The night before my surgery I felt like I was in a bubble. I couldn’t believe that the following morning I would get to meet my little girl for the first time. I was torn between feeling excited and terrified; the awful delivery I had with the boys kept coming back to haunt me. In preparation for another traumatic delivery I’d even written a list of essentials for Husband, just in case the worst happened and I didn’t come home with my baby. I was so scared of never getting to meet her.
Thankfully, this delivery couldn’t have been more different. Firstly, I didn’t have pre-eclampsia or obstetric cholestasis this time around which complicated the third trimester of my last pregnancy. And secondly, I was only expecting one baby and not two.
We arrived at the hospital at 6.50am and were shown to a bed in a dark ward. I was gowned up and then asked to sit and wait. Various staff popped by to see me to carry out their pre-surgery checks and then it became a waiting game. After a couple of nervous hours we were led down the corridor to the familiar theatre area. Fate meant I’d been booked into theatre one – the same one where I’d given birth to the boys. It brought back so many memories of being so poorly and thinking I was going to die, and I found it really hard to blink back the tears but I somehow managed to keep them to myself.
I was shown into the theatre and immediately I was surrounded by a team of jolly staff who had me laughing and joking. The anaesthetist was fantastic and she took my mind off my worries and focussed me on the fact that I’d have my baby in my arms very soon.
After a bit of a slow start with a junior member of staff attempting (and failing) to place my spinal twice, the main anaesthetist stepped in and placed it correctly and I lay down on the bed waiting for the inevitable. I was trying so hard not to cry and I couldn’t even look at Husband as I knew one glance would have me crumpled in tears. As the staff were being so lovely it became harder and harder to resist the tears.
I was sprayed by a cold spray to check how numb my body had become before the surgery started and when they were happy the consultant arrived and began work. I stared at the pattern on the gown which was pinned up in front of me and tried to will the time pass quickly. As I was tilted at an angle and my arms were tangled with clips and IVs I couldn’t get comfortable. At one point I reached back to hold husband’s hands and finally felt the tears pour down my cheeks. Immediately the anaesthetist was there with her jokes and her big box of tissues which made me feel much better. I thought I was over it but the second I heard one of the staff exclaim “look at all that hair” I couldn’t help myself. The relief that she was so close was overwhelming so I let myself have a good cry. Seconds later she was out and gave a scream. I released my breath and realised that she was here at last and she was safe.
They showed her to me before whisking her away to be wrapped up. I tried to glance at Husband but again I couldn’t help but cry when I looked at him so I had to look away for fear of losing it completely.
After a quick rub down they brought her over to me and placed her on my chest. It was amazing. I’d never had this experience with the boys as I was too poorly too quickly after they’d taken them both out of me and I’d barely had chance to see them before my whole family had been whisked out of the room. She was completely different to how I’d imagined after seeing my 4d scan. She had a mass of black spiky hair – the boys both arrived with soft, blonde hair. I almost couldn’t place her, but the more I looked, the more I realised she was a little version of me rather than her brothers or her dad.
As she wasn’t making a noise and was starting to turn a bit blue they took her off me to give her another rub down. I knew she was fine so this didn’t worry me and it gave me a few minutes to compose myself and think about how the surgery was going. By this stage in my last C-section I’d gone downhill fast as they struggled with my massive blood loss after removing what the consultant had told me were two unusually huge placentas. This time there were no concerned voices and I was feeling fine. She was given back to me and it took my mind off everything around me, until the surgeon popped his head over the curtain to say everything had gone well and the blood loss this time had been minimal.
I was lifted over to the awaiting bed and wheeled out to the same recovery bay where I remembered having a terrible asthma attack last time and shaking so violently I almost fell off the table. This time I just felt very chilly and my eyes and nose were itching like crazy. Husband was waiting with Evangeline for me, and I was able to put her inside my gown to get skin to skin contact. I tried to encourage her to have a feed, but she seemed content just being close to me – until she did a lovely black treacle poo all over me.
As I was cold the nurse put a blanket over me that had a hot air pump attached which helped, and then she explained the itching was to do with one of the drugs in the spinal and an antihistamine would help it later on.
Within about half an hour I was being wheeled back to the ward where my day had begun so that we could get to know Eva. I was feeling on top of the world.
The day went like a dream. I only had one disappointed moment when I was told I wasn’t allowed to eat the chicken curry I’d pre-ordered that morning for my lunch – instead they started me off with some toast to see how I kept it down. That literally was the only low point!
A few hours passed in a blur and I was able to attempt to stand up and have a wash and change of clothes which made me feel ever better. Unlike my last birth – where I was in recovery overnight and in a real emotional state – I was feeling up to visitors, so Husband left me to go home and pick up the boys and my parents.
While he was out I was able to get my catheter removed (about five hours post-surgery) and was able to stand on my own. It felt so amazing to be recovering so quickly – last time I had the catheter in for 24 hours and I really struggled standing and walking around the day after the operation, yet here I was able to go to the toilet on my own and look after my baby myself and change her nappy a few hours later.
I spent the evening introducing Eva to her big brothers, her grandparents and her auntie. Although I was exhausted I was pleased to get visits out of the way so that the following day I could enjoy going home and starting our new life as a family of five.
I’ll never know if I’d have haemorrhaged during a vaginal birth, but what I do know is that the birth I had with Eva was better than I could ever imagined. I was home the following lunchtime and have continued to make a full recovery – so much so that within a week I’d almost forgotten that I’d even had surgery.
Every day I try to think about how lucky I am to have my children, and how lucky I am that my consultant was able to stop the bleeding during my last birth just before they resorted to giving me a hysterectomy. Evangeline is my little angel and she has made our family complete.
The pictures above were taken by Essential Images Photography one week after Eva was born. I’ll share more of these in my next post as they are just too cute.