The early arrival of our little boy Alfie. 31-08-22
I was in denial that I was in labour. I had so many false labour scares from 20 weeks onwards and monitoring in the hospital twice a week from 33 weeks. Tuesday, I was super moody. I felt flat all day and just not myself. Elliott had mentioned my face looked skinnier or in his words, "I've shrunken." Wednesday, at 2am, I had cramps and thought maybe I was hungry because I hadn't had dinner that night. I slept until 6:30am, before waking up with a very bad tummy ache and proceeded to make myself breakfast, thinking I was just hungry. I reminded myself to eat it slowly so I wouldn't feel sick. At 7am, I managed to get halfway through my breakfast before I was leaning over the toilet, throwing it all up. I jumped in the shower, and it felt like I was hungover. I felt horrible, and nothing was giving me relief. I proceeded to get ready, but my tummy aches were back, and I still felt lousy! I had a midwife appointment at Murwillumbah, a 25-minute drive south. I thought to myself," no, it's not labour. I get this all the time I don't want to waste everyone's time."
I drove myself to Murwillumbah for my appointment, and my tummy ache was getting stronger and more like cramping. But I kept thinking it was just bowel pain as it was more on my left and lower side. I considered texting my sister and Elliott to let them know, but again I thought, no, this is false labour. They are probably over these false texts too. As I got to the hospital for my appointment, the stomach ache was very sore and all over my belly. I sat and focused on my breathing for a minute, closed my eyes, and tried to relax. I walked in slowly, still feeling a little unwell. I remember getting to the path and thinking I am not wearing a mask right now. I can barely breathe. And I still feel sick. A nurse in the lift with me saw me and asked, are you okay? I told her I thought it was just contractions, but I was okay (knowing I wasn't really okay). The nurse said, "it's probably Braxton Hicks" and I said no, I've had those before, and this is definitely different. She looked at me and said, "well, good luck!" We went our separate ways.
My appointment was running a little overtime, and a midwife told me I would have to wait a little longer. I had my head in my left-hand, thinking, "oh god, I want to go home." I was getting more unwell and wished I didn't drive myself down to Murwillumbah. As my midwife came and got me, my face said it all. She asked how I was, and I said I actually think I'm having contractions. After saying it aloud, it felt real. I felt my eyes well up with the fear of the unknown. As my appointment started, the contractions got more intense. The midwife wanted to feel my belly and monitor me for a few minutes. I was in agony and was trying to breathe through each surge. I thought, "oh my god, I'm not really ready! And Elliott is so far away! And I have no fuel in my car!" The midwife felt my belly, and we timed them together. She said I think we should call the maternity ward. Go home, grab your bags and call your partner. I could tell this was it. Elliott was over an hour away for work, my mum was at home sick, and my dad was at work. The contractions were bad but not bad enough to need an ambulance - I thought I could drive myself.
The midwife told her team leader I was in early labour and would go to Tweed Hospital. Thank god I knew an admin lady there, and she was nice enough to drive me (which was the best choice). I updated Elliot and told him he needed to meet me. He questioned if I would be sent home again and if it was worth coming down because his pack up and drive would be 2 and a half hours. I told him, "we're in labour. I don't have time to grab my bags. You need to leave right now!" En route to the hospital, I thought that maybe the contractions had stopped and this was false labour again. But I had little ones, then BIG contractions, and I knew this was it. On the drive to tweed, I told my family I was in labour. My sister rang me, and I burst into tears with fear, and a big contraction started and went on for a few minutes. Elliott rang me to tell me he was still 25 minutes away and needed a shower. I was thinking I do not care. You better be there for me. But I pretended to be calm, all while thinking that I would have to do this alone. I arrived at the hospital around 10:30am. My friend Sophie was helping me get my things while I was trying to get out of the car. I did the typical lady in labour move of stopping to grab my knees and breathe before we walked in.
I couldn't believe this was happening. They hooked me up to the monitor; it felt like the first day of school. Everyone was happy and talking, and I had no idea what to do. I was trying to be brave and not give in to the pain whilst listening to other ladies around me in labour. It felt surreal. Elliott was 15 mins behind, and when he stepped into that room, I was beyond relieved and happy he made it. I started to bawl my eyes out and really felt the pain. Being 37.5w, they wanted to give me panadol and send me home after an hour of monitoring if nothing happened. I wasn't having that! Elliott backed me and was there, coaching me to breathe through the pain, but I wasn't really listening. I was digging my fingers into his arm and becoming more tense. I couldn't get a breath in to breathe. The midwives wanted to do an internal, and if my cervix wasn't dilated, they would monitor me some more, then send me home. I really didn't want an internal, but I thought I'd also like to know. It was so painful I was almost screaming and squirming up the bed. After all that, my cervix was still closed.
At 12:30pm, bubby's heart rate had dropped as I had a 3-minute strong contraction with no break in between the next one. They then scrapped the idea of sending me home. At first, they told me that another patient had to go in before me, so it would be another 2 hours. But not even 5 minutes later, I had a cannula put in, compression socks on, and I was signing the consent form for the caesarean. Believe it or not, at this point, I was still in denial.
We were getting ready to put the spinal in, which was, in my eyes, the scariest part, when suddenly the fire alarm went off, and it was a real one. Elliott was in a separate room waiting to come in, and I had no idea what was going on. We had to wait for the code to be stood down. The whole process had been amazing, from signing the consent to getting Alfie out. Every step of the way had been calmly explained, we got everything we wished for and more. The team were incredible, and Elliott really stepped up all day. 2:43pm, Alfie entered the world, and I remember asking, "he is a boy, isn't he?" about 5 times.
We had skin-to-skin straight away. They found that my placenta and cord was very small and short, and it would have been difficult to have a natural birth. Alfie was super content with mum straight away, and I was kissing him nonstop. They started to stitch me up, which felt like a washing machine. I started to feel sick and needed to throw up. Throwing up with no belly sensation or arms and a baby on you was the weirdest feeling ever. When we were in recovery, Alfie was still sleepy and not very alert, and he didn't feel warm (but neither did I). The nurses were a little concerned. They moved me to the ward, and they took him to the nursery to warm him up. Elliott assured me he was fine. The paediatrician came into our room with a student midwife, and said Alfie's taken a turn. My heart sunk and I tuned out. I kept responding with "yep", but honestly had no idea what she said. Elliott went to visit him and told me that I probably didn't want to see Alfie as it would be pretty upsetting. The midwife helped me express breast milk, and Alfie took about 3.5ml but wasn't waking up to feed. He was in Special Care Nursery from Wed - Saturday afternoon on a bubble machine, his temp is sitting at 36, and his little lungs were working hard. He had to be on a feeding tube, bubbles and blue light to keep him warm. We couldn't hold him, only touch one of his hands that wasn't covered in machines or wires, and we couldn't see his face. Having a caesarean, I needed assistance with standing and couldn't go visit him without assistance being popped into a wheelchair. I couldn't hold my baby, I had to sleep alone and Elliott had to go home each night- it honestly broke me for days. I took every small opportunity I got to see him. I would sit with him, hold his little hand and stroke his little fingers. I wanted him to know that mummy was there.
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