As only a person who knows they have to be up early can, I spent half the night reading through my old posts on my trusty Blackberry. Imagine my surprise when I realised our story ended at 16 weeks pregnant and a wish for smooth sailing from there on in. As if?!!
Shortly after my most recent post my lovely husband was offered a job. It was in the right industry, an instant start date and had good career prospects, what is the problem then I hear you cry. It was in Leeds! Yet another move, yet another new city and yet another long distance from everyone we know and love. A job is a job though and in our situation who were we to turn it down.
We made appointments to view houses, went on a road trip and found the perfect place, it was a gorgeous old mill conversion and we could really imagine our little family living there. What could go wrong? The landlord could let it privately without telling the agents, that's what!! So the next day there we were again, on the M1 spending petrol and lunch money we could ill afford on our second trip to Leeds in 2 days. This time we had somewhere specific in mind, it looked perfect, surely we couldn't be gazumped again. And we weren't. I sit in my gorgeous flat writing this overlooking the huge gardens, tennis court, free gym and residents bar a firm believer that everything happens for a reason!
We packed up our lives yet again and made the move, hoping this would be the one to bring the stability we were so desperately craving. Around this time I hit the halfway point in my pregnancy. We took the Mum's along to meet Stewie at the 20 week scan and were reassured that Stewie was settled in with no intentions of going anywhere.
Up until this point I was still swinging from total conviction that things would be fine this time to blind panic that something would go wrong. I spent the morning of my 20 week scan on the bathroom floor at my in laws house sobbing hysterically following my ill advised google of problems that can be detected at the 20 week scan. Something about our 5th scan set my mind at rest and from that day on positivity was the order of the day.
The next few weeks passed by in the blur of setting up a home for our soon to be 3 family and meeting some of the lovely BE girls in the area. As much as I loved Edinburgh and was devastated to leave, it took a long time to feel like home and I never felt settled there. Something about Leeds (well technically we are closer to Bradford) felt like home straight away.
Before I knew it the day I had been dreading was upon us. Lumpy's due date! Stewie obviously sensed that it was a significant day and not be upstaged chose this day to make his presence known. On what should have been a sombre day I felt my babies movements for the first time and suddenly I knew why we had been through what we did, it all had a purpose, Lumpy wasn't meant to be, Stewie was!!!
Being in my 20+ weeks of pregnancy there seemed no point looking for work, especially since I had no intentions of returning after Stewie was born so I spent this time as any expectant mother with too much time on their hands would. Reading books, magazines, leaflets, websites and even at one point watched the NHS provided breastfeeding DVD. I became an aficionado on all things pregnancy and felt totally prepared for the birth.
Soon it was time for the eagerly awaited antenatal and NCT classes. I went along with a thirst for knowledge, only to discover I knew as much, if not more, than the class instructors. My time spent researching apparently far more effective than £180 worth of NCT classes!!
Believing we were out of the dramatic woods and with a holiday, Christmas, birthdays and my baby shower to look forward to, I filled my diary for the last weeks of pregnancy, hoping filling my days would make time fly by. What I failed to realise was that having an aquanatal class on Monday, antenatal on Tuesday and a birthday party on Saturday does not make Wednesday, Thursday and Friday go any faster!!
So there I was beached on the sofa surrounded by chocolate wrappers and water bottles watching Lie To Me, my new favourite show when I realised the I couldn't see a corner of the screen. It slowly got worse until I couldn't focus on the TV and I had a psychedelic type black and white pattern across most of my vision. Recalling my reading into pre-eclampsia I panicked and called NHS direct who said it was a migraine and to take some paracetamol and rest. It soon subsided and I put it to the back of my mind.
A week later and during the NCT breastfeeding session the visual disturbances returned, this time worse, totally obscuring my vision of the creepy plastic doll who was 'in the perfect position to latch'. I grinned my way through the rest of the class, too embarrassed to say anything, then stumbled to my car and sat waiting for my vision to return. Later that day we attended NHS antenatal classes and I told the midwife running the class what had happened. She sprang into action testing my blood pressure -elevated, and urine - containing protein. All this together was not looking good and my plans for a care free end to my pregnancy were looking unlikely.
An appointment was made with my consultant for a few days later to monitor the situation. All the tests came back normal and yet another flash in the pan seemed over!! Onto the next problem, my stubborn baby being breech! I ummed and ahhhed for weeks over my options, an ECV or a cesarean section. Neither seemed all that fun! So still confused I waddled off to my appointment only to be told baby had turned and was now head down.
Everything was lined up for my natural water birth! All I needed now was time to hurry up! Our holiday came and went, Christmas flashed by and before I knew it I was 25 and my due date had come and gone. I went for the dreaded sweep and went home to wait it out some more. An appointment was made for the 6th of February, 11 days past my due date, for me to be induced.
I had been made aware by many other pregnant women over the years that people asking if the baby is here yet is the most irritating and unwelcome question in the world. How right they were. I was suffering with heartburn induced insomnia, most days not falling to sleep until 4-5am. So imagine how hilarious I found it to have my aunt ring every morning at 8am on her way to work asking if the baby was here yet? I resorted to screening her calls and leaving my phone on silent, undeterred she began the morning ritual by first ringing my mobile, then the house phone, then my husband and finally my Mum. Take the hint!
The 5th of Feb was upon us, my husband finished for the day at lunchtime and we went for a long walk along the canal. Well at the time it felt like a long walk, in hindsight it was a gentle stroll. I heaved my considerable body weight home and began nesting. Trying to get the flat clean and tidy ready for us to go into hospital the next day.
At 3.20am that night I woke up to go to the toilet. After I clambered back into bed I felt a trickle and jumped up as energetically as someone 42 weeks pregnant can do and switched on the light to find a small wet patch on the sheet where I had been lying and a trail of water following my path across the bed. I sat on the edge of the bed in shock not sure what to do next. I felt a small tightening across my stomach and got very excited. This is it, labour is upon us!! I timed the next 1o 'contractions' 6 minutes apart and then woke my husband. He seemed very unconcerned by my pathetic attempts at contractions but suggested I ring the labour ward non the less.
The midwife on the phone seemed even less impressed and said I clearly wasn't in labour but to go in anyway to be examined in case my waters had indeed broken. Over the next hour of packing up to leave, driving up to the hospital and stopping for snacks and the cash machine on the way I realised the midwife was indeed right, they weren't contractions. These were!!! As they rapidly increased in strength and got closer and closer together I eagerly awaited the midwifes examination. Recalling the antenatal classes promises that contractions lasting a minute, 5 minutes apart would mean labour was well on its way, I felt my 45 second long, 2 minute apart contractions had to be good news.
I am now of the opinion that 1 of the 3 year long midwifery course is spent doing medical training, the other 2 years is spent training in combat for the time when they have to tell women in excruciating pain... "You are not in labour yet!" The 6 words I hope never to hear again!
An examination put me not even 2cm dilated and Stewie in a very unhelpful back to back position. This went some way in explaining how intense and painful my contractions had gotten very quickly. I was advised to stay upright, move about lots and was given some co-codamol as 'pain relief'. I put pain relief in inverted commas because as any woman who has been through labour knows co-codamol is about as useful as a chocolate fire guard.
I asked at this point about my options for a water birth which were quickly denied. My consultants assurances that there was no reason why I couldn't have a water birth were in direct conflict with the labour wards no fat birds policy! I was offered a bath but reminded to stay upright. I heard wet knees are a well known natural analgesic!! The bath did nothing but irritate me and enhance my desire for Proper pain relief so I got out, wrapped myself in the hand towel provided, highly useful for heavily pregnant women in labour, and trudged back to my room stopping for several gut wrenching contractions on the way.
I would love at this point to give you an eloquent concise account of what happened next however the best I can offer is that at some point in the next few hours I was given gas and air, got high as a kite and dilated more.
At a guess I was examined around 5pm and was told I was almost fully dilated but had a lip on my cervix not dilating and I was told to resist the urge to push. If this has never happened to you it's similar to being told to resist the urge to sneeze. There is very little you can do about it! After what felt like hours of complaining about needing to push the evil midwife finally allowed it and I ditched the gas and air and started pushing for real.
Again I have very hazy memories of this and can only remember being very annoyed with the midwife asking me to push harder and longer. I had nothing left to give and felt she was being very unreasonable.
After 35 minutes of pushing my baby boy, Felix Samuel was born at 6.59pm on 6th Feb. Exactly a year to the day since losing our Lumpy.
Like I said. Everything happens for a reason.