Sam brought the laptop in for me at the hospital so I can compose a blog post for him to put up when he gets home. What can I say? I am completely overwhelmed by everything at this stage.
After a magical first 20 or so hours with what we all thought was a perfect little baby we are now faced with weeks of time with wee Charlotte in the Neonatal unit at Wellington Hospital, with all kinds of tubes and needles poking into her. We’d all like our children to be special in some way, but this is not quite what we had in mind.
If you haven’t quite caught up on the happenings, here’s a bit of a timeline from the last few days:
Got home from the movies about 9pm and went to bed. At 9:30 I rolled over, my waters broke and I gushed all over the place. Luckily I had taken Carol’s advice about putting a shower curtain under the top sheet and sleeping on a towel! The midwife said contractions could start any time in the next 24 hours and not to stay awake waiting for them so I got Sam to help change the sheets and got back in bed with a bunch of towels. Contractions started about twenty minutes later. Just like me to be efficient. I got up and emailed some work for my classes in between the next sets of contractions, then called the midwife at about 11pm who suggested I take a bath to ease the pain and call her when the contractions were 3 min apart and stayed that way for an hour. Which they pretty much were already. Got in the bath anyway, and grit my teeth to the pain for a bit longer. I eventually got to the stage where conversation consisted of one unintelligible grunt at a time between contractions, and we decided to head to the hospital. Good thing we did, as just after we arrived I had the urge to push. The midwife arrived just as I was getting up on the bed, and after about 40 minutes helped us to deliver a beautiful dark haired angel just after 12:45 am Wednesday 24 September. We decided to name her Charlotte Alexandra, although she was actually nameless till about lunchtime on Wednesday.
Kirsten and my cousin Nicole were both coming to watch the birth (both being nurses and not wanting to miss an opportunity like that), but the baby was too fast, and they both came into the delivery suite to be greeted by me holding a wee baby, apologising that they missed it. They didn’t seem to mind. They both got to have a good look at the placenta and talked medical stuff with the midwife for a while, which may have been some consolation.
We called Mum, and Sam’s folks, and Carol, who were all delighted to be woken at such a reasonable hour. Colin and Anne even came straight down to the hospital to have their first cuddle at 1am! Anne checked the ears for Hall family sticky-outed-ness and pronounced them ok. Charlotte and I got cleaned up and into our own room, and people went home as I drifted off to sleep about 3am. I kept waking all night as Charlotte’s breathing was very rattly. Apparently since she came out so fast she didn’t get the fluid squeezed out of her lungs properly. We had been assured this would clear up after about 12-24 hours, so I wasn’t too concerned.
From about 7am, we started getting text messages and phone calls and visitors, which didn’t stop till about 1pm. Good thing the ward has a compulsory no visitors period, or I never would have got any rest! The onslaught continued in the afternoon till Sam went home around 9pm.
Later that night, one of the nurses suggested that a doctor have a listen to Charlotte’s lungs as she was still very rattly, and not very interested in feeding. She carried Charlotte away and said she would come back and fill me in later. It was around 10pm, so I lay back down for a sleep while I waited. The doctor came back and asked me to go see her in the Special Care unit at the end of the hallway. When I got there she explained that Charlotte’s trachea and oesophagus were still connected, when they should have separated before she was born. This meant that most of the milk she was getting was going into her lungs, and not making it to her stomach. We were going to have to transfer her to Wellington where surgery could be performed to correct this.
The ambulance came to transfer Charlotte, and my Mum came in to take me as well. Wellington hospital had no bed available for me, so technically I had to discharge myself in order to be allowed to go with her. Not that I was really in a fit state to be moving, but I didn’t want to stay behind while she went without me. I ended up spending about 4 hours napping in a chair in the Wellington Neonatal unit while they settled Charlotte in and organised an x-ray. At about 4am I finally made it back to the Hutt to my own bed and a sleeping husband.
Sam and I made our way into Wellington at 9:30am, just in time to see Charlotte being prepped for surgery. We met the surgeon and I bawled through most of his explanations of how it would go. Sam took most of it in though. I think I was still in a bit of post birth shock; there was still no bed for me and I was in a lot of pain having to walk all over the hospital from Neonates to Surgery and back again. After a bit of a meltdown in the Neonates waiting room, a nice lady mentioned the Ronald McDonald room in the childrens’ ward, where there was a quiet family space and a separate bedroom. Bliss! I finally got the liedown I needed and slept through the surgery time.
I was also worried about my milk; everyone was doing everything for C, but I couldn’t make my milk come and there was nobody to show me. I was quite distraught at this stage, but eventually someone contacted the lactation consultant who got me a pump and set me up for action. Charlotte came through the surgery just fine and by 4pm I had a bed in the Gynaecology ward. I didn’t care where it was; I just needed to sleep again. This crying business was very tiring.
By this stage, things are beginning to become a little more clear. Charlotte’s repair was tricky as there was quite a gap between the two ends of the oesophagus that needed to be connected. This means that she needs to be sedated and immobilised for five days to enable healing to take place. So no cuddles or holds till at least then. Not easy. We are allowed to hold her hand and stroke her head but that’s about it.
I feel a bit like a milking cow, hooking up to a sucky machine every 3-4 hours, but am pleased that things are happening there. My milk is being frozen until she gets woken up and is off the ventilator. Even then she’ll get it through a tube in her nose for a while until her oesophagus heals completely and I can feed her properly.
I hope to come home on Saturday or Sunday, as I am almost all healed up and much more mobile. There will be a fair bit of commuting to Welly for some time though until Charlotte is well enough to bring home.
Thanks to everyone who has visited/texted/called/commented/prayed etc. It’s gonna be a long road, but at least we have a map.