This wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I wanted so much to take my baby home. After having a lengthy birth and an emergency C Section I longed for my creature comforts and to enjoy my new baby. I wanted that fuzzy first few days feeling that you get. That bubble. I hadn’t slept in nearly two days and I was exhausted and emotional. Ernest, as a precaution, was administered antibiotics as soon as he was born and i’m so grateful for that. As he had some complications during child birth they needed to rule out every possibility.
The first night we spent in hospital was so daunting. You are alone, scared and have this little person to look after. Those first few hours with him were the ones I will never forget. His new born smell, his little noises and his warmth. They brought him into the ward and placed him inside my vest. He seemed so small and perfect. By this time it was the early hours of the morning and my husband had left to get some much needed rest. It was just me and my boy. I was sharing a ward with three other women which was very testing, especially as one of the babies didn’t stop crying and whimpering. It’s the last thing you want to hear when you are tired and trying to keep your baby from waking.
I managed to drift in and out of sleep for a few hours but I was constantly conscious of him sleeping on me. All of a sudden it was 9am and they were calling for breakfast. My husband was due to arrive later in the morning so I just felt a little lost. I was sore and I had ankles the size of tree trunks. I was fitted with the most high tech of contraptions. The Catheter. It stuck out like a sore thumb. You have this permanent bag of urine attached to you like a conjoined twin. They wanted to try and encourage me to go to the toilet unaided, so after i was up and about, they removed it.
However, every time I went to the toilet I was paranoid that I could hear Ernest crying. I wasn’t quite akin to his sound yet so every cry sounded the same. I would try and get back to the ward as quickly as I could to find it wasn’t even him. I also had to deal with trying to pee but I was totally numb. I’m sure you can relate. I was so desperate to go but I physically couldn’t let it out. It was the most infuriating feeling. I would run the tap, put my fingers in my ears, try and push as hard as I could but still nothing.
You are not prepared for the aftermath of child birth, where you are plagued with discomfort, or for all the blood you loose. It was like something out of a horror movie and my baby didn’t even come out through there!
I tell you what, men have it easy. All they have to do is contribute a little nut butter and their laughing. We have to go through pregnancy, labour and the fact that our fanny will never be the same again. I say our, but actually that’s not strictly true. Its one of the only things that’s remained intact for me. Instead I just have a permanent itch I can never scratch as my belly is still without feeling.
In all fairness, even though id had major surgery, i seemed to be mobile very quickly. It was a good job too as I constantly had to be on the ball. Ernest was having trouble with mucus because of the c section so with all my might I would lift myself up at lightening speed to make sure he wasn’t choking. It was so awful. I hadn’t realised that this was an effect he would experience but everything is trial and error. I was constantly learning.
You just think the worst, especially as a new parent. Everyone was so busy it was hard to really get any attention but when they would come, I was armed with a list. They told me it was all completely normal and nothing to worry about. Did that make me feel better or reassure me? I don’t know.
I was so glad to see my husband when he arrived. It meant I could try and get a little more sleep and all being well I could go home. When I woke up, he dropped the bombshell. The doctor had been around and they wanted to continue a course of antibiotics in hospital. This would mean we needed to stay in for a minimum of 5 days. A wave of emotion just rushed over me and I couldn’t stop crying. It didn’t help that most of the people on my ward had now been and gone and I was stuck here.
I had to think of the positives at this point, and know that we were in the best place. We had round the clock care and it really was. Every hour a new nurse would arrive to check Ernest over to make sure he was doing ok.
I was so unprepared for a longer stay. We had overpacked for Ernest thank god but actually as he was born 8lb 11oz he didn’t fit in to much. I on the other hand, had nothing. I had one set of pajamas and a manky pair of waters soaked slippers. I could not wait to have a wash and a clean set of clothing. When I did eventually take a shower I was shocked. I looked in the full length mirror and I didn’t recognise myself. I was so swollen and full of water. My legs and stomach had tripled in size. It wasn’t until after id had Ernest that I experienced the heavy water retention. I hadn’t even noticed the difference until then.
We stayed on this ward for another night but they then transferred us to our very own room. It was amazing. At least I wasn’t overlooked. It was peaceful and that’s what I wanted. My husband was great and he would go home and do a load of washing and drying ready for the following day. There was always something that we needed too, something new. We started getting a flurry of visitors and with that came bags and bags of gifts. I had enough confectionary to open up a shop.
I felt so touched that people wanted to come and see us. What I didn’t anticipate was that I wasn’t ready for it. I didn’t allow myself enough time to rest and recuperate. I thought that I was ready to see all these people and have the energy to hold down a conversation. Every day my room was filled with people, whether that was family, friends or hospital staff. Although I was there in body I was certainly not there in mind. I was barely getting two hours sleep a night. I was making sure that every few hours Ernest was fed but on top of that he was also having his observations done every hour. It was constant and it started to take its toll.
I never really understood the power of sleep deprivation until I experienced it. You go into auto pilot because you have to. You have to be strong for not only yourself but for your baby. I would follow the same routine everyday and actually in a way im almost glad I had my time in hospital. I spent a long period on my own and I just had to get on with it. There is no time to think or panic. However I was really struggling with the lack of sleep and at times I could barely keep my eyes open. I was grateful for when my husband came as it gave me a chance to wash and eat. He would leave at about 7pm and then it would just be me in this little square box with nothing but my son for company.
I went into a slight state of delirium. I had imagined that a large spidery beetle had got into Ernest’s hospital bag. I can still remember the sound of it scuttering against the plastic and the shine on its back when it hit the light. I carefully pulled everything out of the bag, zipped it up and threw it in the corner as my heart raced. I stared at it for a good 20 minutes incase it escaped. When my husband called in the morning I explained the predicament I found myself in and that he would need to deal with it when he got there. But actually when he did get there and checked the bag over and over (upon my insistence), it was empty. I was 100% convinced that I had seen it. I would have bet my life, but it simply wasn’t possible.
I was all over the place, stuttering my words and feeling drowsy. The only time I was alert was when it was time for food. I know people say that hospital food is horrible but I really got a tasting for it. It was what I looked forward to everyday.
When you start loving the food over your new baby, its definitely time to leave.
I just needed a gap where I wasn’t needing to be alert so that I could actually sleep uninterrupted. Ernest was constantly being prodded and poked. He was having so many different meds and heal prick tests, that I wanted and needed to be there to support him. He just took everything in his stride and nothing bothered him. In order to rule out meningitis they had to preform a lumber puncture on him. I had heard such awful things about how it was the worst pain you could ever imagine and my little boy was going to have it.
They came in at 2am one morning to take him away. They said it was best that I wasn’t there as it could be distressing. As soon as they left the room I just lay there in a curled up ball and cried. I was an emotional wreck. I could hear screams down the corridor and I prayed it wasn’t him.
They weren’t gone for long before they were back again with him. I wanted so much to give him a big hug but I was scared I would upset him further. I just let his little hand wrap around my finger and I watched him sleep until I drifted off.
When we got the results back I was hoping with every fibre of my body that we didn’t need to stay in any longer. They confirmed that Ernest had contracted a blood infection but he didn’t have meningitis. The antibiotics that he had, had helped to stem the infection, which meant we were allowed to finally leave.
I don’t want to think about what could have happened if they didn’t give him the antibiotics as soon as he was born, as it might have been a different story. All I knew was that my baby was finally well enough. I hadn’t smelt fresh air for almost a week and it didn’t bother me that it was torrential rain outside. It could have been thunder and lightening for all I cared, we were going home.
I take my hat off to all those mumma’s out there that have had or are having a similar or worst experience as it takes a strong character to endure it. I only just made it out the other side unscathed. I can go home knowing that I have my baby with me and some don’t even get that luxury. These moments are the moments that shape you, make you stronger, resilient even, and I intend to make the most of every opportunity, no matter what obstacles get in your way, for myself and my baby.