Friday, 12 September 2008

The Full Update - facts

Well then, after the first four days of Jake's life I thought I'd go back to last Sunday and make two blog posts. This one, is about the facts and the second one will be about the feelings.

Here goes.

So it's Sunday the 7th of September and we're off to my parents' house for a belated birthday lunch for my dad's 65th. En route Clare mentions that today might be the best day to start my baby-watch-no-more-than-two-units plan, which was not meant to start until Monday, two weeks before the due date. I concurred with a grunt and that became the theme of the day thereafter. Everyone said 'not long now' and I kept refusing the bottle of wine as it came around. Clare was quietly having mild contractions and behaving in her usual demure manner.

Clare is no drama queen but I was convinced these were nothing more than braxton hicks, little warning tremors designed to keep us on our toes. My conversations were pretty much all centered around the fact that I wanted baby to hold off until Friday as I had a presentation to give on Thursday and hadn't yet finished the document what with the final all day NCT meeting on Friday and all.

We left at around 7 and by 8 Clare was pacing the living room every 5-8 minutes. I was getting her to blow out the candles (a ridiculous, NCT-prescribed exercise where you hold up your fingers and get her to blow at them as if they were cake candles). Over the next three hours the contractions, as we were now convinced they were, got stronger and started coming more often. Eventually I phoned the maternity ward at midnight for some advice. They asked me if Clare had felt the baby move recently and Clare couldn't remember if she had. So she had some sugary biscuits, freezing water, jiggled about a bit and played some music for chickpea but no movement came. I reported this back to the ward and they said we ought to come in as a precaution.

We grabbed the bags and put the cat food timer on and headed to the hospital, a 5 minute journey at half past midnight on a Sunday. It's a weird time to be in a car, can't remember the last time I was at that time. Anyway the midwife greeted us and hooked Clare up to the baby heart rate monitor and contraction monitor and left us for half an hour. The contractions kept coming and Clare was in more and more pain. The next blog post will go into all of the emotional bits; remember these are just the facts. We were worried that they would tell us that these were the very early throes and we ought to come back later but upon 'examination' the midwife told us Clare was 4cm dilated and we were definitely having the baby before long. So we moved from the antenatal ward to the delivery ward to sit it out.

The gas and air kicked in for me but Clare didn't like it. It got rid of some of the discomfort but made her feel too light headed. I explained that that was the point but Clare doesn't like to be out of control and never gets drunk so she wasn't prepared for it. After almost 8 hours of contraction pain she elected to have a mobile epidural. Royal Surrey try to persuade you to have Pethidine which is a drug which doesn't numb but puts you out of it much like gas and air but then some. Clare didn't want that as it can make you feel sick, so epidural it was.

The anesthetist turned up half an hour later and got Clare to sign the form declaring that she'd understood that if he slipped and gave her a spinal tap she could get a headache which would last for a year, or worse lose the use of her legs. It must have been painful because she didn't flinch and signed straight away. The anesthetist had a good bedside manner, although a little too much of a dry sense of humour. I know he was trying to put Clare at ease but given the disclaimer and the job in hand, I'd have rather no sense of humour at all. Anyway the epidural went it and no headache occurred and within 20 minutes Clare was telling me she was having massive contractions but only because that's what the monitor was telling her! How anyone can do contractions like hers were but for another 9 hours and then push out a baby is beyond me.

Anyway we sat there talking and trying to nod off until seven am when I sent some messages to work so they could finish what I hadn't and we spoke to our parents to let them know it was all happening. The cervix dilates at a rate of one cm per hour and at 10 cms, you're ready to push. Epidurals tend to slow the process down a bit so they leave you for an extra couple of hours to get he head down as low as possible. At 11 am, the midwife told Clare to start pushing with every contraction. Three pushes each time and I was holding her hand and, bizarrely, also pushing!
An hour in, they put up a drip to help the contractions and after 2 hours I was told to get my scrubs on as we were theatre bound. Again, this post is not about feelings but suffice to say it was an intense 30 minutes of getting ready and signing more disclaimers and whatnot while they got everything ready.

I won't describe the position that the apparatus helped Clare to get into as she may not thank me, but it's not a position you'd ever choose. I had my head next to Clare's trying everything to console and calm her but actually she was fine and the advice I was giving was more for me than anything!

At one point, I made the mistake of looking up and seeing the surgeon holding a pair of forceps which looked like a nut cracker which was disturbing but I didn't have long to dwell as Clare was being told to push like her life depended on it. They were all shouting that they could see the head and with one more herculean push, they pulled the baby out, seemingly in one go and held him up for us to see. Covered in blood and gook, all I saw was his groin and blubbed shouted,

'it's a boy!'

The next hour is still a blur but Jake was cleaned up and giving to me while Clare was sorted out and we all headed back to our room to gaze in amazement at our bundle of joy.

We had all the usual health visitors over the next few hours including Ann, our cleft specialist who showed us how to feed him. The hard and soft palate are affected, although it hasn't affected his sucking mechanism or swallowing so he's feeding incredibly well.

I send a text to friends and family and within minutes my phone was going berserk. I got over a hundred texts and emails and Facebook comments within just a couple of hours which was very nice, and I read them all to Clare and we spent much of the next few hours with tears in our eyes. Must have been a very dusty room.

At 8 I went home, had a beer and passed out. We were discharged at 8pm on Tuesday and enjoyed the special moment of bring Jake across the threshold of his new home. Then he started crying. And crying and crying. No dirty nappy, fully fed, winded and just wouldn't stop. Then I started singing and he stopped. Most people start crying when I sing, not the other way around! Anyway it worked so who cares. Now Clare and I use harmonies to get him to stop and we're getting quite good at humming the low and high parts of Jerusalem at 4 in the morning!

Since we've had loads of cards and deliveries and people dropping in and it's been great. Last night a few friends came over and cooked us a meal and then washed up and it was all lovely. All babies are greatly anticipated but I think Jake is being extra spoiled as people have followed his journey with particular interest due to his different start in life. I will talk about the clefts in the next post but for now you should know that none of it seems like a big deal any more. We have a wonderful son and I couldn't really care less about a couple of slight issues.

He's been sleeping really well and we've got him so he feeds just before we go to bed and then wakes for a feed and change at 4am and then again at 7.30am....if it stays like this, I'll be surprised and very happy but for now, especially as I'm not at work, it's a piece of cake given the end result. I snuck out yesterday afternoon to give the presentation and it all went well and I think the sympathy card I played regarding how tired I looked might do us some good.

So all in all it's been a busy week. I can't believe it's Friday already.

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