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Sunday, October 30, 2011
Rosie is fast asleep on my lap, and Charlie is watching TV in his Darth Vader costume, so I thought I'd capitalise on a few minutes peace and get Rosie's birth story onto the blog at last!
So. Let me take you back to the Friday before Rosie was born - October 7.
Pete and I headed up to the hospital to see Mr Beattie. I was five days overdue, and I was anticipating being given a date to be induced towards the end of the following week, because Rosie was showing no signs of making an appearance under her own steam.
Pete had booked the day off work, and we were planning a relaxing lunch after our appointment before we had to collect Charlie from school.
So, as normal, we went for a scan in the fetal medicine department.
The lady doing the scan had a good look at the baby and confirmed that everything was still looking great. She did all the usual measurements, and yet again, LO was still looking big - off the scale in every measurement, in fact.
We didn't really think too much of this, until we went in to chat with Mr Beattie.
He came into the room proffering the chart on which he had plotted LO's measurements.According to the scan measurements (which are notoriously unreliable later on in pregnancy) the baby was now weighing a whopping 12lbs 9oz.
Unfortunately I can't capitalise numerals, because if ever a figure merited capitals, it's 12lbs 9oz! So hopefully some bold printing, italics and a bigger font will give you the idea!
Mr Beattie was worried because the baby was showing up as big all over - not just a big head, but long leg bones and a big tummy too.
His main concern was the threat of shoulder dystocia - when the baby's head delivers normally, but the shoulders are too big to rotate properly, so the baby gets stuck in the birth canal - usually with its oxygen supply compromised.
If this happens, you can't get the baby back inside to do a caesarean section - the baby has to be delivered normally. But because the baby is too big, it is very risky for both mum and baby. (I won't go into too much detail, but it can be pretty horrific - sometimes doctors need to break the baby's clavicles or the mother's pelvis to get the baby out...)
It goes without saying, that at this point, my desire for a non-medicalised and 'normal' birth was disappearing quickly.
I have to admit, at no point did I think the baby actually was 12lbs 9oz - yes, I knew she was a big baby, but my bump really didn't feel like it was holding a baby who was only a pound and a bit shy of a stone!I said as much to Mr Beattie, and he agreed, but he said he would rather have to apologise to me down the line if I had a c-section that it turned out I didn't need, rather than proceed with a normal delivery and risk something awful happening.
Like I've said before, we've known Bryan Beattie for the best part of a decade - since I was carrying Will - and I trust him absolutely, with my health and that of my kids.
If he recommended a c-section, then that was fine by me.
I think he was expecting to have to talk me into it, and was quite pleasantly surprised when I agreed without hesitation! (I mean, really - who wants to have to deliver a 12lbs 9oz baby?? Ouch.)
I wanted him to be the surgeon to deliver the baby, and he was able to squeeze me onto his list for surgery the following Monday - October 10.
So, off Pete and I went to the pre-op clinic to have my blood taken and to speak with the anaesthetist.
It was a long day, and our romantic lunch went out of the window! In fact, we only just made it home in time to collect Charlie from school!
Although it wasn't the delivery I had hoped and planned for throughout my pregnancy, it was actually a pretty good result in many ways. I'm one of those people who likes to know what's what, and to be plan for what's happening. We were able to get everything packed and ready, and to collect Mum so she was able to be here to look after Charlie.
We decided to take Charlie out of school on the Monday, so he and Mum could come up to the hospital with us, so they were on the scene as soon as LO made her appearance.
So, fast forward to Monday morning.
We had to be at the hospital by 8am, so it was a very early start for all of us.
Pete and I left Charlie and Mum in the hospital concourse, and went to wait on the maternity ward. We were told that I was second on the theatre list, so should be having the baby by late morning.
We sat and waited... and waited.
Around noon, Pete went to meet Mum and Charlie for some lunch - and I carried on waiting on the ward.
At about 1.30pm, I asked a nurse when I was likely to be having my section, and found out that I was actually last on the list, not second. And to further complicate matters, there had been a couple of emergencies too.
I couldn't help but think about Mum trying to keep my poor, overexcited Charlie-Boy entertained for hours and hours with nothing but two coffee shops, a chemist and a newsagent.
At 2pm, it was ward visiting hours, so Charlie and Mum came to sit with us while we waited. Charlie had been SO good - I really felt for him, because I think he was starting to doubt that his little sister was ever going to arrive.
Visiting was over at 3pm, but he and Mum were allowed to stay a bit longer because we'd been told that I'd be going to theatre 'any minute'.
Finally, at about 3.15pm, Pete and I hugged Charlie and Mum goodbye, and headed off to meet our daughter.
Pete wasn't best pleased, because instead of the George Clooney-style scrubs that you normally see expectant fathers wearing on TV, he was given a disposable hat and gown made of some blue material, not dissimilar to J-cloth!
I had a c-section with Will, but things were slightly different this time round. Instead of going to a separate anaesthetic room, I was taken straight into theatre, where I was given my spinal block.
It was, without doubt, a very strange experience - so utterly different from both times I gave birth previously.
With Will, we knew our time was so very limited, and we knew with absolute certainty what would happen as soon as he was born.
With Charlie, there was no sense of relief, or of the worst being over when he was finally born - he was whisked away from us in the blink of an eye, and we knew the hardest part of our journey with him was yet to come.
If I am totally honest, I don't think I ever really fully accepted that this little one was destined to stay with us for any length of time.
Although I allowed myself to enjoy my pregnancy and doing a few bits of baby shopping, in my heart of hearts, I really felt that this baby would be taken from us too.
I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but I couldn't shake the tentative funeral plans I had come up with - songs that would be appropriate, music I'd want to play, people I would ask to speak...
Even as I lay on the operating table, knowing that our daughter would be in my arms in a matter of minutes, I felt oddly detached from the whole situation - still totally disbelieving that all might be well.
We had been warned that she may not cry straight away, because babies born by c-section are often a bit shocked, as well as having lungs that are full of fluid because they haven't been squeezed during birth.
But I know that both Pete and I had hoped against hope that she would cry loud and hard straight away, because any kind of silence after she was delivered, with that awful wait and anticipation would be horribly reminiscent of the silence after Will was born.
As I lay there, feeling sick and faint (spinal blocks always drop my blood pressure hard and fast) with the anaesthetist pumping something to stop me feeling so vile into my venflon, Pete leaned over and told me that he was sure he'd just heard them pop my waters.
An infinitesimally short moment later, before the baby was even fully delivered, we heard the loudest, crossest cry you could ever wish to hear, and all the medical staff laughed at just how loud and cross our baby was.
There was no fear in the room as far as the medical staff were concerned, no panic, no wondering what would happen, how they should treat us - they were just doing their jobs, and - knowing our previous history - were all happy and relieved that our baby was alright.
As she was born at 4.07pm, Mr Beattie said "Look how pink she is - she's ridiculously pink!" and they poked Rosie over the screen for us to see.
And she was indeed pink - pink, cross, bellowing and rooting for food straight away.
It was only then, as I heard our girl yelling, and the gentle laughter of the staff, that I finally believed.
Believed that this time everything was going to be ok.
As I finally let go of my fears, along with my baby's funeral plans, I couldn't stop crying.
They took Rosie to the other side of the room to clean her up.
Her Apgar scores were 9 at one minute and 10 at five minutes. She really is robustly healthy - in fact, the paediatrician on standby took one look at her and left the room.
Pete and I held her as they stitched me up. It really was so hard to believe that she was here safely.
It was about 4.30pm by the time they finished stitching me up, and I was moved to a bed to be wheeled back to the ward, which provided me with another precious moment.
I have seen so many women over the years - in hospitals and on TV shows - being wheeled back along the hospital corridors in their bed, new baby in their arms, glowing with love and pride.
I'd never been able to do that before, and until they put Rosie in my arms for the ride back to the ward, I'd never realised how much I'd wished I could.It was another hugely emotional moment - in fact, I made Pete take my picture before I let them wheel me away!
Once I was back in Recovery, Pete was allowed to fetch Charlie and Mum straight away. By this time, it was 5pm, and Charlie had been hanging around the hospital for nine hours.
But he was SO excited to finally meet his baby sister - he came running in, and cuddled her straight away. It was another fantastic 'first' for us - seeing two of our children together at the same time.
Although our road to parenthood has been difficult and unusual, it really means we appreciate every tiny moment of 'normality' - little things that most parents probably would't even think about.It was so priceless to see how in love Charlie was with Rosie at first glance, to see him hold her, and hear him tell her how long he'd been waiting to meet her. (And how much money Nanny had spent on comics in the newsagent trying to keep him entertained while he'd been waiting and waiting for her to arrive!)
Anyway, this has ended up being much longer than I intended, but I thought you'd like to hear how our journey to another sibling for Charlie finally came to fruition. I still cannot believe that all those hurdles I wrote about in my first post here last December have been safely negotiated, and we have a beautiful new daughter/sister in our lives.
One final thing to mention - as you can see from my post introducing LO, her name is Rosie Hannah. I thought you might like to know why we chose those names for her...
The Rosie part was Charlie's choice. He said ages ago, before I was even pregnant, that if we ever had a girl, that he would like to call her Rose. (You might remember that the erstwhile Dr Who played by David Tennant had a companion of the same name, and we all know how much Charlie loves Dr Who!!)
Pete and I thought it was a really pretty name, and tacked the -ie suffix on the end because it sounded nice next to Charlie!
As for the Hannah part... It was really important to me to honour my dad somehow with our baby's name. Dad's name was Alf, and had Rosie been a boy, she would have been named Alfie. I didn't really think it would be fair to lumber a little girl with the name Alfreda though, so we had to get a bit creative.
I've mentioned before on this blog how, when he was still here, my dad would pray every day for our as yet unconceived child, and would ask that we might have a child with no health problems the next time round. And because he knew that HLHS is more common in boys, he would pray that we might have a girl.
So, why Hannah?
Well, you may or may not have heard about the woman in the Bible named Hannah who was desperate for a baby, and prayed that she might conceive. Her prayers were answered, and she gave birth to a son - Samuel.
She is recorded as saying "For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of Him."
For me, it feels like my Dad could have spoken these very words - because he prayed so hard for our little Rosie Hannah, and those prayers have been well and truly answered.
So there you have it - it may not be obvious at first glance, but Rosie's name gives her a connection with her Grandpa - a man who would have loved her so very much, and who thought of her and prayed for her before she was conceived.
I've finally uploaded some pictures onto my netbook, so I will put a slideshow of Rosie's pictures together when I get five minutes... watch this space!
Monday, October 10, 2011
Monday, October 03, 2011
Hopefully it will help raise awareness of something so simple that can really save lives.
I'm not sure if you'll be able to read the text, but you get the idea!
I'm tickled pink with the picture of Charlie - wonky teeth and all!
(Although I have to admit that the sub-editing of my quotes made my hair stand on end - when I was a chief sub-editor, I'd have lynched my subs if they had sent a story to press with so many typos!! But hopefully all the readers won't notice quite as much as I did!)
Sunday, October 02, 2011
And as of now, I don't think she's got any plans to arrive on time.
We're just having a leisurely day today - making the most of what might (or might not!) end up being our last weekend before LO makes her big appearance.
I'll keep you posted!
Sent from my iPhone
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
So here's one of me just now at 39w3d.
And no, I don't normally look quite so smart, but we just had our photos taken for the newspaper, so I thought I'd capitalise on the fact that I've actually brushed my hair and put on a pair of heels by getting Pete to take a pic for me. It's a bit over-exposed, but you get the idea!
Anyway - you might be wondering why are we having pictures taken for the paper.
Primarily because we're helping my consultant, Bryan Beattie, publicise a new screening campaign to check blood oxygen levels in newborns.
We were very fortunate that Charlie's HLHS was picked up on ultrasound scan, because only about 50 percent of congenital heart defects are found via antenatal scanning.
And of the 50 percent that are undiagnosed before birth, many babies with major, life-threatening cardiac problems initially seem well and are discharged from hospital - only to become very ill, very quickly.
For many families, by the time they get their babies back to hospital, it can be too late.
But even though these babies initially seem well, the oxygen levels in their blood are often much lower than normal - a key warning to doctors that further investigation is needed.
A simple and non-invasive test can pick up the low oxygen levels before they even leave the hospital.
They just need to be attached to a pulse oximetry or sats machine, which will tell doctors the vital percentage of oxygen in their blood.
Easy and painless - and already part of routine post-natal screening in the US, but not here.
So, Mr Beattie has started offering the screening at his private clinic - but we - and he - really want the NHS to pick up the baton here and make sure every newborn is screened before leaving hospital.
It really is a lifesaver.
Even though LO has been repeatedly scanned, and has had in-depth cardiac scans, we will definitely be having her sats checked before we set foot out of the hospital.
So... back to the newspaper.
I wrote a press release for Mr Beattie last week, (for those of you who don't know, I was a journalist before I had the kids, so it was quite nice to pick up my reporter's notebook again!) and was interviewed by a reporter the other day. A photographer came this afternoon to take some pics.
So, hopefully I should have some really nice pics to show you before too long. I'll post the link to the piece in the paper as well if I can find it when it comes out.
No other news really - all was well when I went to the midwife last week. LO was still head down and growing nicely.
It's hard to believe she is due in four days (although I am still adamant that she's going to be late!)
We go back to the hospital at the end of next week for another checkup, by which time I'll be about five days overdue.
I want to avoid being induced if I possibly can, and Mr Beattie is happy for me to go about 12days late, so we'll just have to wait and see what happens!
Watch this space!!
Friday, September 09, 2011
Well, our appointment today went really well!
As well as checking growth, they also re-checked all the key points - heart, kidneys, bladder etc.
Her anatomy is still looking totally normal and everything seems to be working perfectly.
She is still growing like mad - all her measurements were about two weeks ahead and they estimate she is weighing about 7lbs4oz now.
The best bit of all is that she has turned herself around again, so she is no longer breech!
So now all we need to do is wait for her to make an appearance!
Mr Beattie has made our next appointment for 40wk5d, so who knows - maybe LO will be here before then!
I have to go to the community midwife in about a fortnight just for her to check me over, but other than that, we just have to play the waiting game.
Mr Beattie was very happy with how LO is doing, which is great. He also told us that all of LO's cardiac scans have been reviewed by Orhan Uzun, the cardiologist, and he is very happy with everything too! Just what we want to hear.
Consequently, he doesn't think she will need a cardiac echo after she is born, but he does want to check her oxygen sats after she arrives - as much for my reassurance as anything else!
He gave me his mobile number and asked me to text him as soon as LO is born, so he can come and see her and put a sats probe on her.
I know I've said it before, but it is so fantastic to have a medical team around us who we really trust and can rely on.
I'm attaching the latest pic of LO - it's not very clear, but you can still see how chubby her cheeks are!
So, now we need to finish off all the preparations for LO's arrival, and I need to start hitting the raspberry leaf tea! I don't know how much good it does, but it can't hurt to give it a whirl!