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Welcome Little Man!

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Tomorrow (25th) should have been my due date. But due to the cholestasis, I was induced a week early.

The above photo was taken on 17th, the day before my induction. TJ and I were on a last-chance attempt to kick things off naturally by going on a ridiculously long walk and bouncing up and down on the see-saw at the park. Not an easy feat with a massive bump, I can tell you!

So Sunday 18th we went to the hospital at 8am for monitoring, and they began my induction at 9am with a low dose of prostin gel. It wasn't long before I was getting "tightenings" every 3 mins approximately, which continued throughout the day. However I was stuck at 2cm dilated for hours. 

A couple of baths, a couple of paracetamol, and lots of moving around helped with the pain but as the evening drew in I began to feel really sick. TJ went home at 8pm and throughout the night it became obvious that things were not quite going as well as they could. I was still dilating and eventually reached 5cm by about 5am, but I had also developed very high blood pressure, my heart rate was so fast they couldn't tell if the monitor was picking up mine or baby's heartbeat and I had ketones in my urine. So I was hooked up to a monitor and a drip and finally sent to the labour ward for them to break my waters and get things moving quicker.

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This is just after I'd had my waters broken and before things got really intense. TJ wanted to show how many things I was hooked up to at this point. It made moving into comfortable positions difficult and once my waters were broken and the contractions coming thick and fast I started to lose control.

Everyone had been commenting up until this point how calm I was and how they found it hard to believe I had been contracting regularly and reached 5cm dilated plus feeling so sick from the way my body was reacting to the labour with having only taken a couple of paracetamol. And I had quite reasonably replied that the intensity of the pain was no worse than what I got with my periods thanks to Endometriosis and that I had been to work in worse pain than this. However, with the added pressure of baby's head finally descending fully into the pelvis and the loss of the calmer moments between contractions this soon changed!

I quickly agreed to a half dose of diamorphine thinking there was no way I could face another 12 hours being as exhausted as I was. I was slightly put out by the midwife's comments that "labour is hard" in a sort of "what do you expect" kind of way. But she was good enough to suggest a dose of anti-emetic intravenously through my drip to help ease the side effects of the diamorphine and that a lower dose should be easier to cope with.

TJ says it was like my whole body sighed when it started to kick in, but all I remember is saying "I feel really woozy, I'm going to lie down now" and crawling onto the bed. I never thought I would labour lying down, but it was truly the only way I could cope and actually it worked to my benefit. Within 2 and a half hours I had dilated the final 5cm and although the diamorphine did nothing for the pain, it did help me drift off between contractions and so I had no idea of time passing. So I relaxed and my body took over and before I knew it every time I "woke up" to a contraction my body was pushing all on its own. 

The midwife, though later telling me that I had been considered the lady least likely to deliver that day, was thrilled to see this and a quick examination showed I was ready. So I sat up to try and give birth but the urge to push disappeared. Two or three contractions later I decided to lay back down on my side and suddenly my body was pushing all on its own accord again. 

It took an hour of pushing (though it felt much shorter to me because I was still drifting off between contractions) to give birth to my boy. I remember vague things like the midwife teasing TJ about pushing along with me and her telling me she could see the head, but mostly I was just aware of letting my body do the work and not thinking too much about it. In fact I was so "in the zone" that when the midwife suddenly said "look down" and I saw my baby had been born I couldn't quite believe it!

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Little Man (OJD) was born at 11.27am on Monday 19th September weighing a hefty 9lbs 6oz. Nobody could quite believe I had carried and given birth to such a big baby as I am only small myself, but here he was. Proof that no matter how sick I was throughout the pregnancy, my body had done an excellent job of providing my baby with all he needed. 

Unfortunately, I was advised to have a managed third stage because of the risk of excessive bleeding from the cholestasis and I ended up surviving the labour without being sick but then throwing up for quite some time after the birth thanks to the injection they use to get the placenta to deliver. So between that and still being very dopey from the diamorphine, I missed a lot of the first few hours and TJ was left to enjoy the "skin-to-skin" contact as I dozed.

I also had to be taken to theatre for stitching as not only was Little Man a big boy, he also came out with his hand by his head and I ended up with a third degree tear. So that was another hour I missed with him. And because I had been given diamorphine, albeit a smaller dose than normal, so close to giving birth Little Man was very sleepy too. So we didn't do huge amounts of bonding that day.

However I had to stay in hospital until Wednesday, so we spent a lot of that time getting to know each other. And daddy joined in too whenever he was visiting, and spent a lot of time just enjoying "skin-to-skin" contact with the baby boy he fell in love with so totally. 

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We have been home since Wednesday afternoon and after a couple of very difficult nights when Little Man just wanted to feed constantly (which we think is his making up for not taking much over the first 24-36 hours) and my hormones going crazy and my milk coming in, we are finally starting to get to grips with being parents.

It is so different to anything I ever imagined. So precious. And so unbelievable that we have him here. 

I cannot even comprehend how my pregnancy created this beautiful boy. And I find myself blocking out the whole experience because I cannot emotionally connect the two things. I very often resented being pregnant, but I love my baby boy so much that my mind cannot find a way of accepting that the two are so closely interconnected. I find myself thinking "was it really that bad?" when I look at Little Man, but then I realise that it truly was while I was in it. It is as if I wasn't myself for 9 whole months and now I am me again, but a different me as now I am a mum.

I think it will take me a long time to come to terms with the pregnancy I had. But being a mum, well that is just the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced. And it is only day 5. I'm going to treasure every single moment as I know we won't ever be doing this again and it is just so exciting to know that our baby has the whole world to discover. Being a parent has been harder than we ever imagined already, but the love it gives us is so much bigger.

I'll be back soon with some more photos, but for now I just wanted to let you know he was here and I am enjoying all the cuddles I can get with him!

Life at the Patch – 38 weeks

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I normally write my "Life at the Patch" posts on a Monday but tomorrow could be an interesting day for us so I decided to write this week's today instead.

As you all know by now, I'm sure, I have found pregnancy extremely challenging. Between Hyperemesis Gravidarum, Pelvic GIrdle Pain and Anaemia, I've been feeling pretty rough. But the past few weeks have been particularly demanding. 

So when I saw the midwife last Thursday I was having a good old moan about it all and happened to mention that the itching on my hands (which until recently had always been the backs of the hands only) had progressed to the palms of my hands. To be honest when I think back I realise this itching has been getting increasingly worse for several weeks but I had just put it down to eczema, despite occasionally wondering why it wasn't really accompanied by the usual blisters I get with eczema. 

This, of course, made the midwife decide we needed to do a blood test to check my liver function and to rule out Obstestric Cholestasis. The phonecall I received on Friday informed me that the intial results showed no obvious signs of a problem, but I would hear more on Monday. So I was advised to watch the itching and baby's movements and any change in either meant I had to call someone.

As I was expecting to hear more tomorrow, I was a little surprised to get a call on my mobile from one of the midwives on duty yesterday to inform me that the further results had come through and the levels of bile salts in my blood are raised. Meaning I now have to see a consultant tomorrow. 

From what I have been told and what I have read, it seems pretty standard procedure to induce labour around 37 to 38 weeks when Obstetric Cholestasis is a factor, and as today marks the beginning of week 38 for me, we are pretty much preparing ourselves to be told tomorrow that this is the plan of action. Which means that Tim has asked me to ensure that my hospital bag is ready to be taken to the car so that we are ready to go without any last minute fuss. 

Of course we know it's not going to be a mad rush, but we are thinking that the more we prepare now the better it will be, especially as we do not know whether we can get in to see a consultant here or have to travel to Lincoln hospital, in which case it would make sense to take my hospital bag over and potentially camp in my parents' spare room rather than travelling backwards and forwards. And anyway, we had only just been discussing the fact that it might make sense to have the bag in the car ready before we even knew we'd be seeing someone tomorrow. So it's just one of those times when we are trying to be organised now so that we aren't stressing over whether we've forgotten something if I go into labour or we have to head over for an induction. 

I won't know until tomorrow morning when or where our appointment will be, nor whether the consultant's advice is to induce or wait and see, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to be pre-occupied whatever happens this next week or two, so just wanted to give everyone a "heads up" that we're still here, we're still ok, but I might not be online as much as usual for a little bit. I promise though to get online as soon as I can once baby is born to let you all know the good news, even if in a one-line, straight-to-the-point-as-I'm-too-busy-bonding-with-my-baby-to-want-to-write-a-proper-blog-post-thank-you-very-much kind of way!! 

Have a wonderful week everyone xx

Life at the Patch – 30 weeks

Phew! I'm finally in what feels like the final countdown now we have reached 30 weeks. I don't know why, but reaching the 30s just seems so much more in terms of "getting there" than hitting the third trimester did. I guess some of it is because I didn't know exactly when the third trimester began and being able to say I only have 10 weeks left until my due date feels so good!

We have a sneaky feeling that this little one is going to come a bit early, in fact several people have mentioned such. To be honest I wouldn't mind him arriving a little bit early, seeing as how incredibly difficult this pregnancy has been on my physically, but I'd like him to stay in long enough to be born well enough to go straight home. So hang on in there a little longer, little one.

Of course, getting this close to the birth is making me realise just how much still needs to be done and how very unprepared I still am for his arrival. Emotionally I'm ready, but in terms of being physically prepared there is still a bit to be done. Like I have to think about packing a hospital bag, washing all his clothes, putting the cot up, buying the mattress, getting the bedding sorted… just a few essentials like that.

I'm also starting to think more and more about the birth as it no longer feels miles off. I'm worried about the logistics of when to head to the hospital. We have a 45 minute drive (depending on traffic) between where we live and the hospital I am booked at to deliver. I'm lucky in that my parents live just around the corner from said hospital, so we plan on driving over before the labour progresses too far and hanging out there until it is time to actually go to the hospital itself. But I could be in labour for hours and I don't want to head over too early either. So this is something we have to sit down and properly discuss.

Then, of course, there is the concern about the labour itself. Personally I'm not overly worried too much about the pain, the physical exams, the whole being exposed to who knows how many medical professionals that often bother first-time mums. I just feel that having dealt with Endometriosis for so many years, I have a good idea of what my pain threshold is and how to deal with the lower levels of pain and at what point I need help. I've also had my fair share of internal examinations and having to rely on medical staff to help me get out of bed to go for my first pee after surgery etc. So although labour is a new experience, a lot of the details are things I can try and mentally prepare myself for prior to the event.

What does bother me, however, is the fact that I might get sick. A combination of Emetophobia (fear of vomiting) and having spent the majority of this pregnancy incredibly sick has made this a real issue for me. I know it is pretty common for women to throw up during labour and I am dreading it. I just don't like the thought of having to face that while dealing with contractions as feeling and/or being sick stresses me at the best of times (remember, this is a phobia, not just a dislike of being sick!) I'm hoping I might get lucky and not be ill, or be so focussed on dealing with the contractions and pushing the baby out that it won't be as big a deal for me as I imagine it could be. But it still bothers me when I think ahead to the birth. It is the one thing that truly terrifies me about labour. 

Still, I guess that as a first time mum I could be struggling more if I were fearful of the contractions and other aspects of labour and delivery that are a certainty rather than a possibility. And, as I keep trying to remind myself, even if I do throw up during labour, it will be the last time (or times) I will do so thanks to pregnancy and the end will be in sight rather than the horror I faced with the hyperemesis when I was sick all day, every day for months.