I share regularly on a lovely birth and parenting forum, and it is customary to share your birth story, once you get home from hospital and have some "free" time.
I never really did this. I posted an "oh my god, I've got my baby and I'm traumatised" story, but not my proper birth story. So a year on from the dramatic story of Joseph's arrival here goes.
Wednesday 6th May
After having a good morning and reading week 27 of the Rough Guide to Pregnancy and Birth by Kaz Cooke (the rather diluted English version of Up the Duff), I started feeling rough in the afternoon. Naff. Headachy. Tired. Cue afternoon nap. I awoke (to a bird trapped underneath our bath but that's another story), and still felt naff. I got up, dealt with bird, made tea, Corey came home, and went to bed. But I couldn't sleep. This headache was troubling me. My midwife, the registrar at hospital, and my GP had all said watch out for the headache. Could this be pre-eclampsia? No flashing lights, no swelling, no feeling dizzy?
I decided, along with my husband, that it was better to go to hospital and look like a div. So at three in the morning on Thursday, off we toddled.
Thursday 6th May
We got to the delivery suite, and Michelle, a lovely midwife, was there to meet us. She took me into a large room, and got me settled. She ran some bloods, did some urine tests and did my BP. She said she'd reserve judgement, but that I might have pre-eclampsia.
My husband decided that he'd go to work (pre-eclampsia, of course, being the pregnant ladies man flu) and leave me to it. I still, at this point, thought I was neurotic.
Soon after he left, people start filing into the room. The final person was a beautiful, tiny woman, a doctor. She gently said "Mrs Hodges, you have severe early onset pre eclampsia. It's extremely serious." My eyes filled with tears "No no no, you have it all wrong, I'm neurotic, depressed, out of my tree, I don't have pre eclampsia, I'm fine, I'm just fat with essential hypertension". One of the midwives nearly laughed! This poor doctor just looked at me "you are not neurotic, your ill, and we have to work fast. We have to deliver the baby, probably next week." Then I remembered the last sentence I read before my headache got the better of me. "27 weeks, if your baby is born this week, he/she has a very very very good chance of survival"
I was admitted and taken up to ante natal ward. A series of case conferences would be held during the day. I sent my husband a text, he rang the ward, and decided it might be a good idea if he came back!
I met my consutlant who sent me for an emergency scan. This was the worst 30 minutes of my life. The sonographer, who I'd met twice before for my routine scans, said "I am so so sorry". I thought the baby was dead. She tried to explain what was going on, but it all sounded like rubbish. My baby was dying, and there was nothing I could do about it.
We got back to the ward and I couldn't stop crying. The consultant came in, put his arm around me and said "what's all this?", I said to him "your lying, this baby is not going to make it, the baby has gone". He looked at me and said "no the baby is alive. He is poorly, but so are you, we have to deliver him at 9 o'clock tomorrow, but I tell you this now, I am delivering a live baby, and you must be strong and believe in this baby and yourself">
He proceeded to try and give me options (being the NHS and all....patient choice etc etc), but it was clear, there were none. He was more concerned that I would die at this point, and said I was around six hours away from death.
After this meeting, I met with the doctor who would be one of Joseph's paediatricians, and one of the special care nurses. They explained how it would all work, and what the next 13 weeks would be like as they finished off growing my baby.
After calming down, my husband and I had our evening meal in the room and then we went for a walk. Past special care, to the chapel. I wrote a prayer in the book, and had a weep, and we went back to the ward, ready for me to have a good night's sleep.
Wrong. My latest bloods had come back. 9am Friday morning seemed a long 13 hours away, and I was in serious trouble. I was taken back to delivery suite in a wheelchair and they started working on me. I had lines in, catheters, monitors hooked up to me, I was so terrified. I was to be monitored every 15 minutes, and ecgs done every 2 hours. I was not permitted to sleep.
Corey decided to go home and sleep, ready for Friday. I proceeded to sing, talk and pray with my baby. I tried to read, but the headache wouldn't let me. There was no tv or radio allowed, it was just me and my thoughts, and a couple of machines for company.
It was a long night, and my hubby came back at 4 in the morning. I was prepped for surgery, had discussions with anaethetists, and then the time had come to take me to theatre. The consultant took my husband away to prep for theatre, and I decided to walk into theatre with my head held high.
The anaethetist, who I have spoken about before on my blog, was so kind, and he got the spinal in. I felt strange, cold, nauseated and numb as the block started to take effect.
I lay down, and my husband returned. The screen went up over my belly, and we started to talk about our honeymoon. Shortly after I heard a screech, and a baby crying. I was so cross. I'd had to lie in delivery all night listening to labouring women, and now this. The whole mood of the theatre changed, I could see smiling eyes behind masks. This wasn't any old baby. This was MY baby! And he was alive.
Corey was taken at this point to see our baby, we still didn't know the gender. He accompanied the baby to special care, as I went into recovery.
About an hour later it was confirmed, we had a lovely, beautiful and incredibly tiny baby boy.
I spent the day having more monitoring, and more drugs. I couldn't think about anything other than seeing my baby. I cried for him. Charlie, one of the assistant doctors, came to see me.
"What is wrong", said the biggest, most beautiful Ghanian chap I had ever seen!
"Ignore me, hormones, post op blues, I will be fine".
"No" he said "No, you have to see your baby."
I sobbed "I'm not allowed, our unit is too small for a trolley, I can't sit in a wheelchair, I can't see him today"
Charlie looked at me and said "I will carry you in there myself if I have to" (he's the only man I have ever met who possibly could have done it!!!)
So it was arranged I would see my baby. Charlie said to me "Joseph is a warrior name in my village, he will be strong, he will be ok"
The first time I saw Joseph, I just loved him. Pure, unadulterated love. No fear, no revulsion of this tiny creature, just love.
And a feeling that one day, however long it seemed at that moment. We would be together as mother and son.