Oops for the novel
Alarm set for 0530 but there's no need for this as I'm wide awake, bright eyed and bushy tailed at about 0330. By 0500 I wake DH and say lets get up, I've had enough laying here lol.
We have a shower together (last one of those for a while I think!) then get dressed and head off. We need to get petrol so we stop on the way and fill up, and DH buys an iced coffee because he knows I don't like the smell of them so it won't trigger my hunger while I'm fasting.
We arrive at the hospital at about 0615 and head over to pre admission . By 0630 our paperwork is done and we are waiting to be sent up to the ward. We wait at the door for ages, buzzing in FOUR times until finally the woman opens with "oh sorry didn't hear you!".
We go straight into my room and I see I'm first in, but the second bed is made for an arrival so I know I'll be sharing. After some veeeeeeeey slow paperwork (this MW really needed to go have a coffee or something!!) they handed over and I then got someone much more efficient and chirpier.
I get into my gown, my stockings are put on and my obs are done. I take some pills for pre op and then we wait for the orderlies. I expect to need a shave but the MW says it looks fine as is. I'm glad then that I left it that morning when I was umming and ahhing over whether to do it myself.
Once they arrive it's straight down to theatre waiting bay for more paperwork! I meet my anaesthetist, as we didn't have time for a pre-appt during the week. His name is Kyle, he's a boisterous little Asian man with a good sense of humour. His assistant is a loud Russian mother hen type.
We head on into theatre and I'm transferred to the theatre bed. I get sat up sideways off the bed with my feet on a stool and the anaesthetist has a feel around of my spine and hips etc. He jokes that it's a nice comfy massage and just relax, I'm not being charged. For the record it was not a nice massage. He basically shoved his fingers into my spine repeatedly. He lathers me in a FREEEEEEZING pink solution to clean my back and then a plastic sheet gets wrapped around me to hold the warmth in. I lean forwards on a pillow and he begins the spinal block process. He puts in the local anaesthetics which were quite sharp and painful but very quick. I get told there will be a series of thumps in my spine and that I need to hold still and not jump as the sensation is very unusual. I find it quite easy to hold still, though it really is very unusual. Then he warns me of the next sensation and counts down to it, but I don't feel anything at all so it's easy to keep still for that one. He then warns me my bottom will start to get very hot, like a warm liquid is spreading through it. All very strange but no pain and I had the assistant holding me and reassuring from the front each step of the way.
Once the spinal was completed I then needed to scoot my bum back very quickly to get me back into the centre of the bed. I could already feel my body starting to tingle after mere seconds. My legs get spread out straight down, and I get positioned with my left arm out straight with cannula and my right arm out straight with blood pressure cuff. Everyone's starting to bustle around quickly and at this point I realise DH has managed to sneak in without me noticing and he's already sat at my right ear. Anaesthetist sits at my left ear. He does an ice block test - comparing ice against my arm to ice against my chest. He works his way down until I can no longer feel it. It's not high enough yet so he angles the bed so my head is down for a while so it spreads better/faster.
My OB has come in during this time and started getting ready. The first thing I notice is that he's wearing full on gumboots over his scrubs and I wonder what on earth he things he will need to wade through to make them necessary . There has been an iPod dock playing music all this time but DrK now unplugs it and moves it closer to his side of the room and turns it up significantly. He explains that his iPod has gone missing so he doesn't have his playlist (I ask if we should really continue with the procedure without it lol) but that this is their colleagues, and it's almost as good. It's a mix of classics ranging 80s-00s. I noticed that the song that was playing when we came in was one of the signs from Pitch Perfect, which is a special and meaningful movie for DH and I. It made me feel warm and fuzzy and gave me a good feeling about the procedure ahead.
They start to lather my stomach with the same freezing solution that they did my back in. The spinal functioned really bizarrely; I could feel every touch but there was no true sensation to go with it. They did the ice block test and I was ready to go. It still felt like I had 50% sensation tbh, so I was half waiting for them to start cutting me open and I'd be screaming in agony saying I could feel it. It was very surreal...
After about 10-15mins of some light movement DrK says to me "sorry for the delay, we are dealing with a lot of tiny *somethings* (capillaries? Veins? Don't remember exactly what) in the fatty tissue layer so we are just taking our time and going slowly". I'm not sure what he was apologising for - I had no idea he was even taking "a long time" haha. The anaesthetist was walking me through what they were doing at each step and how long until this or that. After some time of much the same thing, he told me that they were making the final cuts and that my baby should be born in a few minutes.
During all this time I had DH at my right. I explained to him what had happened in the room prior to him arriving, and then any time I felt a new sensation I described it.
Eventually they start to actually pull him out of me. I try to look in the lights above me for some sort of reflective surface to see if I could watch what was happening. I could see a tiny bit but with how textured the light was, it wasn't much. We didn't know what would present first; bum or feet. Turns out it was feet! Makes for a tough delivery but it was well expected. At about this point I encourage DH to peer around. He wasn't sure going in if he would want to watch or not but he did know he wanted to find out. He tried peering around the side of the curtain but DrK's body was blocking everything. Eventually I caught the eye of a nurse and asked if he was allowed to peek. DrK tells him to stand up for a better view. So there he is peering over the curtain, now completely enthralled with the birth to the point where he completely forgot about me! I try to tap him a few times for attention but he isn't having a bar of it. Eventually he looks down and I ask him to take some photos. Our rule going in was that he was in charge of photos but if he felt overwhelmed or like he was missing out by being photo guy, then he should put the camera away. I should have known better than that. He got right into it; taking so many photos that the nurse had to check if he was videoing because that's not allowed . At one point the curtain came a bit unstuck due to them pushing and pulling so hard. Apparently Bub got stuck around the bum and there was quite a bit of manipulation needed to get him out. Not that I minded. I got my first glimpse of him! Before he was even born!!! Those little toes dangling over the curtain were one of the most magickal things I've seen to date. All grey and slimy and covered in white gunk. Perfection.
Some time later they were still struggling. DrK requested both the anaesthetist and his assistant to push on my abdomen from this side of the curtain. I could see the muscles straining in his forearms, that's how hard he was working. On the other side of the curtain was two nurses manipulating while DrK pulled. They got the front of his head out and Bub let out a gurgle. Technically not born and yet and already trying to start his fight to survive. A bit more time and effort, and his head was out and my baby was born. And it only took 5 fully grown adults to do it! DH later told me that as he was peering over at the end here, Dr.K said to him with a smile "that's her uterus. It's not supposed to be there. Don't worry, I'll put it back".
Now at this point I knew that Bub would be going straight to the paed to be checked over. Being IVF, 2 weeks early, and with our various complications plus a difficult breech delivery? No chance of coming straight to me. I had already requested with DrK before starting that he come back to me ASAP; all measurements etc to wait until afterwards. APGARS and vital health checks only. I heard him being carried across the room and placed in a big medical table crib thing. I told DH about 5 times to "follow him"; "you go with him"; "do not let him out of your sight!". It was all quite hectic, and I wasn't really focussing well. It did not occur to me at the time that he hadn't been presented to me, and that I hadn't heard him cry. I still have no memory of that first minute or so. All I remember is realising he was right there still and that I could actually see him. I was expecting them to work on him in another section of the room but it was probably only half a metre away on my right. My bed was much lower than his so I couldn't see what they were actually doing but I could see his body wriggling. At this point we still hadn't met, but knowing I could see him I guess I wasn't anxious of the time that was passing. I wasn't even thinking about it, I just wanted to keep watching forever. Then the paed walks over and introduces herself, apologises for not having already done so, then tells me that she needs to discuss some issues with his bottom but that we shouldn't worry ourselves with that just now and asked if I wanted to hold him. Obviously I got distracted by this possibility, and suddenly everyone is fussing around me making sure I was comfortable and my gown was placed well etc.
When they placed bub on my chest, everything kinda lost its focus. I couldn't comprehend. On one hand I had no sense of "mine!" But on the other hand I had never witnessed anything so perfect in all my life. I couldn't take my eyes off him, and I had a nice little private cry with him. He's fairly quiet the Then our anas offered to take some family photos. He took our camera and started channeling Austin Powers, "yeah baby work it!" He got so involved and was positioning us in certain ways and kept referring to it as a "photo shoot". Haha. It was pretty cute. I'm glad he did it. Most photos were awful (no I don't need that view up my nostrils thank you) but there were some fantastic family pics we would not have gotten without him.
I have no idea how long I had him for. DH says at least 15 mins but to be honest it was a complete blur. The paed came over again and started to explain to us exactly what was wrong, and that he would need to go to the SCN from here rather than stay with me. I ask first if I could feed him before heading off and she says after a long pause "no, best not". This was the first point at which I realised things might actually be a bit more serious than she was letting on. Certainly burst our bubble. She tells us that he has an imperforate anus which means that where his colon should exit there is no actual hole. Says he will need to be transferred up to PMH for further testing to discover if it's just a small membrane covering his hole which can be manipulated or if there's actually no pathway there at all which will mean surgery to create one.
The following is an account from DH:
"They took him up to the special care nursery to wait for the transport from PMH. I sat with him in the nursery while they put him in a crib with a heat lamp over it. The paed inspected him again and put him on his stomach to prepare him for a gas line which would show them his internal pathway (the machine can see the gas travelling inside him so they can see where there are blockages etc) but then they decided not to do that after all because they realised they would be doing that at PMH anyway.
I started holding him for cuddles then, for maybe half an hour. The doctors then came back to put a drip in him to prepare for the trip to the hospital. This is when I went back to your room to wait for you. You turned up maybe 10 mins later."
The stitching up process is fairly straightforward and anticlimactic after the big event. I think I was a bit numb, and it felt strange being alone. I wasn't worried yet; I was used to everything going wrong. This was just the next step in a long line of complications. I knew everything would be fine, just like all the other scares had worked out fine. There were a lot of jokes around the room. The music gets turned up significantly, and I could hear DrK retelling some anecdote to his colleague from his weekend whilst stitching. All in a day's work for him. After we finish I am wheeled to the recovery bay where they monitor me for about 20-30 minutes then it's up to my room where DH is waiting for me. They put the massaging machine on my legs and we just chill for a while, waiting to hear more.
After some time, we are told that the PMH transport crew have arrived and they are getting Bub ready to go. Apparently this was a record - normally they're much slower to turn up. I'm just grateful. The sooner they take him the sooner I will get him back. They bring him in to me to say goodbye to him. He's all wrapped up in cables and he looks so tiny in the transporter humidicrib. My heart breaks to see the equipment all whirring around him. She folds up the front panel so I can reach in to him. All I can really do is stroke his foot. He's too far away and I'm still not recovered enough to move any. The nurse takes photos, and I'm crying. They make it clear I need to wrap it up so I give him one last goodbye and they wheel him away.
The rest of the day is spent waiting for my spinal to wear off, and getting regular obs. I know my family is waiting to hear from me but I have no baby to show them, and the phone network is so sketchy a phone call can barely be made. I dodge a few video calls, and cry a little. I finally call my parents and manage to shout enough information down the awful connection to satisfy them enough for the day.
I ask the MWs for advice on breastfeeding. There's a chance Bub will be at PMH for a few days and I am not allowed to transfer (it's a children's hospital - there's no maternity ward). I want to at least have some colostrum prepared for him if I can't actually be there for him. She suggests that I try to hand express but doesn't really tell me how. A while later I ask for a pump and I do 15 mins on each side. No result. I plan to try again in a few hours.