I am not sure where time has gone. I started writing this post over three weeks ago, but never finished it. It feels as though Noam was born more than seven weeks ago, and yet it also seems as though it was just yesterday – time is so strange like that. I definitely intend to write a post about how we are coping and what is going on around here, but first I want to write down our boy’s birth story before I forget all the little details of how our Noam came into the world.
My c-section was planned for 27th December 2012. I had had an emergency section with Abigail, so was given the choice to try for a VBAC or elect to have another section. With Abigail my labour progressed well and they expected everything to go to plan. But when I was fully dilated and effaced, she hadn’t descended to anywhere near the right position, so much so that there wasn’t even talk of using forceps or a ventouse. We waited but she became distressed and I was taken to the operation theatre quickly and that was that. I must admit – I wasn’t disappointed. Lots of people talk about having a ‘perfect’ birth but I had gone in with no preconceptions about how things would go. When they put Abigail on my chest and she stared at me I was in total peace with it all.
In light of the proximity of my second birth to the first, and the fact that I was happy with the first section, I elected to have another. Also, the statistics about scar rupture when a section is followed by VBAC weren’t reassuring to me and it didn’t seem like a risk worth taking.
I had 6 weeks of pre-birth mat leave and they sped by in a whirlwind of organisation and tidying the house and batch cooking. They were gone before I knew it. The night before the 27th I couldn’t sleep. Only then did it dawn on me in some ways that the following day, all being well, I would be a parent to two little ones. My bags had long been packed. I took my medicine, started my fast and had all night to think.
The following morning I ran last minute errands and spent my last few hours with Abigail. I asked Marc to take this photo of us just as we were about to leave the house for the hospital – the last photo of life with just my girl.
We got a minicab to UCH, it took about 20 minutes – miraculous. Once there, we waited in the second floor hallway, where my Mum, who had flown in from Israel late the previous night, was waiting for us. We got there really early and it was strange, knowing that this huge thing was about to happen. We waited there for some time, until we were taken to a pre-operation room with a bed and a toilet, where we waited some more. Lots of medical people and midwives came to see us there, to have us sign consent forms and introduce themselves and explain their role in the c-section. Marc changed into scrubs (he looked so handsome!) and I changed into my gown and read a magazine until finally, finally they took me to the operating theatre. Marc came with me. I remember being sat on the edge of the bed whilst they put the IV in and the catheter. The junior anaesthetist could hardly get the IV in and I ended up bleeding quite a bit. She then tried to reassure me and get me to drop my head and shoulders so that the epidural could be administered. They aim to give you an epidural and a spinal for a planned section. A spinal can only be administered once, and it’s not good to have too high a dose, so they also give an epidural as this can be topped up if need be.
Unfortunately despite numerous attempts, the anaesthetist couldn’t get the epidural in. He apologised and said that this was usually only a problem with overweight people (which I’m not) but it just wasn’t happening. He kept asking me if I could feel the needle and I could. I felt so vulnerable sitting at the table being poked, and despite being comfortable with medical procedures (my mum is an anaesthetist after all) and having had an emergency c-section already, I just didn’t feel safe there. The anaesthetist was going to call for a more senior colleague but in the end decided to only do a spinal, but reassured me that I wouldn’t feel any pain during the operation. After he had done this I was laid down and they began the prep for the operation. I cried, I felt so vulnerable and small. The truth was that I wished that I could have a different team – I didn’t feel reassured at all.
The operation proceeded and wasn’t as quick as I remembered it being with Abigail and I remember them uttering some words of concern. It transpired that this wasn’t a straightforward c-section. I remember them taking Noam out and seeing him to my left being weighed and screaming. He was so incredibly tiny, so precious. I cried tears of emotion and felt a huge surge of love for him that was more intense even than my initial reaction to Abigail. The only way I can describe it is that it is as though I could love so fiercely and so quickly because my heart had done this before. It immediately swelled with love for my son because simply it knew what to do. It’s hard to put into words quite how overpowering that love us.
The anaesthetist captured these amazing shots of us holding Noam for the first time.
He was so tiny, so sweet, so small, weighing just 6lb 6 oz. We had struggled with boy names but when I saw him I knew he was Noam, which means pleasant – he was so sweet from the beginning. My friend Mendel told me that there is a Jewish concept that on the birth of a child parents receive ‘ruach hanefesh’, which means wind of the soul, or divine inspiration, of what they should call their child and that was definitely true here, for us.
Noam came out with a big purple bruise on the side of his face. Upon enquiring about it they said they had delivered him with forceps. I am amazed that they didn’t tell us that during the operation. We were worried that it might be a birth mark but it has thankfully disappeared now.
As they finished the operation and wheeled me out the last words the surgeon told me was that it was just as well that I had chosen a c-section rather than VBAC because my womb lining was paper thin and would certainly have ruptured with the pressure of contractions. That is such a serious thing – both I and the baby could have died. The thought haunted Marc and me for some time afterwards – I can’t believe they just tossed something so serious out like that without further explanation.
In the recovery ward I quickly began to feel very weak and like I couldn’t keep my head up or eyes open. Sadly this meant that I could not pick up or react to Noam for hours. Marc had to hold and feed him. My heart rate plummeted to 25 beats per minute and my blood pressure dropped. I also started vomiting, shaking and itching like mad from the anaesthesia. Various anaesthetists and consultants came in and a kind midwife kept giving me anti sickness meds intravenously and brought me buttered toast. Meanwhile Noam just slept and slept.
I was kept in the recovery ward for 9 hours or so before being transferred to the postnatal ward. Marc and my Mum went home and it was just me and my boy. The first night was noisy, a woman with twins opposite me was trying to breastfeed and her two babies were screaming, poor little ones and the husband of the woman next to me snored so loudly! The following day I started trying to walk and took a shower. It’s amazing how hard everything is at first but how even a few days in you feel so much better. They would have been happy to discharge me that day, which I find amazing, but I still felt dizzy and the thought of going home when I could hardly walk and having to negotiate stairs etc scared me. I stayed an extra night an luckily a private room became available. It is amazing the difference that some privacy and quiet makes when you are so exhausted and spent. There is no doubt that it was worth the expense. That night I had a bit more rest and the next day I felt ready to leave in the afternoon. Marc stayed home with Abigail till it was time to get us, but my and Marc’s parents came (with loads of M&S goodies!). We bundled our little Noam in a car seat, got our discharge information and forms etc and were escorted out to ensure Noam left safely.
When we got home Abigail hardly reacted to there being a baby in the living room! She came up to me and gave me a huge long hug and I wept as I held her because I had missed her so much.
It may not have been the perfect birth, whatever that is, but I was glad to be home with my family and with our precious son. We love him more than words can say and feel so blessed to have him to complete our family. Welcome to the world baby boy! We will love you every day of our lives.