Baby Fenn – the 1st 10 days

My final bump photo with baby Fenn.

Today Fenn is 11 days old.

I can’t believe that we are nearly two weeks post partum already!

After the long and somewhat traumatic birth (see my previous post), Fenn was put onto my belly for 10 seconds while her cord was cut, and I managed to quickly stroke her head. She was then rushed straight to the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) because she was struggling to breathe and had possibly inhaled the bloody amniotic fluid. They stabilised her and inserted the cannula so that they could start giving her antibiotics as a precaution. They took swabs from her nose and ears to grow as a culture to see if she had an infection. It would take 48 hours for the results, so we were in for a hospital stay of at least 2 days.
Once we were put into our little private room at 3am, we were left all alone. Me… alone with a baby! I immediately stripped and put Fenn onto my chest for skin to skin. She was so calm and quiet and it was wonderful.

Fenn in a milk coma on my belly. You can see the pin pricks from the blood tests on the back of her hand.

Fenn was born on the hottest day of the year (34 degrees in September) and it was so warm in the hospital that I kept worrying that she was too hot. I had no clue if she needed a blanket or not, long sleeves or no sleeves, fan on, fan off…aaargh! 
I hardly slept at all for the rest of the night as I was so worried about her. I struggled to get her to latch on because she was so weak from the birth, and when she did latch, she kept falling asleep on the boob after a few seconds. I asked the midwives for some help and they suggested expressing and syringe feeding her the extra, which I managed to do, 1ml by 1ml. Luckily my milk came in really quickly and really well.

My OH arrived back at 11am the next day and finally got to hold Fenn for the first time. He was a very happy Papa, in love with his tiny girl.

Whilst in hospital, we had to wheel her over to SCBU for her antibiotics every 12 hours. We took her together at lunch time, but I had to wheel her down on my own at midnight. Trying to navigate through the hospital on 1hr sleep with a tiny weak baby over the knobbliest flooring in the world wasn’t much fun. I did become an expert at  dodging the bumps after a while though.

Fenn was quite jaundice for a time whilst in hospital, hovering just below the treatment line. The best way to treat it is to breastfeed, so we really had to try and force as much milk into her as possible. At one point, she was so dehydrated that they couldn’t take any blood. It was so stressful knowing that your baby isn’t getting enough food or liquid, but doesn’t have enough energy to eat. It was a horrible catch 22 situation. We eventually worked out that if we woke her up every hour and a half, stripped her down and started to feed her, wiggling her the whole time and applying cold water on cotton wool to her back and legs to keep her awake, she would feed more. It sounds cruel, but she needed to eat. Combined with a top up with expressed milk, she started to get stronger. By Friday morning she was actually opening her eyes and crying! I have never been so glad to hear a baby cry. 

It took until Friday evening for the culture results to come back. The results showed a positive, but because the bacteria they found would have made her incredibly sick if she did that infection, and she wasn’t showing any signs, they decided that it was probably cross contamination. One more blood test for jaundice, which showed a small improvement and we got to go home! 

Fenn in her going home outfit. She might fit into it in a few months! 

Since coming home she has been a dream. She is the most laid back baby ever, making our lives really easy. She rarely cries as we feed her when she starts showing feeding signs, and when she does, the boob solves all problems immediately. This can obviously change at any moment, but long may it last! She was back up to her birth weight within 5 days, which is amazing considering she hardly ate for the first two days, and she is now officially a boob monster. 

The many faces of Fenn. 

I will do a post on how I am recovering post partum in a few days. 

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SHE’S HERE!

Fenn Ohope Collins decided that she had cooked enough, and made a surprise early appearance on Wednesday 14th September 2016. She was 37 weeks and 4 days brewed and weighed 6lbs exactly. 

I had a bit of a rough labour, so I want to write down my birth story before the details get forgotten. It will be good to have a record of it. It may be long…

I woke up just after midnight on Tuesday morning and thought I felt a bit wet. I reached down and when I moved, my waters came trickling out at quite a speed. I quickly got up (as quickly as a 37 weeks pregnant lady can get up having been sleeping on the sofa cushions on the floor due to hip ache!) and shuffled to the loo, trying (unsuccessfully) to catch the waters in my hands. I had to shout to my OH about 8 times to get him to wake up. I got to the loo and turned on the lights and it was like a scene from a horror film. My waters were bright red with blood and it was everywhere: a trail on the carpet, a pool on the bathroom floor, all over the door frames and lightswitches and all down my legs and feet. Scary, scary stuff.

We got out my notes and I asked my OH to phone the labour ward to let them know what had happened and that we were coming, but his hands were shaking so much, I had to do it. We were told to get straight in. 

We grabbed the hospital bags and car seat and got on our way. I was absolutely terrified due to the blood and not being able to feel her move, but I had to stay really calm to help my OH drive to the hospital as he was still quite shaky.

We arrived 20mins later and were told to sit and wait…

5 mins later my OH forcefully went to remind them that I had have a massive bleed. Jenny the midwife and Emily, her student arrived pretty quickly after that. I got on the bed and as they used a speculum to assess me, a new tidal wave of blood poured out all over the table and was dripping on the floor. They then hooked me up to a monitor, which displayed the babies heart rate and contractions. I sobbed when I saw her heartbeat on the monitor; I had been fearing the worst. I was then wheeled to the delivery suite. 

My birth plan was to have a waterbirth in the midwife lead low risk birthing unit, but that went out the window due to the blood. Suddenly I was high risk. 

Once in the delivery room, Jenny checked my dialation and I was 2cm but my uterus was still very thick. I was also having strong contractions, but I couldn’t feel them. I had a cannula fitted into my wrist just in case I had to be rushed to surgery. It was horrible not being able to bend my wrist for the next 24 hours. I was also told not to eat anything and only drink water, in case I needed a C section.

They allowed me to labour away, and I would be reviewed at 6am to see how I was doing. The midwives said that because I was contracting so strongly, and my pain threshold was so high, they hoped to deliver our baby before their shift finished at 7am. Brilliant! I walked about, bounced on the birthing ball and salsa wiggled my way through the next 4 hours.

At 6am I had only progressed to 2-3cm and effaced slightly, and at 10am was only 3-4cm, so they decided to hook me up to a hormone drip. The synthetic oxytocin would ramp up my contractions and get things moving. It certainly did, but only the strength and regularity of the contractions. They started to get quite powerful, and were coming at a rate of 4 in ten minutes, which is unsustainable, so they turned the drip down a little to reduce the regularity to 3 in 10 mins. 

Sexy! Mesh pants and pressure tights.

At 7am the shifts changed and I sadly said goodbye the Jenny and Emily, and met Kathryn, who would deliver my baby… Right? Surely we would be done by 7pm.

At 2pm I was checked again and was only 4-5cm. They decided to break the remainder of my waters (how could there be more!?) because they thought that the babies head was floating above and not grinding onto the cervix, hence the slow progress. Another tidal wave of bloody amniotic fluid! 

I laboured until 4pm without pain relief, just using breathing techniques and the birth ball, but by that point the pain was getting pretty bad and I decided to try some gas and air. It was gooooood!

The gas and air enabled me to get through the next 2 hours. I found that if I put my eye mask on, really wiggled my hips on the birth ball and took 12 to 16 deep breaths through each contraction, I could cope.  However, by 6pm I was struggling. The drip had been cranked back up and I was getting 4 to 5 contractions in 10 minutes, and often they wouldn’t drop off completely. It was like having one solid pulsing contraction for an hour or so.I knew that I still had enough energy left to push, but I was still only 5cm. By thus time I hadn’t eaten in about 23 hours, had been in labour for 17 hours and knew I would have nothing left if I carried on as I was, resulting in a C section. I did not want that at all. I asked for an epidural, to enable me to have a rest and save my energy for when I needed it most. I was lucky and it was organised within minutes and it was the best decision I have ever made. I always thought that I would be disappointed with myself if I ‘copped out’ and had an epidural, but I know that I gave everything I had. I’m OK with that. 

After the epidural…

Having the epidural inserted into my spine was really scary. They kept telling me to be really still, but I was contracting constantly! You try staying still when your uterus is having a party! My OH came around and knelt in front of me as we had been taught in NCT classes, and that really helped to steady me. The result was amazing!

The epidural didn’t work completely, as I was still getting pain at the base of my stomach on the left hand side, but it was still amazing. I was able to relax a bit, but I was given until 10pm to either fully dilate or it would be a c-section.

At 7pm the shifts changed again and Jenny and Emily came back! They could not believe that we were still going and had requested to be with us. I was so happy to see them! 

I fully dilated! At 10pm I was hoisted into stirrups and started pushing with everything I had. It was really hard to know if I was pushing in the right place as I couldn’t feel anything due to the epidural, but Jenny, Emily and my OH were a brilliant team. I pushed for 2 solid hours (it felt like 10 mins), but the baby was back to back and wasn’t turned to the correct angle. Her heart rate was also dropping during every contraction now. They needed to get the baby out soon, so the doctor came in and our baby was pulled out with a ventouse. The big, burly male doctor was pulling with all his might, and after 29 hours without food, 24 hours in labour, 2.5 hours pushing and an episiotomy, out came Fenn at 32 minutes past midnight!

She was silent when she came out and it was hideous watching them rubbing her and pumping air into her to try and revive her. She was wheeled off the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) to have a cannula fitted, have swabs taken and be stabilised. My OH went with her but was in pieces. No father wants to see his baby in distress. My OH came back to me as I was being stitched back together and said they had kicked him out when the cannula was being fitted as he was in pieces. 

Because it was after 11pm, my OH wasn’t going to be allowed to stay with us once we went to the ward, which we were about to do at 3am. He had to walk away, seeing me exhsusted and bloody, and his baby girl in special care, having not even touched her. He said it was both the best and worst day of his life. 

After a supervised shower, I was reunited with tiny Fenn as we were wheeled to the ward. I had asked to pay for a private room, and that was another brilliant idea of ours. 

More on Fenn’s first few days in my next post.

Just after being reunited. I got to put her on my chest and hold her for the first time 3hrs after birth.

Huge cannula bandage!