Tuesday 23rd September- My life has changed forever…..

Shortly before midnight on the 23rd, I succumbed to the idea of using painkillers. Not that I was adverse to using pain relief, I just couldn’t estimate how painful my contractions were and ended up being. The only thing on offer at first was paracetamol. I was initially surprised at the offer of something I’d normally use if there was no ibuprofen in the house, you know as a last resort sort of thing. However, as it was the only relief they provided, I immediately took it.

Unsurprisingly, paracetamol did not work and within a few moments I was begging for something stronger.

The midwives consulted with each other and ended up prescribing codeine. A much more powerful painkiller. Yet on consumption, there was no real pain relief. Clearly my contraction pain was at it’s peak. My husband spoke with the nurses, concerned at how I had gone from zero to one hundred in the matter of minutes. A doctor was called to check my dilation and discovered I was 1 cm gone – not much at all but as my waters had broken the week before, I needed to be closely monitored. She decided it would be sensible to send me to the labour ward.

I packed up my belongings and slowly walked to the exit. I was met by a midwife named Amy. Little did I know then that Amy would be my salvation for the next five hours.

Once in the labour ward and into what would be my room for the following few hours, I couldn’t believe how the pain had increased. My husband, who had been my rock coaching me through each contraction, was now beginning to worry and panic. I suppose he knew what was approaching. My temper was wearing thin and I started to snap at him. The pain was not only excruciating but terrifying too. The right side of my back throbbed uncontrollably at each contraction and the cramping made my body spasm. I wanted to cry and scream but somehow I held it together knowing that it would only make me more anxious. Plus, I was incredibly worried any screaming would induce a panic attack which then in turn could inspire an Asthma attack. I absolutely did not want that to happen.

I told Amy that I was really struggling. At one in the morning, she gave me diamorphine. A drug that was injected into my thigh. She told me that it would make me very drowsy – a prospect I was very happy about (I hadn’t slept for over 24 hours). It did make me drowsy. However, the strength of the contractions by then were so forceful that I was waking every two minutes in unbearable pain, waking my sleeping husband each time as I let out a groan of despair. Both exhausted, the next two hours consisted of a combination of agitated sleep, mind-numbing pain and a strong urge to go to the toilet every so often. The third feeling was crucial to what was happening at that point in my labour.

Amy spent time coming in and out of the labour room, checking mine and baby’s stats. She could see the depths of my pain and as I complained that I needed the toilet for the seventeenth time, she decided to check on my dilation. In the space of three hours, I had gone from 1 cm to 6 cm dilated. I was now in full labour.

A baby doctor came into the room to discuss what would happen as soon as baby was born. In all honesty, my mind was on other things at that point. The doctor came at a really inappropriate time. I was still dosed up on diamorphine and that combined with the agonising pain made me just nod at her whilst she fired a list of things at me. Climbing back onto the bed having changed into a hospital gown, I questioned Amy on further pain relief. My labour had progressed rather quickly and although the pain was horrific, she was impressed by how well I had been handling it all.

The subject of an epidural arose.

Everybody I had spoken to in my pregnancy recommended it. I was never one to turn away pain relief, I hadn’t gone into the pregnancy hoping for a purely natural birth. Up until that point I had been terrified at pain. I wince at the dentists for crying out loud and that’s just on a routine check up! However, I was doing okay. Better than okay. Perhaps I didn’t need the epidural. Amy certainly thought so and practically refused to give me one! She positively told me I could do it without. She had the confidence in me. Pushed on by my encouraging and supportive midwife, I accepted that I could do it alone.

I don’t need to say how painful labour actually is. I’m sure all you mothers out there know already. I can say it is an amazing experience and although it seems like a blur and a dream, I can see myself doing it again. I would only hope that next time, my baby arrives on time and not so early 🙂

Ivy-Wren was born at five in the morning weighing five pounds.

The doctors took her away to the Neonatal Unit almost immediately after she was born. She wasn’t placed on my chest naked nor did I breastfeed her within moments. My baby was taken away from me. I did get one chance to hold her after demanding it. The doctor didn’t seem happy but I knew my baby needed it. All wrapped up, she was placed in my arms.

I held her tight and promised her it wouldn’t be long till we’d be all together. She was a fighter and I knew she’d prove that to everyone.

And that she did.

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Sunday 21st September – No time like the present!

Having been sent home on Friday, I was preparing myself for a full week of last minute preparation until I was to be induced into labour on the 29th September. My husband and I spent the Saturday morning shopping for smaller sized clothes for baby. We then washed all of the baby’s bedding and clothes ready for it’s arrival the week after.

My mum had been planning a traditional Bengali party for me on Sunday a month before. When I was taken to hospital when my waters broke, we contemplated cancelling the get-together. However, as it had been planned to the very last detail and didn’t include a huge guest list, we decided it would be a greater loss NOT to go ahead with it. Obviously, I was under orders to relax and not overdo it and my mother understood that I may have needed a break during a five hour party.

I felt quite overwhelmed come Sunday at the prospect of dealing with fifteen people all asking me how I was and felt. I lingered before I eventually made it downstairs to greet everyone. My friend Kat found me stalling upstairs in my bedroom and coaxed me out. Luckily, it wasn’t too chaotic when I finally made my entrance. My husband headed straight for me knowing how uncomfortable large, interrogating groups of people made me feel when pregnant.

The party itself was a success. It lasted for around four hours and was very chilled. It was a much more relaxed atmosphere than I had expected which made the whole thing a whole lot better. After everyone had gone home, I felt an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion. Putting it down to third trimester symptoms, I went to have a nap. Almost immediately after lying down, I got a tremendous ache in my side. I questioned it briefly but assumed it was nothing. That was until after ten minutes when it occurred again and after ten minutes when it happened again.

Regular cramps happening every ten minutes………..??

Where had I heard that before? Were these……….contractions?

No!

I ran a warm bath and took a long soak. Of course they weren’t contractions! Only two days before I was told that baby was nowhere near to it’s arrival. It could not be contractions.

Half an hour later, relaxed from my bath, I was relieved to see the cramps had disappeared. Yet, an hour later at dinner, they suddenly reappeared. Frightened, I mentioned the regularity to my husband and mother. They both seemed anxious and began to monitor each one. Unfortunately for me, it looked as though my fate had been made.

Was I in labour?

Yes. Yes I was. And at midnight, I made my way to hospital.

Baby just could not wait to come out!

Friday 19th September – No sign of baby.

By Friday 19th September I had developed cabin fever in hospital. I had been lucky to receive a bigger than average cubicle so my husband David could stay comfortably with me for my duration on the ward. Two days may not seem long, but for a pregnant lady whose waters had broken and was surrounded by other pregnant women about to go into or enduring the beginning of labour, it was a little overwhelming to say the least.

For the most part and especially at night, I just listened to the groaning and wailing of these poor women. It didn’t bode well for my future. Not only did it freak me out but the lack of sleep was highly annoying. Every few hours, a nurse or midwife would appear to monitor baby and me. I would be strapped up to a machine for many minutes sometimes hours. God forbid I needed the toilet which I often did! I was pregnant after all.

monitored

I was undoubtedly ready to go home on Friday. It was very clear that baby was not appearing at that point and I just wanted to be in my own space. The doctors agreed that I should go home. Baby’s lungs were now matured with the help of that horribly painful injection so I didn’t need to worry. At the morning walk round, the consultant decided that I could return home.

I was so relieved.

They told me that as I was nowhere near dilated and there were no signs that baby was coming immediately, it made sense and was safe to go home. It had been planned that I would return to hospital on the 29th to be induced. Any longer than that could cause harm to baby and nobody wanted that.

Little did I know then that baby had no intention of waiting another twelve days to appear…………

Wednesday 17th September – Just a normal day at work……….right?

This day began the same as any other. Yes, I was 32 weeks pregnant and still at work but I had made the decision to work through my pregnancy. Partially to keep me sane and active and also because my husband and I couldn’t afford to lose my wage for the next two months before baby’s expected arrival.

I woke up in the morning having had a satisfying, full sleep the previous night. However, shortly after rising I began to suffer from a deep headache. It came on very suddenly. I wondered if because I had been unwell the previous two days and had spent time at home resting and recuperating, that my body was unable to cope with the shock of waking up so early and heading out to work. It was the only explanation I could muster.

Once at work and after eating an unhealthy McDonald’s breakfast, I sat in the staff room being greeted and welcomed back. I felt fine if not a little tired. As I began my working day, supporting a colleague with a class for the morning, I felt eager to get back into my working routine. I sat supporting a group of children I regularly worked with for the first hour of the day. At 10 am and as we prepared to go to morning assembly, I suddenly felt odd.

Strangely and almost worryingly, I felt an urgent need to pass wind! Embarrassed at the thought I might “let one go” in the middle of the classroom, I sat tight in a fit of panic. Within seconds, my insides cramped and I was certain I had lost control of my bladder. I quickly realised that I couldn’t keep whatever was about to come out – inside. I immediately excused myself to the bathroom and hurried down to the staff bathrooms. Along the way, nothing could keep it from flowing out. I had no idea what was happening as I bolted down the stairs. I was convinced I was wetting myself.

Thankfully, no one crossed my path as I finally made it to a toilet. I locked myself in, pulled down my drenched trousers and attempted to use the toilet. Nothing came out. I was confused. Had I emptied my entire bladder on the way there? How mortifying! I stood up. Within moments, water began pouring out of me.

“Are my waters breaking?” The obvious question and answer finally hit my mind. I did the only thing I knew you could do to check if this was the case. Please look away now if you are easily disgusted…….
I smelled my trousers to sense the smell of urine. Of course, that would be the most obvious sign of a bladder problem. If the smell however was odourless, then it was definitely a sign of waters breaking. Mine smelt of the latter. NOTHING.

SHIT.

My waters had broken. At work. In class. WAY too early.

I was only 32 weeks pregnant and seriously panicking.

I waited and held my trousers underneath the dryer so that I would have some dignity when I could eventually leave the bathroom.

I managed to find the same colleague to help me after a half hour. She was surprised but her along with three other women, helped me through the nerves and stress of this sudden revelation. Well wishes and good lucks flew at me as I made my way to my hospital.

There, as my husband and mother met me, I was told baby needed some monitoring over the following days. So I was admitted into hospital. My waters were still coming out thick and fast annoyingly so I had to wear towels to stop the leaking. It was very strange. I was given an essential steroid injection to mature baby’s lungs in case it decided to appear sooner than we wanted. It bloody hurt! I’ve never felt pain like that before but unfortunately, it would not be long before I would.

After a few hours, I was placed in the care of the Antenatal Unit. David, my husband, stayed with me as I nervously waited to be told what was next in store for me.

It would be the start of my little adventure to the day I gave birth to Ivy-Wren.

A Day from Hell.

Yesterday was officially the worst day of my pregnancy. I woke up throughout the night with a persistent cough, I struggled to breathe during the morning. Played it out nervously and followed Asthma UK’s instructions. By late afternoon, still tight-chested and unable to fully shake the dryness on my chest, Dave called an ambulance. Last time, they were angels. That sadly cannot be said for yesterday. I was fobbed off and mocked for calling in as I was speaking to the paramedic too “articulately”. I was given a run down on his daily statistics and that I was caller 4000 and something. I had stopped listening when he condescendingly asked me if my condition was “life-threatening?” I am horrified by his treatment. He denied me oxygen saying that I would put my baby in distress. He then proceeded to tell me to make my own way (no car) to a walk-in centre as I only had a mild chest infection. I was on the brink of tears. I knew what was wrong and what I needed but this man was not budging on his decision. He had written me off. After a wasted hour or so, he left and we headed up to the walk in centre. On arrival the receptionist was confused as to why I wasn’t taken to A&E. I explained what had happened. To my surprise, she seemed much more concerned than the paramedic. I didn’t have to wait long before seeing a nurse. She took my blood pressure, pulse, peak flow and finally checked my breathing with her stethoscope. Before I knew it, she had called the doctor in asking her to check me herself. She did and both of them nodded in agreement at the tightness and wheeziness of my chest. The doctor asked me to follow her and she led me to a nebulizer to give me oxygen. The same thing the paramedic had just told me I did not need. “You need it” she said when I asked if she was sure. I explained what I had previously been told and she was confused. I was in desperate need of a way to breathe and the oxygen was the obvious choice and it was not going to harm my unborn baby. Why did the paramedic lie?
He was adamant that I would cause my baby harm yet the doctor was adamant that I would do far more harm not treating the Asthma attack. Of course, she was right. If I cannot breathe, how an earth will baby?! After I had taken the course of oxygen and medicine, my vitals were checked again and it was clear. The oxygen had done it’s job. My chest had opened and the tightness had completely disappeared. All of that could have been done several hours back with the paramedic in my own home. Everything that I thought I needed, he had dismissed and sadly, I listened to the man, trusting him with his knowledge over mine. Next time, this will not be the case.
The doctor continued to tell me that I did not have a chest infection. Another thing that contradicted the paramedic. He insisted that was all I had. She prescribed me steroids as it was entirely Asthma related. The paramedic told me I needed antibiotics, something that could have given far more trauma to my baby and something I was trying to NOT put in my body.

How could this guy get it SO wrong?? He took one look at me and disregarded his skills. He judged me like a stranger on the street, someone who has no understanding of Asthma and how serious it can be. Just because I may be stringing a full sentence together, or as he so kindly said my “blood pressure is probably better than anyone else’s in the room,” does not mean I was not suffering.

Asthma is a silent killer and it can appear from nowhere.

Don ‘t write us off.

He didn’t even check my baby! Thankfully the doc did and baby was jumping and thumping away happily.

I guess it’s more resilient than I thought 🙂

143 Days to go!

I’m currently approaching week 20 of my pregnancy (the half way mark!!) and am starting to feel slightly more human than before. Thankfully, the constant appearance of nausea is fading. I find that on the weekends, especially when I get the chance to sleep in, the nausea is completely at bay. Waking for work at 6 am is a different story and the sensation of brushing my teeth cannot keep the feeling of sickness away. Quite often do I have to plan my morning schedule so that there is time left over for me to lie down for five minutes to shoo away the nausea; it seems to work. Only then can I get on with getting ready.

There are 143 days to go until my due date. Seems like a lot but really it’s a little over 4 months. I am not quite sure where the last 5 months have gone.  It’s quite exciting if not slightly nerve wracking too!

There has been a bit of a baby avalanche recently. These things always seem to happen in groups and patterns. I think it’s nice when people you know are having babies around the same time. That’s something very special you’ll always share.

I have not begun to purchase anything for baby yet. I think by the time I hit the six month mark, we should have found out about the inheritance money with the hope it’ll be arriving soon. It’ll obviously be an enormous help to us with baby on the way and ideally a chance for us to begin looking for some much needed space of our own.

Undoubtedly, I will miss my mother. As much as we disagree or dispute, I cannot deny how caring she has been this year. It feels unusual to have it – love. So open and clear, so truthful and genuine. I am not used to that. Her love is unconditional and that has been an awakening.

She is looking forward to becoming a grandma again. This baby marks her third time. Sadly, she does not see my sister’s children. One day, I hope that can be resolved. She does not deserve such punishment. Her heart breaks every moment they pop into her head. Love is not political. Nor is it competitive or conditioned.

I know she will have an abundance of love for our little one.

Next Tuesday will be our 20 week anomaly scan. I am a little nervous and apprehensive, touch wood that all is well. We will now be able to see a much clearer view of baby as our 12 week scan seemed more like a blob to me! Although everybody else is able to point out features! I just want EXACT and DEFINITE knowledge that what I think I’m seeing is genuinely what I am actually seeing!

My Asthma has been playing up a little. Doctors say that around this time it is likely to feel a little short of breath. However with Asthma, it seems harder to decipher which is which, pregnancy or Asthma.

We recently signed up for some NCT (National Childbirth Trust) classes for October. They are costly and at are held at awkward times in the evening but after many recommendations from friends and colleagues, it seemed like a sensible thing to do. The NHS offers a day version for free but these classes are tailored to offer one to one advice about baby and birth within a close and personal environment. One where you are able to meet prospective mothers in the same position as you. Not only do you feel more prepared for motherhood and baby but you get the chance to make some new friends. Something I always welcome.

My sister still hasn’t responded or congratulated me on my pregnancy news. Perhaps she is angry at my last message to her. The thing is, how long can I beat around the bush and side step ever confronting her on her behavior? I chose to do it without patronizing her and without aggression but openly and truthfully. To be honest with you, after recent events, perhaps honesty is NOT the best policy(!)

Have a good weekend guys 🙂

Last night in hospital.

One week into the new year and I’ve already managed to gain a trip to the hospital via ambulance yesterday! Not what I was expecting for a Tuesday afternoon. I am off work today under the advice of the paramedics and doctors. A painful and poorly two weeks have passed where it was clear that either I was becoming ill or that I was patently run down. I have been having mild asthma attacks over the holiday but nothing so worrying that a doctor would be needed. However, since Sunday and after two nights without sleep, it was obvious that something was not quite right. 

Yesterday at work, around lunchtime, I noticed my chest had tightened so much that even standing up from my seat felt like a chore. My face had become slightly bloated and most frighteningly, the Asthma medication that I use to relieve any pain was not working. There was no relief. 

I left work early and made my way home. I called my mother on my way. It is safer to not be alone in these circumstances. Luckily, she was there and waited for my arrival. As soon as I entered the front door, my mother was alarmed. To her, I looked awful. I was finding it hard to string a full sentence together. She knew what to do. The doctors’ surgery wouldn’t give us an early appointment and in all honesty, I felt like I had to convince them of how ill I actually was. Not something you should have to go through when you can barely breathe. My mum called an Ambulance. It was too big of a risk to leave it.

They came immediately and quickly put me at ease. 

The paramedics were angels. They are amazing people who probably aren’t acknowledged enough for the job they do. With an oxygen tank beside me and a mask over my mouth, the medication quickly soothed my aching and wheezy chest. I felt calmer too as the paramedics joked with me. My chest opened up and I began to feel slightly normal again.

We all take breathing for granted. Such a basic thing we do day to day. Yet without the ability to breathe, life would not exist. Many people do not understand that Asthma is a life-threatening condition. The paramedic described it well. Imagine breathing underwater: no mask, no oxygen, just you, stuck underwater for hours and struggling to breathe, struggling to get your head above water. That is what it feels like inside an Asthma sufferer’s body during an attack. It is fiercely dangerous, and although we may look fine, we are not necessarily okay. Believe us when we say something is wrong. Some of the deadliest diseases and conditions are ones that lie silently and hide themselves well.

I was taken to hospital to be checked over. After four hours, my ordeal was over and I was welcomed home by my worried husband. My chest remains tight today. I have a dry cough that ends with a melodic wheeze. It is still difficult to breathe hence my choice to listen to the professionals and stay at home today. Hopefully, with the help of antibiotics, it’ll sort itself out by tonight. 

I wake up every day and I think, ‘I’m breathing! It’s a good day.’
Eve Ensler