My Elective Caesarean - The Surgery

Friday, December 29, 2017

As most of you know thanks to my last post, last week I had my elective caesarean surgery. A full week has passed since the day, and I finally feel coherent enough to put my post together - life with a new born is a whole new experience and while I'm enjoying every second of it.. The lack of sleep is a killer.
Obviously this post is way out of my usual comfort zone - but one I want to write and treasure as the years go on. I may have had no makeup on and some serious bed hair by the end of the day, but I also had a little man in my arms and I haven't fully let him go just yet!
Waiting to go down for my elective caesarean surgery.

I arrived at the hospital at 7.45am - we had been told to arrive for 8am so that the scheduled caesareans could be put into order. On arrival, we were informed that there would be three planned C-sections that day - as it turned out, I would be the last one and I'd be going down for surgery just before lunchtime.
Cot, empty, hospital, c-section, planned caesarean section, elective caesarean

As we waited, it was all a little surreal.

I could hear women all around me who were either anxiously awaiting the same as myself, or the women who had just been through the procedure settling their new babies and recovering. None of us made eye contact with one another at first - because we had arrived before 8am, some new Mothers were still sleeping and it was a little awkward sitting in the ward as they came around from the night before when we were all somewhat bright eye'd and bushy tailed compared.

As I mentioned on my last post, I had to take some medication before coming in too - one tablet at 10pm the night before which I openly admit made me trump like crazy.. Then another of the same at 6am. I had a separate one to take at 6am too, but I wasn't allowed to eat or drink at all from 12am the night before so I was enviously watching people drink the coffee that was offered around.

After a few hours had passed, I was given my gown and stockings to wear. The stockings were a two-woman job, a friendly midwife helping me get into them as I'd never had stood a chance alone. I was next. This was at around 11am, and she told me I should be in before lunchtime - easing my mind a little as I wanted time after to recover with my son and family who were waiting outside the ward just as anxious as I was.

It didn't go to plan however.

As 3pm rolled round, I was given a drip as I was dehydrating - something was happening in surgery and mine had been pushed back. While I don't begrudge anyone going in for emergency surgery, I remember feeling sick at this point - I'd had so many hours to think about the procedure and I'd seen so many women come onto the ward sore - what happened down there? The fear of the 'unknown' was real and I struggled internally for another hour before I was approached by two orderlies. It was time.

Mike had to go get himself scrubbed up so I nervously wandered to the operating theatre (carrying my drip!) and met the team who would be looking after me. As I sat on the edge of the bed, I remember a female nurse taking off my knickers - I'd left them on! - and gently poking fun at how I really shouldn't be prude. They'd seen a lot. One nurse was explaining what would be happening over the next few moments, as I'd be having a 'spinal' - when Mike reappeared, I held onto him and listened.

The Spinal Block

I was told to lean forward over my bump, and push my back bones out as much as I could. Being pregnant, this wasn't the most comfortable but I did as I was told - I felt a scratch on my back as a general anaesthetic was injected into the area that the spinal block would be inserted, but with Mike taking the brunt of my nerves on his hand and the kind nurse hugging me incredibly hard while talking me through what was happening - I simply felt a pushing on my spine before my legs began to feel like I was getting into a nice warm bath.

It was an incredibly bizarre feeling.

My bum began to warm up and feel the same, and I was told to lie back on the bed - something I couldn't do as my legs weren't working! Thankfully, that had been part of the plan and I was assisted into getting into position as a catheter was inserted. I remember my arms being straight out either side of me - one arm had a blood pressure cuff on, and the other my drip was attached. Mike was over one shoulder, holding my head as the anxiety surrounding the situation kicked in - I was going to be sliced open!

One of the doctors began testing what I could, and what I couldn't feel by using something very cold. He dripped it on my arm and I physically recoiled as it was so cold - then he did the same on my stomach and I felt nothing. That was the green light for things to get underway.

The Caesarean Procedure

Another team arrived at this point, introducing themselves in a haze of my own nerves. As they lifted my gown and covered my dignity with a towel, people were being so professional and calm - it helped me center myself a little although it did nothing for the terror I felt in my chest. As they finished painting my baby bump bright orange ("do you like our brand of fake tan?") a screen was lifted and my view obscured.

I could feel people moving around my bump, but I couldn't work out what was happening.. No pain, just the pressure of people moving or leaning over me. At one point, someone asked if we wanted to see our baby arrive and we agreed, the screen then dropping. I couldn't see anything as my bump was still there, but within a few seconds something purple was brought into view and I heard Mike telling me it was our boy.

He was then laid on my chest as we both welcomed him - a tiny little boy, barely bigger than my own head as he shivered against my chest. The screen was back up then, and Mike was told to head to the 'recovery room' so he didn't have to watch me getting sewn back together - my little boy taken to go get weighed.

It all happened so fast, I had done so much reading on what happened in the operating theatre but honestly? Nothing really prepared me for the overwhelming realisation that this was me on the table, and my son was being brought into the world. While it was the scariest moment of my life so far, I'll treasure that moment he was placed on me.

hospital, c-section, planned caesarean section, elective caesarean, baby boy
As I was wheeled into recovery, Mike was waiting alongside our little bundle of joy. I can't remember a lot of the recovery room in all honesty as it seems to be a whirlwind of pain relief and complete shock. The feeling of relief was incredible - I had done it. He was here, he was in my arms and perfect - and we were all together.

I did find out the day afterward that a suppository for pain relief had been inserted, so that probably explains my hazy fog post-surgery. We had some time in recovery where I was given a little lesson in breast feeding, before I went back up to the ward.. Time had gone at that point so Mike had barely a few moments with us before he had to go. Then I was alone, with this tiny little being that was dependent on me. He was comfortably curled up on my chest as nurses came to change pads underneath me, give me morphine and some dinner.

It was a really overwhelming feeling, and one I didn't enjoy so much.. I remember it being 2am and I was alone on a ward with my first baby. What did I do? Nobody came to tell me what to do, there was no little handbook that came out with him and I couldn't google things. I was on my own.

As 6am came round, someone came and kindly gave me a bed bath - I was still in my gown from surgery so they redressed me in one of the nighties I had brought and assured me someone would be there to bathe the baby in the morning. Nobody came, so I did my best with some wipes as I knew he would be having visitors that day - with the head of hair he came out with he really needed a bit of a tidy up. My surgery scar was hot and painful - I could drag myself up the bed but it was a slow affair and it just wasn't comfortable. More morphine was given to me at around 10am, and I spent a lot of the day trying to feed baby and get my head around everything.

I was taken for a shower that morning, walking incredibly slowly and feeling every movement around the incision - but I was so desperate to feel a bit more human and less grimy I knew a shower was the only option. The catheter had been removed at that point, so with the help of some massive knickers and a giant maternity pad, I was able to put some clean pyjamas and feel a bit fresher.

Mike came to see us just after lunchtime, and thankfully he was an expert at feeding the little one and I learned a lot from just watching him. After the shock of the previous night it was nice to spend time with my little family without worrying if I had done something wrong or if I would break the baby.. Winding him terrified me previously but I was reassured I was doing as well as I could be. Again, while I was so in love with my little one.. The lack of direction given after birth was really tough. I hadn't done this before, I had no idea what I was doing and I was terrified I was doing something wrong, especially with a lot of confusion surrounding blood sugars and baby being whisked off every hour or two to have his bloods checked.

The rest of that afternoon, family came to see us and my little one stole the show - he didn't have to have his bloods checked nearly as often after that first night which was a relief. I was simply counting the hours down at that point - as much as staff had been friendly, I wanted to go home. The next day rolled around, and as I packed up my things (very slowly) the midwife signing me off approached me and asked if I'd been prescribed any regular painkillers.. No. No wonder my scar had been so painful, I'd been on paracetamol since the morphine had worn off. That was the last straw for me, and I just needed to be out of there - thankfully, at 12pm Mike was pushing baby out in a pushchair and I was gingerly following with a bag of medication.

While my aftercare experience was abysmal, I'm glad that I endured the two days - now we are home we can adjust to family life and I can't wait to see what 2018 holds for us all!

My Elective Caesarean - The Pre-Op Assessment

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Today was my 'pre-op assessment' for my elective caesarean which is happening on Thursday. As I've been pretty open with my pregnancy this far, I've decided that I'll keep up with that endeavour and write about what happened today. I know with my date rumbling towards me (so quickly!) I've been scouting around for various posts and vlogs detailing the whole process and they seem a little thin on the ground - especially for electives.

My Elective Caesarean - The Pre-Op Assessment | She & Life |
First things first: today involves yet another blood test. No samples thankfully, but they do want your blood to check things over before your surgery and to make sure they have some samples on file for if you need a transfusion during the procedure. Obviously, if you opted for a planned/elective, you already know all those risks and percentages that your consultant has gone through with you so I won't add those to this entry.
I got given two types of medication to take on Wednesday night/Thursday morning: two 150mg Ranitidine tablets (one to be taken at 10pm on the night before going into hospital, one to be taken at 6am on the morning of the surgery) and one Metoclopramide Hydrochloride 10mg tablet (to be taken at 6am on the morning of the surgery). My midwife explained these were an anti-sickness drug, and a drug to neutralise stomach acid - nothing too scary.
She went through what to expect on the day, which actually settled my nerves a lot. I thought that I actually wouldn't be able to eat from 8pm on the Wednesday - turns out, I can be a happy little piggy until 12am that night but after that it's nil by mouth saving 250mls of water between 12am and 6am. Bearable as I think about it right now, but I'm guessing by 7am on Thursday I'd be prepared to kill someone for a bowl of cereal!
After a brief outline, she advised me that I'd be staying in hospital for two days - aiming for coming home on Saturday which I'm dreading. I don't sleep very well away from 'my' bed, so the thought of being in hospital during that period doesn't really settle my nerves - especially with the strict visiting hours. Thankfully, Mike can be there pretty much when he likes, but family and friends have to abide to two one hour slots so hopefully it won't be too much for me.
Obviously, I left the pre-op with lots of information regarding blood clots and the self-administered injection you have to give yourself for up to a week post-surgery.. Not a fan of that, but it has to be done. One thing I did take away from today was that I needed a nightshirt/nightie to wear. I'd originally gone for pyjamas (warm, snug, huge waist-banded ones) but as I'd be having a catheter inserted during the procedure a pant-less alternative was recommended. Cue stopping at Home Bargains on the way home and investing in a flannel night shirt!
All in all, I've had all my questions answered and I feel like I know what I'm heading in to - I'm still frightened and feel a bit sick when I think about it all, but that really is a natural anxiety for something I've never been through before. I've had a really supportive group of ladies via various Facebook groups and twitter holding my hand thus far, and I'm sure they'll be there for me when I need them over the next few days too - it isn't weak to ask questions or admit you're scared!

Other elective and none-elective caesarean experiences you should read:


The Expectant Mothers Gift Guide

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

So, you have a friend who is expecting a little one during or soon after the festive period - I can see you, staring at the new born clothing as you rack your brains as to what to buy this lady with a life growing inside of her.

Stop - I'm here to help!

First thing is first: please, please remember that she is a woman. Not just a Mum-to-be, not just a boiled egg struggling into her maternity pants after eating too many mince pies (...This is a very self reflective post) and she isn't just a baby. You can buy her something and not feel guilty - in fact, she might have her confidence boosted a little - as the due date arrives quickly and those surprise family visits mean baby gets spoiled but Mum?

Lets talk.
The Expectant Mothers Gift Guide 2017 | She & Life

The Pamper Hamper

Why not head to B&M, Home Bargains or Poundstretcher and buy a container - then set yourself a budget and put anything that a woman might need when she's feeling a little down in your basket. From simple things like deodorant to face cream - although you get extra points if you throw in a packet of Rennie and a menthol candle this time of year. You don't need to break the bank and I promise you, each and every item will be appreciated by the intended recipient.

The Gadgets

If you have a gadget conscious target, why not look into things that she can utilise during the night when she's up feeding? Book lights, power packs for her phones battery or even an electric blanket - think ahead a little. Breast feeding (if she chooses that of course) is often a lonely vigil so something to keep her company a little would go a long way in making it more bearable.
Other options are things like gift cards for Audible, Spotify and the like - both Mum and Dad can share those depending on who has the late shift that night.

The Necessities

This time why not put together a care package of some things that Mum can wear. These are partially geared towards life with the little one, but I assure you each Mum as she draws closer to that big date craves nothing but these staple items:

- Pyjamas or nightwear. Brushed cotton and warm preferably, in a big size. I usually sit between a twelve and a fourteen, but since growing my bump I'm much more at home in sixteen to eighteen and I don't actually boast a huge bump. They lie better and when you lay in bed, they move better with your body and you don't feel as restricted!
- Leggings. Again, a comfort thing. Not just for wearing long tops and throwing on some leggings.. But as winter wraps herself around us, for layering. I wear leggings under trousers for work, and I've been guilty of sleeping in a pair too as we were blessed with the -5 temperatures this week.
- Nursing bras. Bringers of boob-related heaven. When expecting, your boobs are on a knife edge swaying between bags of lead (they feel that way) or just plain old hot and painful. You can't get cosy and when you wear your pre-pregnancy bras, you find you have a lot more spillage. Your nipples generally make bids for freedom every few minutes and.. It isn't great fun. Invest in a few bras that will help her feel more in control of her boobs and with the added function of being easy access when the little one does arrive!
Obviously these are a few of the things I've been mulling over throughout my pregnancy - feel free to share your own ideas for those Christmas essentials! I've tried to keep the budget of this post fairly modest. As a new parent myself, money needs to stretch this year and I've had to really work on putting some things together for my loved ones - so sharing my cheats and hacks to achieve this only seems fair!

Christmas at Dunham Massey 2017

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Back in October when I received an invite to a National Trust gem who were pulling out all of the stops for Christmas - I jumped on the chance. I do love the festive season, even more so that our little one is due this month - so being able to be there on the opening night of such a magical event was a dream come true.

As we made our way through the main gates, the atmosphere was infectiously festive. Faint jingling bells could be heard on the wind, the scent of mulled wine and roasted chestnuts were on the wind and children were excitedly pulling parents into the courtyard. I could soon see why - packed into the yard were a whole host of different stalls, each selling festive favourites: hot chocolate (even a Baileys version for those looking for a little bit of a naughty treat), mulled wine, spiced cider and even the more carnivorous side to Christmas - venison burgers, pork and apple baguettes and many many other treats besides.

The centrepiece was the beautiful carousel however - it really captured the spirit of the evening, and seeing such a gem made you fall even more under Dunham Massey's spell.

As we made our way towards the 'trail entrance' I have to say, I didn't know what to expect. Making our way past one of Dunham Massey's elves (Sprinkles, I believe her name was - and she looked fantastic!) we were greeted by Santa who was introducing himself to the children - building up the excitement for what lay ahead - and boy, was it a treat.

Even though we were visiting on the first night staff were incredibly friendly and attentive, smiling and directing us around the area helpfully. It was an easy to follow route, due to areas being roped off and of course.. Cameras and selfies are 100% promoted. Remember to share yours using the hashtag #ChristmasatDunham!

Tucked away in the heart of the trail was the opportunity to buy a handmade marshmallow, and toast it over an open fire. I opted for a toasted coconut flavoured offering, while Mike opted for blueberry and gin - both were devoured quickly and thankfully on a chilly December night. We had both wrapped up warm for the outing and it made it so much more enjoyable - I recently invested in a duck down jacket from Snowdonia to help stave the frost off of me and bump, and it really did come into its own while we wandered.

Marshmallows eaten, we were free to explore the rest of the trail which wound around the gardens, bringing you back to the entrance gates. The trail is approximately a mile long, although it doesn't feel like a mile when you face such wonderful sights.

You get the chance to wander around the courtyard again, and perhaps pick up a post-trail treat (I fully recommend the spiced apple punch from the same vendors who sell mulled wine - its stunning) before heading home for the evening. We ended up sipping some spiced apple punch, I indulged in some roasted chestnuts and then we took one more wander to the amazing fountains before heading home.. I can't recommend this event enough for anyone, whether in the festive spirit or not. I came home glowing with Christmas cheer and now I can't wait to put our tree up!
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