Wow, what a roller coaster it has been! We are so in love with our little Millie and so thankful to have her in our lives. If you are looking for a beautiful birth story with some gorgeous professional photos stop reading now… this is not that kind of post.
Due to a fourth degree tear when I had Charlie the doctors recommended that I have a c section to deliver Millie. We had discussed the delivery with our midwife (who we were lucky enough to have with us on the day). We talked about how things would go… the spinal block, the lifting of the baby over the drape to get a quick glimpse, the snuggles and first feeds in recovery. Unfortunately, that is not how things went at all.
We left Charlie in Cloncurry with my parents on Thursday 26th September 2019… this was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do as a parent. I was so upset about leaving him I started to feel unwell before we left the driveway. I had never spent a whole night away from him since he was born 18months prior. Needless to say, between nerves about the operation and missing Charlie, I did not sleep well at all.
After a sleepless night and getting up way to early even though I was not allowed to eat or drink we got to the hospital at 7am ready for the day with a positive yet extremely nervous outlook. Our wonderful midwife arrived excitedly not long after us. So about here is where things started to go downhill… While trying to insert the drip my vein burst. I have never had this happen before and it was so painful, this made the fear and doubt kick in. Could I hand all the needles and operation to come?
By 9am I was prepped and being wheeled down to theatre; that is when the shaking began. When I get nervous I shake, when adrenaline hits me I shake more, plus when the a.c. is set to some insane temperature I shake even more! Sitting on the edge of the bed getting my spinal block I had to tell myself I was going to end up paralysed if I didn’t stop shaking. Considering I got a local around where they were putting in the block, it was still so painful… I felt so lucky to have my midwife right there with me holding me and telling me I was doing great… even if I was freaking the fuck out.
The spinal block started working a lot quicker than I thought it would – straight away my legs were pins and needles and unable to be moved. The nurses quickly laid me up flat on the bed and started to get everything ready. Next minute I feel my lovely purple robe being pushed right up to my chest… at this point I do a quick scan of the room (well the parts I could see) I was mortified to see a young male standing right beside me and my massively pregnant, naked body.
By 10am we were ready to get started and Tim was bought into the theatre room. Tim was all suited up in some very stylish scrubs the theatre nurses jokingly called the ‘Dad Suit’. Even though I could not feel pain because of the spinal anaesthetic, the procedure is very uncomfortable with all the pulling and tugging they do to get the baby out. By 10:22am our beautiful girl was born… but there was hardly a sound.
Time Stood still
There was not popping the baby over the drape to have a quick look, no baby screaming to make themselves known, no doctor saying “congratulations, it’s a girl!” Nothing…. just the sounds of nursing rushing and Tim being called over to see Millie. My heart stopped… I felt ill… tears started to roll down my face. What is wrong with my baby? I vaguely remember the midwife saying that Millie was ok, but they had to take her to the Special Care Nursery NOW! Tim did not know what to do… I told him to go with Millie.
My heart broke… could this really be happening… am I losing my baby? WHAT IS GOING ON?!
The theatre nurse did her best to distract me during the long process of being stitched up. I am not really sure how long this took; I just know it seemed like forever. I am not the kind of person who is happy to just sit around and wait – I like to know what is going on. While waiting a lovely nurse came in holding up a phone saying it was Tim… finally an update on my little girl! The doctor on the line said she was fine, just having a few problems breathing but they are helping her with that. Then she asked if I wanted to talk to Tim and I casually said “nah” which made her start laughing.
Once in recovery the time kept on ticking by and my pain got stronger and stronger. The nurses ended up giving me something like 5mg of morphine, yet it only seemed to take the edge off the pain. It was not just physical pain I was feeling, my heart was broken that something had happened to my little girl and I couldn’t protect her. I just felt so empty!
The wait was over
Finally, almost three hours after her birth, I got to see my baby girl. Relief and fear waved over me as I lay, hardly able to move in my hospital bed, looking at my baby girl connected to all these monitoring machines and a tube down her throat.
The doctors and nurses kept reassuring me that she was fine and that this was a common occurrence for c section babies, just not usually this bad. The thing that was uncommon was the bruising she had on her chest, shoulder, arm and head. The paediatrician and midwives said it would have been how the doctors pulled her out. The doctors apologised but also denied causing the bruising. An x-ray was done just to be sure there was no other injuries.
I got my first cuddle and all I could do was fight my tears. She was just so tiny and between the two of us we had iv lines going everywhere. Tim had not even had a cuddle himself; he was waiting for me.
Tim went for a well-earned food break and to see Charlie. My parents popped up for a quick visit and as soon as my dad put his arm around me I burst into tears again. I had failed… that’s all I could think… I failed my baby… I failed my husband… I failed her grandparents and family.
The midwives then took me back to my room for a sponge bath… (Well that’s an interesting and violating experience to say the least!) but the midwives don’t seem to mind at all. It was perfectly timed that the snack lady came around just before we got started and she gave me one of everything and a pink milk.
By the time I got back from my pink milk break Millie not only had a feeding tube in her mouth and an IV in her arm (with sugar water) she had a breathing machine attached to her as well. They put her on the CPAP machine not because she was getting worse but because she wasn’t getting any better.
Due to all the monitors she was attached to and the stress to her breathing I was unable to breastfeed straight away. My beautiful midwife expressed some colostrum from me while I lay helplessly in my bed staring at my baby. Next minute milk squirted across the the bed and all over the midwifes shirt! She was extremely amused and impressed all at once.
Nurses run the show
We had some great midwives and nurses – everything happened when they said it would happen. The nurse we first had in special care said Millie’s breathing tube would be out by 8pm that night. Without fail I was holding Millie at 8:01pm without the CPAP machine. It was such a beautiful moment to be able to have skin on skin with our little girl without extra tubes and head gear.
I visited Millie during the night as much as I could. The nurses helped me keep expressing during the night to keep up with how much she wanted to feed. The nurses assured me that the next morning the doctors would remove the feeding tube as well. Without fail again when the doctor did his rounds he gave the all clear to remove the tube and for us to start breastfeeding. It was such a relief to have only an IV and heart rate monitor left attached to Millie and be able to feed her without having to express. We fed every three hours to make sure she was getting enough of what she needed. Due to the bruising she received during birth she also ended up having jaundice so feeding was extremely important.
Things are looking up
Sunday morning things started really looking up. The doctors did their rounds and gave the all clear for the IV to come out and for Millie to come and stay in my room. This meant Charlie could finally meet his sister! He was just excited to be in a different place and about the present we got him to worry about the new small human in mummy’s arms. While he was visiting we had to change Millie’s nappy and she started to cry… Charlie went out in sympathy and started to cry as well so he needed big cuddles.
We could finally relax: everything was settling down. So Sunday was spent napping and with a couple of visitors.
Time to go home
Sunday afternoon they let us know that we would be able to go home Monday if all the doctors were happy. After a glorious morning nappy for mummy and baby the doctors came around and gave us the all clear.
Millie looked so tiny in her car seat! I strapped myself together with tubey grip, a towel pressed to my belly and off we went on the rough road home. The drive felt like three hours, not one and a bit hours, Tim tried not to look in the review mirror because my face showed every bump and vibration.
Our first midwife visit
The same midwife that was there for the delivery did a home visit Tuesday after our first night home. The stress and guilt all came back again with this visit. Millie was four days old and had already dropped 390grams since birth, she was now a tiny 2680 grams (birth weight 3070 grams). What kind of mother was I that I couldn’t keep my baby at a good weight? Was I doing enough? Did I not have enough milk in my huge engorged breasts or were they too big for her to get anything out of? The mum guilt went through the roof. Midwives allow for a 10% of body weight loss, but she had lost a huge 12.7%. We were put on a feeling schedule. Millie was to be fed every 3 hours with a top up expressed milk bottle to make sure she was getting enough.
Millie was not a fan of the bottle so I was just demand feeding her which could be 1 hour between feeds up to 3.5 hours between feeds. The midwife came back again two days later, she was happy that I was following my instincts. We had positive progress Millie had gained 50 grams in two days, the positive progress just kept coming, another two days later she had gained another 50grams. By the time she was three weeks old she had seen the midwife six times and had gained 505grams in 15 days. This made her 115grams over her birth weight!
Now, at also six weeks she is thriving and still gaining plenty of weight. She is still a tiny 0000 size clothes but that wont last long. She enjoys cuddles with her big brother. She sleeps plenty and eats her fill regularly.
We are so thankful to have our little girl, she is our strong, beautiful, fighter who was worth all the pain and fear!