Saturday, 3 December 2011

Poppy's Arrival

I'll start with the ending and then I'll tell the story of how we got here...

Poppy Seren Smith was born at 11.47am on Monday 28.11.11, in Tauranga Hospital, weighing a healthy, but not as massive as anticipated, 8lb 06oz.

And this is how it all happened...

My pregnancy progressed in a happily uneventful way, but by the last couple of days I was feeling pretty tired and of course enormous. I spoke to my Mum who revealed that I had been born 17 days late and decided it was time to take matters into my own hands. So there was drinking of raspberry -leaf tea, eating of pineapple, lots of walking, 'hot baths', 'hot sex' and on the evening of 27.11.11 Ben and I headed out with friends to an Indian restaurant for a much talked about labour-inducing 'hot curry'.

Unfortunately I didn't get to eat the thali I'd been looking forward to because half way though the starter my waters broke. One minute I'm in a restaurant chatting and munching on an onion bhaji and the next I'm sitting in a puddle, with water running down my legs! There was much panic among our dining companions as they desperately wanted to call someone who would "know what to do". But we calmly informed then that we knew what to do and Ben even suggested we stay and eat our curries. Had I not been sitting in a pool of amniotic fluid I may have been tempted but the entirely unfazed "don't worry about it madam, it happens all the time" Indian waiter packed us up a take away and we headed home.

We called Judy, my midwife, only to discover she was already at the hospital with our friend Nancy, who later gave birth to little Eli Adolph (but that's her story to tell).

At about 1am my contractions started and very quickly they were lasting a long time and very close together. It was a hot night and we had all the windows open so I was a bit concerned that the neighbours might think that we were having very noisy sex, but once I vomited a few times I imagine that they realised that that wasn't the case after all! We called Judy again around 4.30am and having been home for an hour and a half's break after finishing a twenty-four hour stretch with Nancy she was straight back out (bless her) and arranged to meet us at the hospital.

At the hospital I got into the birthing pool and the world became a much nicer place again. The water helped massively with the pain and my contractions slowed down to a much more manageable pace. I must admit I was a bit peeved when they started to get really sore and frequent again as I thought maybe I was going to be brave enough to push this baby out without any pain relief. However, it wasn't to be. My contractions were so close together I just couldn't get my breath back in between them and when I found out I was only 7cm dialted (you need to reach 10cm to give birth) I decided to opt for the epidural.

Now in my mind once I decided that I was going to take the drugs then they would just give them to me and that would be that. But apparently that's not how it works. Unfortunately I had to get out of the pool so that I could be prodded and poked about on the bed and being out of the water made the pain much harder to manage. The baby's heart rate had to be monitored for twenty minutes, the anesthetist called, various needles and tubes inserted and that half an hour or so (they tell me that's how long it was) seemed a VERY long time. Fortunately by this time I was puffing away like mad on the gas and air and was completely off my head! I could hear what was going on around me but in my drugged up mind it meant all kinds of weird stuff and had nursery rhymes and computer game graphics from my childhood mixed in with it. Some of the time I was laughing away and at one point I thought we were back in our house. I then became convinced that the doctor was with-holding the drugs from me on purpose and true to form was swearing away at him. Ben tells me his favourite quote is when I shouted out "I'm not a statistic"!

It was immediately apparent once the epidural finally did kick in as I was lying on the bed surrounded by doctors and nurses and I looked up, noticed the time and sent Ben off to call our mates to make sure they'd look after our dog for us! By now I was completely pain-free and after a little cry and apology to the midwife for "taking all the drugs" was feeling great. Unfortunately the doctors were becoming increasingly concerned by my raised temperature and the baby's erratic heart beat. There was some discussion as to what to do and finally the call was made that one way or the other the baby needed to come out now.

I was given the option of trying to deliver naturally or opting for c section and said I wanted to try to push her out. Because the chance of needing an emergency caesar was so high if I couldn't push the baby out I was prepped for surgery and wheeled though the corridors into theatre. Once in there I seemed to be surrounded by a whole fleet of scrub-donned doctors, nurses and students and being naked with my legs up in the air I did wonder if the audience of about fifteen people was entirely necessary, but to be honest I had other things on my mind. (Ben was so impressed with the comment that someone made about him looking like George Clooney in his scrubs that he stole them and brought them home!) I think some of the doctors were pretty keen to go straight for a section but I'm eternally grateful for the fantastic support and encouragement of my midwife and the hospital midwife and their calls of "Let's get this baby out!" So with Ben counting me through my contractions, despite being able to feel very little of what was going on down there, I managed to push my little girl far enough down for her poor little head to be grasped by giant salad servers and Poppy was rudely dragged into the world.

Ben tells me he was somewhat horrified by the tiny, bright blue, bug-eyed, slimy creature with a cone shaped head that was dumped on top of me and his first thought was that I'd given birth to an alien! She was whisked away as she wasn't breathing and Ben went and watched whilst she was encouraged to take her first breaths and then he cut her cord (he's still got the scissors).

So that was how Poppy came into existence and she spent the first day of her life lying naked on my chest while I was stuck in bed waiting to be able to move my bottom half again. And that was five days ago. I stayed in hospital for three nights and apart from the to-be-expected crappy food have nothing but good things to say about the whole experience. The midwives were amazing and I honestly feel that I've learned more in the past few days than I have in the past few years. How to breast feed, how to bath a baby, what a hungry face looks like, how to hold a baby without breaking 'it' and most importantly of all, what it means to be a mother.

During one of my nights in hospital I had something of a profound experience. It was late at night, I hadn't had much sleep, I'd managed to settle Poppy and I was lying in bed trying to get some rest before the feeding cycle started again in just a couple of hours time. My body was relaxed and tired but my mind was filled with a deafening chatter, chatter, chatter as everything that I had just been though whizzed around and around my head. I took some deep breaths and tried to bring myself back to the breath, ground myself in the present and quieten down the all noise (all that good slightly hippy stuff!). I then experienced a feeling which was like I was being wrapped up tightly in a big, warm 'blanket of well-being'. I wondered to myself "was that just in my head?" Because it felt like a very physical sensation. A little later I felt my boobs filling with milk and as they did so all my insides tightened up and started to move back into place. It didn't hurt, it felt like a strong hug or maybe wearing some of those big 'Bridget Jones' pants. It's very normal to feel very emotional as your milk comes in as you get a big surge of hormones and it often makes people cry, hence the term "the baby blues". And here I was lying in bed crying my eyes out (quietly so the lady in the next bed didn't hear me) and all I could think was "I'm SSSSOOOOO happy, I'm SSSSSOOOOO blessed, this is what I was meant to be doing!" I know... it sounds pathetic and I'm at a loss to explain how I feel about my baby girl without resorting to the same old cliches. But "blessed" is not a word that is frequently used in my vocabluary and it's not being used lightly here. I truly feel blessed :0)

Ok, so enough with the gooey stuff. We're home now and already the whole labour experience is slipping from my mind, which is why I really thought I should get it out now. The same cannot yet be said for Ben though. He was incredible throughout the whole experience and having him and Judy there meant I felt completely safe the whole time. However it seems that witnessing the event was more traumatic than actually feeling it (and to be fair he did have a lot less drugs!), so with mention of "the next one" Ben's response was "You don't have to do it again Babe, we can just have puppies from now on".

From the first moment he saw Poppy Ben has been smitten (well not counting the whole alien thing), he can't stop looking at her and is already well and truly in love with her. The poor thing has already had her picture taken a hundred times! My bond has been growing more gradually. About three days in I said to Ben "Is she getting cuter and less Gollum-like now or am I just more used to her?" He showed me a picture of her from her first day with her scabby misshapen head and forceps marks down her face, "she's definitely getting cuter".

So does she look more like me or Ben? Who knows? She looks like a baby to me. Have a look at the photos and see what you think. Ben's Mum says she thought she looked like Ben as a baby, but then when she had a look at an old photo she realised that she doesn't at all! My Dad thinks she looks like me, but then I guess he would. She's got fair hair (it's too early to tell if it's ginger!) and big blue eyes, like Ben (but they might change colour yet), she's got the Smith long legs but not the big head. So I guess we'll have to wait and see. Of course we think she's the most beautiful baby in the world but I think we can blame instincts for that!

It's lovely being at home. Twpsyn is coping with all the changes after getting over the initial disappointment that the baby wasn't actually a treat for him to play with! When he first saw me, or more to the point smelt me, he went a bit loopy licking and rubbing himself all over me. Even I can smell the breast milk so it's no wonder he can. I don't know whether he was trying to make me smell familiar again or lay a bit of a claim to me or what, but he's already completely settled down  and lies watching me breast feed. I've got no doubt he's going to be a fantastic "big brother". The cat however, hmmm, maybe not. Poor neglected Dotti :0(

Ben has been amazing, running around after me as I spend hours confined to a chair with a baby on my boob and Erin has been fab too. Poppy, so far at least, is a very settled baby and is making it all seem pretty easy. Plus I'm still high on all the hormones! Last night I had another big hormone rush which was so strong it made me feel all 'blissed out' and giggly. And just to prove that it's not all in my head, despite the fact I didn't move or make any noise and was just lying in bed in the early hours of the morning, as it happend the dog completely uncharacteristically came running in from the next room, tail wagging, all excited and was all over me, no doubt joining in the hormone party! Now I don't know how long this stuff lasts for, or more to the point how to prolong it, but I'm definitely enjoying it whilst it's here. If this is the pay off for the bruised nipples then breast-feeding really is the best thing in the world and maybe I'll turn into one of those slightly disturbing women who has a five year old still attached to her tit!!

So that just about brings you up to date with the happenings of the past five days. It's hard to believe it hasn't even been a week and now the whole world is a completley different place, or at least it seems to be. I know everyone tells you that having kids changes your life blah, blah. I knew all that. I knew there would be sleepless nights and dirty nappies. I knew I'd feel confused and overwhelmed. I just didn't get how much love I could feel. I was worried I wouldn't love the baby as much as I love the dog. But it turns out I still really love the dog I just have a whole heap more love in me than I knew about.

Okay, I'm going to stop now as I'm starting to make myself feel sick!


elyzium666 said...

Llongyfarchiadau on the wonderful arrival of Poppy. She is absolutely gorgeous <3 Motherhood is the best thing in the universe!! Even when you're completely exhausted, just one look at the life you have been blessed with makes it all worthwhile :-)
Blessings Be,
Jayne <3 XxX <3

Jim J said...

Thanks for sharing this with us all. Your words are super and you express yourself with such emotion and feeling in your writings you have given me the ability to share in the love you are experiencing. Keep it up Heather - what a lovely way to capture the moment and share it. XX Jim

MCxx said...

That was amazing to read Heather! I feel like I could take part in your journey... thanks!! Looking forward to meeting your baby girl, and patting Ben and you on the back for a job well done ;) Love you guys xx

RAEE said...

Mel here. Rich and I are just thrilled for you both - congratulations! I loved reading this account so much and it brought back so many memories of our experience last year. Wishing you so much happiness and joy - we have just loved our first year with Ffion and hope you and Ben experience the same love and fun we have. With many hugs from across the seas. Mel and Rich xxx

Hitchin Book Club said...

That's funny hearing you talk like that Heather! It's funny how even the most cynical of us can be converted eh?! I'm really happy for you, I wish I could see her. You're lucky to have Ben's photography and your amazing commitment to journaling to capture her baby days, instead of blurry photos and memory!

Lots of love to you all from all of us xxxx

Hitchin Book Club said...

ps. Hitchin book club is me, Jo xx

Stef Williams said...

Many congratulations both. Very glad the waters broke in the indian and not the Turkish restaurant! Poppy is preciousssssss xx

Alice said...

Congratulations guys! She's beautiful and you made me cry is all around! Alice, Marc and Ella XOX

Marcus said...

Congrats to you all! What a lovely story. Your family is certainly multiplying...much seems to have progressed since GeekFest '08. Very happy for you guys and look forward to meeting Poppy! Ta ra!
- Marc and family