• James Butler

The Tricky First Week: Day 1

Updated: Aug 30, 2019

Once upon a time in a galaxy far far away...

contractions. Yerp they started. On Saturday we were at my friend's house playing a board game and Sophie started. It was funny because they weren't big or massively noticeable but I could see her typing into the notes app on her phone. I looked over her shoulder at about 6pm. All 40 second contractions spacing every 20 minutes.

We went home. 45s every 10 minutes. It gets to midnight and I'm ordered to sleep. Sophie told me that she wanted a well rested birth partner. Bed!

Woken at 6am. 50s, 5 minute spacing. Sophie wanted her tens machine (electric shocker that gets you through contractions). We phoned Labour Line Hampshire who scheduled us to come in at 10AM.

Labour Line is a brilliant service. You ring up and get straight through to a midwife who talks you through your next steps. I guess they're there to delay you coming in to hospital early but having the service there was just a life saver.

The waters break at 6:30AM.

I'm stroking Sophie as she struggles through. Her temperature keeps spiking and crashing. This is an indicator for infection so by 8AM we are heading in.

8:30 We arrive at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth. Takes us half an hour to get to the Labour Ward.

9AM admitted. Our fantastic midwife (who I won't name unless she gives permission) sits with us and talks us through the birth plan before inspecting Sophie. Shit! 9cm dilated. We are moved to the delivery rooms.

10AM we are in the delivery room and the birth plan is out the window. The birthing pool is ready to go but Sophie isn't getting out of the bed. We nurse Sophie through the next few hours with water, TLC and Entonox.

11:39AM we are pushing. It's fucked up. Your partner is going through hell and there's this really guttural type scream that's really gets into you. Maybe it's something in our DNA that just hits us. The head starts to emerge and it's got hair. Not ginger!

12:41 B is born.

12:42 it all goes to shit. Two midwives are with Soph and they're being uber professional and calm but things are getting a little agitated. B isn't crying and going blue. I didn't want to cut cord but a pair of scissors are thrust at me with the words "Dad cut the chord." The tone and the midwife's eyes are very much telling me this is not an optional thing.

12:43 B is rushed from the room and on to a resusciter. Her breathing is laboured but they've got her on oxygen and the pulse is strong. The 1st Paediatrician arrives and calls for more support. I update Sophie who has one midwife working on her but it's all calm. The midwife asks me to call another midwife in to assist her.

12:45 I go back into the corridor. There is now 2 nurses and 2 Paediatricians working on B. I pass a midwife who I tell they need support in the room with Sophie. B is wheeled off to a side room and plugged into the machines. They tell me that she has fluid on her lungs which is fine but it needs clearing. They put a tube down her mouth and pump 35ml in seconds. An alarm goes off in the ward but I'm assured it's not for B as she is stable so I go to update Soph.

12:47 As I'm walking back up the two doors to Sophie's room I can see a midwife leave the room and two others enter at pace. The doors open and I can see about 8 people around Soph. 2 Doctors are down the business end, our assigned midwife is up talking to Soph. 4 midwives are hooking Sophie up to machines and prepping drugs.

Although I didn't know it at the time, Sophie had lost around 1.5L of blood in just under 5 minutes. She was conscious and fine but there was some complications inside her uterus and severe damage.

This basically left me stood between 2 rooms not knowing where I needed to be. I guess the answer was "not in the way" but I didn't know that. I've never felt so powerless. You've got the two most important people in your world potentially in life threatening situations and there is nothing you can do.

12:48 A midwife comes out and explains to me what's going on with Soph. A doctor comes up to me and asks me to consent to them taking B up to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). She explains that B needs to have the fluid pumped out of her lungs. They wheel her in to see Soph for about 30 seconds and she is gone.

Sophie is fine. The doctors seem happy the bleeding has been stopped but they tell us that she will need surgery. Sophie is still too high on the gas to really process what's going on but she is highly practical and knows everyone is doing their best.

12:55 Sophie is wheeled around to the Intensive Care Unit. This is a separate one to the NICU so Sophie, who is currently immobile in the bed, won't meet B again for another 16 hours. They start prepping Sophie for surgery and the consultant explains that he believes he will need to do a Spinal to immobilise her from the waist down.

Sophie is terrified of needles and the idea of one going in her spine is just a no. The

anaesthetist talks Sophie round and we are told that she will go in at 18:00.

16:00 I'm finally allowed to go and see B. I have to do swabs for MRSA in my nose and groin. I'm read the riot act regarding infection, shown how to wash my hands and they explain to me what's happening. B is on her tummy in an incubator. The consultant shows me an X-ray of her lungs. He explains they should be black but her's are white and they look like they are filled with broken glass. He explains that this is called Respiratory Distress Syndrome. They are continuing to clear her lungs and he is confident they are clearing well.

17:30 I go back and see Soph. Her Mum, Dad and sister have arrived. We all have a good chat before Sophie is wheeled off to surgery. She is calm but nervous. Soph's family and I go to dinner.

19:00 We are told Sophie is out of surgery. I go to visit her in the recovery room and she looks pale but happy. Turns out she was awake through the operation and had had a fantastic time with the team in Theatre. They all seem to have had a great laugh while stitching Soph up and she is feeling positive.

21:00 I take Soph's family to meet B for the first time for an hour before they have to leave. Sophie's consultants explain the surgery has gone really well and they expect her to make a full recovery within a few days. So we know we are in hospital for a few days.

The next few hours are a blur of visits between ICU and NICU. Sophie is looking good but there's some concern around B still. Her lungs seem to be clearing well and she is crying finally but her bloods "require more investigation."

04:00 Finally Sophie is allowed out of bed to visit B. I wheel Sophie the two wards down to B. They have their bonding moment through the plastic and we are allowed to spend some time together. I crash.

05:00 We return to ICU and Sophie tells me to go home. She needs to sleep and I know I'm no good anymore.

06:00 Home, dinner, bed, "sleep".

I'll try to write up Day 2 tomorrow but I assure you all that this has a happy ending. I'm currently on Day 6, B is asleep on my shoulder and Sophie is sat in her hospital bed writing thank you cards to the various teams here at QA.

#Dad #birth #childbirth

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