Our birth story

This has taken forever to write – and even now this won’t be the whole thing at once!

Despite our hopes that the wee man would make an entrance beforehand, we checked into hospital on the 10th January at 7:30am for our scheduled induction.

We were shown to our delivery suite and asked to settle in while the paperwork was getting underway. I had also agreed to participate in an induction trial where 50% of scheduled inductions would be induced by foley catheter balloon rather than the traditional gel. With the catheter you were able to go home and return the next morning. Unfortunately despite being an excellent candidate cervix-wise, I was randomised to receive the prostaglandin gel, so we settled in to be in the room for as long as it took.

At 9:45am the gel was inserted, and the wait began. An IV line was inserted (ugh) and I changed into my super sexy oversized nightie to hopefully give birth in!

They monitored me periodically to check baby’s heart rate, and all seemed fine. He would wriggle around a lot and affect the CTG which was typical of his behaviour in the womb thus far.

By that afternoon I was dilated at about a 1 and had 2cm left of my cervix not effaced. So not exactly progressing. The decision was made to insert more gel and try and break my waters in the morning. I was offered a sleeping aid and settled in for the night.

On the morning of the 11th, I was checked again, and even though I’d had some backache and cramping overnight, I was still in the same situation as before, though maybe sliiiiightly more dilated. So we went ahead with breaking my waters. The consultant said it was definitely doable, so in went the hook, and out came the flood.

It was hands down the strangest feeling of my life. I had mild polyhydramnios (an excess amount of amniotic fluid) and my waters gushed out like a waterfall, and just kept coming. My nightie was ruined, the bed was soaked, and the consultant had to go change his scrubs – no joke.

Into the ugly hospital gown I went.

On a positive note, however, it felt like things were finally happening – I had contractions! We started timing them and I paced the room in between. We felt good! The baby was coming! And I wanted to move as much as I could while I could as I knew the syntocinon drip/continuous monitoring/being stuck on the bed was coming.

Once the drip began, the contractions began to intensify. I concentrated on breathing through them, digging my nails into my palms and squeezing D’s hand. After 4 hours of more and more intense pain, I hadn’t progressed any further (maybe a smidge in dilation, and I was more effaced). I was strongly advised to get an epidural if I was to cope with just how many hours I had of labour ahead of me. I asked for the epidural.

Once the epidural was in, we settled in to just wait it out. I could still feel the contractions were happening, but the pain was gone. My legs were heavy but I could move them, and I was pretty astounded/impressed by the magic of it.

The main downside was that I couldn’t eat on the synto drip, and so had been starving since 7:30am (when I’d just picked at my lackluster breakfast – if only I’d known). And either the epidural or the drug made me a bit itchy. Not annoyingly so, just enough to notice.

It all seemed to be taking such a long time. Every time I’d get disillusioned, however, I’d look over at the wee cot in the corner and remember what we were there to do.

During the evening we noticed a few decelerations of the baby’s heart rate on the monitors, including one scary episode around 6pm when the midwife hit the emergency button and all of the staff ran in and it was truly terrifying. Everything came back up pretty quickly after and they were happy that he was fine, but for a moment my world was ending. They tried to apply a scalp monitor at one stage but it was faulty, so we continued with external monitoring. It was very hard not to obsess over the monitor and worry after that.

As we got closer to 12 hours on the drip, the hospital midwife looking after me started to suggest that a caesarean section might be likely. I was determined to avoid one, so kept hoping as we got closer to each internal examination (now totally tolerable on the epidural!) that I would miraculously be fully dilated.

Around 9pm, my midwife was phoned to come in as I was finally at 4cm or very close to. I spoke with her about getting a section and the more we discussed it, the more I came to terms with it not only being a possibility, but it being something I could possibly cope with. I still wanted to avoid it – I was scared of feeling the operation, of there being complications, of hysterectomy, of the long recovery period. After working in maternal morbidity and knowing the (extremely rare but extremely terrible) things that can go wrong, I was very anxious about things getting to that stage.

Unfortunately, baby’s heart rate started to accelerate and while that’s usually not a bad thing, it stayed that way. A steady and slow rise in heart rate can indicate baby is not happy, and well, it started to make us nervous.

I was told if we didn’t progress, a caesarean was inevitable. I was given a deadline – at the next check we’d have to make a decision.

D went home to check on the puppy and pick up some things and before he returned (around 10:45pm), I was checked again and was suddenly at 9cm. We got excited and decided that in an hour’s time, if I was fully dilated, I’d be able to start pushing. I was a bit nervous that I wouldn’t be able to, because the epidural does start to build up a high level, and I was struggling to move my legs at all. I wondered where I’d get the strength from.

Shortly before midnight, the final check came – still 9cm. The final cm also seemed to be in a spot where baby was not applying pressure, and baby’s heart rate was still rising. The doctors came to speak with me and we all agreed that the section was our only option.

And suddenly my bed was being wheeled downstairs.

Because of the epidural and the stage I was at, I started to shake uncontrollably. And the anxiety started to rise. I was exhausted – it was almost midnight and my day of labouring had started before 7am, I hadn’t eaten since 7:30am, and I was so scared of the operation. But I wanted our baby boy out.

Down in theatre I struggled to change tables, my legs were so numb. The room was full of staff getting prepared and everyone was kind and patient with me as I worried and waited and wept a little.

Once the operation began and I realised I was definitely numb, I waited what felt like an eternity but in reality was only a few minutes – and then there he was. They held our son above the curtain and I saw his wee face and I just broke down and sobbed. I was overwhelmed and so relieved that he was okay.

It seemed like it took hours to stitch me up. The curtain was obviously protecting us from seeing anything (and I kept telling D not to look over it), but the ceiling tiles were aluminium and while blurry, I turned my head not to see even the red and white splotches of my open body reflected in them. D went with the baby while they checked him over, and he never really took that big wailing cry (at least not for long), he passed all his tests beautifully.

D took the baby and held him skin to skin and when I was ready, they brought him to me and laid him on my chest. He was so beautiful. I felt a bit dopey and still so numb, but I had him in my arms.

I’ll post soon about what happened next – unfortunately my recovery has been complicated and difficult, but every day with him is worth it.

Welcome to the world, wee Euan.

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Nearly time

Dear Baby,

I’m writing this from your bedroom. I am sitting in a rocking chair with a small table to my left, a wee clothing rack to my right, and slightly further afield is your cot, your changing table, another chair, and a rug and soft play mat on the floor. Maisie has decided the play mat is hers, by the way. You may have to fight her for it.

A year ago we were planning this cycle. We were only a few weeks away from the regime of pills and injections that would lead to egg collection that would lead to embryo creation, that would lead to you.

You. You came from nothing. Cells manipulated and forced together by science. An embryologist created your beginnings and then a doctor and his team made you real.

In 5 days at the latest, you’ll be on your way. We’ll hold you and sing to you and give you your name. I’m hoping you’ll decide to show up a bit quicker, but if not, that will be just fine. You have so many people waiting to meet you, and a puppy that wants to give you lots and lots of licks.

I still can’t believe it sometimes. How did we get so lucky that it all finally clicked into place? How am I going to be a mum in 5 or so days? What will you look like? What will you do with your life? Who will you be?

I love you so much.

34-36 weeks

I feel like individual update posts for these weeks would be all the same.

So it seemed better to combine them! That and the end of the year has been a total whirlwind and so busy – it’s really hard to leave your job for a year!

The past few weeks have been a bit mad with baby showers and meetings and appointments with my midwife and the hospital… all seems to be okay. I’m being referred to Wellington but it’s just a precaution, and baby will be induced on his due date if he doesn’t turn up before.

Some stats…!

The size/what features: Romaine lettuce or something. A toolbox in one of my apps! Either way, he is a large boy, now 82nd percentile. I think he’s just a long baby, though his head is 90th percentile…

Sleep:  I’m awake every hour just to rotate because of my hips aching. I hug my maternity pillow and have another one between my knees and then usually the dog under my feet. Dave is… somewhere in the bed.

Food cravings:  Give me all the chocolate.

Food aversions:  Nothing too bad lately, I’ve actually been able to eat a bit more.

– – –

Symptoms I HAVE:
Hunger – Increased a little and I can’t wait for him to drop because I’ll be able to breathe/have less reflux. But then again, I think I’ll cope without the extra cervix pain, thanks.

– – –

Stretchmarks:  I think more have appeared and I’m sure more are on the way…

Doctor’s Appointment:  I saw the maternity unit today and they lost my notes. Doh. However they’re happy for me to keep seeing my midwife and see the Wellington unit in January. It’s also a bit weird to be booked in for induction… I’m going to do my best to get him to come before then.

Movement:  Super wiggly baby and I see it almost every time now – it’s quite strange and alien watching your stomach roll and wiggle. He gets hiccups in my groin which is funny.

Best moment of the week:  Seeing him wiggle from the outside. Finishing work soon!

What I’m looking forward to:  Christmas. Getting some rest. Finishing up his room (even though he won’t be using it for a while, I want it to be a proper baby’s room rather than half guest, half nursery!

Not working for a year! Financially it’ll suck, but oh boy I can’t wait for this time with my wee man.

What I miss:  Not taking forever to get everywhere. Not hurting. Fitting clothing. But it’s all worth it a million times over.

I’m 37 weeks today. I’ll do another update later in the week, but for now I’m feeling just so blessed we made it here.

Picture day

(Thoughts written at the time):

Today I’m 12+6. Today we had another scan.

I’ve been waiting for this for such a long time. Today was the chance to find out if you are doing okay, after weeks of wondering. We got to see you and hear your wee heart.

You kicked away and waved your wee arm and the technician measured your parts and pointed out your legs (crossed at the ankle), your spine, and the two parts of your brain.

Here is a picture of you!

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We’ve been telling some people about you. Tonight we’ll tell your uncles and aunts, and your cousins. Tomorrow we’ll message our friends in Scotland and here, and maybe on Friday we’ll tell social media.

It has been hands down the hardest secret I’ve ever had to keep. After years of infertility, we’ve had so many people in our corner, cheering us on. I can’t wait to see how happy knowing about you will make them. I can’t wait til you make my pudgy belly round. I can’t wait til I get to feel you.

Such a wee miracle.

8-9 weeks

(Thoughts written at the time):

I have the weirdest feeling – it’s like I know you’re there. I can feel this pull in my uterus, like it’s being forced to grow. It’s almost constant. Like an ongoing hello.

I’m feeling a bit breathless at the moment. And so, so tired. I’m also quite over the medications, but also every day this gratitude is always there. What a milestone to get this far.

Apparently the babe now measures as a raspberry or a cherry.  I haven’t gained any weight yet, which is common for those who had a little extra padding to begin with. So far I’ve done nothing but lose (no appetite, queasiness) so I’m a few kgs down. However, I’m already sleeping with a pillow between my knees (the progesterone supplementation makes everything relax, including hips etc, so can lead to early achiness). I think I’ll order some maternity clothes next week. The bloat is unreal.

Had my first real craving last week – salt & vinegar chips!

The worst has been the heartburn. A kind friend sent me some Rennie’s from Scotland (what a life saver). I’m going to stock up on Gaviscon.

My skin is dry and I’m getting a fluffy chin (delightful). Also my boobs being so much bigger and sweating together has given me a rash. Isn’t pregnancy delightful?

I also met my midwife this week who is super lovely and supportive and everything I wanted in a midwife. Chuffed.

So. We’re moving along! The hardest part is not telling anyone. I want to shout it from the rooftops.

Scan day

(Thoughts written at the time):

Today I am 7 weeks and 4 days pregnant. Today we had our first scan.

Last Thursday, when I hit 7 weeks, it felt like a switch had been flicked. Suddenly, I felt pregnant. I already had the usual symptoms of the hormones: sore/enlarged chest, gas and bloating, fatigue – but suddenly my uterus had a fullness to it, a slight pressure. I also had very mild pulling cramps. It was like, “Hey! I’m here!”

I don’t understand how other mothers-to-be cope waiting for their first scan. Often it’s this long wait until 12 weeks to know whether or not all is well. I am grateful that one positive of the fertility treatment process is that you always get this early look. It’s a chance to check all is progressing as it should, and hopefully see that heartbeat.

I spent the 3.5 weeks leading up to it terrified that there wouldn’t be a heartbeat.

But there was. There was a little babe, with a little yolk sac, and a little flickering heartbeat. I had to stick my fists under my hips to raise myself a little so we got a good view of it, and then the doctor flicked a switch and suddenly, we heard it.

Magic.

I was measuring right on schedule (even possibly a few days ahead) and all looked well. He advised me to up my thyroid meds until my first blood test, and to get myself a midwife. I’d already seen my GP and contacted a midwife, and shortly after my scan, spoke to her and booked in an appointment.

 

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We’re all go, and finally, suddenly, it all feels real.

I think I’m going to be a mum.

6 weeks

(Thoughts written at the time):

We reached 6 weeks pregnant and I waited for the dreaded morning sickness to come. None came, but shortly after beginning the week, I was hit with a nasty cold. It’s the total worst – as much as I’m embracing being pregnant, it’d be nice to be able to take something to speed up my recovery. Instead, I must rest.

The bloating has begun, and my boobs are already ridiculous. Other than that, I’ve been doing okay. Every day is a day closer to the scan, which I’m most excited about. I know that hearing that heartbeat gives us a 90-95% chance of taking home a baby. Oh how I want to hear it.

For now, have a picture of our weird little moon crater offspring:

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Isn’t that wild? That’s a picture of our embryo freshly thawed on the day it was transferred to my uterus. It blows my mind to have such a tangible reminder that this future person started as this tiny clump of cells.

Today, at 6+4, our babe is the size of a chocolate chip, a pea, a ladybug, a grain of rice, a smartie. The apps all have different cute size reference points, and I have all the apps.

The baby is growing organs and has eyes that can’t quite see yet, and may already apparently be waving its little nubby arms and legs around. This is all super surreal to me. Apart from the little bloated belly (which to be honest, I’ve always had a fat tum), and the tiredness, I don’t really feel any different. I’m still on estradiol and progesterone for 4 more weeks, and I’ve just started separate folic acid and iodine instead of my expensive prenatal, so I currently take about 11 pills a day.

I can’t wait for the first scan, and to reach that 12 week point, too. I think I’ll be forever counting milestones until we feel like we’re “in the clear”. But maybe I’ll never feel really in the clear. It took so much heartache to get here, there’s a part of me expecting failure and devastation.

I pray every day that this pregnancy continues.