Well boys, this is it, the big day. We’re both super nervous but also excited as we drive into the hospital. Kings of Leon “Sex on Fire” is playing on the radio and I sing along to distract myself from the momentous event that is set to occur later today. It’s been touch and go as last night there was only one bed available in the NICU nursery so there wasn’t space for us. Things are looking more positive this morning and despite nothing being available just yet we’re told to come in anyway so that we’re there and ready to go should space open up. Our obstetrician says not to rush, it’s looking more like a 1pm slot now rather than the 10:30am one we were booked in for.
I’ve been on a “no eating” order since midnight last night and have only been allowed to drink water up until 10am today. On top of that I’ve had to take two Ranitidine tablets (one last night and one this morning) to reduce stomach acid. I’m hungry by 8:30am….oh dear, hopefully the adrenalin keeps the hangry at bay.
We arrive at the hospital at 9:30am and head into ORDA, the day surgery unit. We’re met by very friendly staff and told that NICU can guarantee us beds after 1pm so we’re definitely all go for today, woohoo! They’ll try and fit us in sooner if they can. I’m given approximately 2cm of water in a styrofoam cup (the maximum I’m allowed to drink) and we’re told to head of for a walk, have a tea or coffee (for my husband only) and to come back to unit at 11:30am.
We pop downstairs where hubby grabs a coffee and we settle in at a table by the window. Suddenly it hits me that today is the day we meet our boys and I can’t stop crying. I can’t believe this is actually happening after so many years of trying to get here. There goes that tiny amount of water I was allowed!
We hang around the couch areas of the hospital until 11:30 then make our way back over to ORDA to get prepped. We run through the questions on the pre-op questionnaire, and I have my pulse, temperature and blood pressure taken (funnily enough it’s high). I’m so nervous. I change into gowns, and my husband into scrubs, and we sit to wait anxiously on the chairs provided. We laugh and joke and I try my hardest not to think about what is about to occur in order to restrain my nervousness.
Our obstetrician turns up, runs through the last little bits and pieces, and we sign consent forms. He mentions that the op will most likely occur around 2 or 3pm as an emergency caesarian has come through from ED that needs to be completed first. Then he’s off again. The next time we see him he’ll be dressed in greens and designer white gumboots.
Eventually we’re moved from the waiting room to a pre-op bed. I’m getting nervous and am still desperately trying not to think about things. We meet our anaesthetist who is absolutely lovely. She tries to get my IV line in but because of our operation being delayed I’m extremely dehydrated and my veins just don’t want to cooperate. She tries my right hand and falls, instead causing a massive swelling of my vein that looks like a tiger slug bulging out of my hand, it’s pretty cool but then I’m into mildly gruesome things like that. Next we try the left and again no luck, I spurt blood in a big gush as she removes the lure though so we’re close! My hands get wrapped up in warm saline bags to try and encourage the veins and she leaves us for a few minutes. Back again she manages to get a line in and not long after we’re walking through to theatre. Here we go!
I slip off my shoes, the one thing of mine I’m allowed to wear into the operating room and perch on the side of the bed ready for my spinal. Just as we get in position the anaesthetist is called away to an emergency, apparently one of her earlier patients is having difficulties. Off she runs to tend to them and we wait another five to ten minutes or so as she sorts them out and returns to be re-sterilised. What a drama, but on with the spinal.
I’d managed the perfect position in my practice run at my pre-op assessment earlier in the week but now one of the boys has moved further up under my ribs so is making the “hunch” is near impossible. I keep being told off for looking up and am being instructed to hunch more, but it’s so hard when a) I’m propped up with pillows and b) I’m so frickin uncomfortable like this. Eventually they remove some pillows and if I hold my breath I manage to hunch a little more. After three attempts the spinal is in, thank god as I was terrified that they were going to have to put me under general anaesthetic meaning, not only would I be totally knocked out for the operation, but my husband wouldn’t be allowed in theatre either. The thought of neither of us being there/conscious for the birth is too much.
My legs start to tingle as they’re lifted by others on to the bed. They feel warm and weird and then I can’t move them at all. Such a bizarre feeling. The anesthetist is running an ice cube up each leg to determine whether I can feel cold or just a slight pressure. I’m just telling her I can only feel a pressure up to my armpits where the cold suddenly kicks in, when in walks our obstetrician in his designer white gumboots. We’re ready to go.
Our obstetrician is great and talks us through each step as he’s doing it. Making incisions, what layer he’s up to, what he can see. And then all of a sudden he’s pulling out our baby number one, bum first into the world. The anaesthetist and nurse have lowered the curtain that divides my head & shoulders from the rest of my body but I desperately wish I could see more. N (our obstetrician) is holding up our first little boy, his arms spread as if to hug us, for me to see. He’s gorgeous and I smile at him as they whisk him away for his check-up. In the background I hear his little cry and my body relaxes in relief that he’s ok as N starts on our second child.
I’m loathe to call them Bumble and Bee at this stage as they’re both the Bumble for whom we were waiting, neither more important than the other, but for the sake of this blog I will. With Bee safely getting the once-over all our attention is on Bumble, and he’s proving a little harder to catch than his older brother. He’s wedged himself right up under my ribs and despite our OB trying to keep a poker face for the sake of everyone’s wellbeing, I can see him getting a little more stressed as time ticks on. “It’s like trying to get a crayfish [lobster for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere] out from under a rock” he jokes, but I hear the room get a little quieter as he slowly wrangles Bumble out, and I start to worry. Bumble is the reason we’re in theatre right now as his growth had slowed enough to warrant an early operation.
I find out later that Bumble was extremely difficult to remove (that would explain my painful ribs in the days to come) and that his cord was wrapped around his neck, thank god we didn’t try for a vaginal birth! He’s initially deemed to be ok and is held up for me to see, again arms wide and looking both smaller and paler than his brother did, but otherwise perfect. Like his brother he’s whisked away to be weighed and checked, and we hear him briefly cry before he gets into respiratory difficulty and they treat him with CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) – basically a machine that keeps Bumble’s airways open, not breathing for him but allowing him the opportunity to breath for himself by using positive pressure to keep his airway free.
While Bumble is being worked on Bee is bought over to my head, wrapped up warm & with a little hat, and I pat his cheek and kiss his forehead as we pose for our first photos together with my husband. Meanwhile my poor little Bumble is put into an incubator and positioned briefly by my head for introductions before he’s ferried away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), no time for photos with him. It’s distressing watching him go but I know it’s for the best. Looking back at the photos with Bee now I feel sad, knowing that one of our family members is missing from them. The photos themselves are lovely but for me they’re bittersweet.
My husband has a quick cuddle with Bee before leaving with Bumble (both of us desperate for him to have family company in this strange new world) and I’m slowly stitched back together layer by layer. Before I know it I’m being transferred to a ward bed (1,2, 3, lift – just like on TV) and wheeled into the recovery room. The operation’s over in a flash, and just like that, we’re parents. My Mum, who’s been waiting outside with my brother and his partner, is called into Recovery so that I have some company, and my little Bee is placed in my arms before being encouraged to latch onto my breast for a feed. It’s so surreal. I still can’t feel my legs, and won’t for a wee while yet, and here is one of my darlings in my arms and feeding from me! After all these years I’m finally a mum.
A while later my husband pops in, assuring me that our little Bumble is doing ok. He’s in level two NICU – medium risk – but is doing fine. Another photo then it’s time for me to head to the ward. Mum pops out to find my brother and I’m wheeled off holding my baby, my husband alongside. We get smiles from onlookers as we’re wheeled through the hospital corridors, and I’m all smiles myself despite feeling a gaping hole where my other baby should be.
As I’m placed in to the Ward (96, room 7 – a nice private room to myself), the midwife on ward duty pops in to introduce herself. “I know you!” she says, and my face lights up. It’s H, the wonderful midwife who first checked me into the ward way back at 26 weeks when I had my first bleeding scare. She is the most amazing person and was already my favourite midwife in the place. I’m amazed that she remembers me but of course, being the person she is, it really shouldn’t surprise me in the least – I can’t emphasise how amazing she is…something she somehow manages to build upon over the week I’m in there.
After the midwife’s visit my Mum, brother, and his partner come in bearing presents (including two helium bumble bee balloons), and a mountain of food. Along with the salmon sushi my husband has bought, it’s most of the things I’ve been missing while pregnant, and I gorge myself on soft cheese, deli meat, and a tiny glass of champagne, all of which I manage to bring back up again an hour or so later. I’d been warned by the medical team to take it easy with food as my gut had taken a bit of a bashing during the c-section, but I was so excited to eat real food, and even more ecstatic to not feel nauseous (believe it or not the food nausea stopped pretty much the second I gave birth) that I didn’t listen, and hence following the meal filled two massive containers with puke. Still, it was totally worth it! My parents-in-law also stop by and we get a little telling off from the midwife for having so many people in the room. Everyone begins to head home for the night and I settle into my first night as a mother. Let the first night alone begin!