Harri Leigh. She's earth side!
Laying and waiting patiently (or maybe rather impatiently?) Waiting for a decision. A 10-second wait for a decision felt like 10 minutes. Almost immediately, it was decided. A caesarean. A non-elective, urgent caesarean needed to be performed, and it needed to be performed now. I am too far dilated with too much risk of my waters breaking naturally and my baby being snapped in half if I have a vaginal birth. Lent over, and in goes that epidural. That exact one that I did not want. To my surprise, I didn’t even feel it. A few minutes pass, and they check to make sure the epidural has worked and that I am numb from the waist down. But, as another thing goes wrong. You guessed it. The epidural didn’t work. Off to theatre we went. Jake gets his scrubs on and waits to be called in.
While in the pre-theatre room, Hannah monitors our baby while my epidural is taken out and another is put in. Still with so much room to flip, Hannah, lost our babies heartbeat. The panic sets in, and the insertion of the second epidural is stopped till our babies heartbeat is found again. The second epidural worked. Its go time. Laying on the theatre table, arms out to the sides with IV lines in them. A screen up in front of me. A doctor at the left of my shoulder and jake at the right of my other shoulder. Feeling like I was being thrown from left to right, 1 metre each way, while they were moving all my organs around and bring my baby girl into this world. This motion sickness feeling was real! Calling out to the doctor multiple times, asking for anti-nausea. At last! Jake stepped to the side to meet our baby girl! She was born!!
Harri Leigh. Born at 12:22 pm on Sunday 24th November 2019. Weighing 1.7kg, 42 cm long, and head circumference 31cm. Born at 34 weeks and 4 days. While jake was meeting Harri Leigh, I shouted his name. Jake and the doctors came running over. As jake turned to run to me he saw past the screen (traumatised would be an understatement). “I’m going to vomit, I need a sick bag”, the feeling of motion sickness was not something I would wish upon anyone while birthing their child. In labour, all night, to 2 epidurals, to motion sickness in my caesarean. I was exhausted. But she was here, she was safe, and she was healthy and that’s all that mattered.
She was bought over to me so I could meet her while I was being stitched up. So exhausted, meeting her is the last thing I remember. Kissing her on the forehead, and smiling. In absolute awe of this little human of mine.
Asking jake where he and my baby were going, with the response of “to the nursery, we’ll see you soon. I love you”. Off they went, and off to sleep, I went. Gone to recovery and then to the special care unit to be monitored. (I wouldn’t have known I went to recovery if I wasn’t told. I only remember waking up in the special care unit, but that’s okay. I’m sure recovery would have been boring anyway haha). I come to, and I'm as confused as ever. Knowing I've just had surgery but non-elective surgery is usually for something unfortunate. I've just given birth, the best day of my life. The complete opposite to unfortunate. Drowsy and trying to understand this concept? It was a lot haha. 40 minutes or so pass, the numbing is wearing off. Eagerly wanting to go down to the nursery to see my baby girl. Up I get (very slowly but surely) and go and have a shower with the help of jake and the nurse. In the wheelchair and down to the nursery. I cannot believe my eyes. It is my baby. She is mine. I just gave birth to her.
She laid so peacefully in an incubator with a Nasogastric tube (a tube that went in her nose and down into her stomach). She was so little she hadn’t worked out how to suck yet and needed the tube to have her milk. (Which mind you, she was only having 17ml when she was first born).
A day passes and I am expressing every bit of colostrum that I have, collecting it all and sending it down to the nursery for Harri Leigh to have through her tube. She spent 2 days in the nursery, before she was moved to a different nursery (now in the nursery that the babies get discharged from) within the hospital as she had progressed better than ever. She was so little, normal premmie clothes didn’t fit her. She was wearing hand made clothes. Days were passing and the temperature on her incubator was being dropped 1 degree at a time. She was starting to be able to maintain her own body temperature. Before we knew it she started breastfeeding and having her milk topped up through her tube. She was learning to suck and she was nailing it. Every day we spent in the nursery, there was better and better news. She was then moved to a Perspex cot where she didn’t quite maintain her temperature (she dropped 1 degree under what was acceptable), so back to the incubator she went for another 2 days. Then they tried again. She did it! She maintained her temperature! After the Perspex cot is the normal cot, and before we knew it. After a couple of weeks, she had moved into the normal cot. She was also on bottle feeds as well as tube feeds. By the third week, she had her tube taken out and was on all bottle feeds. Breastfeeding stopped after 1 week of breastfeeding after she learned how to suck, as I had to dry my milk up. (Why did I dry up all my milk if it was all going so well? That will all make sense later).
Day in, day out myself, jake and her grandparents were coming in visiting her in the nursery every moment we could. While we had to abide by the nursery rules of only 2 people at a time, only parents and grandparents, 1 parent has to escort the grandparent, etc. Whether it was my parents who had flown over from Melbourne or jakes parents who lived in Perth with us, she was surrounded by more love than ever. I was still in the special care unit, unwell, and recovering. Ready to take my baby home well and truly by this point. It just wasn’t possible. So while Harri Leigh was being kept in the nursery till we were all ready to be discharged at the same time. Her daddy who was going to work, an hour away from the hospital, coming to the hospital after work to visit Harri Leigh and I all night, to then go back home for work the next day. As exhausted as he was, he did it.
We were told that once Harri Leigh was born and the placenta was out, all the complications would go away and my body would return back to normal. Normal blood pressure, no swelling, etc. BUT THEY DIDN’T….
See you soon, in ICU! -Madds and Harri Leigh x