Welcome Baby Jack.

Time stood still the evening of the 4th June after arriving back from theatre. My midwife helped me to express colostrum once I had eaten. I was very keen to get started! I felt as though a lot of the decisions and choices were taken away from me during pregnancy because I was high risk. Expressing milk was something that was within my control so I was extremely determined to get started right away. I managed to express two 1ml syringes of colostrum which I was so proud of myself for being able to do! Especially on the first night too!

After some time my midwife asked if I wanted to attempt to get into a wheelchair. With some help from the midwife and Josh, I just about managed it! I was wheeled down to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I had done extensive research of what NICU’s look like. I knew there would be lots of equipment and machines. A few weeks previously, I had spoken to friends on Instagram and looked up some pictures of different NICU’s to see exactly what our situation would look like. Looking back on it now, there is no amount of research that can prepare you for how you will feel when you enter an intensive care unit. Even now, my body shivers and I feel uncomfortable thinking back to that first moment I entered the unit.

I sanitised my hands once we had entered. The corridors all looked the same. I went through two sets of double doors and down fairly long corridor in between each of them. The midwife stopped outside of “room 3”. My hands were tingling, I was anxious and scared. The unit was dimly lit. A doctor came out to speak to me and she told me that Jack was in that room and I could go in once I was ready. I didn’t feel ready. I felt overwhelmed, nauseous and scared. Once I had composed myself, I was taken in. There were 4 cot spaces. 3 of the babies were in closed incubators and the other baby was in an open incubator. The room was fairly dark and was mostly lit by the lights from the machines. There were so many beeping sounds from all of the different machines. When I think about it now, I can still hear the sounds. I was taken over to the baby that was in an open incubator. There was a bright light shining down onto him.

The nurse introduced herself to me. Lets call her C. My midwife left and told me to ask the nurse to call her when I wanted to be taken back up. C seemed to be friendly and she answered all of my questions. Having met her since that night, she has become one of my favourite nurses that Jack had whilst in the ITU. I peered over the top of the sides to see Jack. I was told that he was sedated so he wouldn’t wake up. He was having 50% oxygen through a ventilator. The ventilator was attached to a breathing tube down his throat. Being sedated meant that he couldn’t pull these tubes out. We would later find out just how difficult it was to stabilise him. We would also find out what happened once he had left theatre in St Thomas’ and was taken across to a operating theatre in Evelina but I will save that for a different post.

Writing this now nearly two months on makes me feel quite teary and emotional. I remember feeling so scared seeing Jack like this. I was in shock. As you can see from the picture he had a cannula in his right hand and right foot. In the coming weeks he would go on to have additional cannulas put in his left hand and a long line in his left leg. As well as numerous other things.

I sat next to him for about 2 hours, I just stared. I didn’t touch him. I just sat and watched. I was too scared to do anything other than that. C came over and encouraged me to hold his hand. Initially I really didn’t want to, I cried and told her that I felt scared anxious. She helped and encouraged me. By the time I had left the room that night, I had held his tiny hand with my fingers. It was the most surreal and unnatural thing ever. I felt torn, I didn’t yet feel like a mum.

-Hannah x

My Birth Story.

A month ago, our little pickle, Jack made his entrance into this world. (4th June 2020) What a whirlwind this month has been! If you’ve been following me for a while you will know that I had a very complicated pregnancy.

In my last post I talked about how stressful and overwhelming the pregnancy had been. We had been transferred to St Thomas’ in London to deliver baby Jack. They originally booked me in for an elective c-section on the 5th June. After having an additional scan they moved the date forward to the 2nd June but for an induction, not a section. Our consultant thought we would have a good chance of delivering naturally as Jack was still head down. Plus a natural delivery had many benefits for both myself and Jack. All we had to do now was wait on a phone call to say that there was a cot available in NICU so we could make our way to London. Around 11am we received a phone call to say that there wasn’t a cot available that day. We were devastated. We did however end up making our way up to London that day to stay in the accommodation they had booked for us. We stayed there until a cot became available.

It was a long 2 days of waiting, during which I had blood tests, a swab for Covid 19 and a 3D scan. Finally around midday on Thursday 4th June, the hospital rang to say that there was a cot available and ready! I was so nervous! I made my way over to the birthing suite. I had a private room with a lovely view of the London Eye. The midwife and I had a quick chat whilst she put monitors on me to monitor myself and Jack. Now all I had to do was wait for the monitoring to be complete and for the doctor to come around and see me. Originally they wanted to do a balloon induction for 12 hours which would dilate my cervix enough for them to slowly break and drain my waters in theatre. They would only go down this route if Jack was still head down.

Of course, he had decided to move. Jack made the decision for everyone! The doctor then told me that I would be going to theatre in 2 hours for a c-section. I quickly called Josh and asked him to come across to the birthing suite. We were in shock. We went from thinking we were going to be meeting Jack in the next 24 hours to he will be here in about 2 hours time! The next 8 hours are a bit of a blur in all honesty.

I was emotional for a couple of reasons, firstly, I really wanted to give natural labour a fair shot. Secondly, I just couldn’t believe that it was time to meet Jack. In a weird way, I didn’t feel ready. The next two hours went by so quickly, the midwife fitted a cannula, I took tablets to reduce the acid in my stomach, I got gowned up and before I knew it, I was walking down to theatre. It was 5pm when I got into theatre.

I felt as though I was shaking when I got sat on the bed, the bed that quite honesty looked lost in the theatre. I spoke briefly to the anaesthetists and the surgeon. They administered the two spinal injections. I’ve never felt anything like it. I slowly lost feeling in my legs and then my stomach. It was the most surreal feeling ever! They did some checks to see if I had any feeling. Before I knew it, the drape was up. I just looked at Josh. We talked amongst ourselves which kept me very relaxed.

“This is the tugging sensation I was telling you about” the midwife said to me. Then it hit me, they’ve already started. They didn’t tell me they had even begun! I’m so glad they didn’t to be honest. A bit of tugging and then he was here! They dropped the drape slightly. The cord was around Jack’s neck so they only lifted him briefly, but certainly enough time for me to think “Wow he has a lot of hair!”

I couldn’t see much else for a while and this is where the rest gets really hazy. They took Jack straight over to the incubator. The midwife took Josh’s phone over to try and get some pictures. We could hear the small sounds of Jack crying in the background. It made me so emotional! I remember thinking, he must be so small as they are tiny tiny little cries. I asked Josh what was going on and he said that he couldn’t see as there were that many doctors. After a while the surgeon had finished stitching me up. I forgot they were even finishing up with me as I was so focused on getting information about Jack. The surgeon told me she was done and that the procedure went well. They removed the drape and I could see amount of people in the room. I was so shocked and overwhelmed. The room I thought was huge with a tiny operating bed in the middle of it was suddenly full of teams of doctors, specialists and equipment all working on getting a breathing tube into Jack’s airway. It felt like a lifetime of waiting and looking in anticipation. As I looked across I kept getting glimpses of Jack. I could see his little arms in the air. I could see one of the doctors manually puffing air into him using a tube. It seemed that it wasn’t working. Then I could see them place a tiny mask over his face. Then we waited.

One of the doctors came over and explained that they needed to take him over to Evelina Children’s hospital which was next to St Thomas’. They asked if I wanted Josh to stay with me or go down with Jack. We decided that Josh would go with Jack to theatre. The doctors placed Jack into a massive travel incubator. They stopped passed me for a couple of minutes before they took him. I placed my hand in the incubator and felt his tiny cheeks with my fingertips. It was truly a special moment and one I will never forget.

I left the theatre crying, no longer pregnant but not with my baby either. We were in there that long I had almost full feeling back in my legs. Thus started what I now know has been what I can only describe as the most turbulent and emotional month of my life so far.

-Hannah x