My pregnancy wasn’t the worst but I can’t say I blossomed; chronic nausea for months, carpal tunnel, joint problems, oedema, gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia amongst the usual symptoms. I had a high risk of miscarriage so until the scan at 12 weeks I was expecting the worst at every moment. I felt I had to try and remain emotionally detached and we decided not to tell anyone other than a family member who was a midwife.
I spent most of the first trimester in a state of bewildered fear not daring to get excited. We only told the family after the first scan and Angel Boy after 20 weeks, only then did it start to seem real. Sharing their joy but also their anxieties was a mixed blessing. Approaching 41 at my due date made me a geriatric mother! Our risk of Downs came back incredibly high so a scary and painful amniocentesis followed. The result was good but waiting to get past the window of risk to the pregnancy was tough as then we knew we could lose a healthy baby. We decided not to find out the baby’s gender and keep it as a surprise. In truth it was also out of fear; if something went wrong I feared forever being haunted by an imaginary son or daughter.
I was under a lot of scrutiny with extra scans, tests and monitoring. Having probably too much knowledge and information made it hard to relax and enjoy being pregnant as every risk and problem was spelt out with more candour due to my family member being part of the team. It felt like everyone knew of me and while I’m sure it afforded me extra care for which I am hugely grateful it was also a peculiar burden as staff were curious to meet me and I felt like I was an exhibit in a maternity zoo! So felt compelled to perform as the funny, un-, phased Mum to be.
An early induction was planned, after a week of being in hospital and deemed a ”failure to progress” ultimately led to the c-section I was desperate to avoid. It was terrifying and didn’t go smoothly, my blood pressure collapsed, I lost a lot of blood and they had difficulty getting my baby out having to resort to forceps. I honestly believed I was dying as I lost my vision and couldn’t breathe. With hindsight I think I had a panic attack but with all the wrestling going on every time I tried to take a calming breath it was pushed back out of my lungs. Alarms sounding, a mask over my face to help me breathe and injections almost constantly it was terrifying. It became so awful that they stopped and suggested having a general anaesthetic but I couldn’t bare to be unconscious when my baby entered the world so we struggled on. Stopping for those few moments allowed me to breathe and surrender myself to whatever was to follow. At last he was free and the sound of squeaking was such a relief. He was shown to me but I couldn’t see so just kissed and smelled him, before I knew it he was gone again. He never suffered and was a whopper with a giant head. Short of a stick of dynamite he was never going to have a natural delivery!
Following the operation my wound re-opened and I gradually became ill with an infection. This deteriorated and I was readmitted twice only the second time being given the right combination of toxic antibiotics known as “domestos”. My son did pretty well although initially he lost a lot of weight and was deemed too slow at regaining it so we were advised to top up with formula. I was so poorly that my breast milk just wasn’t enough, I was determined to boost my supply and nursed and expressed as much as I could only making myself more unwell as my body couldn’t cope. At just over 5 weeks I decided to stop, I truly felt I had to take care of myself as I was on the brink of septicaemia and surgery to remove infected tissue. It was an awful time and I felt a failure again, I couldn’t even meet my child’s most basic need for food. My wound finally closed after 17weeks. I could hardly walk and struggled to hold him. I was on a cocktail of 20 odd tablets and injections every day and in almost constant pain. I was petrified that I wouldn’t bond with him, that I might blame him for what was happening to me, that I would never get well or be able to care for him properly. I still have some mobility problems and pain, it will get better with more time but it has meant many compromises have had to be made and we stayed at home far more than was healthy for both of us but especially me.