My body – 2 weeks post partum.

Today our little girl is two weeks old. 
My previous post was all about her: how she was after the birth, her treatment and how she is settling in at home. I thought I would also write a post about how I am feeling and what I have been through, both physically and mentally in the last 2 weeks. 

Be warned, I will not be holding anything back. Read no further if you are squeamish or would just rather not know!

The placenta…

Straight after Fenn was born, I was given an injection to help me give birth to the placenta. In my birth plan, I wanted a natural third stage (placental birth) but due to it becoming a high risk birth, that went out the window along with almost everything else on my birth plan. To be honest, I didn’t even notice the injection or the placenta being born due to the epidural. It must have been out within minutes though as I was being stitched up almost immediately. During the stitching, I asked to see the placenta. I couldn’t see that closely as I was on my back in stirrups, but the midwife wheeled it over and lifted it up to show me. It was really amazing. She said it was small, but it had worked perfectly. 

The mum tum…

Once we were back in the room and I had given Fenn some skin to skin time and breastfed her, I could have a poke at my deflated belly. It felt like pizzza dough inside someone else’s dry skin! However, I didn’t seem to mind because I had my girl. Luckily my uterus has been shrinking back down quickly, and my skin seems to have escaped without much damage! No stretch marks, and only a little bit of a baby belly at this point. 

Bleeding (lochia)…

Everyone bleeds after birth, but some for longer than others. For me it was like a heavy period flow, and I have nearly stopped bleeding now at 14 days PP. You also pass a few blood clots in the first day or two. My most impressive one was about the size of a golf ball! I had to hand it over to the midwife to check… Lucky her!  

Because I am breastfeeding, the hormones produced whilst lactating trigger the uterus to contract back down. This is great for getting your pre-pregnancy belly back, but it really makes you bleed and I occasionally get afterpains, which feel like mild contractions. These apparently get worse after a second baby.

Episiotomy stitches…

For those who don’t know, an episiotomy is a cut made through the skin and muscle of the perineum to enlarge the opening for the baby to come out. Apart from a C section, it was my absolute worst nightmare. However, Fenn needed to come out quickly as she was in distress, and at the time I didn’t care how that needed to happen. She was the most important thing.

Before the doctor started stitching, I could have sworn I heard someone say “We had to cut you three times.” WHAAAAT! Three times!! Luckily it was just me hearing things, and it was just the once. Once is enough.

The first day after birth was OK pain wise. I felt like I had been kicked in the foof, but not too bad. On day two though, the pain started. Oh my. Having had your perineum cut with a pair of scissors is about as painful as it sounds, and it is a real challenge to keep the wound dry when you are bleeding heavily from the birth. I have been having a bath and a shower every day. I mix 5 drops of lavender oil into some milk and add that to my bath water, and once or twice a day I sploosh the wound with some slightly salty water, either whilst on the loo or in the shower. 

After a few days, I gathered enough courage to have a feel downstairs. Sob…I mourn the loss of my pre baby lady bits! 

Once or twice over the last 2 weeks I felt a tight pulling sensation and had a bit of fresh blood. I wasn’t even doing anything exciting, just shuffling about! I could feel that the stitches had come open slightly at the surface, so I got the midwife to look at them at my check up on day 12. Yep, the skin stitches have ruptured but the muscle stitches are still in place. The skin should start to mesh back on its own, but I might need to have some further ‘work’ done. Great. 

It took until day 13 for me to start forgetting I had a massacred lady garden every time I stood, sat or moved. Garden peas and pain killers are a life saver… Make sure you have plenty of each if you are about to give birth!

The first poo…

I had read that the first poo after giving birth can often be as traumatic as the labour itself. I prepared myself with a big bag of prunes in my hospital bag. I started munching them as soon as possible after labour, and they were brilliant! Nothing solid and traumatic for 4 days! 

The baby blues…

These are very real! Two days after Fenn was born, I was a mess. A well meaning but blunt midwife told me I had to start feeding the baby more. I wanted to shout  “I AM TRYING! I AM DOING MY VERY BEST AND YOU MAKING ME FEEL LIKE SHIT RIGHT NOW ISN’T HELPING!” But instead I just sat on my bed and bawled my eyes out. I cried a few more times that day, mostly from feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. 

It is around day 2-3 when all of your happy pregnancy hormones start to vanish, and the endorphins from birth are leaving your system. They leave you an emotional wreck. 

I knew that I might feel weepy and overwhelmed; I was ready for that. What I wasn’t prepared for was the anxiety. On day three, as the day progressed I could feel my heart starting to race. It felt like it was in my throat. I then started to think about Fenn dying of SIDS, and combined with a leaflet my OH passed me about meningitis, I went into panic mode. I was sat wringing my hands with worry and I planned not to sleep that night. I was going to sit and watch her, just in case she started suffocating. It was completely irrational and I knew it, but it completely took over me for about two days. I would sob in the shower for ages, worried that I would always feel like that. I was OK during the day, but as night approached, I could feel my heart rising up my throat again.

The most important thing I did was tell my OH how I was feeling. It really helped to know that he knew. He understands irrational anxiety, so he helped me get through it with reassurance and a lot of oxytocin building hugs and contact. It lasted 2 days, but it was awful; I never want to feel like that again. 

Pregnancy progression…

Over the last nine months, we have taken a picture of my baby bump every week. I wanted to record how my body changed over time, and I have been able to compile the following photo:

I love that I will be able to show Fenn how she looked in the womb when she is older.

Post pregnancy body…

Weight at 37 weeks pregnant: 10stones 1lb

Weight 2 days after birth: 9stones 1lb

Fenn’s birth weight: 6lbs

Weight 2 weeks Post Partum: 8stones 12lbs

Waist measurement at 37 weeks: 36.5″

Waist measurement at 2 weeks PP: 29″

So there you go, a full run down of the fun that comes after delivering a baby via ventouse. Add to those delights the broken sleep and it is no wonder people struggle in the first few weeks. However, every ache and pain is absolutely worth it because we have Fenn. I just won’t be in a rush to do it again just yet! 

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!