In case you have been living under a rock and missed me shouting it from the rooftops, our long awaited bump has landed.
Markus Claus arrived on Monday 8/8/11 at 16.25 hours after a ten and half hour labour, weighing in at an impressive 10lbs 13.5oz.
I had expected him to be bigger than that, actually. He looked quite small to me when he was plonked on my tummy, until I actually picked him up and boy he's heavy! He is also extremely long. 0-3 months baby grows only just fit his length and that is the more generous sizes...
He was my first personal first this week. Not his weight, believe it or not, but one of his big sister's weighed in at 11lbs 12oz, nor the length of the labour - longest I had was 26 hours. No it was the sheer intensity of it all and my complete loss of control...
But let me start at the beginning.
As regular readers will be aware, I had been niggling for weeks and everyone pretty much expected things to happen really quickly, when they did. Hmmm, yeah. You'd expect so, but my little budda had other ideas.
I had been having the odd painful contraction for the last few days, so I wasn't getting excited when I had a couple first thing Monday morning. The third one was strong enough to make me get up and glance at my phone. It was just turning six am and I could hear my husband getting ready to leave for work. I wasn't sure that this was it, but I wasn't happy for him to go in either.
So he stayed and kept me company as I ambled along, timing contractions. To my relief they didn't stop, but kept going, slowly increasing in strength and frequency. They weren't regular and anywhere between 3-5-10 minutes apart.
Hubbie and I used the time to plot my next story, as you do, lol. The idea had come to me the evening before and it will be an erotic romance - not sure how long yet involving these two handsome inspirations
and all kinds of ensuing naughtiness for one plucky heroine ;-)
Hmm, where was I.... Oh yes labour... lol
I was getting concerned that I was mainly feeling the contractions in my back. Having had previous back to back labours, I recognised the signs and spent my entire time at home leaning forward and swinging my hips to encourage him to turn.
By ten am we made our way into hospital, as I was in a lot of pain and found it difficult to walk by then. We were greeted by our midwife for the day, Lesley. She was supposed to be on admin duty, but due to staff shortages was asked to look after us. I relaxed immediately when I started talking to her. She exuded calmness and confidence and we established an instant rapport and connection.
What's more, because she wasn't supposed to be there per se, we had her to ourselves the entire labour, not a mean feat, considering the state of today's maternity services.
She backed me in my decision to forego a precautionary cannula (standard hospital procedure in a multi para, due to the statistical increased risk of postpartum haemorrhage ). I know it's a small thing, but I had one with my last baby and it really interfered with my ability to hold him properly and it hurts, darn it.
That small hurdle cleared she examined me and I was four cm stretching to five. A small hurray as it meant I was in labour and was not going home again. Markus had moved too and seemed to be in a good position with me contracting away and in control quite happily. We joked that we wanted to have a baby by two pm, which was when she went off shift. We certainly were expecting to have him long before that.
However Markus had other ideas. My blood pressure spiked and she suggested putting me on the monitor just to reassure herself that he was fine and if he was then she could leave us alone. I continued to stand up whilst on the trace, but my legs were getting tired and contractions were ebbing off. Lesley suggested some tea and chocolate to give me some much needed energy and produced a birth ball.
I then continued to bounce on the ball quite happily, munching on chocolate and putting the world to rights with Lesley and hubbie. The trace showed contractions just ambling along and unfortunately once again all in my back. Little man had moved again, didn't he! Grumble, grumble.
I wasn't due another VE until 3.00 pm, but I agreed with Lesley that she would have a look see and if possible break my waters to get things going, before she handed me over. There was no way, I was going home again without my baby in my arms!
Throughout all this the trace showed Markus to be happy, apart from one dip and loss of contact, because he was constantly wriggling around in there.
Examination showed me to be still 4 stretching to 5cm with bulging membranes and a back to back baby.
That explained the lack of progress and dwindling contractions then. As agreed she broke my waters and to our shock and horror there was thick meconium, very thick meconium. None of us had been expecting that, as Markus was wriggling and his trace was strong, apart from that mysterious dip. It meant I had to stay on the bed to be continually monitored to keep an eye on him. Something I was only too happy to agree to. There is something very comforting about hearing your baby's heart beat galloping away in the back ground.
He stayed happy as larry through the remainder of the labour, so no idea what that dip and all that meconium was about.
She adjusted the bed, so I was sitting upright and supported and almost immediately contractions started up again, much to everyone's relief. Lesley had mentioned that there may be need for a drip, if things did not kick off, due to the meconium and that was the last thing any of us wanted. But contractions were strong and regular going from three in ten to five in ten very quickly. I was still in control and Lesley joked, she would not be surprised if I never needed the gas and air, that Tony kept trying to push into my hands, bless him.
Famous last words as it turned out. She made me lift my bottom slightly to put a new pad underneath, the slightest movement, but something shifted and the pain hit and I was on that blessed gas and air, huffing like a trooper and threatening hubbie with immediate castration, as you do ;-)
I was still in control though and in between contractions managed to joke with Lesley and was quite excited and confident that we would meet Markus soon. The news that Lesley was staying with us, as they were still short of staff and she didn't want to leave me anyway, but was looking forward to delivering the baby was music to my ears. I very quickly got the urge to push, but nothing happened, which was rather puzzling.
Lesley examined me again 'just to make sure, you're not doing what I think you may be doing, which is pushing on a 4 cm cervix with a back to back babe.'
Yip, you guessed it, that was exactly what I was doing. Premature urges to push are common at that stage with a back to back baby, so she had me lying on my side to take the pressure off my cervix.
Well, I shall spare you the gory details and I have no idea how long this stage lasted, but forced to lie on my side with Markus trying to get into position was the most excruciating pain I have ever felt in my life. I simply lost it as there was no break in contractions AT ALL and the gas and air did very little. I recall thrashing around on the bed with Lesley's voice an anchor of calmness that stopped me from completely losing it. I have never, ever, in any of my previous labours screamed and sworn as much as I did then. The continuous monitoring was abandoned with Lesley following me round the bed with the hand held monitor. It didn't help that she kept losing his heart beat...
In the end I settled for roaring like some demented lion. You must have been able to hear me in the carpark! Hubbie got really worried about me, because I do not act like that when in labour. I am usually calm and focused, but not this time. In the end I somehow managed to scramble on all fours, a move which must have finally shifted Markus into a better position, because the pain kicked up a gear yet again. Cue me screeching that I couldn't do this and I needed an epidural!?! (Yeah def not me!) In retrospect I must have hit transition at that point, because I was convinced I was going to split in two or something with the pain. It was all very intense and extremely painful. Lesley made me turn over again, cause she couldn't monitor him at all in that position and no sooner had my bum hit that bed again, I started pushing.
Somehow, do not ask me how, I have no idea I ended up back on my side with my leg up in the air at some sort of physically impossible angle and the hard work started in earnest.
I'm sure it didn't take as long as it felt to me and somehow I managed to listen to Lesley and hubbie shouting at me to not push, as the head emerged. One flip of the bed later (Lesley had warned me she would lay the bed flat to help the shoulders to emerge if there was any question in her mind that they may get stuck - we had Shoulder distocia with the other huge baby) and one almighty push later and out he slithered.
The best feeling ever, I tell you. I couldn't really see him clearly as I was flat on my back when she plonked him on my tummy, before the after pains hit and I was back on the gas and air. Another first. Have never needed gas and air to birth the placenta before, but I did this time and boy did it hurt!
Then again the placenta was HUGE and his cord, well, look for yourself.
It was the longest and thickest cord any of the midwives had ever seen. Incidentally, this meant record collection of cord blood. Three times the usual amount, which just added to his little celebrity status in the hospital, lol.
I ended up with a second degree tear, requiring internal and external stitches and once again Lesley was a star. She took her time with the stitches and as a result they have not been as much of a bother, as they were with my last baby.
The three funny things that stick in my mind was me texting baby news with my legs in stirrups being stitched, my reaction to picking him up off my tummy, due to his length and weight and literally feeling as though I was floating, when I got off the bed for my shower.
Well, I did lose a stone, instantly!
We ended up staying in hospital until lunch time the next day, as Markus needed to be observed due to the Meconium and then blood sugar levels due to his size. Needless to say he was fine. Agpar scores of 9 and 10 and thanks to him taking to breastfeeding like a duck to water his blood sugar too was absolutely fine.
We may well have educated a few health professionals, who were amazed that exclusive breastfeeding could sustain him.
I do wonder how the human race ever survived before the invention of formula. Though in their defence I was pleasantly surprised by the care we received. I couldn't fault the L&D, so praise where praise is due. It was also heartening to see all the staff encouraging bed sharing and making the immediate assumption that babies were being breastfed, rather than asking how mum was feeding.
Sadly I was the only one in my bit of the ward who was breastfeeding, but small steps and all that and as much as it pains me feeding choices are up to the mothers, in the end.
Which brings me neatly to another first for me. As I mentioned Markus took to nursing like a duck to water and all was going well, until the dreaded jaundice hit. This coincided with my milk arriving with a vengeance. He was too sleepy to nurse properly and my ever increasing bust size made latching him even more difficult. Cue me literally begging Tj to have some mmm mms. He did oblige, bless him and came off with a defeated, "There's too much milk, Mummy. I can't drink all that!"
Thankfully a good friend lend me her breast pump, which meant Markus could at least latch on again and got some relief. I have never been very good at expressing but this time round volume and speed of it has been astonishing. I think my body thinks I gave birth to a small army or something...
This was the result of just softening the areola enough to enable Markus to latch.
Despite all this Markus got sleepier and sleepier and in the end I had to resort to syringe feeding him. Another first for me. Thankfully he took to it well, without even waking up and then started waking for feeds again. The next day found me having to repeat this, but today he has definitely turned the corner. I have hardly been able to get him off the boob. He was weighed today and he has lost 10oz which is not bad considering all the feeding issues and I dare say come day ten he will have regained that and more, if today's feeding marathon is anything to go by :-)
It is lovely nursing a newborn again, I have to say. I could spend hours just staring at him, he is just so cute!
and I had to giggle at what he thought about his bath...
So that's my personal firsts this week - onto the professional ones.
I am pleased to announce that my story Awakening has been snapped up by Breathless Press and will be published as part of their Anthology Hot Shots Volume 2 on November 25th :-)
So, this week found me with a three day old baby on my lap trying to make sense of my pre-edit check list. Not an easy task when this is the view.
Anyway, somehow I did manage it and am now eagerly awaiting my first 'proper' set of edits.
Judging by the amount of time it has taken me to blog this, it could get interesting! One handed typing the whole way, with frequent nappy change stops, boob swaps and one complete change of outfits for little budda....
But, hey, don't tell everyone, but.....
I am LOVING it :-D
As you can probably tell by how picture heavy this turned out to be. Whoops!