Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Isaac Thomas Andrew - the arrival!

He's here!
Isaac Thomas Andrew Smith, 6th October, 3.19pm weighing 6lb 4oz.

Surprisingly and significantly (see this post) arriving on his due date, 6th October, in a rather traumatic fashion, Isaac made his entrance! 10 days later as I begin writing this post, we're still recovering physically and mentally from everything accompanying his birth...which I'll summarise briefly here!

Having last posted here just before due date, Andy and I headed off to St Peters Hospital on the morning of Wednesday 5th October for my 'due date' midwife appointment, albeit a day early so I could see my regular midwife who doesn't work on Thursdays. The little things that had been problematic during previous visits - bit of protein in my urine, mobility issues with SPD etc. were all much better. Blood pressure duly checked, I hopped onto the bed to have the bump measured and hear the heartbeat. We were expecting that Squid would have grown as he was head engaged fully at the last visit which would have given him more room for growing in the space under my ribs...but he hadn't. I was still measuring 36-37 cm/weeks which was some cause for concern. Next, the heartbeat...usually something which is a fairly perfunctory exercise "there it is, all good..." but this time Lynne the midwife was counting carefully as to how many beats she could hear per minute. Even my untrained ear could hear that the pattern was accelerating and decelerating. Cue slight (read major) worry on everyone's part...
It was decided that further monitoring was needed so we spent the rest of the morning at St Peter's on the fetal heart monitor which was also measuring my blood pressure and for any signs of early labour or contractions. By the time that was done, the heart rate was much better but they were still concerned about his size and lack of recent growth so I was sent up to Broomfield to be monitored there.
Further heart monitoring and some measuring later and the midwives at Broomfield seemed happy to send us home, although with instructions that when I went into labour I was to come to the labour ward, not St Peter's. I had already realised that my plan of having both children in the same hospital under similar circumstances was not going to happen but I was still disappointed. Just as we were getting ready to leave, the midwife popped her head in the door and said she had chatted to the consultant on duty and would we mind if they did a quick scan just to double check measurements as my bump had been measured differently between the 2 hospitals...sure, no problem we said...
The consultant measured Isaac's head circumference and thigh bone as indicating 34 weeks - well outside the bracket for risk which was obviously pretty concerning so we were immediately booked to have a more detailed scan in the Ultrasound department...2 hours later. So we waited, drank coffee, ate pineapple and Andy did some 'teach yourself New Testament Greek' in the downstairs cafe.
By this time, my mum had been summoned from Surrey. It was just as well as our scan wasn't booked until 4.45pm, so she drove straight over (absentmindedly hitting 90mph on the A3!), picked up Matilda from school and managed to negotiate Chelmsford town centre! Eventually, when we got in for the scan, Squid was measured as being 35 weeks, estimated weight 5lb 4 oz and his amniotic fluid was low...most of it apparently being in his bladder which, according to the sonographer "is the size of the Pacific Ocean"! The most amazing thing about that scan was that the lovely sonographer invited my mum and Matilda in to the room too, so we have a picture of Isaac just the day before he was born...and the memories from sharing that unique moment all together.
So on heading back to the Labour Unit with all that information, we knew we wouldn't be allowed to wait long before seeing our baby boy! The Consultant told us she wanted to get him out soon, his weight and heartrate were a cause for concern but she gave us the option of staying in and being induced that night or coming back in the morning. There was a dawning realisation that we could potentially be having a baby, not only on the due date which is so rare but also on the exact same due date we had had with our twin pregnancy. It felt like such an opportunity - to redeem the 6th October as a day for celebration and new life rather than always remembering it tinged with sadness. So we opted to come back the next morning. At this point, in a curtained cubicle, both Andy and I were able to acknowledge our worry and fear but the massive sense of God's hand on the situation - how awesome is His timing and knowledge of all things. wow!
Dinner at Frankie and Benny's for the 4 of us, putting Matilda to bed for the last time as our only child and a repack of the labour bag later, we went to bed and slept fitfully before taking Matilda to school and heading back to the hospital. My poor mum was left to kill time at home.
Back on the Labour Unit, I was monitored for an hour, examined (lovely!) and then given the induction tablets internally. 1 hour of monitoring on my back again and then I was allowed to walk around. Within 1 hour I was getting contractions, initially making me want to sit on the toilet and then getting stronger and stronger as I walked and perched in different positions. I sat on the birthing ball for another hour or so as the contractions increased, listening to my iPod (Rend Collective, One Hundred Hours and Aretha Franklin as I remember!) and apparently singing in between and being silent while the pain was at it's strongest!
I had some dihydrocodeine as pain relief after a while and then, quite suddenly, I had a pain in my back and bottom which was entirely different to any labour pain I had had up til then or with my previous labour. It obviously worried the midwives too from my reaction to it and I was put back on the bed to be hooked up to the monitors again. Squid's heartrate didn't seem to be coping with labour and because it was getting so intense, they wanted to see how far dilated I was...after another examination, they found I wasn't dilated at all and from this point, it all became a blur.
I was in massive pain, screaming and shouting and aware of a lot more people coming into the room and it being quite frantic. Andy was with me to my right and a huge, tall, Nigerian doctor appeared to my left after a while to tell me that I needed to go to theatre to have a caesarean section and did I understand that? I was whisked down to theatre straight away - as I hadn't had any pain relief until then I was put under general anaesthetic because I had no break in contractions.  This meant that Andy had to be outside, just watching through the window. Between me entering theatre (3.05pm, I looked at the clock!) and Isaac being born (3.19pm) it was all systems go and they didn't put me under for a good few minutes as they wanted to minimise the medication which might affect baby.
I didn't wake up until 5pm. I was in massive pain when I did and I remember hearing Andy talking to the doctors and nurses in recovery and telling them what had happened which filled in some of the gaps that I had missed. It took me a while to be able to speak and I had a mask on and various lines in my hands and arm. Back on the ward, they checked me out, gave me more pain relief and - hallelujah - tea and toast! We debated names for a bit, knowing that Matilda and my mum would be arriving for visiting hours from 7pm - we had promised Matilda that she would be the first to know so we had to make a decision!
So, I'm finishing writing this account on 29th November - a full 7 weeks nearly since this all happened!! I came out of hospital 2 days later, very sore and with a tiny baby and still in shock really. So grateful for all the staff at St Peter's and Broomfield who looked after me and for the health visitors and midwives who have taken care of us all since coming home.
As of this week, Isaac is 7lb 9oz and beginning to smile and make various noises. He's sleeping well at night, waking only once but he does feed a LOT in the day. He's still only little so he's being kept an eye on but he's gaining weight consistently which is the main thing. We've had loads of help - my mum, Andy's mum both staying for a week here and there and other friends bringing meals, having Matilda and running errands. As I have healed, I've got back into driving, walking much more and starting to get into a weekly and daily routine which works for us all. Life as 4 Smiths is pretty cool - we're looking forward to making memories with Baby Button and our Big Girl Bean this Christmas and charting further developments on this blog. Sorry for the silence of late, but I'm sure you'll let me off!

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