My New Tattoo

In my late teens I decided I want to rebel. In the mildest manner possible. I was never one for starting a revolution, but I wanted to do the things my parents didn’t want me to do. So I took up smoking, drank heavily on a Friday night, got the top of my ear pierced (I wanted to get my nose done to really piss my dad off but I chickened out!), I occasionally inhaled (ahem!) and I got a tattoo. A tiny star at the top of my arm. The star was taken from the front of a friend’s wallet. I walked into a tattoo shop on Union Street, Plymouth, told them want I wanted and got it done there and then. It cost me a fiver. It wasn’t anything special to anyone else, but to me it ticked a box and actually I really loved it. It’s not the neatest work I’ve ever seen, but do you know, I had it done with all my heart and therefore I’ve never wanted to change it. I also didn’t want another one. It served it’s purpose, I’d been there, done that, so to speak.

Although actually that’s a bit of a lie. I have always thought about having another one. I saw other people’s and admired their creativity and courage. But I was looking for something small, nothing fancy. No names, no frills and flounces. Something that meant something, but nothing too painful. I couldn’t find anything that ticked all those boxes, and I was in no rush, so I let the idea go.

Then I had a baby and pain took on a new level of meaning. Pah! I’ve had my entire abdomen cut in two and a person removed. I got over that! What’s a tattoo compared to getting off the bed after a C-section? But I still couldn’t find anything I liked. I played with the idea of having something designed. Something with more stars (I love stars), possibly intertwined stars? Three intertwined stars to represent me, Ben and Oscar? Hmmm. Maybe. But it did get me thinking about the concept of family. My family. And that got me thinking about who I was now, what that meant and about my place in the scheme of things.

And then I realised, that no matter what happens in life, it will never be just me, ever again. Even if my family were to leave me, in any way, I will never just be me again, because I have given birth.

I will always be, regardless of what happens, Me and …….

And that’s when I realised what I had to have.

Me & .....

Me & …..

 

Yeah, this is mine…

I’m not a closed book kind of person. Most of my friends would agree (I hope) that I’m fairly open with them. I think I’m happy to share most things (although I sometimes find it hard, we know that!) However I have been overwhelmed with the ease at which I have been able to share my birth story. Oscar’s birth was a deeply personal and intimate experience in my life and yet I have been completely open about it, often with completely strangers, offering up information I would never have dreamt of sharing before I had him. And do you know why? It’s because everybody does it! As mothers, we seem to wear our birth stories like badges of honour. And what’s wrong with that?

So if you’ve heard this already I’m sorry – but here it comes again!

My pregnancy was pretty text book really. I didn’t have morning sickness, although I did spend a few weeks feels nauseous ALL BLOODY DAY! Morning my arse! Anyway that cleared up at 10 weeks, and everything else was pretty standard.

I was under a consultant from day one, partly due to my high BMI, partly due to my epilepsy, so was monitored fairly closely. I never had any problems and the gestational diabetes and larger than average baby everyone kept predicting, never materialised. Take that obstetric generalisations!

It was at a routine midwife appointment at 35 weeks, that they noticed that my blood pressure, which had been falling throughout my pregnancy had suddenly shot up. This lead to a week in hospital and much worry about suspected pre-eclampsia and whether this baby would make full term. An NCT friend had been diagnosed with severe pre-eclampsia the week before and had to have her baby delivered by emergency C-Section at 35 weeks, so I knew all too well how serious this situation could be.

I could write a whole post about this experience, but as this a birth story, I’ll leave that for another day. Suffice to say that after a week of trying, the hospital managed to stabilise my BP with drugs. I practically cheered as we left, with my tiny baby still safely tucked away.

I went home and started maternity leave. I tided, I hoovered the ceilings, I slept on the sofa. I had a week of peaceful time and I loved it.

At the end of that week I had a routine appointment with my consultant, the wonderful and no nonsense Lesley Roberts at RSCH. She took my BP, looked up at me, and said “I’m sorry Lisa, you can’t go home today”. I burst into tears. I was taken back up to the same ward I’d just escaped, given more meds and resolved to try and get this sorted. When they checked me they said I was no where near ready to give birth, so wouldn’t attempt an induction. However, my BP would just not play ball and kept rising, spiking in the middle of the night when I was asleep of all things!

I felt so frustrated. This baby was 38 weeks gestation, plenty cooked enough and here I was taking more and more drugs that seemed to do nothing. Eventually, a canny midwife saw just how frustrated I was and took me aside. Quietly, she told me that if an induction was really what I wanted, then the next time I saw the doctor I was to cry. Simple as that. So, I did as she said and do you know, it only bloody worked! It seemed getting emotional worked where being rational had failed. I was given a pessary to start things off.

I wont bore you with the next two days, as very little happened. I got some twinges, like very mild contractions, that then stopped. On day three they decided that if they could break my water I’d be able to start a proper Scyntocinon induction. Only, they didn’t tell me this is what they were doing. I thought it was odd that they gave me a gas and air pipe for an examination. Ahh then I knew why! This wasn’t an examination! It was the most painful thing I have ever experienced. They were right, he was still really high up and to reach him felt like I was being ripped apart. I went into a zone, where I felt like I put myself on a shelf and could only hear every third word being said. It was awful and amazing all at the same time. Then I heard her say ‘no’ she couldn’t do it, so I took myself of the shelf. Then she said ‘oh hang on’ and I felt a whoosh as my waters broke. Finally we were getting this party started.

I was hooked up to the drip and given an epidural, as induced labour can come on very hard and very fast. Although not in my case. I was there for 24 hours and he moved a centimetre. Seriously! I knew it was looking dodgy when the midwife suggested at 3 in the morning that it was best not to eat any more. I think we could all see the writing on the wall. The induction I’d cried for had failed. It would be a C section now. I was a tiny bit gutted as I really wanted to go through the whole process we’d talked about at such length in my NCT group, but actually I just wanted this baby with me and my BP to settle down. Our safety was more important than any beautiful ideal image at that moment and I have never regretted that.

At 9am on 2nd April (yeah I know – I think Oscar hung on for fear of being born on April Fools Day!) it was declared that an emergency section was needed and I was in theatre within 20 minutes. I remember the table I was lying on was at an angle so I felt like I was going to fall off. I remember the anaesthetist running ice down my shoulder to see if the spinal block had kicked in yet. I remember Adele and Otis Reading coming on the radio. I remember feeling like I was being jumped up and down on but feeling no pain (which was weird in the extreme). I remember hearing him cry before I felt them lift him fully clear of me. I remember crying and crying and crying with relief. That he was here, that he was strong and that I’d managed to do it. This body I had so much hatred for had kept him safe.

They weighed him and gave him to me, but I couldn’t see his face so had to give him to Ben, so I could take a proper look. He was just so beautiful.

Then they took him away for tests and I started to feel sick. I managed to shout out in time and the quick thinking anaesthetist whacked some anti-emetic in my line. I felt better, but my mouth was unbelievably dry. I was given ice to suck. And then I started to pass in and out of consciousness. I was told after I was in surgery for two hours. I thought I’d been in there less than half that.

Next thing I knew we were back in the delivery suit and beyond happy. All the worry was gone, he was here and he was really strong. Much smaller than anyone had expected at 6lb 6oz, but perfect. 10/10 on both APGAR tests and cute as a button. Although I do recall thinking – blimey hasn’t he got enormous thumbs! He still has today, along with his huge feet!

And that’s my birth story. Obviously I could go on and on. About my time in hospital after the birth, about how my BP practically dropped over night, about the trouble we had with feeding. But I think I’ll leave it there. For now.

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Me & Him

Diary of an Imperfect Mum