A look back over my pregnancy – ‘Resident Blogger’ Lindsay

RB pic - LindsayOn the eve of her induction, Resident Blogger Lindsay looks back on her pregnancy as she prepares to meet her little boy. I’m excited to be welcoming another new arrival to the BFB family!

Lindsay blogs at www.newcastlefamilylife.co.uk

It seems so long ago since I wrote my very first Blogs For Babies post introducing myself – I have just been so busy and lots has been going on pregnancy-wise since my last post when I was 31 weeks. I am now 38 weeks and I cannot believe I am now nearing the end of my pregnancy already, so I thought that I would write about a look back on my pregnancy.

I found out I was pregnant with baby number three all the way back in January when I was around 7-8 weeks pregnant, and it was a shock as I had only recently had surgery to remove my gallbladder and my youngest daughter Sophia was only seven months old.

I was really lucky that I sailed through the first trimester with no problems or sickness at all. I had my dating scan in February which showed I was 13 weeks pregnant and was given the due date of 26th August 2014. I was placed under consultant-led care due to my blood pressure being slightly high and having blood pressure problems in my first pregnancy, and it was decided that it was best for me to be put on the blood pressure medication labetalol to control things. I was also prescribed low-dose aspirin to try and prevent pre-eclampsia as I was at risk of this.

The second trimester flew by with no problems; we did not find out baby’s sex at the 20 week scan as it had its legs crossed but when I was 28 weeks I had a routine growth scan and we found out we were having a little boy. I was so shocked at this as I had been so sure we were having another little girl!

The third trimester has been a bit more difficult as baby has been measuring small on the growth scans I have been having throughout my pregnancy, which could be a side effect of the blood pressure medication I am taking. I also had to go into hospital to be monitored due to reduced fetal movements at 34 weeks but thankfully everything was fine.

I have also been so tired and had no energy at all which I had just put down to running around after a one year old and the heat – being pregnant during a heat wave is no fun at all. But I was diagnosed as having low iron and luckily iron tablets have made me feel normal again.

lindsay bump
Lindsay’s lovely bump!

Apart from those few niggles though I am feeling very lucky that I have had such an easy and enjoyable pregnancy. Obviously now I am nearing my due date I am getting uncomfortable, tired and hormonal but I really have loved every second of this pregnancy and I will be sad when it comes to an end.

It has been decided that due to me being on blood pressure medication the safest thing for me and baby is to induce me at 39 weeks so I am all booked in for an induction on Tuesday the 19th August – exactly one week before my due date.

I have mixed feelings about the induction; I am happy to go through with it as the doctors think it is for the best and all I want is a healthy baby. It will also be nice to not go overdue for once as I went overdue with both my girls and it’s not nice. I have also been induced before in my first pregnancy so I know what to expect. But I cannot help feeling nervous in case things do not go to plan and I need a c-section, or something goes wrong with baby, and also because I know from personal experience that induced labours hurt more then natural ones.

It seems so strange to think that this time next week I will definitely have had my baby; it seems like my whole pregnancy has flown over. But I cannot wait to meet our little boy and become a family of five. Look out for my birth story in the next few weeks and I look forward to sharing with everyone what life is like as a busy mum of three with two under two and a tweenager. Wish me luck – I think I am going to need it!

Follow Lindsay on Twitter @nefamilylife

Pre-eclampsia and my role as a MAMA Ambassador – Kiran Chug

Kiran pic 1In recognition of Pre-eclampsia Awareness Month, Kiran recounts her experience of pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome in her first pregnancy, and why that experience has encouraged her to become a MAMA Academy Ambassador to help the charity promote positive pregnancies.

Kiran lives in London with her husband and two children, Milin and Jasmin. She says they are ‘a little family who feel incredibly lucky to have each other’.

Kiran blogs at www.mummysays.net

As soon as I heard the phone ring on that beautiful summer’s afternoon, I knew something was wrong. It was my midwife – she said something along these lines: “We’ve got the results of yesterday’s blood tests Kiran. Can you go to the hospital now please. They’re expecting you.” I had just made it to 37 weeks pregnant. We hadn’t yet painted the nursery.

What followed was a terrifying but ultimately amazing couple of weeks. And then I brought home my first baby. Milin. He was healthy and happy and perfect – but I will never forget the fear that went through me the first time I heard the word that changed my pregnancy. Pre-eclampsia.

That was more than two years ago. I have learnt so much about Pre-eclampsia and HELLP Syndrome since then. Although both are serious conditions that can affect pregnant women, I knew very little about them before being told I had them. My story has a happy ending. However, my experience of these illnesses made me realise how important it is to be armed with knowledge while pregnant. It’s crucial, vital, essential, to seek professional help at the first inkling that something might be wrong. And so it follows that it’s crucial, vital, essential, to be able to recognise that something might be wrong.

My pre-eclampsia was picked up quickly because I phoned my midwife and asked to see her – despite not having an appointment scheduled. I was worried about the swelling in my feet and hands which wouldn’t go down. I hadn’t connected it with the unbearable headaches I was experiencing and the excruciating pain beneath my ribs. However, my instinct was to seek advice. I was sent for tests which showed my blood pressure had risen suddenly, my liver function was out, protein was leaching into my urine and my platelet count was very low. I was admitted to hospital with pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome and booked in for an induction.

Kiran pic 2Milin’s growth rate had been slowing down – perhaps because my placenta had stopped working as efficiently as it should have been. By seeking advice from medical professionals, I had placed myself and my baby in the safest hands.

I will never forget being told I was being admitted. I was terrified because I knew so little about what pre-eclampsia was and what it meant for me and my baby. I couldn’t understand what was happening. I wasn’t ready to have my baby, I hadn’t imagined it would happen this way. My lack of knowledge and understanding made me feel like I was losing control over my pregnancy, and I felt very afraid. Since then, I’ve learnt so much about the condition I was suffering from. I went into my second pregnancy far more knowledgeable and confident.

My experiences have prompted me to join a team of ambassadors for the UK charity MAMA Academy. Its goal is to help babies arrive safely and promote positive pregnancies. MAMA Academy educates expectant mums on how to keep healthy and when they should call their midwife for advice. It also supports midwives by keeping them up to date with current guidelines and research to aid consistent maternity care. I’ll be helping the MAMA Academy spread its key messages of promoting healthy pregnancies and reducing baby loss – and you’ll see more on this in the coming months. In the meantime, do visit MAMA Academy to find out more.

Follow Kiran on Twitter @kiranchug

 

Anna’s birth story: dad’s perspective – Ben Harrison

emily harrison picLast week I posted the birth story of Emily and her daughter Anna – a long and arduous labour culminating in an assisted delivery with forceps. I was thrilled when Emily got in touch to say that her husband Ben wanted to write a post about the experience from his perspective as the first time dad in the situation.

Obviously as mums we are often in our own little bubble when it comes to childbirth, with memories clouded by the intensity of it all. Here Ben tells us how he supported Emily through her labour, but with great clarity details some of the things he wishes he had done differently. He raises some really interesting points about how involved birth partners actually feel and how much influence they can have in the delivery room.

Huge thanks must go to both Emily and Ben for sharing their experiences with us. Can any other dads relate to Ben’s post?

Emily blogs at confessionsofafailedbreastfeeder.wordpress.com

Ben does not have a blog but is happy to be known as ‘Emily’s husband’.

When my daughter, Anna, was finally born, my most overwhelming feelings were not related to joy, love, instant recognition or even ‘What Do I Do Now?’, like all the parenting books said they would be. Some or all of those feelings were there, of course, but my overriding emotion was one of relief. Relief that, after 42 weeks of pregnancy and the same number of hours of labour, our little girl had arrived and was healthy.

If you are reading this, the chances are that you have already read Emily’s birth story, so I will not go into details of the birth itself; suffice to say that I spent a lot of time pacing the floor, holding my wife’s hand, getting her what she needed, saying that everything would be fine when I wasn’t sure that it would be, and eating rubbish food.

As Emily has already said, the outcome of the birth – a beautiful baby girl – was more than we ever imagined, so from that point of view, nothing that preceded it really matters. However, as time has gone on and memories of the experience crystallised, I have increasingly felt that the labour could have been shorter and less eventful had I been more assertive. There are three specific points at which this is the case:

1)  When Emily was in the induction suite and we were waiting for the pessary to kick start labour, I was sent home at 11pm and told to get a good night’s sleep, as there was ‘no chance of anything happening for at least eight hours’. I did as I was told, which meant that when Emily’s waters broke at 5am and she was in a lot of pain, unnecessarily having to convince the midwives that she was in labour, I was 20 miles away, failing to get a good night’s sleep. I wish now that I had refused to leave the ward, or at least the hospital.

2) In the middle of the next afternoon, the labour was progressing as planned but Emily couldn’t keep fluids down and she kept being sick. As a result, she became dehydrated and the labour stalled.  When Emily was being sick, I suggested to the midwife that she be put on a saline drip to avoid dehydration but was told that there was no need. Looking back, it was clear that Emily was dehydrated and I wish I had insisted on the drip.

3) After the labour stalled, Emily was quickly put on a saline and hormone drip and things started proceeding very quickly again. However, we had to wait another 4 hours to check to see that Emily was sufficiently dilated to start pushing. This proved to be the case, but things had moved so quickly that I wondered whether it had been necessary to wait the full four hours.  I wish that I had suggested checking to see if Emily was ready to start pushing sooner – had she been, then her exhaustion may not have been so severe and the forceps may not have been needed.

It is difficult to be assertive in this situation – the midwives and doctors are the professionals and they know far more about labour and birth than any first time dad, however many books or articles on the internet he thinks he has read. Many readers will think that me having such thoughts after the event is at best pointless, or more likely utterly self-indulgent, and they would be right.

However, us men are the ones who know our wives or partners best, and are therefore well placed to respond to their needs in any given situation. It may be the case that none of the steps I’ve outlined above would have made any difference and I must stress that much of the care we received in hospital was outstanding, but I still wish that I had been more assertive.

If and when we have a second baby, I will certainly not hold back from saying what I believe to be in the best interests of my wife and child.

Follow Ben’s wife Emily on Twitter @failedfeeder

Anna’s birth story – Emily Harrison

emily harrison picI was amazed by the resilience and strength that Emily shows in this post about the birth of her daughter Anna. After a long and difficult labour culminating in a forceps delivery, Emily could be forgiven for holding on to some negative thoughts about her experience, but here she looks back on the birth positively and without distress.

Whilst her labour was highly medicalised, the support she received and the fact that she still felt as though she retained some control over what was happening, means that her story is an empowering and encouraging one.

Emily lives in the Midlands with her husband and 6-month-old daughter, Anna. She recently left a career in banking to return to her passion, teaching music, though is doing more nappy changing than piano playing for the moment.

Emily blogs at confessionsofafailedbreastfeeder.wordpress.com

When I look back on the birth of my first baby, Anna, I wonder how I managed it. People talk about how childbirth has become too medicalised but, even though I needed significant assistance during my labour, I still marvel at what my body (and mind) achieved.

Like most new mums, I waited for the slightest twinge as my due date approached. It quickly passed with no sign of labour. Once or twice I had some lower back pain in the evening, so I decided to go to bed and hoped to sleep through some of the early parts of labour. Each time I woke up in the morning after a good night of sleep and without any further symptoms.

I turned up at for my allocated induction slot (now 12 days overdue) to discover that I was, in fact, already in labour and probably had been for a day or two. The midwife said that I probably wouldn’t need a full induction using a drip and might just need a “kick-start” with a pessary.

She was right – I went into labour at tea-time on the first day, my waters broke and I dilated to 5cm very quickly. The problems started when things started moving too fast: the contractions were so strong that they made me sick EVERY time, so I couldn’t keep any fluid down. The midwives tried two sorts of anti-sickness medication and neither made any difference so I had to resign myself to throwing up until the baby made an appearance.

By lunchtime on day 2, I had been in hospital for 30 hours and in labour for 20. I was tired, weak and dehydrated, but the thought of being so close to meeting my baby kept me going. I was active, I used the pool and generally followed everything I had been told to do in my antenatal classes. The midwives said I couldn’t be doing anything any better but the pain got worse as I got weaker. I used gas and air throughout and then had diamorphine when it just didn’t cut it.

A few hours later – tea-time on day 2 – an examination showed that my labour had stalled and I had not dilated any further in 4 hours. This was probably due to either the dehydration or the fact that the artificial hormones had done their job and my own hormones just weren’t strong enough to keep going alone. The hospital staff acted quickly and I was swiftly hooked up to a saline drip, a hormone drip and constant foetal heartbeat monitoring.

At midnight on the second day I finally started pushing. I had not eaten anything (or at least kept anything down) or slept for more than a few minutes for 2 days. I think what I’m like now after having only a few hours’ sleep with my six month old and wonder how on earth I was still conscious, never mind prepared to give birth. I pushed for nearly two hours to no avail.

I clearly remember the point where I started to doubt whether I was going to be able to do it: I was in the bathroom, one leg on a stool and leaning over my midwife and husband. It was as if the midwife had been waiting for me to say something because she took me seriously straight away. A doctor soon appeared using the words “theatre”, “c-section” and “urgent”. I thought “I’ve been doing this for two days, I am pushing this baby out!”, but like the good patient that I am, I nodded and got on with it. The midwife must have read my mind because she took the doctor aside and all of a sudden we were going for a forceps delivery instead.

And the rest is history? No, not quite! My daughter’s head was delivered using the forceps and then nothing happened. After a few moments, my husband asked if everything was ok. “Yes…”, was the response, “the baby is fine but the her body is going to need some more help to come out”. His reaction was one of relief – the baby was fine! Mine was more one of complete horror that the forceps had to go back in! Eventually, Anna was born at 2.20am on my third day in hospital.

My labour was long and eventful, but it was never truly distressing in the way that some women encounter. If anything, my memories of those days get more difficult as time goes on. Biology continues to do its work, however, because my experience is one that will prepare me for another childbirth rather than put me off.  Though medication and medical procedures saved mine and my baby’s life, I still feel as though my body was calling the shots. It wasn’t the birth I would have planned, but the outcome – my beautiful baby girl – is more than I could ever have imagined.

Follow Emily on Twitter @failedfeeder

Jake’s birth story – Lisa Edwards

lisa edwards 1Lisa contacted us about her traumatic birth story and the arrival of her son Jake. Her compelling tale of induction followed by an emergency caesarean, and all the fear and uncertainty that went with it, is a tough read. However, I think it is important to share the trials that some mums unfortunately go through, and I hope it helped Lisa to write about it.

Lisa is a 28 year old stay-at-home mum who lives in the Midlands with husband Jamie and 9 month old baby Jake. Prior to having Jake she worked in procurement but decided to give it up to have and raise a family. She started her blog, The Life of Wife, at the start of this year as a way of keeping her brain in gear, whilst documenting their adventures as a family and keeping connected to the wider world.

Lisa blogs at thelifeofwife.com

I was originally planning to write Jake’s birth story on his 1st birthday. However as it turned out I found the birth quite traumatic so would rather spend his birthday celebrating him and looking to the future. I have found that writing things down does tend to help me come to terms with the things that have happened to me so hopefully telling the story of Jake’s birth will help me let go of the negative feelings I have towards my experience.

I had a brilliant pregnancy; no sickness, just some nausea in the early days and some tiredness. I was a completely happy healthy pregnant lady; I didn’t even get a single stretch mark (really its true!).

Towards the end of the pregnancy I did start to get a bit fed up, as every pregnant woman does I’m sure. So we did loads of walking as my due date approached to try and get things going, but to no avail. On my due date, probably due to the frustration that a baby hadn’t magically appeared, I started to worry that something may be wrong, so we popped to the hospital and asked to be checked. At the hospital I was put on a monitor and told everything was fine; a scan showed that Jake was looking to be larger than my “bump measuring” had indicted (they estimated him to be 9lbs 3oz) so they gave me a sweep – which I found very painful and uncomfortable.

Despite the sweep nothing happened. So we continued to do lots of walking as I got more and more frustrated and uncomfortable and upset that my larger size was causing me to have some mild bladder control problems (pregnancy is not glamorous!). Five days after my due date I was particularly annoyed and fed up and burst into tears telling Jamie how upset I was that I kept weeing myself whenever I stood up. After I had calmed down I started to think that perhaps this could be my waters??

lisa edwards 2So off to the hospital we went again, and lo and behold they told me I wasn’t weeing myself but my waters had been very slowly leaking. Now I like to think of myself as an intelligent woman, so how 5 days over my due date I didn’t realise my waters were breaking I do not know – let’s just put it down to extreme baby brain stupidity!

The hospital told me to come back in the morning to be induced. At 7am we got to the hospital, where we were left on the ward until midday. This was very frustrating, as if they weren’t going to start the induction until midday why didn’t they just let us stay at home? Anyway, once they came and collected us we were taken to a delivery room and I was put straight on the induction drip (I don’t know what the actual term for it is); it was administered via a cannula in my hand, which again was a process I did not enjoy.

Every half an hour the drip dosage is increased. Now from this stage I really started to lose the concept of time, so apologies that I can’t be too exact with everything that happened. The drip did start to do its job and I was getting regular contractions; all the while the drip strength was gradually being increased.  I complained a number of times about the cannula being uncomfortable in my hand; each time it was checked and I was told it was fine.

I kept complaining about my hand feeling strange to Jamie and he started to notice that it was looking quite swollen and blue. Jamie went to find the midwife to get them to check the cannula (again). When they came and checked it this time, they realised that it hadn’t been inserted correctly and some of the “induction juices” had been pooling into my hand. The cannula was removed, and reinserted which again was extremely unpleasant. Then the midwife massaged my hand, pushing the “induction juices” down towards my arm – and this is when my problems started.

lisa edwards 3It was like I was hit with a triple whammy of super strength “induction juice”; my contractions got much stronger and much more regular extremely quickly. I was quickly put onto gas and air, and very shortly after administered an injection of pethidine. In my birth plan this was as far as I wanted to go with pain relief as I hate needles so really, really, really, didn’t want an epidural. Despite the fact that the drip had now been reduced to try to steady my contractions, they just kept coming; the problem was I was getting little to no break in-between. After about 40 minutes of a more or less continuous contraction the midwives convinced me that I needed to have an epidural.

I always said that I would do whatever was best for the baby and would take the advice of the midwives. So I agreed to have the epidural. I was absolutely terrified whilst the epidural was administered; I think they only thing that stopped me from moving during the procedure was my extreme fear as my contractions were still coming thick and fast. Once the epidural kicked in, it did feel like a welcome relief and allowed me to have the first rest I’d had in hours. Unfortunately the midwives still couldn’t seem to control my contractions, and they started to discuss a C-section.

I am petrified of the concept of a C-section; before getting pregnant I had never even given blood. The concept of any kind of operation scares me senseless. My whole birth plan basically revolved around NOT having a C-section. The consultant was brought in and I was strongly advised that a C-section was needed as the constant contracting was becoming too much for the baby, and I had been stuck at 6cm dilated for hours. By this point I was crying near hysterically, but agreed to the C-section as I was told it was necessary.

Within minutes of the decision being made I was taken down to theatre. I can honestly say I have never been more terrified in all my life. The anaesthetist tried to console me and offer me reassurance; my main question to him being is it possible for someone to actually die simply from being so scared and what if my heart stops because I become so frozen with fear? (In hindsight I had completely lost my mind, but this just shows how scared of operations I am).

To top things off (as if all this trauma wasn’t enough!), the anaesthetist declared that my cannula still wasn’t correctly inserted into my hand (no wonder my contractions couldn’t be properly controlled) so it was removed and reinserted for the third time. Once this was done Jamie was allowed to join me in the theatre and the section was started. All I remember is saying to Jamie over and over “keep talking to me, keep talking to me” and I have to say he did an amazing job of providing me with a constant running commentary of complete random conversation, despite me being unable to in any way say anything other than “keep talking”.

lisa edwards 4Jake was successfully born at 3.47 am weighing 8lbs 15oz; the first thing I remember Jamie saying was “look at his hair”. I saw Jake and was happy he was ok, but to be honest I was too lost in my fear to really experience any other emotion. As soon as Jake was out of me I was given a sedative to help me to calm down. Though I still felt extremely panicked through the rest of the procedure.

I had never really been told how long the sewing you back together part of a C-section took, but it started to feel like there was a lot of activity on the other side of the blue curtain and I quickly became panicked that something was wrong. I wasn’t told what was happening just that everything was “fine”. After what seemed like a very long time, the procedure was over and I was moved to recovery.

I was hooked up to a morphine drip and given a quick cuddle with Jake before he was whisked away by a doctor. It was Jamie who then told me that whilst the C-section was being performed, the surgical team had noted that my placenta smelled “off” which to them indicted that it had become infected. The reason it took so long to close me up was they needed to very thoroughly clean everything out.

The infected placenta meant that both Jake and I had the infection in our blood stream and we both required IV antibiotics (via the dreaded cannula!), and would both have to stay in hospital until the infection was gone – they hoped we would be in hospital for three days. In the end we were kept in the hospital for six days!

During our extended stay in the maternity ward both Jake and I had to have our cannulas put back in again (that totals four times for me and twice for Jake!). I generally found the stay in hospital ok, and am convinced Jake and I both found breastfeeding so easy due to the extra time and care we had from the midwives to help show me what to do.

lisa edwards 5A couple of days into my stay I did have a panic attack where I was re-living the birth experience, which was distressing for both me and Jamie as I basically started writhing around on the bed as if I were in labour again! It took me a long time to calm back down and made me quite on edge that the panic attacks might happen again, but thankfully they haven’t.

In summary, my birth experience was everything that I didn’t want and everything that I feared all rolled into one. It has taken me a long time to come to terms with what happened and I still find it difficult to look at my C-section scar. I didn’t fear childbirth throughout my pregnancy but now when we get pregnant again I think I will struggle with the fear of the same thing happening again and know I will require a lot more emotional support.

Follow Lisa on Twitter @thelifeofwife1