Each pregnancy and proceeding birth is meant to be different, you get told that, you nod your head and say, ‘yep for sure’ but in the back of your head you’re thinking; ‘first time around wasn’t too bad, some morning sickness and back pain but I’ve got this.
As I touched on in my previous post ‘about the last 8 months’ morning sickness reared its ugly head early in my second pregnancy coupled with exhaustion caused by rotating viruses and infections shared with my toddler meant we were worn out, under slept and struggling for energy most of the 8 and a bit months. Besides being under the weather we had good (and scary- yikes) news that Lucia was tracking to be a bigger bub than her sister (Lady R was 3.9 kg, 53cm long and a massive noggin at 37.5cm). She jumped over a week ahead in her due date early on and all scans were proving to be tracking ahead of her sibling. She was also transverse lie or breach for most of the pregnancy. Breach babies come with a certain level of uncomfortableness, as my girlfriend so fondly put it ‘it’s the joy of being kicked in the fanny all day long’. They also put pressure on your body and back in different ways which adds to the aches and pains pregnancy brings so I worked to strengthen and stretch my limbs with weekly Pilates at White dog studio along with pregnancy massages at Body Freedom without them I would have been unable to walk.
This pregnancy was of course different because there was little time to sit and rest with a crazy toddler doing laps around me, tantruming until I bent down to pick her up and leaving toys in her trail that I was unable to see over the bump consequently causing a few trips and falls along the way but what are you to do?! Nothing! Just get on with it really and I found putting myself to bed earlier was the quickest way to get extra rest and conserve energy. Despite all this I was feeling fairly on top of things by week 33, probably the best I’d felt all pregnancy, I was enjoying coffee again and could stomach salads without gagging.
Around this time we went to my OB for a scan and noticed our big bub had barely grown in over 3 weeks. Stress and panic set in, questioning what I had done to slow the development of my bub meant sleepless nights and massive concern, I even broke out in psoriasis. My OB told me not to stress (of course) but that we’d begin monitoring weekly since she was growing so quickly previously. Waiting 7 days until the next scan was one of the longest stretch of seven days in my life that I can remember, all the ‘what ifs’ and ‘how comes’ running around in my head. The best thing I could do at that stage was start talking to girlfriends and what I began realising was this scenario was far more common than I’d realised. Hearing from others that saw growth in the final weeks of pregnancy or popped bubs out early to feed them better on the outside helped me calm down and understand that our bodies and the entire pregnancy process isn’t always smooth sailing or textbook and by 33 weeks we were in a ‘safer’ zone to consider all options. The following week our little lady scanned in with a little bit of growth so we kept her in the oven and worked towards the following week, each week showed some positive signs of growth, no longer was she going to be a 4+kg girl but she was reaching closer to 3kgs which gave me comfort.
At 36 weeks and 5 days it was Father’s Day eve. I remember a night of the most insane baby activity- I had my arm resting on the table at Mamasita and the little lady side kicked so intensely it knocked my wrist off the table. My back was aching and I was wishing I’d packed a hot water bottle to help get me through the meal. That night I didn’t sleep terribly well but with Father’s Day lunch planned the next day I persevered and tossed and turned. I recall feeling really strange at 5:45AM and something came over me at that time that made me certain I wasn’t going to make it to lunch that day. The morning came and after a quick walk of the dogs we gave Daddy his Father’s day gifts (which were lack lustre this year with working and managing my toddler I was seriously only putting in a 5 out of 10 effort but he wasn’t phased). I cooked up a big breakfast for us all and just as we went to sit down lower back and pelvis pain struck (very similar to period pain), I experienced a lot of Braxton hicks with my last pregnancy so I was sure the pains were going to eventuate to nothing more than fake contractions. After an hour I took some panadol, had a hot shower and lay down for a while before it dawned on me that things weren’t disappearing. A few days earlier I had been prepped with information that transverse lie position can be tricky and with my girl’s foot and chord sitting on my cervix so any sign of labour and I should rush to hospital. So with that in mind and a few hours of waiting unsuccessfully for symptoms to subside and I called the hospital. I was urged to make my way immediately, I still wasn’t taking things seriously so we passed Rosalia onto her Aunty, threw a few ‘just in case’ items on the bed and dressed with the intention of a making it to lunch after a short visit to the hospital.After half an hour of monitoring my cramps had disappeared and I was apologising to the midwife for wasting everyone’s time when what I thought was a fake contraction kicked in, the midwife watched the monitor as I winced and applied pressure on my stomach, it happened again and the midwife looked at me and said, I’m calling your OB, you’re going to have this baby today.
WHAAAAAT!! I looked at Michael in the Havianas he threw on as we ran out the door and his face was blank. I think time stopped for a moment, ‘I’m not ready’ I said. ‘We haven’t collected the layby from baby bunting, nothing is washed, we don’t have a second car seat, a bassinet or a plan!’ The midwife swiftly returned and told Michael to head to the desk and complete administration forms as my OB was on her way in and surgery was scheduled for 30 mins away. We were left alone and instantly both broke into tears. ‘This is too soon’ I said. Michael told me he needed to head to the car, midwives and nurses began to stream in getting me dressed in scrubs, taking blood, removing my nail polish and asking question after question.
Michael returned to the room ten minutes later, looking shocked and let me know he wasn’t coping. ‘You’re not coping’ I screamed, ‘I need you to hold it together, I’m about to head into surgery and have this baby and I’m beyond scared’. I do feel for Michael, he wasn’t in a good headspace so I put him to work, he assisted with removing my nail polish and sending out a ‘help’ signal to family to feed and house our daughter for the duration of the day. Next I was on foot walking to surgery, I can’t say I remember a lot, shock & adrenalin does that to you. I was being jabbed and nodding away as the surgeons and anesthetist as they talked to me about the procedure but in my mind I was heading off to lunch, I was remembering the dishwasher I forgot to unload, the fact the dogs hadn’t been fed and the half finished projects at work. I was under slept and underprepared and that wasn’t like me.
The surgery went to plan, I insisted on a few extra bumps of adrenalin or something to keep me from dropping off so I don’t much remember the announcement of the sex of our bub, I do remember her being placed beside me and looking at her big feet (a trait of both my children, along with big noggins). She was perfect, not too small, not too big. She shortly started to struggle for breath which is common with CSection babes and I saw the pediatrician eye the nurse and Lucia was taken away to be rubbed down and activate her lungs. She was quickly back wrapped up and sat upon me for a cuddle, I was overwhelmed but delighted to be meeting our new little lady. Due to having an emergency C Sec and with another mum lined up for surgery after me I wasn’t able to spend recovery with my child, this was hard for me but I was generally pretty out of it so I took the time to rest. Once I was returned to my room Lucia was brought in to start feeding but I was told she was struggling to breath and in turn would struggle to feed, she had low blood sugar and her body temp wasn’t stabilised. I tried to get her to feed but her wheezing was exhausting her and the midwife kindly told me that feeding from me wasn’t going to happen today. So within 10 minutes she was gone, off to the special care unit to be placed under a heat lamp, they were monitoring her breathing and feeding her through a tube she also wasn’t allowed to be picked up to ensure her body temperature was stabilised. I was absolutely devastated, due to having surgery and being bed bound I couldn’t make it in to visit her so I only had the photos and updates from family to go by. Shocked from suddenly going into labour, then surgery, and not spending more than 10 mins with my new girl coupled with raging hormones and I was a blubbering mess. I honestly have a greater appreciation for mums of babies in intensive care, I found the disconnect and minimal body contact with my girl heartbreaking. I knew the second I could get out of bed the next morning I would spend my time by her side.
That night I expressed colostrum and my husband delivered it to Lucia to be fed through a tube followed up with formula. Close to midnight the midwife who was probably sick of my pleading delivered Lucia in for a short visit and a chance for skin to skin contact. I think I cried the entire time finally getting a chance to meet my little girl. She didn’t have the energy to feed but you could tell she enjoyed the human contact as much as her mumma did. They took her back after half an hour but I was grateful for the chance to bond with my girl.
By 6am, determined to see Lucia again I began bugging the midwife to let me get out of bed. She responded by telling me she’d never come across someone so eager to get up after a CSection, I wasn’t interested in spending any more time away from my girl than I already had to so by 7am I was up, in agony but getting myself showered, dressed and taking the slow and bloody excruciating walk to the special care unit. This was my second CSection, I knew the pain and the process involved last time and my approach this time was the same, get up and push through. You have to get moving at some point anyway and the quicker you start to move the sooner your body begins to adapt and adjust to the surgery. In Epworth Freemason’s special care unit they explained the feeding processes (through a tube), allowed me to sit with Lucia and explained I should rest and return in 45 minutes to assist with her next feed which I’d be allowed to do by holding the bottle and tube and potentially offer skin on skin contact so as Lucia would start to recognise the feeding process. I was emotional, I certainly didn’t imagine this to be how my second birth experience would play out but I wasn’t going to show it was effecting me, so I wandered back to my room and swallowed a few painkillers. I can’t explain the joy and happiness that overcame me when my midwife returned to my room some twenty minutes later suggesting Lucia’s condition had improved enough that they would let her ‘bunk’ with me. I could finally have my girl, in my arms and spend some time getting to know her.
That’s when my journey with little Lucia really began and it was beautiful, she was an incredible feeder straight up, desperate for human contact and food she and I were inseparable. With a hunger for decent sized feeds from all her formula feeds at birth I had big shoes to fill so spent my time topping up each feed with a bottle. Those that have read my previous post (Giving up breastfeeding was one of my hardest and proudest moments as a mumma) on my struggle with breastfeeding my first girl would know that breastfeeding was a real challenge for me. At this stage now some 8 weeks on with Lucia it hasn’t been the easiest, my milk supply seems to be fine however due to formula in hospital (which was completely necessary) she has experienced nipple confusion and has problems with attachment on one side, I also have painful let down on one breast that hasn’t subsided so whilst we are still working at it, the struggle and pain is real! Nothing we can’t work on though and I know confidently from my first experience that all I want is a well fed bub so whether it is via breast or bottle either way we will figure it out. SO here is my baby girl, calm and peaceful and generally more relaxed than her sister, though as a mumma I know I am far more relaxed this time round so we are feeding calm vibes off each other and I intend to keep it that way. Though the pregnancy was difficult at times she was a surprise of the best kind.