprised if her hand ended up severely bruised if not sprained or broken! My face was awash with tears, covered in snot and saliva, and bright red. After 45min the head anaesthetist took over, let me know if he couldn’t do it I’d have to be given a general (put under) and he worked his magic. I cried harder because a general was not an option for me, repeatedly apologised for my fuss, and continually assured all and sundry I was not lying it was really, really hurting. So all-in-all we were off to a great start!!

I remember being gently laid onto the table as my legs started getting hot pins and needles sensations and your dad was FINALLY led into the room. It was what I needed, your dad there to help make me feel safe and calm again. He took one look at my face and rushed over to hug and kiss me. He spent the rest of the surgery until Harper arrived rubbing my arm and trying to soothe me. Although I had been through hell I was ready to put it behind me and move on to meeting you both. I was still very excited if a little shaky.

The curtain was put in place and the surgeons were ready to begin. I found it weird but a nice touch that I could see both of the doctors operating on me as last time the only view I had was blue sheet. As I looked up at the kindly grandfather-like face of the head surgeon I remarked it was taking a while. Apparently second (and subsequent) c-sections take longer as they recut the original scar and it takes great precision and concentration. I was again feeling impatient and just wanted to yell at them to hurry up, I just wanted to meet you both. All of a sudden there was a great feeling of relief, of a huge pressure being lifted, and I could breathe properly again (although I had been unaware I was having any troubles at all). I actually yelled “OH MY GOD” then had to explain why as I had everyone more than a little concerned. It would have been funny had there not been two doctors elbow deep in my uterus at the time. I chuckle now thinking of it but am sure everyone else was unimpressed. Hubby certainly was. Next moment I had a red, squirming, loudly protesting bubba thrust into my view. “It’s the girl” some medical somebody pronounced and Harper was whisked away to be examined. It was 11:38, you were crying and a healthy 3.176kg (7 pounds), and I had tears streaming down my face in joy.

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But we weren’t finished yet. Now it was Declan’s turn. Your dad was bouncing between checking on Harper and coming back so he didn’t miss the arrival of Declan. Again there was a great sense of relief but this time no cry. I had a brief glimpse of a smaller baby but was given no time to look. The tears started again but this time it was from fear. What’s wrong with my baby, where is he, why isn’t he crying I kept asking again and again. Midwives, the anaesthetist and your dad kept reassuring me everything was fine, Declan was just in an alcove room as there wasn’t enough room for us all together. I now know that wasn’t actually true. Although your dad was unaware everyone else knew Declan needed help. His APGAR score was only 3 and he needed a CPAP machine to help get some extra oxygen. However at the 5 minute mark he improved considerably and I heard a high pitch scream that I thought was Harper. When I was told it was actually Declan the tears of relief came and I remarked “but he sounds like a girl”. Maybe not the best thing to say but it was all I could think of. Declan you were (and still are) smaller then your sister, weighing in at 2.7kg (5lb 15oz), only 3 minutes younger but seeming so much more frail. Once you were both OK and I had a good look you were taken into recovery as I was having some minor problems.

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After a while, not sure how long but enough to make me wonder how much longer it was gonna bloody take, I was put back together. I’d had a few extra jabs of who knows what because, as per usual, I had haemorrhaged. With a litre of blood lost, as they were wheeling me off, I began to feel very queasy. So queasy in fact I began to chant, well mumble, “I’m gonna be sick”, over and over again. I had the shakes from the epidural, was feeling a little miserable, but so very excited to be finally making my way to you both.

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