Sunday, 18 August 2013

Welcoming our new arrival

I've taken a most of this month off from blogging as there has been big changes at the Really Rachel household and we have a new member of the family, Baby R.

My beautiful little smiler
The picture was taken when she was just 3 days old

At the start of the summer holidays I was heavily pregnant and I wasn't coping very well with the heat and just wanted to stay home and chill on the sofa. Of course this meant that the children had to stay home as well as we don't have a garden and it was too hot for me to take them to the beach. The older two were allowed out to play with their friends at the back of our house, but the younger too are too young. Although in the case of my 6yr old, she doesn't have the maturity to go out like her older sister did at the same age, so she isn't allowed out yet. 

It didn't help as well that because of my diabetes it has meant several trips to hospital for check-ups with my diabetic doctor, growth scans, eye check ups to check for diabetic retinopathy, and obstetrician appointments. I even ended up being admitted for monitoring because my blood pressure had climbed (see The End Is Nigh), not to mention that because of the 60 mile distance to my hospital, it meant the whole day was taken up by the appointments. 

Since I am diabetic (I suffered from gestational diabetes for the first time with my 4th and it returned as type 2 diabetes a year later) and I have been on insulin injections for most of the pregnancy in an attempt to stabilise my blood glucose levels, my consultant decided to induce me early at 38 weeks. 

I was given a membrane sweep by my midwife two days earlier, which had worked with my 3rd at 39 weeks pregnant and my 2nd at 41 weeks pregnant but hadn't worked at 37 weeks with my 3rd or 38 weeks with my 4th. For those of you who don't know what a membrane sweep is, it is a vaginal examination during which your midwife will use her finger to sweep the neck of your womb to try to separate the membranes (the bag of fluid which surrounds your baby) from you cervix (neck of the womb). This can encourage your body to release hormones called prostaglandins which work to soften and thin the cervix, which might encourage labour to start naturally within the next 24-48 hours. It can be uncomfortable but it doesn't increase the risk of infection to you or your baby and is one of the best ways to naturally encourage labour, however only a trained midwife should do this, please do not try it yourself! Sadly it was too early and the membrane sweep didn't work. 

Hubby and I arrived at hospital for 9.30am on Thursday the 8th August ready for my induction. Although I have been induced twice before, with my eldest they decided to induce me the day after his due date as they were concerned about his size (he was one of my smallest at 8lb 13oz but you can read the story of his induction and birth here) and my 4th because of my gestational diabetes at 38+5 days (you can read her birth story here), I wasn't sure what to expect as both times it was a completely different experience. With my eldest I was given a pessary twice a day for 2 days and on the 3rd day it was my day of rest where they didn't give me anything at all. Typically, that was the day I went into labour and he was born at 5am the following morning after a 17 hour labour! With my 4th I was taken to the labour ward the night before and given a different medication to the one I was given with my son. After an uncomfortable night, I was taken to the labour ward in the morning and my waters were broken. 1 hour and 20 minutes afterwards, my 4th was born!  

This time I was given a completely different medication again and was told this one would take about 24 hours to work and I would be checked after 24 hours. I was having lots of braxton hicks pains but after the 24 hours were up I still hadn't gone into labour. One of the disadvantages of living so far away from home meant it would take hubby over an hour and a half to drive back if he went home during the night, and judging at how quickly my 4th came he decided he would stay at the hospital as he didn't want to miss the birth. Sadly the hospital wouldn't let him stay with me and he had to go sleep in the car, where he didn't get much sleep because of the rain. This meant that when he came back in the morning, he kicked me off the bed so he could get some sleep!!!

That's MY bed not yours!!!

After the 24 hours had ended and I still hadn't gone into labour, I was given another medication, this time it was the one I had been given with my 4th and I was told it should take 6 hours to work and they would examine me after the 6 hours. This one seemed to do the trick and my braxton hicks got stronger and closer together, although a lot of the pain was in my back so the midwife gave me a big ball to bounce on as the baby was back-to-back, one of the most painful positions for a baby to be in and can make labour last longer! 

Trying to get the baby moving

When I was examined after the 6 hours I was 4cm's dilated and they took me to the labour ward so they could break my waters (otherwise known as rupturing the membranes). In the labour ward I was given a cannula as I would need a drip during the 2nd stage of labour (the actual pushing stage) to try and stabilise my glucose levels, something called a sliding scale. They asked me how much I weighed, which usually I don't know but I'd been weighed the week before at the diabetic clinic and I actually remembered. It confused the midwives at first and they thought I must have heard wrong, until I explained I'd actually lost weight whilst pregnant (probably because my sugar levels were under control and I lost my appetite!) 

The calm before the storm
Ready to evict the baby

When they examined me my cervix was still quite high and back and the baby's head was actually pressing against the membranes and cervix, which made it very difficult to break them. However they went suddenly and the midwife had to jump away quickly to avoid being covered and as they burst the baby's head came down the birth canal (they were worried that the baby's head would move up not down). Once my waters were broken the pain got worse as my contractions got stronger, but the midwife mentioned that they needed to get closer together and stronger before I entered the 2nd stage of labour. By this time my attitude was getting snippy and the midwife commented to the student midwife how this was a good sign that the baby was almost here and it was time to start getting ready and warming the towels. They had just started preparing for the baby when suddenly I told them the baby was coming. The midwife replied "She can't, we're not ready yet!" to which I replied "Tough she's on her way!" and then with one push, out she came!!!! In fact I didn't need the drip in the end as it was all over so quickly! She was born a mere hour and 35 mins after they broke my waters, at 9.50pm on the 9th August 2013. 

First cuddle 

It's tiring this birth lark

Hubby cut the cord and all I could say, as I stared down at my newborn daughter lying there, was how small she looked! I'm used to big babies, my smallest being 8lb 13oz and my biggest 10lb 14oz with the other two 9lb and 8lb 15oz. In fact my 4th was 8lb 15oz, despite being 2 weeks early and I fully expected this one to be at least 8lb, if not 9lb. So you can imagine how shocked I was to learn that she was only 7lb 11oz as I'm not used to such small babies! She quickly latched onto the breast as we cuddled and then I had a quick bath before going back onto the ward. Sadly it was late and hubby was kicked out again. No royal treatment for us with the father being allowed to stay the night!!!

First cuddles with daddy

First nappy change and getting dressed
The following day I carried on breastfeeding and was pleased to see how well she was latching on. Because of my diabetes they had to monitor her blood glucose levels closely as her body has been dealing with my excess blood sugar and creating insulin of her own to deal with it. Now she was born, the sugar supply was cut-off and she had to learn to stabilise her own sugars by not creating as much, or even any, insulin. This meant that the midwives had to prick her foot to test her sugar levels and send a sample off to the lab for the most accurate readings. She needed two readings of above 2.6 to be discharged and if she didn't achieve this before her feed, then she had to be tested again an hour after a feed. Sadly, her levels were very low at around just 2.0-2.4 At first I was reluctant to give her any formula as I was determined to breastfeed, but when I saw how her levels were going down instead of up I agreed! Later on they became worried at how low her levels were and they decided to take her up to SCBU (Special Care Baby Unit) sadly this was the time my parents turned up with the kids. Their first question when they arrived was "Where's the baby!" but they had just passed her as they took her away to have her blood tested. They brought her back after a few minutes and everyone had a cuddle before they came back and said that they were still low and they wanted to take her to SCBU. I started crying, but mum was there to give me a quick cuddle before I said goodbye to the older kids and followed the baby up to SCBU.

Eldest and youngest.
My son has a quick cuddle before the baby is taken to SCBU

At SCBU they put a cannula in her hand and prepared the glucose drip, but the paediatrician kept changing her mind and about 5 minutes after they started the drip, they took her off and gave her some formula in a cup instead. Finally they decided to give her top-ups of formula and by now I was ready to agree to anything to keep her out of SCBU and off the glucose drip!

That night I gave her the breast, but she saw another paediatrician as her glucose was still low and he decided to give her 30ml of formula every 2hrs. I remember thinking how am I going to breastfeed if she's constantly full of formula, as the hospital were supportive of my breastfeeding as long as her sugars stayed up. 

The other problem was that there didn't seem to be any milk coming from my breast! In fact I felt like a cow, having my breasts prodded and poked to see if anything was coming out. By now it was Sunday and I could feel my milk glands starting to fill up, but still nothing was coming out. I spoke to the midwives and asked them to check she was latching on properly, which she was, but they also commented on how it appeared nothing was coming out of my breasts and I couldn't remember if I'd been able to see the colostrum from my breasts with my other two. I also began to wonder if this was the problem I'd had with my 2nd who I hadn't been able to breastfeed. I'd spend 7hrs with her on the breast only for her to drink 2oz of formula so I gave up breastfeeding, although she had been a difficult delivery which you can read about here

Late Sunday night, early Monday morning I discovered milk leaking from one breast and wanted to throw a party I was so happy! I began to believe we were over the worst and now that my milk was coming in I would be home before I knew it, but sadly I was wrong. When they tested her blood glucose on Monday afternoon after she'd been nursing little and often all day, her levels were still low and I just wanted to cry as I felt like such a failure! Even though I had been unable to breastfeed my oldest two, having breastfed my 3rd and 4th for almost 3yrs I didn't think I would have a problem with my 5th. 

That was when I made the difficult decision to give up the breastfeeding and just put her on the bottle. But I still didn't feel happy with the decision, despite knowing it was for her own good.

Finally on Tuesday we were discharged and after popping to the registry office to register her birth, we ended up in Tesco buying formula, bottles and a steriliser as we didn't have one. 

Then we went home and the older kids all had their first cuddle with their new baby sister.

My 8yr old is thrilled to finally welcome her sister home

My 6yr old loves cuddles with her new sister

My 3yr old is such a happy big sister

Proud big brother glad to see his sister home

My 5 angels

And my 8yr old showed me the cake she'd made to welcome us home from hospital. 

My 8yr old and her yummy cake


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