13 October 2021



It has taken me a long time to get round to writing this, it's been a little too hard to write and a little heavy on my heart. My last birth was meant to be as perfect as Rufus' was but it wasn't and it was incredibly hard for me and there were some cross words and Brad putting his foot down in the labour room. 

But I have to write it some day because I want the memory of it like the other three's as it won't always be painful to relive and I can pick some positives out of it. 

So I'll take you back to August 6th, the day before I went into labour. It was a Friday and I had a growth scan to check the placenta was working correctly. I had been in and out since 36 weeks roughly. I went in with at 37 weeks as I was having contractions and his heart rate was incredibly high, I was on the CTG monitor for such a long time, about an hour and 20 minutes. I was allowed home and they weren't worried as his baseline sat at a normal rate. I went back in every other day with reduced movements and contractions until the Thursday when I saw my midwife at home. The night before I ended up calling Brad home and having to go into hospital due to not being able to feel him at all, the movements had completely stopped and I'd never felt so scared. I used my doppler whilst I waited for Brad to get back from work to see if I could hear him, I don't recommend using a doppler, especially not if you have reduced movements, you should always go get checked but I was going up anyway and just wanted to prepare myself, hearing his heartbeat put my mind at rest enough that he was still okay in there and as long as I got to the hospital, they could deliver him there and then if they needed too. He of course started moving when I got in but being the third reduced movements episode in a week with contractions they scheduled the scan for Friday. I saw my midwife the next day at home and she said to not ignore any reduced movements and she'd sweep me a week later if I was still pregnant. On the Friday I had the arranged scan which was normal and he was weighing in at 7lb 11ozs but his movements were reduced again and I was getting really fed up and scared to be honest so after yet another CTG and Brad going home due to working that night, I said I wanted to avoid an induction but I wanted a sweep to try and bring on labour as I was starting to worry about something happening to Caspar the longer we ignored that he was clearly getting distressed in the womb. I had a lovely Doctor who did agree and whilst doing the sweep stated if needed to he could break my waters but obviously didn't. 

I got home that night at 5:30ish and instantly had a bloody show, Brad went off to work at 6:30 but we were both under the impression he'd likely not make it through the night. I had irregular contractions all that night and at 3am they'd ramped up in painfulness and I called Brad and we decided the best thing for him to do would be to aim to get home around 5:15amish to nap as we knew that was going to be the day. He did that, he got home at 5:20am, went straight to sleep on the sofa and when the three littles woke up at 6:30am I put on Raya and the last dragon on my laptop and tried to nap the best I could which I managed to do until 8amish and that's when Brad got up. I prepped my Mum as my show just kept coming away and contractions were irregular still. I called my Nan at 10amish to see if she could come and watch the littles until Brad's mum could arrive to watch them until then my Mum could come after a birthday meal but whilst on the phone my waters broke and I instantly panicked. With Lucas my waters broke and I had a c-section 5 hour later scheduled due to the breech baby and not able to give birth vaginally with the risks from my uterus shape, with Iris I was pushing 10 minutes after my waters broke (4cm-10cm) and Rufus my waters broke and his head was out 1minute later, so as you can imagine I panicked. The hospital were called and advised me to get in asap, but if I felt the urge to push then to call an ambulance and stay where I was. I called my Mum and she instantly dropped everything and came over. 

I got to the hospital around 11ish and was checked and I was 3cm dilated. I was excited and nervous, my waters had gone and with every contraction they gushed more. I continued to walk around and try to get the contractions more regular as I was already breaking the cycle of pushing a baby out quickly after my waters going. About 2 hours later I wasn't ready to be checked again but the pain was becoming more and more intense so the midwife allowed me to get in the birthing pool after I was finally struggling enough to ask for gas and air. I was hooked up to that and instantly felt a pain relief from both gas and the water in the pool. I felt calm and relaxed. An hour or so later I was asked to get out the pool to check Caspar's heart rate as they were picking up a high heart rate. I was checked again for dilation by two people and both times they said I was still 3cm dilated. I had no idea what the hell was going on, this wasn't like Ru's or Iris'. I found myself entering a stage that you tend to see on one born every minute and I was told I needed to go from the birthing centre downstairs to labour ward and I wouldn't be able to continue with a water birth and I needed to be hooked up to a CTG monitor as they were worried about Caspar and his heart rate. I sobbed and sobbed. I hated Iris' birth as I was strapped to a bed and at an uncomfortable angle. 

Once hooked to the CTG monitor, one midwife told me to start downing water to hydrate myself as I looked like I was becoming dehydrated and that could have been playing a huge part in Caspar's heart rate. It did start to improve and they were satisfied enough to take me off the monitor. Brad started to ask questions about the birthing pool and they said they would get a doctor to re-evaluate the situation. I was still in a lot of pain and desperate to get in the pool. Now I am aware labour hurts, I've done in 3 times but being in the water does make a huge difference to the pain and how I handle it. 

The doctor came in and it was the doctor who'd given me the sweep the day before who said he'd thought he'd see me within the 24 hours. He said he was happy for me to get back in the pool at 4cm, even though the midwife was pushing for 6cm. He knew my history and also said with baby no. 3 or 4 it's not always about the dilation and about the pain and the contraction times. I felt happy with this and just had to hold out to get one more cm dilated. I struggled on through the pain for another 4 hours or so until midwife changeover. I spent the entire time leaning over the bed in pain and slowly getting incredibly distressed as the pain was intense as Caspar was back to back. They re-checked me for dilation at 9pm and I was still 3cm. I was getting to the point where the gas and air just wasn't even doing anything and the pain was causing me to loose control. Now, I repeat I KNOW HOW PAINFUL LABOUR IS, but this was out of this world, worse than Iris' and that was just gas and air and not in the water and her labour was 15 hours from first contraction but 20 minutes from the "4cm mark". I was in tears, struggling like I never had and was contemplating having an epidural by this stage. Brad started to get frustrated and demanded a doctor come in and give her permission to get back in the water as slowing down labour at this stage would be better as a longer, less painful labour would be better than a shorter unbearable labour. 

The doctor came in and Brad took over talking with my permission because he knows me, knows how I am and knows what I'm like in labour too and the doctor just would not listen, going on and on about my c-section scar and that it could rupture if i'm in that much pain and without being sexist, I don't want to be told by a male doctor about labour pain, when they have no a clue what it feels like. After Brad snapping, they said it was up to me and I know the risks of going against their advice, it would slow down labour, blah blah blah, but at this point I felt like it was worth it because if I was still 3cm at nearly 12 hours later then I was either going to dilate or I wasn't going to dilate no matter where I was. They started running the pool and it felt like a lifetime later but it was full enough for me to get in. 
I got in around 10:20pm in the end and I instantly wanted to cry with relief, all of a sudden I was back to managing the pain again, I felt like I could do this and then all of a sudden, anyone that has given birth or been with someone when giving birth knows that change in sound, the "IM PUSHING" sound! I was pushing, I can only imagine I did what I did with both Ru and Iris and once I hit 4cm I went from 0-100, 4-10cm immediately and I was pushing my final baby boy out, in the water. 
Now, it wasn't completely lovely as unfortunately the midwives didn't listen to me fully and they were convinced they still needed to hook me up to continuous monitoring and they were trying to strap the CTG straps to my stomach whilst I was pushing, this lead me to again give birth at a funny angle and has hurt my back and pelvis mostly. 

At 22:42 at 7lbs 12ozs (So a super accurate growth scan the day before) Caspar finally came into the world! He was beautiful, looked like Rufus initially and I was instantly in love with him. I just felt this overwhelming connection to him. I think with his heart rate issues and reduced movements I was convinced I'd loose him that when he was here all that worry went away. He was here, safe, pink and crying and that's all I needed. I was complete. A Mother of four beautiful children, three Boys and a little Girl. Brad went home just after midnight as I went up to the ward so he could get some sleep and come back the next Morning.  Brad's covid results still weren't back yet but as soon as they were he could come back in the Morning. 

The next Morning came and the nurse came to do his newborn checks as she knew I was desperate to get home especially to introduce him to his siblings. Brad's covid results weren't back yet but mine were negative. During his checks she noticed that his Saturation levels were different on his hands and his feet. He was very pale, lethargic, wasn't really waking for anything and hadn't fed since his first feed as soon as he was born. He wouldn't latch and was showing no signs of being hungry. They were worried and his blood sugars were incredibly low and two neonatal doctors came up from NICU and both expressed he needed antibiotics, blood cultures taken and to go to neonatal. They agreed to let Brad up even though his covid results weren't back due to the situation and the fears I'd been having all week were coming to true. Thankfully then Brad's negative covid results came back just as he arrived so that made life easier too.

We were given 10 minutes to cuddle him before they took him down and it added to my anxiety, it was like a "say goodbye" kinda moment. I remember clutching to him whilst sobbing and Brad taking photos and feeling broken. They took him downstairs and I was told we could go down together in thirty minutes and that felt like the longest 30 minutes ever! When we went down we were told to go to nursery 3. I was familiar with nursery 3 as that is where my friends Daughter was who I visited regularly. It's a whole different feeling and emotion walking into the nursery to see your baby in an incubator, hooked up to wires and drips and machines beeping cause his levels aren't right and his resps were dangerously wrong. 

Not being able to cuddle him and see him looking so poorly broke me, I couldn't string a single sentence together, I couldn't stop crying, no matter who spoke to me I cried. I was asked to attempt to feed him and got so excited when he latched but a couple of suckles later he vomited and it was brown and had blood in it. I instantly thought internal bleeding because I know about the coffee granules kinda sick from working in care and was strangely relieved to hear it was amniotic fluid. Sadly this then led to his oxygen levels not being right and he was then having oxygen through his nose and a feeding tube down his throat. Even typing it now brings a lump to my throat. Nothing prepares you for seeing your baby so poorly and I know there are babies more poorly than he was and parents in worse situation but I honestly cannot express how much I struggled. He was my final baby and I wanted to just snuggle and sniff him whilst being in the newborn bubble. 

I started pumping that afternoon and I was getting basically nothing out and I ended up just telling them that if formula was the route we needed to take to get him healthy and get him out of NICU quicker then do it, I just wanted to do whatever as I just wanted Caspar better. I was desperate for a breastfeeding journey but it doesn't matter, nothing matters when you just want to get your baby healthy and home. He had an Xray on his chest at lunchtime and it showed shadows on his lungs suggesting it was an infection so thank god they started IV antibiotics when they did.
That evening I was pumping on the ward, so I could have some dinner and Brad and I could be together as by this point NICU had said it was one parent bedside out of the assigned slot you book for an hour and a half a day and I was surrounded by Mum's with their baby's, baby's crying and I will admit I lost it, I couldn't stop sobbing. I was sobbing and sobbing and couldn't even get my words out, couldn't even say my name for pain killers. Brad had a word with the ward who instantly found me a private room and NICU who Caspar's nurse from the day shift had told me I couldn't hold him and the doctor had said I couldn't attempt to feed him again but the night nurse and night doctor agreed that Caspar needed a Mummy cuddle to get better. This nurses name was Tania and she was amazing and supportive and she made that night bearable and less painful. I also finally stopped crying and could string a sentence together. 

Brad had said goodbye to Caspar for the night and I headed down for my first snuggle in 9 hours and as soon as he heard my voice and I held his hand through the holes in the incubator whilst I waited for Tania to help me get him out and he instantly started searching for the boob, any mum and breastfeeding mum knows that mouth open looking for the nipple. Tania spoke to the two lovely doctors and they agreed to take the tube out of his mouth and try him off the oxygen and see how he did with feeding. I instantly wanted to cry with happiness and she couldn't get him out quick enough. She handed him to me and he latched beautifully. All the doctors and nurses in the room came to see his latch, which is funny looking back on but they were like that's the text book latch you see in their study guides and they were amazed. He needed his Mummy, he needed his Mummy's cuddles and my heart felt so full I could have burst. 

She then said the doctors said he was well enough to try to keep his own temperature stable and go in an open cot again but kept his incubator as a back up. Tania took me to their blanket cupboard as I didn't have one with me and we chose a dark navy striped blanket as she said it seemed halloweeny and looked like something we'd pick and he was finally looking like he was on the up. I was told to go back to the ward for some sleep around 1am as I'd been cuddling him for 3 hours and he'd just had a feed and she would call me back down if he woke before for a feed so I could try feeding him again and if not then to set an alarm for 3ish to go back down again to feed. Well, 2 hours later a midwife knocked the door and she said to come back to feed him as he'd just woken up hungry. I was exhausted but I was so happy! I basically ran back down. Gave him a feed and Tania was strict on me going back up to sleep again, and again 3 hours later he was ready to feed again! In this time he was still having IV antibiotics, his blood sugars checked (although he was now off his glucose drip) and was having formula top ups of 40mls to keep his sugars up. We were now on the path of get his resps lower and get his blood sugars normal and we can go back up to the ward for the rest of the course of antibiotics. Well at 2pm we did!! I didn't tell Brad, I told him to meet me in the corridor to swap over and I met him with a baby in a cot ready to go back up to our room on the ward for the rest of our stay! 

It felt amazing. We finally were able to stop the top ups that night around 11pm and the next morning (Tuesday now) he had his final antibiotics dose and providing his blood cultures had come down from when they had last taken them we could take our baby boy home and at 2pm, 12 hours later we were ready to be discharged! We were given the papers at 3:30pm and at 4pm we were out of there and in a taxi ready to come home to meet his big Brothers and Sister and it felt amazing, nerve-racking but amazing. He turned a corner super quickly and I wholeheartedly believe he just needed a Mummy cuddle (as well as all the medical interventions obviously) but the both combined was the solution for Caspar. Sepsis suspected, infant hypoglycaemia and respiratory distress was a pretty scary diagnosis but were one of the lucky ones, there's lots of parents who don't get their baby's infections picked up as quickly as ours and treated as quickly and this has led to a very different situation for them and I feel so grateful they found it when they did.

My heart is so full with him and I love him so much and I feel so complete. It was the hardest birth and first few days but he's home and he's beautiful and perfect.

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