By Vicki Moore
My labour itself was really good (check out the actually birth story here). Apart from being cut to avoid tearing anyway but at the time I didn’t really know what was going on. After my son Elijah was born and I delivered the placenta via the injection, I enjoyed some time with him on my chest before they said they had to stitch me up – the point at which I began to take a turn for the worst. At the time I didn’t think it, but looking back at photos, you can clearly see something isn’t quite right – I was so yellow I could have been an honorary Simpson! From reading my maternity notes back I lost a lot of blood during the labour but at the time it didn’t seem like it, or at least I can’t remember there being a lot of blood on the sheets.
Two ladies arrived to stitch me up and I swear that was more painful than the labour itself. I am not entirely sure they knew what the hell they were doing. I began passing in and out of consciousness yet they moaned at me when I said I couldn’t go on – the pain was insane. I was even back on gas and air and it wasn’t helping at all. I had a lot of clots still inside me and they were trying to remove them so that I wouldn’t have to go to surgery. A surgeon then arrived to help too and she was literally pulling them out of me with her hands. I can say to this day I have never been in as much pain as I was then. I couldn’t even hold Elijah. Greg was feeding, changing and looking after him. I had no concept of time so am not sure how long this went on. Eventually I think they just made do, and begun stitching. With what happened in the days afterwards, it was clear I should have gone to theatre and had it done properly.
After I was stitched, I began to stabilise and had a biscuit and some Powerade. I felt strong enough to try and go to the toilet so we called the midwife. I managed to get up of the bed with her help and try and make it to the toilet which was in the same room. After I cowboy waddled about half way……I woke up to an alarm going off and Greg screaming my name. I had passed out and hit the floor. I imagined I was in a music video with my favourite band Deaf Havana (check them out – I’ve loved them since I was 15!). It was like a moment from One Born Every Minute where the alarm goes off and everyone comes running. I had a canula (which was in for 5 days as they forgot to take the bugger out and I have still a scar to this day!) put in my hand whilst I was on the floor and was put on a drip. I had to stay on the floor for at least 30 minutes with no pants on. Let’s just allude to this point for a minute – laying on the floor with 10 people or more around me with no knickers and my foof on display! My foot – which wasn’t exactly looking its best – I think some kind nurse may have put a sheet over me at one point.
This was now a clear indication I was to be kept in, the one thing I had been dreading. Though in hindsight, I’m happy I was. Elijah was in the best place for when he would then need medical support (more about this in my next post). It may have been a very different story if I was allowed home. Once Elijah was admitted to NICU. I was moved up onto the ward into a side room and was so tired I slept straight through until the nurse woke me at 6am. It was only then that the reality of Elijah’s situation was dawning on me. I couldn’t eat, I barely drank and was necking as many painkillers as I could. I just had one focus – to see my son. I couldn’t really walk so a nurse helped me to the toilet and to get dressed. She literally had to put my knickers on for me.
When Greg arrived he wheeled me down to see Elijah in NICU where I fainted again and was told I had to be taken back to my room. I stayed there most of the day, and that’s where I was when the consultant came and told us about Elijah’s heart defect. To emotionally cope with just giving birth, with Elijah and what was going on, I had barely thought about myself but I’d begun passing really big blood clots. Completely normal just after birth but I was still doing this seven days afterwards.
It had become clear I should have gone to theatre. One of the reasons I was not recovering as I should have been was due to an infection which was more than likely borne of something left in me that shouldn’t have been. The blood clots I was passing made me feel dizzy. There was also a time which saw Greg and I crammed into a shared toilet, him armed with a plastic jug to try and catch one so it could be examined (Poor Greg! He now not-so-fondly refers to it as, ‘slug in a jug’!).
I was put on antibiotics and my pain relief was increased. Someone came round to check my stomach as well. It seems like my uterus was going down but due to an infection I was still passing a lot of blood and clots still. It felt as though I went through a whole months worth of maternity pads in a few days. When I took a shower it resembled a scene from a horror film. This was obviously not aiding the fact I lost so much blood during labour. I had to sit on one of those shower chairs while Greg washed me. Not the most attractive or sexy time in our relationship there.
I had decided before we went into hospital in that Elijah would be formula fed so that Greg could do the first feed. However, when Elijah was in NICU I asked would it help him if I breastfed, or expressed and she said no. No amount of breast milk would repair his heart. I was also warned against it as I was too weak. I regret not being able have that breastfeeding bond with him. Elijah wasn’t able to start feeding again until day 3 and I was physically unable so my milk just never came in. Fast forward 18 months and I have officially lost my pregnancy boobs – I pretty much have the boobs of a 12 year old, half the time I don’t even wear a bra!
Vicki Moore from Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum talks all things NICU, HEART and parent and toddler related with honesty, hormones, humour and finding any excuse for a GIN. She hopes to help and comfort others going through the same thing and to improve the NICU experience for all.