Monday, January 23, 2012

BIRTH STORY from far far induction in sunny South America from prostaglandins to puuuuuuuuuuuuuuush to last minute CS in just 12 hours...

A little background...As there isn't much public health here I have a basic health plan to cover maternity (and also my fertility tests which has been great), so since October 2010, I've been under care of Dr P who is my Gynae/obs doc and midwife and fertility Dr, he collected my eggs and transferred fresh cycle and FET last year and ................did the delivery too...amazing to have him all the way through and so while I was not happy to be induced at 40 weeks, it's standard procedure here so what can you do.  I had to resign myself to the fact that CS was likely in this culture with 60% CS rate and very fast aggressive inductions on EDD, not a day more. The hospital is like a big London teaching hospital, tatty round edges but bursting with expertise rather than flat screens as opposed to the popular expat delivery places. 

-So on the 28th I arrived to a decent private room with en suite bath/shower and a sofa bed for N and settled in, did admission, all in Spanish (?!) for induction at 06.00. The Nurses wanted to write the babies name on wrist bands already and thought it was hilarious we had no name yet as names are decided at BFP here. So N and I lay awake all night chatting and pulled ;baby A' out of the blue, just before daylight, and it just felt right.

-06.00 Registrar came and examined my still-closed cervix (had tiny spotting the day before and AF cramps/braxton hicks was all I'd had until then) gave me a pessary and started the clock. I was expected to dilate 1cm/hr roughly according to protocol here or theatre was looming just around the corner. I managed a couple of centimetres by lunch time and it was amazing how contractions started straight away after the pessary, it felt so positive and I really enjoyed this stage of labour despite discomfort.

-12.00 - 16.00 some time after lunch a lovely midwife came and ruptured the membranes which didn't hurt and surprised me as I'd dreaded that part. IV induction started too. Contractions off the scale now and of course way more powerful than natural ones and no correlation to cervix which sat at 2cm and refused to budge so I was breathing away through contractions but decided time for epidural soon. Baby starting to show signs of distress. Dr P arrived at this moment (speaking English hooray) and so knew I didn't have much longer to labour...he said I was 'stuck' at 2cm and needed to prepare for possibility of CS. Baby starting to 'dip' on the monitor so lots of anxious orders to lie on my side and take deep breaths. Was scared but knew theatre down the corridor and felt like staff were in control. So baby distressed and cervix not opening despite full blown contractions...All v predictable with rapid inductions.

-16.00 I went off to the theatre area and had an epidural in the anaesthetic room and Dr P was open to Midwife's suggestion we see how I progress with epidural before cutting me open for CS. Epidural lovely and light so I could feel each contraction. Less than an hour later I was at 10 cm dilated...hooray...the room was full of people and trays of 'cutting equipment' and 'pulling apparatus' and I had my legs on peoples shoulders and was pushing away. Trying all sorts of squatting and acrobatics but baby hated positions and was losing heart beat. 
-Then I got irregular heart rates and felt I was losing consciousness all the while murmuring that I felt like I was on ecstasy?! Toby stood next to me, later told me that he realised the baby was going to be 'ripped out' no matter what...fanny or sun roof so he was secretly relieved when Dr P said 'we're going next door' and I was then wheeled into theatre for a CS and draped in green towels with N next to me. Dr P looked more disappointed than I felt to get so close to avoiding surgery but I was relieved as seeing the dips on monitor was awful and it had been too long for baby to hang on with cord (probably) compressed, wanted to meet baby by then and see him safe and healthy. He was coming out face first apparently...he tried ;)

-17.30 ish...I'll never forget the multicoloured Buenos Aires skyline looming above the green towel which had sun streaming in making perfect silhouettes of Dr P's arms and my soon-to-be-gone bump. Let the shadow puppetry commence! I watched the whole thing through the towel, fascinated until they pulled out a large 'something' resembling a xmas turkey, the curtain came down and Dr P said 'here's your baby. N choked and cried and I just said he looked weird and everyone laughed as was so surreal, he was put straight on my chest then wrapped in blanket and brought to me covered in goo to touch and kiss. N went off with him then for tests/jabs/clean up and I came to join them back in our room where I did first feed, during which I could hardly keep my eyes open. Time of birth unknown, 17.15 on notes, 18.15 on discharge papers but N said was neither but somewhere in between...welcome to Argentina 'baby A' where time is meaningless...weighing in at 8lb (3.6 and a bit kg).

-Stayed 4 nights, allowed home after 3 but declined, was nice to have support of staff while privacy too and meals brought to me and iced water and air con..., in no rush to get back to our hot, sticky flat. I missed MW and HV support though and a home visit would have been nice but no service like that here, was hard at 5 days to be at home alone with N back to work. I've not been taking it as easy as i should after CS but I love pottering and out walking. Hardest part BF, lots of tears(both of us) and bleeding nips until week 2. N and I had biggest arguements of our 7 year relationship but still no regrets despite real low periods and the agony of A crying when it seems to never end. Love watching A grow each day (and me shrink and deflate too)...amazing experience in a foreign land...I'd do it all again though if we're lucky enough. Thanks for reading xxxx

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Goodbye heart burn...hello little baby A!

Little 'A' was born on the 29th December 2011, 8lb exactly and 50cm long from the swirl of soft hair on his head to his tiny toenails. He sleeps on his side, on the sofa just feet away, half swaddled in a blanket, as a I type, surrounded by mess and for the first time I'm learning to let go of my controlling ways, who knows when he will wake and whether he will want a feed, more burping, swinging back and forth under the white noise of the ceiling fan or another nappy change or all of the above...I look forward to writing about the birth and A's first week of life. I feel like his face is the most familiar face I've ever met, it's imprinted on my mind like the trace from a lightbulb and it follows me everywhere. Right now, I'm overwhelmed, terrified, excited, besotted and feeling so very lucky to be A's Mum.

Friday, December 23, 2011

39 celebrate... and 4 years

...since N and I married, I had just turned 32, we met when I was 29 and the time has passed more slowly in the last few years as the waiting for a baby began. Can't believe I'm 36 though. It all just feels like numbers, quite meaningless. I think age is just a number ...except when it comes to diminishing fertility. For the first time in my life I envy peoples age and I'd love a few more fertile years to play with for future treatments. While my mind feels as prepared as it will ever be to make the transition to Motherhood I have been fantasising this week about have a body 10 years younger to get me through labour. A nice springy one!

My induction is booked a week today. I've read UK and other guidelines until my eyes hurt and spoken at length with my Dr. In his professional opinion he is giving me the chance to reach my due date with a day or two over and then as (he believes) the placenta starts to decline post EDD he wants to start an induction as (he believes) this will give the baby the best chance and why take any risk at all in going overdue?! It's not what they do in this country and he couldn't see why I was so keen to wait. I pulled the 65% (out of the hat) of women who labour spontaneously between week 40 and week 41 but I couldn't seem to hold my ground when debating what was best for a baby and it kept coming round to what was best for my body/birth experience/recovery by having a greater chance of natural delivery. Dr P sees the induction as a 'natural' delivery. The conversation became quite circular and so I am back to facing an induction on the 29th with excitement, fear, defeat and guilt. We shall see what the next few days hold and what's occurring at next Tuesday's appointments...

I do feel like the end is in sight for the first time and I am savouring every moment now, of sleep (when I can), uninterrupted conversations with friends, reading a book, swimming and walking round my neighbourhood having my bump rubbed and touched by all the local folk.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

38 weeks (and induction booked)...

...almost, as of this Thursday anyway.

I've come out the other side of my low stage where I felt I was going to check ups and nothing was happening and I must be doing something wrong and I felt really disconnected from everything.

I still measure under at 36 weeks (always been a week behind) now but have put on lots of weight, mainly fluid in hands and feet plus as Dr pointed out's true. Nice to know the babies estimated weight was 3.2kg in new units or 7lb and a bit to me, at last weeks scan, a nice size.

Every Tuesday now I go for a non-stress test in the morning at the big hospital, leaving 2 hours to kill which is not quite enough time to go home and come back before seeing my Dr. at the clinic, all in all I'm out of the house from 9-5pm. Today he said the cervix 'has softened' which has really lifted my mood though the baby is unlikely to appear before next Tuesday when we will repeat the same tests and see what's occurring. It's nice to know something is happening. It's not that I want the baby to come early, I just want signs that it's coming.

If it hasn't made an appearance by the following Tuesday 27th, my EDD, I will be booked for an induction around the 29th. Argentina are famous for this, despite my Dr saying he'd let me go 10 days over, it turned into 7 days and now it's 1. Here, they don't wait long for a response after induction either, it's quick to CS which (as is more likely post induction) is where they get their 60% CS rate from I suppose. I've been prepared for this really and I'm aware of the pros and cons. It would be lovely if the baby decided to come of it's own accord before then.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Time to tackle another tricky relationship...

...this time with my boobs. It's never been good. The sheer joy of being pregnant after such struggles allowed me to feel kindly towards them as for the first 16 weeks they were the only evidence I had that I was pregnant (between scans). Big (b-cup), veiny, full, sore...thank goodness for my boobs. But at the moment I hate them. Like 2 barrage balloons I can't even eat or drink without knocking into them or knocking them into something or someone and so I need to face up to the fact that I desperately want to breast feed but it's going to be a struggle.

On first google search I was disappointed. Specific sites for breast feeding came up with absolutely nothing when I typed 'sexual abuse survivor' into the search box. In sections re. 'problems breast feeding' they were all physical issues rather than emotional. 

The La Leche League however did respond to my enquiry, quickly and suggested a podcast by the author of this book; 

When Survivors Give Birth: Understanding and Healing the Effects of Early Sexual Abuse on Childbearing Women Penny Simkin, PT, and Phyllis Klaus, CSE, MFT (2005) p.80

that I would buy if the country I live in wasn't so corrupt when it comes to parcels arriving/leaving.
...and P.16 of this document is useful

So far I plan to buy breast sheilds. I have purchased a pump and tried it against my skin to see how it feels and even switched pump on for a second or two to see how tolerable it is. I have bottles for back up (not purchased formula yet) and to feed expressed milk to. I have spoken to my obstetrician about concerns who responded well but after being present at my polypectomy, numerous vaginal examinations and 2 embryo transfers he was shocked the subject hadn't come up before. He assures me I can have space and privacy afterwards for first feeding attempts which will help. I started a thread on Mumsnet which got a good response and on these recommendations I have also bought clothes that are discreet for feeding too which hadn't occurred to me.

I'm still quite determined and at least now I feel a little more prepared.

Thank you for the lovely response to my last post, private and public...good idea to tag/label posts too to reach wider audience.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Evolving blog...

How the garden feels at night underfoot in wax crayon and black poster paint.
I'd like to blog more about pregnancy and parenthood after sexual abuse but there is no clear blog sharing network such as exists in the infertility world that I can find so I'm starting from scratch. If I have found your blog online and you are returning the visit/comment then 'welcome', I love comments and new (and regular) followers.

About me...

I'm crossing the mid-30s line in a couple of weeks and I wouldn't go back to my 20s if you paid me. I love where I am now, emotionally, despite the struggles I've had in the past few years.

I suppose it looks as though my efforts to start a family began at the the removal of contraception back in June 2009 but in reality it was long before that. I restarted therapy in my late 20s when it seemed strange to others who thought I didn't NEED to but I knew I had to stop binge-drinking and getting involved with emotionally abusive men who knew the steps to my dance and knew the tune only to well.

Having witnessed the power of nurture when it goes wrong I was also terrified to reproduce until I felt I had expelled my demons. 

There was the added complication of making babies the non fertility treatment way as I struggle with sex...still.

I didn't recall the abuse or the perpetrator for years and when I did it was a huge revelation, the timing was terrible as I was studying and training hard but I was at my happiest and strongest and so I believe the truth showed itself only when I was ready to deal with it...even if that involved some awkward public moments.

Uncovering the abuse and remembering it and acknowledging it was the most amazing experience in my life. The pain and the lows were almost worth the relief and the highs that came with the truth. I still have mini breakthroughs/new memories now but they pass so quickly I can carry on a conversation or continue working through them.

I have virtually no visual memories of the abuse and 99.9% emerged in dreams and I had to write them down and read them later to see them.

Dealing with infertility and recovering repressed memories of sexual abuse draw lots of parallels for me. Peoples innocent questions sting sometimes and one feels compelled to knock out stock answers to save awkward moments. These questions include; 'When will you... try for number 2 (or try a baby)?', 'Do you remember your first time?' and 'What are you doing for Father's Day?'

No one in my family wants to talk about the abuse. My sister wants to keep up a relationship with my Dad and has no memory of him abusing her. My Mum is remarried and turns grey and trembles when I raise the subject so I've let it go. My Dad's new wife is unable to acknowledge it. Cousins, Aunties and Uncles prefer to keep up the facade also and so if I want to see them all I have to sit at the same table as my Father and play along.

I haven't decided yet where my Dad will fit into being a Grandparent. I have told him and my step-M I will not be accepting their offer of cash to but baby things. I saw my Dad once this year back in the UK but felt sick when he greeted me and knocked my 20 week bump. It was the first time N didn't come with me to a family gathering but I appreciate it's hard for him to keep up a pretence for my sake.

I spoke to my Dr for the first time about the abuse and feelings towards the birth in the next few weeks. He was shocked after all the examinations so far that I hadn't mentioned it to him but it was good to talk and make it clear I am very worried I won't be able to breast feed because it will feel too awful so I don't have any well-meaning-latino-touchy-feely-midwives grabbing my boobs...or (and the mere thought makes me dizzy) rubbing my nipple against the babies mouth to help it latch on.

So anyway, as I approach another life changing moment, I am reflecting and feeling extra nostalgic. I feel more positive that negative experiences in my earlier life will have a more positive effect on things now as I am all the stronger for them. I am less black and white too and while I'm glad I waited to start a family at the risk of it being smaller than I'd like now, I feel I've done the right thing and I accept nothing will ever be perfect and there is no end to the healing that has begun.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Today I had a scan, at 37 (almost) weeks and it helped things feel more real. At first everything looked the same as 20 and 24 weeks. The view at 12-13 weeks is so magical but I've found the scans here from 20 weeks are just measurements of organs and I've had to ask the Dr if I want to see a glimpse of the face which is only possible in sections. But today we got told the estimated weight, 3.202kg and it really helped to know that, it felt like I'd done something right, it felt very real, that it had grown so much and was already a healthy weight should it arrive early.

I've definitely had a touch of the blues recently and started thinking weird thoughts about what may have appeared on the scan and I've felt guilty as it seems wrong to be anything but 101% happy being pregnant after all these years. Now I feel better I can see that I am very happy about the pregnancy but naturally anxious about life outside it as there's a lot going on. I will just share one aspect...

My husbands job has been axed so we don't know where (we have to leave the country) or how we'll be living after March. We can't afford to move back to our old place we rent out in London on one wage so it's going to be a struggle. We may head North in England or keep living overseas but my husbands job is unusual and badly paid so options are limited. For the future FET which doesn't hold much hope statistically being the weakest of the batch, we can now add £2000 to the existing costs of treatment, in flights back to South America. I'm sure we'll find some funds somewhere but it's very unsettling to not know where we are going with a little, tiny one in this stage.

But, we still feel like the luckiest people alive at the moment and if IF isn't the best training to living with uncertainty I don't know what is.