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April Fools

Finally here is Ellis' birth story. Sorry for the delay!

So for April Fools, we decided to get my dad back for telling my youngest brother Josh he was an uncle three weeks early. Kevin called him up and told him we had twins. He completely fell for it. I think the prank was very successful and fully expected payback, but not in the way we just got it!Ellis Sol was born on the 2nd of April. Due on the 4th May, we always knew he was going to come a little early, especially when one looks at both family histories. Our midwife predicted mid to late April and we went along with that. Looking back, it was written in the stars that following our April Fools prank, the little one would make a dramatic appearance. First of all, we had bought new maternity clothes the day before. Secondly, Kevin was due to travel one last time for work with an overnight stay in North Scotland, at least four hours away on the 3rd and 4th. Lastly and quite significantly, our independent midwife was taking a week of holiday in Surrey over Easter. At my previous weeks midwife appointment, everyone made me promise not to give birth on the 3rd or 4th.

2nd April 2007 35weeks 4 days by my dates/ 36weeks by the scan dates. Early morning - 2.30am Another sleepless night drove me out of my bed at about 2am. After reading some emails on the HomebirthUK email list, I decided to head off to bed to try and get some sleep. I stopped by the loo for yet another pee break. As I toddled back to our room, I felt something drip on my leg. I looked and saw it was a bit glob of show. Panicked that everything was happening too soon, we dived onto the internet to placate our worries and soon saw that there was good news and bad news for us. On the one hand we might not go into labour for a while, on the other it could happen in a minute, hour or a few days. We struggled to go back to sleep, a slight sense of impending labour descending.

Morning - 7.30am More 'show' and some light contractions permeated early morning and we knew it was time to call for advice. I phoned both my Independent midwife and her back up for advice. We were advised to go into the hospital just to get checked out. Cue frantic packing and many tears. There are a hundred reasons that I was planning a homebirth, but few mattered as much at that moment as the fact I am terrified of hospitals. Kevin began panicking that we were four weeks early for this and there was no pram, no car seat, no bedding, no steriliser, no hospital bag packed and we might not be coming back from the hospital that day. The next hour was filled with chaos as we cast clothing and animals out of our way to find that elusive sock or missing phone number, trying not to lose all sense of control.

Morning - 8.30am As the contractions were really no more than Braxton Hicks, I called a cab to meet us on the other (cheap) of the pedestrian bridge that connects the village to town.. Luckily it is less than a hundred metres to get there. En route we were passed by not one, but two of my work colleagues. First was Ron, passing on his bicycle, calling out to say hi and asking how we were, but passing too quickly to catch, "I'm in labour!" after him. Next up was Hazel, my maternity cover. I quickly informed her I may be in pre-term labour as we hurried passed her and across the bridge. The taxi was waiting patiently for us on the other side, when I suddenly and inevitably remembered something we had left behind. Nothing important really, just all my medical notes. So I was placed in the cab as Kevin ran back. It took just a few seconds to grab the notes, but as he emerged from the house, Natalie and Rob, our next door neighbours were outside. Kev let them know that we were going to hospital, but should be back later that day, Natalie was heading in the same direction and kindly jogged alongside Kev as he explained the situation. He left her behind on the bridge and sprinted the final stretch back to the patient labouring woman and taxi driver.

Morning - 9:00am - 12.15am We arrived at the maternity wing of Stirling Royal Hospital and made our way up to Ward 19 and to triage. Here we joined a midwife and labouring couple in a rather small room equipped for four beds. We lay back and waited, the midwife taking her time to set me up on a fetal monitor between. The proceedings were interrupted at every turn by the telephone ringing and slowly the ward filled with women on the brink. Our midwife flitted about attending to her phone and charges and every now and then trying to catch me having a contraction. She kept missing and I think she thought the contractions were much further apart than they were in reality as we progressed through the morning. The area we were in was horrible. It was no bigger than a double bed. Doctors and midwives kept walking by and talking about us. Through this eavesdropping, we learned that the reason we weren't being seen was that it was hospital policy that women under 36weeks had to be seen by the registrar He was caught up in we waited. We were seen periodically by the SHO, the triage midwife an a student doctor who took my BP at my elbow and it showed up normal. This was probably a blessing as I have battled with high BP in the past and an accurate BP may not have meant more intervention. 12:15pm As we were so ill prepared, Kev decided to go downstairs and make some phone calls. I paced around the room I felt so claustrophobic and alone. I really wanted to walk around the halls, but every time I tried to leave, the midwife kept shooing me back into my corner. I decided she couldn't stop me from going to the loo, so I did that. On one trip, I noticed a drop of blood in the toilet I told the midwife and of course her response was to put me back on the monitor. I agreed as long as I could stand up. As soon as I was strapped up, the contractions began to get really uncomfortable. I immediately unhooked myself and started pacing. Still no sign of Kevin. I began to have to move and moan to be comfortable through the ctx. Finally, after what seemed like ages, Kev returned. It was just before 1pm and I was really feeling the ctx. Still no sign of the registrar, and the midwife admitted to us she didn't know what to do. After a few more minutes, I told her I was feeling pushy. She went out and made a phone call. When she came back she asked if she could examine me. I agreed. Well, she found a bulging sack of membranes and only a rim of cervix left. Her examination broke the waters. At this stage I was yelling through the contractions and boy did screaming help! They decided to wheel me down to labour ward. There were 4 midwives and Kevin around me. Each time I yelled the midwives shouted back, almost in unison, “breathe”. I lay there thinking, “Thats all you can say?!?!”. I kept quiet.

1:10pm We arrived in the labour ward and they tried to get me to transfer to the main bed. I managed to get off the bed I'd transferred in on. However, as another contraction hit, I wanted to just stay on all fours on the floor. The midwife was obviously not happy and kept urging me to get on the bed. I agreed. They arranged the bed so that I could kneel on all fours. The two midwives stood at the end of the bed doing paperwork as I went through about 5-6 contractions. I heard them say something about synto. I yelled that I wanted a physiological third stage. The midwives tried to get me back on the monitor, but I refused. I tried to use the gas and air, but couldn't get it to work, though it did mean I had something to bite on. Throughout this entire time, not one person other than Kevin told me I was doing a good job. I didn't have to push at all as I experienced the foetal ejection reflex. Throughout this entire time, not one person other than Kevin told me I was doing a good job. I remember thinking, “obviously the paperwork is more important than I am.” I could tell that the baby was coming so I called for the midwives. Ellis arrived at 1:28pm weighing 5lbs 15oz. The midwife passed him through my legs and as I pulled him up, my first words were “Oh my God, you are so ugly!”. I then had a look and saw it was a boy. The pead arrived as Ellis arrived. She said he was a bit “dusky” and asked to cut the cord and take him to get some oxygen. I agreed as long as Kevin could go with him. Kevin cut the cord. As they left the room the midwives had to do a shift change. As the new midwives appeared they asked to examine the damage. I had a superficial tear that needed a couple of stitches. But that had to wait until after the 3rd stage. The midwife just stood over me, poking my belly every few minutes waiting for the placenta. When another midwife asked what she was doing, she said “physiological third stage” and rolled her eyes. I just ignored her. Ellis and Kev returned and I got another good cuddle. After about 15 minutes of the midwives hovering and poking me I was getting intensely irritated. I told her that I was tired of her waiting and asked for the shot. As the midwives began to get ready to stitch me up, we asked if we could take him home. They said that they wouldn't like that as he was so early. I said that we'd like to speak to the pead about it. The registrar pead came in with another pead. She said “I know things didn't go to your plan, but we won't let you leave with the baby.” I asked the reasons why and she gave the common problems of low blood sugar, low temp, jaundice and feeding problems. I pointed out that all of those things could be dealt with at home. She told us, “If you try to leave the hospital, we will chase you”. I told them I wouldn't agree to anything until I spoke to my IM. Since my IM wouldn't be back until the following Sunday, we agreed that it would probably be best for me to stay. I knew I could fight, but I was very tired and emotional. They said that they would make sure to provide lots of support with breastfeeding and monitor Ellis and I closely. Ellis hadn't fed when he was offered at first, so it looked like it might be a long road.

5PM We were moved up onto the ward. After a few hours of oogling the baby, Kevin was sent home. It was time for a feed for Ellis, so I rang the buzzer for help. No one came. I rang again and a midwife popped in and said that she was helping someone else, but would come back. She didn't. It was now about 10pm and I rang again. This time a nursery nurse came in and I explained that I hadn't been able to get baby to latch on and no one had been to help me. She took Ellis's blood sugar and then tried to help for about 5 minutes, which meant grabbing my breast and trying to latch Ellis on forcibly. It seemed to work for a minute, so she left. He popped off again and I was worried it wasn't enough, so I rang her back and she said it was fine and left. When she came back to check his blood sugar again, it was late at night. She just came in and took the baby. When she came back she said that they had given him a bottle of formula because his BM was so low. Thats when the crying started. I felt like such a failure and I felt failed by my body, my baby and the hospital. I was so alone and didn't feel like I could trust anyone. I really blamed them for leaving us at the last feed, because I knew it wasn't right. I cried all that next day. I was devastated that my IM wasn't there asn the main reason we'd hired her was for continuity of care as we are all alone in the UK. I just sat looking at this beautiful tiny baby and wondering what had happened to us. It took weeks for the shock of his early delivery to sink in.

3rd and 4th of April I insisted the next morning that we be discharged. After speaking to a number of midwives and peads, we agreed that as Ellis wasn't feeding well it would be better to stay for a few more days. We were discharged the next day because they needed the bed space.

After Discharge Ellis had quite a few hiccoughs the first few weeks He had to be readmitted because of jaundice and dehydration. He had to be cup fed EBM to top up all of his feeds for the first three weeks. Breastfeeding was the hardest thing I have ever done (and I've survived floods in Calcutta!). Due to almost continual crying, PND was discussed on a number of occasions. My IM returned and was an amazing support to get Bfing going. Without her postnatal support, PND would have been more than a discussion. We survived it and Ellis now feeds like a trooper, is thriving and a lovely wee boy At first, I can honestly say that I wasn't too upset about not getting my homebirth. We were so caught up in the day to day care of Ellis. As the weeks have worn on, I have been more and more disappointed about having to give birth in hospital. While I recognize that Ellis needed extra help at first, I don't know who actually gave him that. Honestly I am not sure that we were helped or hindered by the care we received.

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