Welcoming April Elle

by - Tuesday, August 14, 2018

It's taken me almost 10 months to feel like I actually have a few minutes to sit down and properly recount the way that our April Elle was brought into the world. I honestly had no idea what we were in for, and it's been a full on 10 months!

Warning! There are some graphic photos below of the birth.  

Wednesday the 18th of October rolled around like every other day. I woke up and felt a sense of relief, because as any Mama will tell you, reaching 38 weeks of pregnancy is a wonderful milestone. It means you are officially full term and basically, it's safe for your baby to be born. We were so excited for the arrival of our second little girl!
It was time to really crack down, get the hospital bag packed, and get ready for our second little girl to join our family. Joe headed off to work and I had my weekly antenatal appointment at 10am. So I dropped Isla off at my Mums, and planned to go to my appointment, and then I was going to grab a take-away iced latte, head to the shops and pick up a few necessities for the hospital bag! That was my plan anyway.

A little back story.
I found Isla's birth quite traumatic. It really affected me. I've had a lot of nightmares about it since, and had a few mild panic attacks a few times during April's pregnancy because I was so worried that the same thing would happen. At around 36 weeks I met with an anaesthetist and talked about what happened last time and about how to help prevent having a high block again, if I was to end up in the same situation.

After going back and forth about trying for a natural birth, or having a planned c-section, I had officially decided to try for a natural birth again this time. Being rushed into an emergency c-section last time, sliced open, heavily drugged, thinking I was dying, and then the recovery afterwards was just something that I definitely didn't want to go through again. Especially with having a 2.5 year old to run after as well. We thought that if I did things a little differently this time, I would be able to feel everything better, enabling me to push better, and hopefully end up with having the birth that I had wanted the first time around!

Again, that was the plan.

I trooped off to the hospital, saw the nurse for my appointment, and as I was about to leave, I thought that I'd just mention quickly that I had noticed that baby hadn't moved as much as normal in the last couple days, expecting him to brush it off as normal because baby was getting big now, and didn't have a lot of room to move! But he looked a little concerned about the reduced fetal movement, so he pulled out the gear to do an Ultrasound. After a little while, he said that he was a little worried about my fluid levels around the baby. He called the clinic upstairs and arranged for me to go straight up for a proper Ultrasound. He said that depending on how that goes, he might also get me to go in for a CTG for monitoring. Before I left to go upstairs he said "I just need to prepare you, that if the scan doesn't look good, you might be coming back in the next couple days for an early delivery". Oh my gosh! I was not ready to have a brand new baby yet! I still had things to pick up at the shops, still needed to pack my hospital bag, the bedrooms we were building on for the girls weren't finished yet, there was still so much to get done!

I headed upstairs and waited for my scan. Joe was at work, so I messaged him just to let him know what was happening. I went in for the scan and the two ultrasound technicians were so lovely. They chatted with me the whole time, and made me feel really at ease. Everything that they said was positive. Baby was practicing breathing really well, she was estimated to be 3.6kg (yikes!!), and they even said that the fluid levels around baby looked good! They still wanted me to go to have a CTG though.

I messaged Joe again letting him know. He asked if we should be worried. I said that everything was probably okay, they were just taking precautions.

I went next door and waited for about 30 minutes. I could hear women in labour, babies crying, and a lot of beeping from the CTG machines. They took me through, got me to lay down on a bed in a room nearby, and they hooked me up for monitoring. An hour or so passed. A nurse read through my file, and then came and sat with me for a bit. She asked about my previous birth, and told me all about her experiences with c-sections, and talked me through where babies were at by 38 weeks. She told me how different an emergency c-section is compared with an elective one. I honestly didn't know why she was talking to me so much. She told me the Doctor would be in shortly to see me.

Sure enough, a little while later in walks the Doctor accompanied with that same nurse. I had met with him a few weeks prior, and talked about trying for a natural birth, which he had supported. The scan that I just had, had seemed to have gone quite well, so I was expecting him to tell me that everything looked fine, and that they'll see me in a week for my next antenatal appointment. But instead he calmly said "Here's the short of it. Your baby is not getting enough oxygen to her brain, and we need to get her out." I was shocked. "What do you mean?" I managed to ask. He said "We need to get her out. We can do it tomorrow if you really need, but today would be best. We can have you down in theatre in a few hours. When did you last eat?" At this point, I burst into tears and the room started spinning. He sat on the bed and said "It's okay to be upset. I know this is a lot to process. But this needs to happen, and today preferably." I asked if I could still try for a natural birth. He said that it was risky to induce me again after my first c-section. And he said that even if they did, it was extremely likely that it would end up in theatre anyway. He said that given the situation, the absolute safest thing for the baby was a semi-emergency c-section. He acknowledged that he knew that's not what I wanted, but he said that's what had to happen. He calculated how long it had been since I had eaten or had anything to drink (due to fasting purposes), and said that they could take me down to theatre at about 4pm. From memory I couldn't really talk at this point. I just nodded, and focused on breathing. I didn't want to have a panic attack. 4pm was only a few hours away. The Doctor said he'd start making the arrangements and left. The nurse sat on the bed, held my hand and said "I was trying to prepare you before darling. To give you a little heads up. You're going to be just fine. This will be a totally different experience to last time, it will be much more relaxing and stress free. You'll all just be chatting the whole way through it!" I couldn't stop the tears, and I just couldn't believe that I was about to have another c-section, and be holding my baby in my arms in a few hours time.

I messaged Joe and asked him to call me asap. He called moments later, and I couldn't even speak. I just couldn't stop crying. I eventually got out what was happening, and he left work straight away. He went home and got my half-packed hospital bag, installed the carseat and capsule. I also let Mum know what was happening (which was another phone call of not being able to speak properly through the tears) and she said that she'd take care of Isla as long as we needed. All I could think was that I was supposed to have picked her up, and supposed to have been drinking an iced latte right about now! I didn't get a chance to explain to Isla what was happening, and that next time I'd see her, she would get to meet her little sister. I really missed Isla at this point. I felt very far away from her.

I stared at the clock and watched the minute hand tick faster than I've ever seen it tick. Once Joe arrived, the Doctor went over what was happening again. Joe wasn't too happy about the pending c-section, but as it was the safest thing for baby, he accepted it. We let our immediate families know what was happening, and they kept us in their prayers. I also stood up for one last bump photo before they started prepping me for surgery. I had been crying so much, and was just so emotional and terrified. Don't get me wrong, I was also so excited to meet our little girl, I just wanted to see her and for her to be safely in my arms. It was overwhelming! I tried to focus on that, instead of the way that it had to happen.
A couple nurses came in to prep me and starting chatting with me trying to calm my nerves. Bless haha. I had already heard plenty of times about how different planned c-sections are to emergency ones. It didn't make a difference. My concern was with possibly having another high block, and not being able to breathe, swallow or talk properly. I mentioned it to various nurses and doctors at least 20 times, so that they'd keep it in mind, and administer the anaesthetic slowly if possible. (Yes.. I was that annoying pregnant woman!) But I can not express to you the amount of fear that I was trying to keep at bay.

Before we knew it, it was 4pm. I don't know where those hours went! Some nurses came in and said "Okay guys, it's time! Lets go meet your baby." They handed Joe some scrubs and he got dressed while the nurses got me onto a different transportable bed. Once ready, they wheeled me down the hall. I was so terrified that my entire body was visibly shaking and I couldn't stop it. The nurse told me that she would be right next to me the entire time.

I remember having flashbacks of being rushed down the hall in a panic during Islas birth, and being so drugged up I wasn't physically able to keep my eyes open. I remember only getting flashes of what was actually happening. It was this very same hospital, and down these very same halls! I couldn't believe I was there again, but I felt like everyone had much more control of the situation this time, and I just tried to focus on how calm everyone was.
We were there before I knew it. I was wheeled into a very bright, cold operating room, filled with staff and a bed in the middle. They got me to sit up on the edge of the bed, with my feet hanging over. It was time for the spinal. They told me to lean forward a little and let Joe support me, and they warned me that they were about to do a very cold iodine solution wash over my back before giving me the needle. I was already shaking, so the thought of this was less than appealing. WOAH, that was cold. It felt like a sponge full of freezing cold water pressed into my back, and dripped down everywhere. I don't know why, but when I think about that cold wash, the words 'ice' and 'beetroot' come to mind! After the cold wash, I started getting really faint, and I told them I was about to black out! Luckily that happened before the needle was going in, and they told me to lay back down until I felt better, and got some colour back in my face. It had been a big day, and was about to get bigger. It was also going to be a big day for this baby, and I had no way to warn her what was about to happen. I had been so nervous leading up to this point, my whole body was uncontrollably shaking, and I felt so overwhelmed. It had all just came to a head. I closed my eyes and focused on breathing. I told myself that this was happening, and it was going to be fine. Our baby girl needed to come out now, and if I couldn't pull myself together, they might just knock me out with general anaesthetic and I would miss the whole thing. I didn't want to miss out on those first moments. I wanted so desperately to meet her.

Once I felt ready, they sat me up again. Take two. They gave me another cold wash and I focused on the handsome details of Joe's face as they gave me the spinal. Then they quickly lay me down again. They told me they were going to move me over to the operating table, and to just try and relax, and not to move a muscle. I couldn't have moved even if I wanted to! I felt like I had been paralysed from the waist down. Goodness that was quick!

Once in position, Joe sat next to me. And that lovely nurse was right to the other side of me, checking to see where I was numbed up to. So far it was just up to my chest, and I was praying that that was as high as the block would go. I'm pleased to say that YES, that was as high as it went. I was able to breathe, swallow and talk basically normally throughout the whole procedure, which made things so much less stressful. Another Doctor was in the room, and he also sat right next to me. He was just casually chatting about some dinner he had eaten recently at his in-laws. Everyone was pretty chill. One thing he did which I am forever thankful for, is he asked if I wanted him to take some photos on my phone. Joe was already set to take a video on his phone, so it was perfect. Honestly, I'm so grateful for it! After checking that I was numb enough, it was time to get baby out! Up went the curtain.

There came that familiar strong pull and tug. No pain. Just the extremely unusual feeling of people playing a game of tug of war with your stomach. I can't even describe it properly! But there was no pain, and I could still breathe, swallow and talk fine, so I was feeling okay.

Suddenly it just hit me that the hard part was seemingly over. From here on, I just had to lay there. We were only moments away from meeting our new little baby girl! I started to feel pretty emotional at this point. I couldn't wait to finally see her, cuddle her, kiss her and make her feel happy and safe again after being pulled out. The doctor next to me suddenly piped up and said "Did you hear that? The cord was wrapped around her neck, so that's lucky you're getting her out this way. That could have been really bad." That was crazy to hear. So you know what, maybe this was all just meant to happen this way. You know what else is crazy to hear? Those first cries of your baby.
She was here. Our April Elle Davis.
Born at 4:58pm. Weighing in at 3.28kg and 49cm long.

They held her up over the curtain so I could see her. Even if you've had a baby before, nothing can prepare you for that moment when you see them for the first time. They are just so tiny, and so beautiful. I couldn't believe she was here!

Goodness I loved her. She was mine.
After seeing her quickly, they took her over to the table to wipe her down, check her over, and Joe cut the cord. Poor little darling was crying and I just wanted to comfort her! But she was alive and well which is the important thing.

If you'd like to see the video, click play! Be warned, theres a lot of detail, so if you don't wish to see, just keep scrolling!

It took an hour to stitch me back up, which felt like an eternity. I got to have little cuddles with her briefly, and Joe held her next to me for a while. I felt a little out of it though, so I couldn't do much.
Once I was stitched up, they took me down to recovery, and sent Joe and April to the ward to wait in our room. It took another hour there, and it was strange just waiting in recovery by myself. We had just gone through all of that emotion, finally met our baby girl, and now I just sat in a bed waiting. It was silent, and it felt like the calm before the storm. (But a good kind of storm.) I was so happy when they started to wheel me back to the ward to find Joe. I desperately wanted to see April again, feed and have proper cuddles with her!!

And thats exactly what I did.
So all in all, it was a pretty unexpectedly crazy day - but a good one! I had been so nervous about it all, and finally it was over! She was safe in my arms!

I do want to take a minute to talk about something that really effected me in a negative way. And that's the drug Tramadol. If you are ever given it, please just be very weary of it and what it can do to you. Post birth, I had a big few weeks of physical and mental challenges to overcome. I knew nothing about Tramadol, but it really did a number on me. It took me a while to put 2 and 2 together and figure out why I was feeling the way I was feeling, and why my body was acting up. And as soon as I figured it out, I stopped taking it. Not everyone reacts to it, but I've now heard countless stories similar to mine. Even in the words of the midwife that came out to the house, Tramadol is known in the nursing world as a 'dirty drug'. It's really nasty, and can take a while to get out of your system. If you can, stay as far away from it as you can. Recovery-wise, I had a few weeks from hell. Never again. To summarise what I went through - I was nauseous, had night chills, night sweats, felt dizzy and faint. The worst of it however was the intensely high anxiety I experienced. I've never gone through anything like it. I couldn't even walk somewhere without having my heart racing and needing to sit down, and I had to carry a wet cloth around with me everywhere to put on my forehead every time I felt my heart starting to race. It helped to get it back to normal. Even when I left the hospital, I had to walk extremely slowly down the hall to the lifts, and then I had to stop in the lobby because I physically couldn't continue. Joe went to get the car, and I almost had a panic attack sitting in the lobby with the wet cloth! Once we got home, we realised that it was Tramadol that was doing it to me and I stopped taking it straight away. But it took weeks to get out of my system. I wasn't getting any sleep at night because every time I started to fall asleep my heart would start racing, and I'd have to try and calm down, and keep putting the wet cloth on my head. I couldn't even walk down our hallway to get to the toilet without having a seat in the hallway that I could rest at on the way to keep my heart rate down. I had to take that wet cloth with me EVERYWHERE. At one point I finally got to the toilet, sat down and then almost blacked out! So I had to rush out, almost fell to the floor and I had to stumble my way to the bed and lay down quickly. It was honestly dreadful. I didn't know what to do. I was a ball of emotion, and there were times where I was uncontrollably crying with a racing heart and I had Joe and Isla holding me, playing soft music and trying to calm me down. I'll never forget that. To some extent, I feel like I was robbed of those first few weeks with my baby girl. Between Tramadol and just regular c-section recovery, I wasn't able to enjoy them or spend them quite the way I had hoped.

But I slowly got better and better, and I came off all pain meds as soon as I could.

Having two beautiful girls of our own has made our hearts so full and happy. I honestly didn't know that I could love another little girl as much as I love Isla, but I do. She is the perfect addition to our family, and as soon as I saw our little April lifted above that curtain, I was just overwhelmed with this fierce mama bear love. We vow to protect her for the rest of our lives!  
I have now had two c-sections that I had not planned on. And although it's not the way that I had wanted to do it, I am definitely still grateful that I've got two healthy girls, and we are all well and alive to tell the tales! Thank goodness for the Doctors and modern day procedures.. and thank goodness for anaesthetic! If you're curious about c-sections, I found this link helpful. However, it makes me feel a little ill, because it's very close to home for me!

Thank goodness I mentioned the reduced fetal movement to the nurse at my antenatal appointment. Thank goodness he was concerned about my fluid levels (which were actually fine) and sent me up for a scan. Thank goodness they sent me over to have a CTG, and thank goodness they thoroughly checked over baby and myself, and realised she wasn't getting enough oxygen to her brain. Thank goodness this ended up being a c-section, seeing as the cord was wrapped around her neck. Because if any one of those things hadn't have happened, I possibly wouldn't have my little girl here with me today. Which is unbearable to think about.

April Elle, you have turned our lives upside down in the best kind of way! You are just this smiley, squishy, bundle of joy, and we can't even remember life before you! Thank you for your daily face suckles, smiles, laughs and cuddles. You are ours, and we are going to love you forever.

- A M Y  D A V I S

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