although I can’t remember a lot of the actual labour and birth of O, I do remember a lot of the time spent recovering in the hospital.
as described in my account of the birth story, which you can read here, i laboured for 18 hours in an NHS hospital before finally giving birth to our son. those 18 hours were filled with entenox, morphine and pethadine, which helped me to remember only bits of the labour and birth. probably a good thing if i want any more children…
once we had established a bit of breastfeeding and had some skin to skin time, i was allowed to shower. i was so weak, i could barely stand on my own, so dave helped me into the adjoining shower room and supported me while i washed my hair and body. i got changed into a new nightie and slippers, put my dressing gown on and sat in a wheelchair to be pushed up to the mother and baby ward alongside my brand new baby boy in his plastic cot.
the midwife, Hannah, was amazing and encouraged me so much throughout my labour and birth. she made me feel like i had just achieved the most impressive thing in the world, birthing my 9lb 12oz baby boy with no real complications other than i was so exhausted, i couldn’t push him out on my own. i needed that little helping hand; which she recognised and acted upon. i understand she’s “just doing her job” but i’m a great believer in that people should be commended for their good work. so much focus is put on the tiny percentage of errors that happen in day-to-day life. yes, they shouldn’t happen – but everyone is human and we all make mistakes.
anyways, off to the mother and baby ward we went. we were given a private room, albeit small, but i could shut the door and have time with just myself, A and our newborn baby O. the nurses told me that someone would be around soon with some tea and if i needed anything, just to press the buzzer. because i had lost quite a bit of blood during the birth, i was given a cannula and an IV line with some magic drug that would stop me bleeding so much and help me to heal quickly. unfortunately, i wasn’t treated for my low iron count which would come apparent when i got home…
i still hadn’t eaten since yesterday lunch time, and it was now around 3pm. i was starting to get hungry. ravenous, in fact. the nurses kindly brought me a cuppa and some toast as i had to be careful with how much i ate due to the morphine etc earlier. i managed to keep them down, so come tea time I had my fill!
once A went to go and wet the baby’s head home, i settled into my new room for the night. i was in agony with my scar and baby was pretty drowsy having had a drug-filled labour. he was tired. i was tired. we both slept until he woke wanting fed. i tried to feed him but couldn’t get him to latch properly. i rang the buzzer and within a minute, a midwife was there helping me to get O to latch. she helped me to position him more comfortably and poured me some water. A had kindly brought me some snacks so i dived into a punnet of grapes and a packet of quavers whilst feeding O.
during the night, we fed and slept, fed and slept. the nurses changed O’s nappy on a couple of occasions. then i was startled awake by O coughing. a lot. there was this black stuff everywhere and i panicked. i thought he was dying. yes, that’s stupid looking back, but having never had any dealings with a newborn before – i was bricking it. i rang the buzzer like there was no tomorrow, not touching my son thinking i would make it worse. the nurses came and assured me this was normal – it was just some mucus that he had stuck in his lungs and throat that needed to come out. after a full change and a feed, he was happy, i felt calmed and we went back to sleep.
we continued to stay in the hospital a second night following O’s birth. i was asked each morning if i felt ready to go home, and when i said ‘no’ they didn’t kick me out. listening to every other new mother, i thought i’d stay in maximum of one night before being told to go home. i wasn’t well and they could see that, so were happy for me to stay as long as i wanted.
O had quite severe jaundice when he was born, and was tested in the hospital several times to ensure he was ok. the paediatrician was amazing and explained everything he was doing to my baby when doing his checks. whenever i needed the help or assurance from a nurse, all i had to do was ring the buzzer. i felt really encouraged to ring for help, rather than suffer in silence. i wasn’t prepared to do the latter so whether the nurses liked it or not – i would carry on buzzing!
when we did leave the hospital, we were helped to make sure the car seat was correctly installed in the car and that we knew where to make an appointment to register O’s birth.
I really can’t fault the care we got at our local NHS hospital. staff are limited and budgets are tight but that doesn’t take away the attitude that those midwives and nurses displayed to me during my stay.
I’m hoping this will give expectant mothers a positive outlook on the NHS system, as there are so many stories out there describing what a hell-ish time new mothers have experienced in hospitals and how they couldn’t wait to get home. i felt quite the opposite. i didn’t really want to leave. i have brilliant memories of the care i received after the birth of my son. but if you don’t ring the buzzer and ask for help, you’ll never get it.