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Ruby’s Birth Story – Part 3

There I was, sitting up in my bed with my mam to the left of me and my future mother-in-Law to my right. Ruby was sleeping in her little crib just beside my bed and Andy was down in the cafe getting me a much needed coffee. I remember feeling so utterly and unbelievably tired. I had never felt anything like it before and I couldn’t begin to imagine how I was ever going to recover from the ordeal of the pervious day and night. I ached all over, I could barely move and to be honest, I still felt a bit out of it. Like I was in the twilight zone. I must have really looked out of it too, because my mam had just said that she thought I was in shock!! But no, I was just feeling like I had been hit by a brick wall. But soon enough, visiting time was over for the morning. Everyone left and made their way down to the cafe for lunch and left me to eat mine and get some much needed rest. So after I finished my lunch (which was really awful – as was all the food we got), I fed, changed and put Ruby down to sleep and rested for a while.

During this time the nurses were in and out to check my stats and drip. I was still on the medication that I needed to help my uterus contract normally and once that was finished, I was due to start on another antibiotic because of my temperature spike during labour. A student baby doctor had already routinely been in to check on Ruby twice that morning. Both times it was mentioned to him about Ruby’s blue arms and legs, which seemed to be getting worse. But he kept saying that it was nothing to worry about. But I had a gut feeling that something wasn’t right. I was still having no luck with breastfeeding and any formula I was giving her wasn’t staying down. So later in the evening, when a nurse from my diabetic team came in to tell me that Ruby’s blood sugars were all normal, I mentioned my concerns to her and what the other doctor had said. She said to leave it with her and that she would see if a more senior doctor would come and take a look at her. So most of the evening went by with no visit from anyone besides the on duty nurses to routine check my blood pressure etc. I remember saying to Andy that I think they have forgotten about Ruby. But eventually at about 6.30 or 7pm, a doctor popped in. She spoke to both my self and Andy about our concerns and took a quick look at her. She explained how she wanted to take her down to a small examination room at the end of the ward so that she could have a better look at her. So she took Ruby off to be examined and told us that she would be back to us with any findings that she might have. In the mean time, my sister and my dad arrived to see Ruby. I kept telling them that she was only gone for an examination and that she would be back soon. Little did we know that it would be another week before they would get to meet her! So at about 8pm the doctor arrived back to the ward, without Ruby. At that point, she explained that she wasn’t receiving enough oxygen throughout her body, which was causing parts of her body to go blue. So she had sent her up to the high dependency unit and that we could go up and see her at 9pm once they had her set up with oxygen. I remember that I started to shake really badly all over, like when you are really cold. I think it was shock or something. When you have a baby, you abviously hope and pray that everything will be ok. But I didn’t really think that something bad would actually happen.

We both got such a shock when we went up to see her. I wasn’t expecting her to be in an incubator. She had a feeding tube in her nose and wires coming out of her everywhere. I wasn’t allowed to hold her. I just burst out crying. I couldn’t stop. There was a nurse there explaining everything to us. I didn’t hear a single word. Thankfully Andy is an EMT and was able to explain it all to me the next morning. We weren’t allowed to stay very long. So I went back to my bed and Andy had to go home as visiting hours were long over. I cried myself to sleep. The next morning I went up to the ward as soon as I had my morning check up, along with Andy who came up extra early. When we got up to the ward there was a new nurse there named George. He explained everything to us in a little more detail. Ruby was started on an antibiotic during the night. He said it was just precautionary in case there was an infection and they had taken blood samples so that her blood cultures could be checked. She would stay on the antibiotics until the results came back. He had also been giving her some sugar water too! He asked if I was breastfeeding, and if I was that I should start to pump as she wasn’t to be taken out of the incubator. He said that I needed to get as much of my colostrum into her as possible. It didn’t even occur to me that I could pump when I was first having problems with feeding her. So I was sent down to the shop to buy all the equipment needed to use the pumping machine on Ruby’s ward. And so I started my extremely scheduled pumping regime. And apparently,  I was producing a huge amount of colostrum. It was like my body knew that Ruby really needed it. And once she started to get it, she really started to improve. The only way I could feed her was by standing beside her incubator with one hand inside holding up a tube which was attached to her feeding tube. So over the next few days I pretty much spent all of my time with Ruby. I would go straight after my morning check up and not return until about 9pm. After that I spent the night pumping every 2/3 hours. I was a women on a mission. I really wanted to breastfeed, and since I couldn’t, I was going to give pumping a damn good try. And it turns out I had a massive supply. In the meantime, the nurses on my ward noticed that I had kind of gone missing. On the third day there was a phonecall up to Ruby’s ward asking if I was there. Of course I was. I was asked very politely to come back to my ward. They said that it was obviously ok for me to be up with Ruby, but just asked that I come back for my other three check ups.

img-20151018-wa0010On the third day we got confirmation that Ruby’s blood cultures were all clear. So she was taken off antibiotics and we could now hold her to feed her. It was amazing to be able to hold her again. We were told that if she handled being held for longer periods, that she would be taken out of the incubator and brought into the special care baby room which was next door. And of course my little lady did just that. So on the Monday morning we went into the new ward. Her oxygen levels were still being monitored with a device and she had a feeding tube in still. But later that day we were told to try her on a bottle of breast milk – which she devoured. From that night on I was told to try and establish breastfeeding. That first night was a disaster. I came up to the ward every three hours and each time was an utter fail. The midwife on duty wasn’t a great help either. It seemed like if Ruby didn’t latch on straight away, that she told me to stop and go back to bed. I was so disheartened.  I tried all through the next day with the same results. Then, at that nights shift change, I happened to be there trying, and failing miserably at feeding Ruby. The new on call nurse came up to me and stopped me straight away. For starters, I was holding her wrong and I had no support pillow. She brought me out one and started to show me a few different feeding positions. She was so lovely and reassuring. This was exactly the type of nurse I needed. By the next morning she told me that I had inverted nipples, especially on the right. And that Ruby had a severe case of tongue tie, which makes feeding really difficult. So I was told to try using nipple shields the next time I fed Ruby. As soon as the shop down stairs opened I got some. I won’t say that they worked straight away, but by lunch time we had both mastered the art of breast feeding. I was delighted! We were told that Ruby could go home on Thursday 20th – 7 days after she was born. But before we could go, we had to be shown how to give Ruby a bath and we had to attend a first aid class.

img-20151018-wa0006The whole time Ruby was in the high dependency and special care baby wards, the doctors had been very vague about Ruby’s condition. It was like they weren’t fully sure what was wrong with her. They never really fully gave us an explanation. The nearest one we got was – “she is failing to thrive outside of the womb”!! It wasn’t until I got her hospital release papers that I discovered she was suffering from *TTN and **Cynosis. TTN is only suppose to last about 3 days but for some reason Ruby was still having problems with it for a number of weeks after delivery. I have to say though that the staff in the Coombe Hospital, especially in the high dependency wards, were amazing. There was one nurse we dealt with the most, George. He was fantastic. Absolutely amazing at his job. He was so reassuring and so good with the babies. He explained everything so clearly too and had no problems answering any questions that we had. I don’t think I’ll ever forget him.

So at 3pm on Thursday 20th of August, we got to bring our little beauty home. I was terrified to leave the security of the hospital, but happy to get home and start our little family together. I was so exhausted that I slept the whole way home with Ruby. Once we arrived home, we were greeted by our parents, brothers and sisters and their kids. They had balloons and banners everywhere, and my mam had gotten the biggest and tallest baby hamper I had ever seen! It was such a wonderful reception to arrive home to. I wish I could say that we had no more hospital visits. But Ruby had one more hospital stay ahead of her. Something that I will write about in my next blog. I hope that you have enjoyed reading Ruby’s Birth Story and I really hope that I haven’t turned anyone off having babies! It really is a wonderful experience!

Until the next blog.

Orla the Irish Mammy x

*TTN – Transient Tachypnen of the Newborn: A respiratory problem that can be seen in newborns shortly after delivery. It can last up to three days and is caused by the slow absorption of fluid in the lungs. This fluid makes taking in oxygen harder and the baby has to breath faster to compensate. (Www.stanfordchildrens.org)

** Cynosis – When parts of the body turn blue because oxygen cannot be carried around the body efficiently. 

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Ruby’s Birth Story – Part 2

August 12th 2015, my goddaughter and niece, Mollys 4th birthday. It was looking like there would be a strong possibility that my daughter and niece would share the same birthday. If not, Ruby’s birthday would be a day after Mollys – funny, as my birthday is actually the day before Mollys mam, my sister Michelle. As I ate the breakfast that was served to me in the delivery suite – a banana, toast and my one coffee of the day – I remember thinking how lovely it would be if Molly and Ruby shared the same birthday and if not, how cool it would be if their birthdays fell in the same way that both myself and my sisters did. I also remember thinking “I wonder how Michelle’s attempt at the Doc.Mac Stuffins cake went that Molly had asked for”. Ever since I made Mollys birthday cake for her 3rd birthday – a three tier pink castle – Molly had requested that I make her 4th birthday party cake. A Doc. Mac Stuffins Lambie Cake. Something I had happily agreed too – I had been looking forward to the challenge that making this cake would bring. However, two days before my inducement, when it was pretty obvious that I wasn’t going anywhere until my bundle of joy was born, I got a panicked phone call from my sister asking “how the hell am I going to make a Lambie cake?!”. I had every faith that she could pull it off and sent her some pictures for inspiration, along with some notes on how I was planning to do it. (In the end she bought one). Ultimately I missed Mollys party as it was on the 12th, my inducement date. That is also why Andy was later than the agreed time of 10am, he was at the party dropping off Mollys presents! He rocked up at 11am when everything was well and truely kicking off.

So, after my breakfast, I was hooked up to every monitor possible and placed on a drip to kick start the labour. About twenty minutes after that my waters were broken. Let’s just say that that was something I wasn’t prepared for! I just thought whenever your waters broke that that was it. Wrong. Everyime you move, there’s more. It just doesn’t stop. I found it so uncomfortable, and trying to get off the bed and to the bathroom was a nightmare. At this stage I foolishly remember thinking “gosh, this isn’t too bad, I’ve no pains at all yet”. But, I spoke too soon. Shorty after this I started to feel little pains that felt like they were traveling up from my pelvis and into the centre of my stomach. Very quickly the pains intensified with very little time between each contraction. I was adement that I didn’t want to be lying in bed, so the best that my lovely mid-wife, Sonya, could do for me was place me on a Pilates ball sitting right under my monitor. This did help a little. At this stage I was starting to worry as Andy hadn’t shown up yet and things seemed to be moving faster than I expected.

Eventually, an hour later than we had agreed, Andy arrived. I was so relieved and I immediately felt a little relaxed. Well, as much as could be expected. But the contractions were starting to get really bad and the position I was sitting in wasn’t having a great affect on Ruby’s heart rate. So, much to my disappointment, I was moved up onto the bed in a upright seated position and given gas and air. As a result of the gas and air, the next 6-7 hours are kind of a blur. I remember parts of it. I remember constant pain and thoughts of “God, I didn’t think it would be this hard!” Along with, “Orla, you can’t get an epidural or else you’ll loose the bet with Andy and have to fork out €100!”. I remember having no space between my contractions to regroup, all this time I was still only at 2-4 cm. It got so unbearable that Andy had to politely ask them to turn the speed of the drip down. They did, however I don’t remember it making much of a difference. So eventually after eight hours on gas and air I hit a wall. I just realised that at 5cm, it was only going to get harder and more unbearable. So I asked for an epidural. By the look on Andys face when I asked for it, he was relieved. The pain was tremendous. I asked him if I had to pay the bet and of course he said no. I also couldn’t believed that I had actually asked for epidural. The thought of a needle going into my spine terrified me. But the pain was worse.

It took what seemed like forever for the anaesthesiologist to arrive. When she did, I sat up on the bed and did everything they asked me to. I wasn’t allowed to use the gas and air when they were administering the epidural and I wasn’t aloud to move if I got any contractions. Of course, I got two huge and very painful ones during the procedure. It was awful trying to stay still. But once it was in, they got me to lie down on my side while it worked it’s way to the lower part of my body and then the other side so that it would spread out evenly. They told me stop using the gas and air at this time too. It was then that Andy filled me in on all the crazy stuff I had been saying for the past eight hours while drugged up on gas and air. Apparently I was half out of it, when not screaming the place down. And having conversations with imaginary people who weren’t in the room. To be honest, I half remember some of it. What I remember most is kind of half dreaming and having a conversation in my dream and then coming through a little and trying to continue the so called converstion with Andy! Funny when you think about it, but also very embarrassing.

Now that the epidural was in, I really thought it was going to be plain sailing until they told me it was time to push. I really thought that I would be able to sit up and read a magazine or something. Again, I was so wrong. I was pain free for less than an hour and then I started to get pressure pains from the contractions which were every bit as painful as the contractions themselves. I couldn’t believe it. I was still at 5cm and remained there for a very long time while the pressure pains where at their worst. I begged the nurses to turn up my epidural drip. So while I waited for the anaesthesiologist to come back and access me, the nurses put me back on the gas and air which helped hugely. When the anaesthesiologist arrived, I remember she came up really close to my face, with such pity in her eyes and asked me in a really sobby way,”so are you in a lot of pain?” – I nearly knocked her out! Of course I was! She could hear me screaming with the pain. Why did she think she had been called back up? Then she asked me if I was using my top up button for the epidural and I said no, because I was saving it for when I really needed it. Well, she looked at me as if I had ten heads. Apparently there was a button I could press every 20 minutes to top up the pain relief – but only to a certain level so that you could never accidentally overdose. Now, I remember the nurse saying something to me about that when I was still under the effects of the gas and air. However, in my dosed up state I misheard her and thought you could only use it the one time. I have a really clear memory of thinking – jeez, I better save that so! Needless to say, I was slightly embarrassed at my mistake and so annoyed with myself. Andy quickly took the button and spent every twenty minutes until it was time to push, pressing the top-up button. I have to say it did help a little, especially paired with the gas and air. I could still feel the pressure pains but they much easier to bare.

At some stage between 12am and 3am on the 13th, my temperature spiked and the nurses started flustering around me and I had to be started on antibiotics via a drip. Apparently this is something that can happen when you’ve been in labour for so long with broken waters. I’ve since been told that you ideally shouldn’t be in labour for more than 16 hours with your waters broken as it isn’t the best for baby, hence why my temperature was spiking as I was in the 16th hour of a dry labour. At this stage I also heard the nurses start to talk about a Caesarian section. Knowing what I know now, they probably should have gone ahead and done the section at that stage. But for some reason they didn’t. Two hours after this, after 18 hours of  a dry labour, it was time to push. I was exhausted, but at the same time it felt like the time had flown by. So the midwifes helped me into position and I started pushing. They also turned down my epidural slightly so that I could feel my contractions to help me push with more efficiency. I didn’t do too bad, I had her out in 40 minutes. However, it could have been longer if the lovely midwife from Cavan hadn’t of come in. You could tell she had been a midwife for years and new exactly what she was doing. She was so confident…and scary! In a good way. She told me to stop screaming, to put my chin on my chest and to hold onto my legs tighter. I did. You could tell that there would be no messing with her. And about 5 minutes after, my beautiful Ruby Rose was welcomed into the world at 3.13am on August 2015 weighting 8.11. In that moment I just remember feeling a huge tidal wave of relief. That she was here, the labour was over and that I actually did it! I got to hold her straight away for skin to skin contact. It was absolutely the best moment in my life. Love at first sight is a real thing.

The midwifes took her to weigh her and check her Apgar score. Once they had a little nappy on her they asked if Andy would like to hold her. He said no! He was too scared. But between myself and the midwife, we got him to hold her for a few minutes. All the while I was delivering my placenta – which I forgot had to be done! I was also being hooked up to yet another drip. It was something to make sure that my uterus contracted correctly after the delivery due to the position and size of my fibroid. Ruby was then given back to me so that I could have a go at breastfeeding her. It kind of worked, but not really (the main problem I faced during my breastfeeding journey – a story for another blog).

Eventually I was given some tea and toast and then myself and Ruby were wheeled down to our ward. Andy was told to go home. Even though I was absolutely exhausted, I was terrified to go to sleep as I wanted to make sure Ruby was alright. But eventually I passed out somewhere around 5am. At 7am I was woken by the nurses and told that I needed to feed Ruby so that they could check her blood sugars. Something that is routine when the mother has had gestational diabetes. So I sat up and gave it ago. Something that I horribly failed at. Ruby was roaring and I couldn’t get her to latch on. To be honest, I had no idea how to do it. So I rang the bell and one of the nurses came in. Whoever she was, she was lovely. I completely broke down crying. I was tired, overwhelmed and upset that I couldn’t feed Ruby. I was also worried because she needed to be fed so she could have her sugars checked. I had already texted my mam to come up to the hospital. I wasn’t coping very well really. I felt like I had been hit by a bus. So when she got to the hospital she suggested to just give Ruby formula so that she could be checked out and continue to try breastfeeding. I had been thinking about doing that anyway, so I was delighted that she was also suggesting it. So that morning my mammy stayed with me, helped me shower, change and feed Ruby. Like any good Irish mammy, she looked after me well. Andy came back at about twelve with his mam. Everyone took turns with Ruby and helped me out. I am so glad my mam was there, as she was the one who spotted one or two issues with Ruby and mentioned her concerns to every doctor who came to do routine checks on her. Thankfully she did, as I don’t think I would have noticed Ruby’s blue arms and legs as soon as mam did. But I will go into that story in my final birth story post. We had a long and scary three weeks ahead of us. But thankfully with the support of each other and family, we got through it.

Until the next blog.

The Irish Mammy x

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Ruby’s Birth Story – Part 1

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Tuesday 3rd August 2105, a day I remember well. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. I never thought anyone’s feet, let alone my own, could swell up so much. I had traveled down to Waterford for a weeks holiday with my parents, sister and her children. A quiet little holiday before Ruby Rose arrived into the world. We choose to go to Waterford simply because it was far enough away to create the feeling of a proper holiday but near enough for Andy to get me to the hospital should Ruby decide to arrive earlier than expected. I wasn’t due until August 26th, so no one really though we’d have any problems. Little did we know.

I had been experiencing slightly blurred vision the previous two days before hand, but thought nothing of it as my eye sight is fairly rubbish anyway. But then with the expansion of my feet the morning of the 3rd (they were literally as big as hobbit feet!) I began to worry a little bit and decided I’d should mention it to my mam, who immediately thought it was preeclampsia – meaning you can suffer from high blood pressure and apparently hobbit sized feet! So I spent the next day or two with my feet elevated as much as possible, with the hope that the swelling would go down. I was due to go home on Friday the 7th for a routine doctors appointment so I decided that I would just mention it then.

So Friday morning came and myself and Andy headed back to Newbridge for my appointment. At this stage the swelling was alternating between very swollen to not quite swollen, but it never really went down. At this stage my feet were really beginning to hurt, especially when walking and it felt like the skin on my feet was being stretched to its limit. Needless to say, my doctor took one look at me and confirmed preeclampsia. She also did some tests which showed protein in my urine. So I was  quickly shipped up to the Coombe Women and Infants Hospital in Dublin with a doctors letter. I was seen fairly quickly and a number of tests were done and some checks on Ruby. I was told that I would have to be admitted to do a 24 hour urine check to confirm preeclampsia. Even though they were pretty sure I had it.  But before I could be admitted my consultant had to come and check me out. This was at 7pm. I was sent out to a waiting room to wait there until he came. He arrived shortly after 12.30 am and didn’t even assess me. He just looked at my chart. This was extremely frustrating as I was waiting in a tiny room that fitted only four chairs in it. I had no where to put my feet up (which were now so swollen that they looked purple and I could no longer walk on them without help from Andy). I was also exhausted. By the time I got into a bed, it was between 1.00 and 1.30 am.

7am the next morning, I was woken and told that I needed to start the 24 hour urine test. As it was over the weekend I finally had a confirmation that it was definitely preeclampsia on Monday 10th at morning rounds. I had to spend most of my time with my feet elevated to help bring down the swelling which had started to travel up my legs to my knees. They also had to monitor my blood pressure very closely.  To top things off, my 37 week baby bump was measuring at 42weeks! It didn’t really help that I’m only 5ft and I had a large fibroid just outside my womb. Depending on where they are positioned, fibroids can make a baby bump bigger than it really is. Just to be sure, I was sent off for a scan to make sure there was no excess fluid. With everything thing that had happened so far, this really didn’t help with my nerves. But luckily, the bump was all baby. She was measuring very big, and tall. Her stomach measurements were a bit bigger than average – due to my gestational diabetes. So they began to talk about induction. I was a bit gutted as I really wanted to try for a natural birth (even though everyone kept telling me that I wouldn’t be able for it!).  I really wanted to be able to move around and try different positions and only wanted to use gas and air. Andy even had a €100 bet with me that I would beg for epidural – I made him a counter €100 bet that I wouldn’t need one. Mostly because of the idea of having to put a needle in my spine! The idea really terrified me! I also figured that if my sister can push out two babies with just gas and air that so could I. But it wasn’t to be. Because of the gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, I had to be monitored at all times during my labour. So I spent most of that Tuesday and Wednesday trying to get my head around the induction and what it entailed. I also spent much of my time bouncing up and down on a pilates ball that one of the midwife’s gave me to use – to help to encourage the baby’s head to move down and into the correct birthing position. I had no idea when I was going to be induced, I was just told it would happen at some stage.

On the Tuesday morning, during rounds, I was given a sweep by one of the female doctors on my medical team. To see how “favourable” I was – I had no idea how painful it would be. I remember thinking after it, that if I can’t handle that, how will I ever handle labour! But the doctor was lovely and explained that I was already starting to dilate and that things were looking good. But I still had no confirmation as to when I was to be induced. I had thought that if I was lucky, I’d be called on the Thursday or Friday. But 6.30 am on Wednesday morning I was woken up by one of the midwifes on duty and told that it was time. I got such a shock that I started to panic about trying to pack my bags for the delivery suite and I was worried about how long it would take Andy to get up to the hospital from home. The midwife calmed me down and assured me it would still be a while before everything kicked off. So with her advice, I waddled off down the corridor to my delivery suit. I rang Andy and filled him in on the situation. He told me that he would be up at the hospital at around 10am. Things would just be starting to kick off by then. Safe with the knowledge that Andy would be with me by the time any pains would start, I ate the breakfast that was brought to me, tried to keep myself as calm as possible and let the nurses set me up for the day ahead. But you will have to wait until part two for he rest of that story.

Until the next blog.

The Irish Mammy x