Eliza Grace arrived in the world on 3rd June 2015 at 6.03pm weighing 6lb 6oz. She was 4 weeks early.
After 3 previous emergency C sections we would have loved a calm, elective section on the booked date of 22nd June. However, as my pregnancy progressed it became obvious that this wasn’t likely to happen. I suffered from Polyhydramnios from about 28 weeks, and was having weekly scans to check the fluid levels, the cord blood flow and the growth of the baby. At 33 weeks I was admitted to hospital with contractions and given something to stop them, along with steroid injections to mature the baby’s lungs. Thankfully everything calmed down and I was able to go home.
At 35 weeks my scan showed that the baby’s growth had slowed down. I was booked for a repeat scan at 36 weeks and if the growth hadn’t improved there was talk of bringing my section date forwards. I duly attended this scan at 36 weeks and 2 days. I told the midwife how I had been having tightenings all night and hadn’t slept. I felt like something was happening. I was told to go home and take it easy and to ring the delivery suite if they became more regular.
I phoned the delivery suite at lunchtime and was told to make my way in. On arrival I was popped on the monitor, and this showed that I was indeed having regular, strong contractions. An examination showed I wasn’t dilating, and so I had a drip popped in and was told I would be taken to the antenatal ward to see if things progressed. As I stood up to walk to the ward, there was an odd popping sound and I found myself stood in a puddle of water.
Things suddenly ramped up a gear. Because the baby was breech I was immediately examined in case there was a cord prolapse or a lot of dilation. I was approx 2cm dilated and the decision was made to take me straight to theatre for a C section. I made a rather frantic phone call to Kevin to tell him to come in NOW, and I was prepped for surgery.
The epidural was in place, the checks were done and the surgical team were ready to deliver my baby. I knew Kevin wasn’t going to make it, but I had a wonderful team in theatre with me – a lovely student midwife and her mentor as well as the nicest anaesthetist you could ever hope to meet. They made it all a lot easier. Within minutes I felt a lot of pushing and shoving, and before I knew it the screen was being dropped and a wriggling, screaming bundle was being lifted up – a baby girl!
Kevin arrived 2 minutes after she was born, and was able to cut the cord while the paediatrician checked Eliza over. All was well, and for the first time I was able to hold one of my children straight after birth. She didn’t need to go to SCBU and so was placed on my chest for some skin to skin. She stayed there until the operation was finished, then Kevin wheeled her along to recovery with me. I couldn’t stop staring at her.
Once in recovery we tried a first feed. She rooted and tried to latch on but didn’t quite know how, so because she was early the midwives helped me to hand express some colostrum for her, which she took well. After an hour in recovery we went to the ward where I spent the night wide awake just watching her. She started to become more alert and was feeding by the next morning. The following day we went home.
I can’t begin to describe the emotions I felt. Shock that labour had started, terrified that she was coming too soon and would need special care. Joy when she arrived and was crying and well. The completely overwhelming feeling when she was placed on my chest and we had skin to skin. The elation when she was taken to the ward with me and didn’t get taken away and put in an incubator. Pride when she fed. But also an underlying sadness that I hadn’t had this experience with the others. Sadness that I was never the first person to change their nappies, dress them, feed them or hold them. But Eliza has mended that hurt a little. She has given me the one thing I have always wanted – a post birth cuddle with my baby. For that, I am grateful.