A few of you will know that I have been off for a little while having my second son. I am very proud to say that I was able to give birth at term this time to a very healthy baby boy we named Matthew. He’s an amazing little man and he has settled into our lives very well and very quickly.

The whole of the pregnancy I was a little anxious about history repeating itself and giving birth to another preemie. As this was my only experience into motherhood I was understandably anxious as I had nothing to compare it to. I didn’t need to worry though as this baby boy was happy to stay firmly put.

I was conflicted throughout the pregnancy as to whether I should opt for a natural birth or a caesarean section I knew the c-section would be a tough recovery but it was also something I was familiar with. I’d a definitive date to work towards and under the current COVID rules my husband would be allowed to be with me for the whole procedure. He was also allowed to stay with me for recovery and by the time I was moved to the ward it was visiting time so he got to spend nearly the whole day with me. This was something I really needed after my previous experience.

How was the section different?

The emergency section was so rushed, my baby boys life was on the line and the staff were determined to at least try and save it even though the odds were that there was a 90% chance he wouldn’t make it.

I was asked lots of questions by lots of people. Within minutes of my scan appointment I was prepped and in a theatre with very little thinking time. The cut was made. The room was silent. We were briefly allowed to see our son before he was rushed up to the neonatal unit. I was stitched up and sent to recovery with an empty tummy and empty arms as my baby was fighting for his life on the other wing of the floor.

Medical professional pushing an incubator through a hospital. Photography credit: Hush Naidoo
Medical professional pushing an incubator through a hospital. Photography credit: Hush Naidoo

This time I turned up nervous. I hate needles so I was questioning my whole decision to have the section. We were greeted by friendly staff and shown to a waiting room. A prep room was soon available and after many visits to the loo for nervous wees it was my turn for surgery. It was too late now, it was time to meet our little man!

In theatre

I got myself on the bed and was introduced to the team that would be carrying out the caesarean. Everyone was wearing masks including me and it was difficult to hear clearly what everyone was saying, especially those with softer voices. I remember getting the spinal from my first section but there was also a fabulous nurse on hand who kept me distracted. This time I was a lot more aware of what was happening and as soon as I felt the needle go in it took a lot of mental visualising to distract myself. My husband held my hand and said I left some good nail marks. He also told me that I raised some eyebrows when my heartrate plummeted.

I was unaware of any of this. Once the spinal was in I lay on the bed, the curtain was put up across my middle and after a few minutes I was asked if I could feel a cold spray. I could only feel it once they got to armpit level. We were good to go!

I broke out in a hot sweat so one of the staff took pity on me and got a cold flannel for my head, he also adjusted my mask so my nose wasn’t covered. I instantly felt so much better and a lot less sick. After a few minutes I noticed my hand with the drip line going in was really sore. I tried raising it but my voice just wasn’t loud enough and everyone was a little busy. At the end they realised the line had actually come out but the needle was pressed against my skin which was making it so uncomfortable.

Surgery in a hospital operating theatre. Photography credit: Jonathan Borba
Surgery in a hospital operating theatre. Photography credit: Jonathan Borba

Meeting our son

When our eldest son was born there was absolutely no noise. The staff were a well-oiled machine not needing to speak, they were quickly and efficiently going about their roles. Our son was delivered and immediately rushed over to the resus table. He didn’t make a single peep so I asked my husband to look round the curtain to see what was going on. He couldn’t see much but he said there was a team around him.

A few minutes later an incubator was wheeled next to me and I got to see my son for the first time. He was calmly led in the incubator peering out at me. A minute later they told us they were taking him over to the neonatal unit now and that the nurses on the ward would keep us informed.

This time round was a different experience. Our second son was taken to the resus area and just as the nurse was raising concerns that he hadn’t taken a breath yet, he let out an almighty cry. This noise made me so happy! Not long after that I was presented with my baby for skin to skin time. This wasn’t that easy in theatre so he was handed over to my husband for his first cuddles.

I was stitched up and moved to a recovery room. I was then able to get more skin to skin time, a much needed drink and some toast. My husband started to ring round immediate family to let them know that our baby boy had arrived safely and that he would be taking on my Grandad’s name as his middle name. My Grandad had died the day before from COVID-19 and it felt right to have our son have his name as part of his own.

The recovery

I remembered from the first time round that the pain of getting up was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. This time round it felt easier to do as I was mentally prepared for what it would feel like. Due to COVID protocols my husband wasn’t allowed to stay this time. He helped me up and to get showered after the first section. This time I was heavily reliant on the nurses. They were amazing and I didn’t need to be anxious. It’s embarrassing having to strip in front of a stranger but knowing I’d soon feel clean (meaning I’d feel half way human) I could easily put my embarrassment to one side.

Soon I was showered and dressed. I went back to my bed and called my oldest son. I had a short face time call with him and introduced him to his baby brother. He was more interested in going to choose his bedtime story though.

Mum holding her baby. Photography credit Raul Angel
Mum holding her baby. Photography credit Raul Angel

The next day I was discharged. I was so relieved to be going home. The other 2 babies in the room had been crying most of the night so we were all exhausted. Except my baby who pretty much slept the whole night (what I would’ve given for my own room that night!)

Home time!

I was so pleased to get home to all those home comforts you take for granted. My oldest son was intrigued to meet his baby brother too. All was going well until a few days later and my stitches burst open. I was taken back to hospital where they took a swab of the wound and told me it was infected. I was then told that the wound couldn’t be stitched back up. The blood clots from the bruising around the wound was pushing out the infection.

The wound would need to stay open and be cleaned, packed and redressed every day. The community midwives would come out every few days to check on me but the wound dressing needed to be changed regularly. This became the job of my poor husband. I had to do something similar for him a few years back so I said it made us even.

I’m now 7 weeks on and walk like a human being again. Hopefully the 6 week post op check will have me fully signed off, although the wound doesn’t feel normal yet. The recovery has definitely been slower the second time round.

It has been difficult entertaining a 3 year old and meeting the feeding demands (not to mention the amount of nappy changes I have had to do!). My little boy doesn’t understand why his life changed so much overnight. He misses his childminder, nursery and playgroups and regularly asks to go to all of them as well as relatives he hasn’t seen for a while and soft play centres.

However it has been wonderful to spend so much time with my babies

Did you see…

Did you see our recent blog on A Day In The NICU