Welcoming Isla Mae

by - Friday, September 04, 2015

Tuesday morning rolled around like any other morning. The sun was shining and birds were chirping.  As I ate breakfast, I looked over at the bags next to the door. And it dawned on me that this Tuesday, was going to be very different from any other Tuesday I had ever woken up to. Different, in fact, from any other day in my whole life. We would be leaving the house soon, and not returning until we were holding our baby girl!

It was kind of a crazy thought.

I had been hoping that Isla would decide to arrive a little early, because due to having Gestational Diabetes, the doctor had booked me in to be induced the day before my due date. I wasn't too keen on the idea, and would have much preferred to let it all just happen naturally. But as it turned out, Isla was quite comfortable and had no intention whatsoever of arriving early to the party!

As the time passed throughout the morning, we gradually got ready. I didn't want to think too much about what was going to happen. As this was my first birth, I was a little apprehensive, and wasn't really sure what to expect, especially with being induced. We put last minute things in our bags, and I had a few 'good luck' calls from close friends and family. Then of course, Joe and I played a bit of soccer together outside (you know, as you do when you're about to have a baby!!) I couldn't run too well, but I could still take him. ;) Pfft. Who am I kidding?! Joe is frustratingly good with a soccer ball (at most things actually). Did you know that's how we met?? On a soccer court.. and on opposite teams. I'm a bit competitive.. he seemed to like it!

Our appointment was at 3:30pm, but we left the house around lunch time so we could make a couple stops first. So with hospital bags in the car, we went and had our last pre-baby lunch date together at Nandos. Delicious! I do remember thinking how I'll be happy not to have to give it all my effort to get out of a car, and squish my belly passed parked cars anymore. Sometimes it's incredibly awkward! After Nandos, we continued down the road and arrived at the coast. We had a cool drink at our special date spot, and reminisced together. Life was about to totally change! This was it. Joe took a final bump picture of me, and we were getting pretty excited (and nervous) to meet the little lady behind the bump! 

With a final breath of fresh and salty beach air, we headed back to the car, and off to hospital.

After we arrived at the hospital, we were directed to a ward. The doctor came in shortly after and went over the general process of being induced. Then we were just told to wait about half an hour or so and then they would start the process. Waiting there felt so strange! We could hear babies crying in nearby rooms, and it made it feel that much more real. That would be us so very soon! I held my belly and wished that I could somehow warn our little girl about what was about to happen, but honestly, I didn't know what was going happen! However, I knew this was going to be such a big day for her, everything she had ever known was about to change! She was about to be pulled from her warm, dark, cosy home and I was dreading that for her. But I was really happy to know that afterwards, I would be able to comfort her, and let her find her new home - in my arms.

Births are very unpredictable, so I didn't have a strict 'birth plan' because I didn't want to be really stressed or upset about things not going exactly to the plan. Instead, I had a general idea of what I'd like to do, and had a general plan for pain management. But Joe and I had also decided that what ever the doctors were to recommend, we should really listen to. After all, they know what they're doing, and let's be honest.. we didn't! So I was prepared for pretty much anything to happen. Or so I had thought.

The doctor came in to put a tube and plug into my hand, so that when I needed to start the Oxytocin drip it would all be ready to go. I laid on the bed and he slowly popped the needle into my hand. My leg shot into the air, as it does sometimes when I'm trying to distract myself from pain. Oh my gosh I thought.. this is just a needle. How on earth am I going to push out a baby?! After a minute or so of the doctor holding my hand tightly, he told me that he had actually missed the vein, so he would have to do it on the other hand. Needless to say, I wasn't too impressed! He repeated on the other hand, and luckily got it that time. Then we just had to wait again until they were ready to start the induction.

We we're taken to the birthing suite and the nurses introduced themselves. They helped me up onto the bed and they strapped a CTG up to me so they could monitor Isla closely. I didn't really want to spread my legs to complete strangers, but believe it or not, spreading your legs is just something that you have to do when having a baby. Honestly, after you've had a baby, you really have no shame anymore! I'm not sure if this is a good or bad thing. So with legs spread, they started the induction. In went the clamps, and opened me up. There is no other way to describe it other than saying it felt like they were jacking me up like a car with a flat tire. Not my favourite experience, that's for sure. There were some student nurses there, and they were all having a good look. They seemed to be having some issues getting the Foley Catheter to stay inside though. They used various tools and unfortunately cut me a little. Joe was not impressed seeing the clamps coming out covered in blood. After some confusion, the nurses went and got a doctor. He asked straight away had they checked if I was already dilated. Which they hadn't! So he checked, and found I was already 3cm dilated, which is the whole point of the Foley Catheter, making it completely useless. So instead, they inserted some Induction Gel to help bring on contractions. I was told this could take a while, and I might need another lot of Gel later on. So it was back to the ward for us to play the waiting game.

Night came, and unfortunately, Joe was made to leave. I was told to get as much rest and sleep as I could, but call for a nurse if any pain started. So I tried to do just that. Have you ever tried to sleep in a hospital? All I could hear were babies crying, phones ringing, nurses talking, and my own thoughts about how I was about to become a Mother.

I woke at 1:30am with some cramping. I called the nurse in, and she strapped a CTG back up to me so she could monitor Isla. She confirmed that I was having contractions, but they were quite irregular, so we just needed to wait some more. She would come back to check on me in a little while.

It didn't take long for them to get somewhat stronger, and more often. At about 4am she said we could go back down to the birthing suite, where I would be able to start having some Gas and Air to help with the pain if I would like. Yes please! So she helped me waddle back to the birthing suite, and they got me set up on the bed. You're not allowed visitors overnight in the ward, but they can be in the birthing suite with you at any hour, so I was told I could call Joe when I was ready and he could come back. They said that there was no more moving around, I was now in the birthing suite until the baby arrives! Honestly, my heart skipped a beat! It was all happening, and I couldn't believe I was going to meet my little girl so soon!

I took the Gas and Air when I needed, but only started using it a lot after another hours time.  I was still a long way off being 10cm dilated, so I didn't text Joe until 6am, and I let him know what was happening. I asked him to head back to hospital soon, and that he may as well grab a McDonalds breakfast for himself on the way! He seemed pretty happy about that.

Joe arrived to find me sucking away on the Gas and Air in quite a bit of pain! Interestingly, I found that while your having a contraction, it doesn't actually take away any of the pain. It does however make you feel pretty drunk straight after the contraction, which helps in forgetting about the pain quickly.. until the next contraction arrives! Plus it gave me something to focus on and do.

By the time I had gotten to 6cm dilated, I felt like I was pretty much at my limit. Being induced forces your body to do something it's not ready to do. It forces you to contract, and it brings it all on pretty fast! I've read that contractions are more painful following an induction, as opposed to letting your body naturally get there. I've got no previous experience, so I can't say that it's true, but in any case, I couldn't take much more of it so I decided to ask about having an Epidural.

Ahh. Bliss. That was the best decision. It was great! After another 2 contractions, I could no longer feel any pain. The CTG was showing that I was having big contraction, and I was just smiling away. The midwife suggested that we get some rest, and I was pretty exhausted so that sounded good to me! Joe popped on some peaceful music, and we both fell asleep. I woke for them to check how far dilated I was. They were guessing I would be around 8cm, so I got a bit of a shock when they said I was 10cm dilated and ready to go! I needed to let the Epidural wear off a little before I could push, so they told me I had one hour and then it would be show time!

That particular hour felt like 5 minutes. It was time. This was the moment that the last 9 months had been leading up to. It was exciting and terrifying at the same time. In a matter of minutes though, all fear had been pushed aside. I had a job to do, and a pretty important one! I was ready to focus and do exactly what I was told to do. I was ready to bring my baby girl into this world.
I pushed when they said to, and I rested when they said to. I pushed as hard as I possibly could. My eyes felt like they were going to pop out, and all the veins in my neck felt like they were going to burst. It really is hard work, but I did everything I was told to do.

After 40 minutes of pushing, there wasn't much progress so the midwife went to talk to a doctor. A few minutes later, the room filled with people. I knew then that something was wrong, and my heart sank. A couple of doctors came over and told us that Isla's heart rate had escalated, and she was in distress. Something wasn't working. They said she was a decent size baby, and they said that I could probably get her head out eventually, but as her torso was bigger than her head, they couldn't guarantee they could get her out without breaking her collarbone. They also said that once her head was out, she would have 7 minutes of oxygen, and then she could end up with brain damage. The doctors said that they 100% recommended an emergency c-section and it needed to happen right now, as they didn't even know if she was getting oxygen. However, it was up to us to decide how to proceed.

They let Joe and I have a moment to decide. But it wasn't even a question. There was no way we were letting her have her collarbone broken, and obviously no way we were risking her life. 

As soon as we said yes to the emergency c-section, the atmosphere completely changed. Everyone rushed around quickly, and questions were being thrown at me. They wanted to know when I had last eaten, what drugs and pain relief I had had, and what time I had had them. I was so overwhelmed. They turned the Epidural back on, and injected me with some other drug. Honestly, I don't know exactly what was going on, everything was happening so fast. Joe was given scrubs to throw on so he could come down to the theatre with me, and I was quickly carried over to another bed. I had a nurse trying to take my nail polish off, because they have to be able to see the colour of your nails when you have a c-section. But then another nurse was telling her to forget about it, there was no time!

I don't know what drugs they pumped into me, but things quickly got very foggy. Next thing I knew, I was laying on a bed being wheeled down a hall. I didn't even remember being wheeled out of the room. The lights on the roof above me were so bright, and I was looking up at so many faces I didn't know. I couldn't keep my eyes open for more than a couple seconds. My body felt like it was trying to shut down, and I kept trying to fight it. I opened my eyes and saw Joe, then my eyes shut. I opened them again and saw a nurse on my left side, she was saying something to me, but I couldn't understand her and my eyes shut again. I tried to tell her that I couldn't keep my eyes open, but I gave up pretty quickly. I don't think I was making much sense. I opened my eyes again and we were entering a brightly lit room with lots of people wearing blue scrubs. I was unable to move anything from my waist down, and so again they lifted me from that bed, onto the operating table. I felt so drugged. I had no control over anything at this point, I was totally in other peoples hands. I was so out of it that I didn't even care. After a few minutes, I slowly started being able to keep my eyes open for longer periods of time, and I tried to figure out what was happening. A nurse started to prick me with a pin in the center of my chest and slowly moved it up towards my neck to make sure I was numb, I couldn't feel a thing until she reached just below my collarbone. Once everyone was satisfied with the numbness, they put up a screen up in front of me. Joe sat next to me and held my hand. I thought, okay, they'll let me know any minute now that they're going to start. But that wasn't exactly the case! Within seconds of the screen going up, I saw blood splatter across it, and I realised that it was happening right now. Then there was a lot of tugging and pulling. I couldn't feel any pain, but it was extremely rough. A lot more rough than I had thought it would be. I felt like my body was playing a game of 'Tug of War'. It took less than 3 minutes, and then Joe and I heard a cry. We looked at each other. Then the doctors held up a baby above the screen so we could see. I was so confused. I didn't actually think that it was our baby. I 100% thought it must be someone else's baby, because that was so quick. It took a good few minutes for it to hit me, and by that stage, Joe was cutting her cord, and they were checking her over and giving her a quick wipe down. I still felt very drugged, so that part is a little blurry for me. But then Joe brought her over to me, all wrapped up, and lay her across my chest so I could meet her.

And there she was. Our little Isla Mae Davis.
Born at 1:50pm, weighing 3.69kg (8.14 pounds) and measuring 50cm long.

She was so perfect, and so tiny. 9 whole months of waiting, and she was finally here, and the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
I tried to keep the bright light out of her eyes. Our poor little girl had been ripped from her comfortable dark space to this extremely bright theatre room, so she gave a few little cries as expected. I just couldn't get over how little she was. Such a tiny nose, and beautiful lips.. instantly Joe and I loved her more than anything in the world.

Unfortunately, after about a minute or two of being with her I started to feel really strange. I told Joe to hold her again, and I tried to tell a nurse that something didn't feel right. All of a sudden I couldn't swallow properly, or talk properly. And I felt like I couldn't breathe. After a bit of investigation, the nurse said that I had been given a little too much anaesthetic, resulting in what they call a 'High Block'. I had no feeling up to my jawline. It all came on pretty fast, and I felt really panicky. Every time that I had to swallow, I would grasp at something, because I felt like I was going to choke.

I would say it was the scariest moment of my life. I had no idea what was happening, and I actually thought I was going to die. 100%. I still felt a little drugged up, and I had no control whatsoever over anything at this point. I couldn't move my body, and I felt completely out of breath. I thought, 'well, this is it. Isla is safely here, my job is done'. I was wheeled away from Joe and Isla, and in my mind, that was the last time I was going to see them.

Luckily, it wasn't! I was taken to recovery, and a nurse stayed by my side for the following 30 minutes, helping me. During this time, Joe had skin to skin with Isla. Then they both came down to me, because I needed me to feed Isla as soon as possible. I fed her for the first time, and she was just the cutest little thing!! I also got to hold her properly in my arms for the first time, and I couldn't take my eyes off her.

She was mine. I had dreamed about her countless nights, but she was so much more than I had dreamed of.

After another 30 minutes, I started to feel a lot better. I was wheeled back up to the ward, and Joe and I just got to be with our little girl. There's no other way to describe it but magical. We didn't know we could love someone so much. She totally completed us.
It took a good few months for me to be okay about the way everything happened. I couldn't talk about it for a long time without getting teary. I had thought I was prepared for anything when it came to the birth, but it hadn't even occurred to me that having an emergency c-section could be a possibility. I wasn't prepared for that, and I was pretty shattered about it. It felt like I had failed doing what my body was meant to do. The time had come, and it didn't perform. When what should be such a beautiful, emotional and intimate moment is torn away from you and you're thrown into a situation that you have no control over, it's really devastating. I'm still not happy about it, but I have accepted it now. I realise that without the emergency c-section, it could have ended pretty badly for both of us. So for that, I am so grateful.

Life was amazing before, but it's just a million times better now. It's now been almost 6 months since she arrived, and I can't even remember life before her. She is our everything, and I just hope that one day she will be proud to have us as parents. I want to show her the world, make her laugh at least 100 times a day, shower her with happiness and show her all the love in the world. She is such an amazing little girl!! She is so happy, and so clever. I love watching her grow, and watching her learn new things.

I feel so blessed to have been given the opportunity to be a Mum. It's such a gift. Even though she was a little surprise, she is the best thing we've ever done. I really hope she knows how much we love her. We'll spend our lives showing her.

Just. So. Happy.

- A M Y  D A V I S

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  1. This is so beautiful! Don't ever ever feel like you failed! You did exactly what your beautiful baby girl needed in those moments! God is always there! He's so amazing. So happy for you guys. Xx

    1. That is so lovely of you to say, thank you! Loving every moment of parenthood, it's such a gift!! :)