I told myself through the entirety of my pregnancy that I’d begin blogging again- but it was always a “next week” or an “I’ll start on Monday” kinda situation and I inevitably never ended up doing it. I thought about doing an overview post of my whole pregnancy but honestly, as soon as that baby is in your arms you forget all your pregnancy complaints and I think I’d struggle to remember the vast majority of it. I decided that I’m gonna seize the opportunity that comes with a new year and blog the shit out of Ayala’s first year of life, starting right at the beginning. So here I am, 4 weeks postpartum, describing my birth experience.
Disclaimer: This post contains some of the worst imaginable photos of me
Two days prior to my caesarean date, I had to have the first of two steroid injections in hospital to strengthen baby’s lungs and prevent any breathing problems as she would be born at 38 weeks + 5 days. I don’t usually mind injections but I’d looked them up online beforehand and everyone said they were really painful so I was pretty nervous. Louis (my partner and baby’s daddy) came with me to the appointment
to laugh at me for moral support. The nurse took my blood pressure then asked me which butt cheek I wanted the injection in (I chose right) and whether I wanted to be standing or laying down (I chose to lay down). The injection was way worse than I imagined- my whole right side went numb waist-down and pretty much stayed that way from 11am until evening. I managed to get about 2 hours sleep that night before returning to the hospital for my second lot of steroids. This one was so much more painful- partly because the injection was in my hip this time and partly because the nurse paused to answer the door mid-stab. She then informed me that the reason I’d had no sleep was because of the steroids, and that the same thing would happen that night. A great thing to be told the day before your c-section(!)
At 10pm the night before I had to take one Ranitidine tablet (to decrease stomach acid production) and I wasn’t allowed anything else to eat. I’d told myself that I’d go to bed after this but 3am rolled around and I was still wide awake. I managed eventually to get around two hours of sleep before my alarm went off. I showered, had a slice of toast (the only thing I was allowed to eat pre-surgery) and took another Ranitidine tablet and one Metoclopramide tablet (to prevent vomiting). We were told to arrive at the hospital by 7:15am and the hospital is only 10 minutes away, so naturally I booked a taxi for 6am and we arrived before the lights were even on in the labour ward. The staff just laughed and opened the waiting room for us.
After sitting in the waiting room for 10 minutes, where Louis gave me an adorable letter written from baby’s perspective, we were taken onto the labour ward and I got into bed. Over the next hour or so lots of different professionals (midwives, doctors, nurses, anaesthetists, students etc.) introduced themselves and talked me through the procedure. I was asked to sign a consent form and confirm my details a thousand times. I felt like I was stuck in a loop of repeating “Chloey Marsh, 26/07/98, I’m allergic to penicillin, no I don’t know what will happen if you give me penicillin right now, yes I’m okay with students in the room, no I don’t have any loose fillings”. Nicky, my primary midwife, told us that I’d be second out of the three women scheduled for a c-section that day, though I’d understandably be pushed back if there were any emergencies. She also said she could tape over my tragus piercing if I wanted rather than make me take it out. It sounds so ridiculous now but I’d been dreading having to take it out in case it healed- re-piercing through scar tissue is a bitch! She put on my compression stockings, gave Louis and I our theatre gowns and told us to have a nappy and hat prepared for baby. At around 8:30am, she came back and told us to grab our phones and a pillow because it was go time. We weren’t sure why but it turned out I’d been bumped up to going first. I didn’t even have time to be nervous, it was happening and it was happening now.
Just outside of the operating room, a student nurse inserted my cannula and they talked me through the procedure for a final time. Once we were in the room, I climbed onto the bed and was told to sit arched forward over a pillow with my head on Nicky’s chest while they administered the spinal block. I felt a cold spray on my back, followed by a sharp scratch, followed by an even sharper scratch. It was about as painful as a blood test but the numbing feeling began instantly and they flipped me flat onto my back. Someone put painkillers into my cannula as Nicky inserted my catheter. After a few minutes, the anaesthetist asked me to raise my legs. I tried and failed, totally numb from the spinal at this point and he laughed, telling me I wasn’t trying hard enough. I pushed and pushed but it was impossible to move. After a few minutes, someone put up a screen in front of my head so that I couldn’t see the operation and Louis sat on a stool beside my head.
I don’t know how long it was before they started, maybe five minutes. They told me they were about to make the incision. I didn’t feel the initial incision, but I did see it in the reflective surround of the overhead light. If I’m completely honest, I enjoyed being able to watch it happen. There was a lot of pulling and rummaging in my stomach as they parted the muscles. I might sound like a total freak but I really enjoyed the feeling of the whole thing, tugging and all. They warned me that I’d feel my waters breaking and then there was a loud gushing sound. Louis and I were chatting through the whole procedure and I couldn’t believe how relaxed the staff were, asking us to guess the weight and what she’d look like before she was born. There was a lot more pulling and feeling around in my stomach for about 10 minutes before I felt a huge build up of pressure, followed by silence, followed by a loud cry.
Before the operation they’d ensured me that as soon as she was born I’d be allowed to see her, they’d weigh her and then I’d be able to hold her. However, I wasn’t shown her at all until she was 10 minutes old. Luckily, in that time Louis had been allowed to cut the umbilical cord (almost fainting in the process) and got loads of photos of her while she was brand new. By the time they handed her to me I was crying and shaking. I don’t really remember what happened between that and getting to the recovery ward, other than being flipped onto a bed with wheels (whilst still holding the baby) at some point.
The rest of the day pretty much just merged into one big mess of hormones and surreal-ness. On the recovery ward, Louis and I both called our mums and I called my grandma. We were kept there around half an hour before we were taken back to the labour ward for me to try breastfeeding her for the first time. After this, I remember crying and begging Nicky to let me go to sleep. In the evening, we were transferred to our own room and Louis was allowed to stay over. We were kept in hospital for two days before we were discharged home as a family with our new baby girl.
Ayala Willow Plunkett was born at 9:30am on Tuesday 19th December, weighing 6lb 2oz.