Nacho’s Birth story

I have a moment now to reflect a bit on the incredible arrival of our precious little Nacho seven weeks ago. This time has flown in a hazy blur of bliss.

He has been named but in my heart he will always be my precious little Nachito. His name is quite fitting though, very reflective of his strength and special nature but I want to protect his anonymity and keep it quiet. Feel free to email me if you’d like to know though and I’ll tell you.

I can’t believe he’s here. I sit here staring at him for hours and hours. He’s so special and so loved.

I went into labour at 2 in the morning at 41 weeks. I had been to two acupuncture sessions to encourage labour prior to that and my contractions came on gently. I was able to go to a third acupuncture appointment later that afternoon which significantly sped things up. Almost immediately afterwards I was quite unwell and my contractions were about every four minutes. That’s when I strapped on the tens machine, my only form of pain relief for 38 of my 40 hour labour. Our doula came over by 6pm and I was in established labour quickly after that.

At 1am we decided to go to the hospital as my contractions were 90 seconds long and every three minutes. The cab ride was 35 mins away even at that hour, a very uncomfortable journey but I don’t remember much. The tens machine really worked to mask my pain and I was in the depths of hypnobirthing.

Once we got to the hospital I stubbornly refused an exam. I didn’t want to be poked and prodded. As a result I was told I wouldn’t be admitted. That immediately got my back up and things started to go pear shaped from there. Once I relented to the exam (horrible, horrible, I might add) I was told I was only 3.5cm dilated. To be admitted I had to be 4cm. We are all convinced I was much further along than that at home and the combination of the cab ride and caused everything to clamp up so to speak.

So we went back home for four hours until my contractions were 2 minutes long and every minute. By the time we got to the hospital I was fully dilated. I can then not account for the next 10 hours. I pushed for 2 of them, without the help of my tens machine. Big mistake I might add! I took it off to push thinking it would help me focus. Errr no! Problem was after 40 hours I was completely out of gas and so was Nacho. My contractions slowed down and I looked at DH with nothing left to give. I hadn’t eaten in 2 days and could keep very little down liquid-wise. We knew it was time for something else.

After two hours of pushing I was give two options: 1) an emergency c-section or 2) forceps. To stick as closely to my original birth plan as possible I chose an epidural to give me a rest to gain my strength and help me push. A syntocinon drip was started at the same time to get my contractions going again. I was given a 30 minute timeline to get him out myself otherwise to the operating theatre I go.

I managed to do it in 20. Nacho showed little signs of distress and his strength of character persisted once again. He was just fine. Nearly 9lbs of happiness thrown onto my chest.

Me on the other hand, I received an episiotomy, a third degree tear, lost over two litres of blood, had two blood transfusions and just shy of fifty stitches. It has taken me a long time to recover. But I wouldn’t change a thing. This was Nacho’s birth story.

We ended up in hospital for 8 days after his birth as less than 12 hours after birth Nacho began breathing quickly and losing body temperature on top of losing excessive amounts of body weight. This was a scary, blurry time. Doctors put us into the area of the ward when special attention is given to babies and it was deemed he had an unknown infection. Seven days of antibiotics, fluid and blood samples, being poked and prodded followed. But again Nacho is tough and he bounced back beautifully.

Since then we have been getting to know each other at home. I am so grateful for every moment together. I hold on to him so tight, this is probably terrible but I rarely put him down. I nurse him, a wonderfully close experience we both love. I carry him everywhere. I am really loving being his mum.

I can feel his angel brothers and sisters looking out for him. He embodies a wisdom, calm and understanding I can’t explain. I have learned so much from him already and I’m so completely and utterly in love.

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Officially due

I can’t believe we’ve made it this far but today is Nacho’s due date.

So many emotions have been flooding my brain these last few weeks when I think about our journey to get here. It is mind-boggling to me that we are nearly there. I am just so overwhelmed with gratitude.

From endless losses, to twice weekly scans to check on his progress to being told to prepare for a preterm birth to 273 consecutive daily clexane injections to the craziness with DH, so much has happened, there’s so much to reflect upon.

But I’m trying only to focus on the future right now. I already feel like Nacho is a wise soul. His calm, lovely demeanour has kept me from losing it more than once. I just know he is going to teach me as much as I can hopefully teach him.

My body has been giving signals that things could be starting soon. I have had one long braxton hick for about 3 days. Nacho feels so heavy and low, I can feel every little movement now very clearly. He’s engaged and in a great position so hopefully things will kick off soon.

Being on mat leave is weird but wonderful. My days are filled with cleaning, cooking, preparation, practicing hypnobirthing and nice long naps. A once in a lifetime opportunity! It’s like waiting for the Queen to visit for tea. My house has never been so clean or organised!

Hiring a doula has been one of the best decisions I could have made. She has been so supportive and kind and has guided me so well through the process already, I feel prepared for all possibilities. Much of the anxiety I’ve been bottling up throughout the whole pregnancy has been slowly drained, leaving me with a clear, positive headspace. I never thought I could get here like this.

And now we wait. I say we because yes DH is in the picture. This deserves a post on its own but suffice it to say that as flawed as he is, he is now taking the idea of becoming a dad very seriously. And I have to say I am glad. Ultimately I want him in our lives and I’m relieved that DH seems to want that too. Baby steps but we are getting somewhere. More on this later.

In the meantime thank you again for your incredible support. I feel so blessed to have you guys cheering us on.

Full term!

Thank you to you all for your support from my last post. I want to respond to you each individually and will be doing that in the coming days. I also plan to update on what things are like now at home but this post is purely Nacho related. Because I’m getting excited. I wanted to get some of it out.

I am now full term (how can that be?!) and on maternity leave after about three weeks of modified bedrest and working from home. Turns out my body was eager to get the show on the road. I had been showing all the signs of preterm labour. Too early. With my history of a weak cervix and not actually ever getting a stitch they didn’t want to take any chances so the advice was to stay off my feet until full term to see if they stopped. They did. With all the chaos going on I was doing too much, I see that now.

I last saw Nacho on Friday for his last scan. At the time he was over 6lbs of cuteness. Not much to see except squished baby parts but it is always a relief to hear he is healthy and normal.

Apart from developing anaemia and the prelabour craziness Nacho’s presence has been very reassuring. He’s kicking like a fiend, but sleeps when I sleep through the night which has been a blessing. His 3-4x a day hiccups are the cutest thing I could ever imagine, reminding me actually is a real baby in there. I get very regular cervical twinges or “fanny daggers” as a friend has been referring to them reminding me things are definitely happening down there and at my last midwife appointment it was confirmed he’s engaged. He could come anytime.

I’m not really ready mentally but I am getting there physically. Ordered what he needs day one, with a few things left to sort out. Ticking things off the list has been more cathartic than I thought. I practice hypnobirthing everyday. I see my doula regularly and she has been a lifesaver to help me through the anxiety. She’s got the perfect blend of medical (as an ex supervisor midwife) and mind-body knowledge (as a hypnotherapist) to make me feel like I’m in a very safe and comforting pair of hands.

I reluctantly went to a series of NCT antenatal classes which quickly became invaluable for the shared knowledge, relationships and advice. I feel like I have a handle on things now. I’m getting there anyway.

Nacho is a constant source of strength for me, and I can’t wait to be there for him. But until then I look forward to spending the coming days/weeks savouring how close we are to each other. I talk to him constantly, narrating our daily adventures, taking naps together, enjoying the sunshine and warm weather. Washing his clothes even fills my eyes with tears. Everything is so emotional right now. I just can’t wait to meet this little guy.

When did life get so complicated?

I am going to apologise for my radio silence again. Things have been especially weird for me lately and I am still wrapping my brain around things. Normally I would reach out to the blogosphere but it didn’t feel right, until now.

I don’t know where to start. The good news? Nacho is a beautiful 32w4d today. I am being managed carefully at the hospital. The love I feel for this kid is overwhelming, it brings tears to my eyes whenever I think about how much I love him. He has his own little personality that is so unique and I can’t wait to meet him. This enhances the pain I feel for my lost sweetpeas more and more. They would have all had unique sweet little personalities too.

This is the time last year when I lost sweetpea #5. One year since I lost myself. I was hanging on for the two years beforehand but losing #5 completed ruined me. I have been slowly scraping myself off the bottom of the pit since then.

I was recently diagnosed with prenatal depression. I have had a hard time determining what is just hormones and what is sadness, but my therapist seems to think I tick all the boxes. It appears as though I do. I don’t know why that is embarrassing but it is. Surprisingly they are not hard boxes to tick. I can completely see how RPL and IF could bring this on.

I continue to see a therapist once a week which helps, and I am trying to open my mind up to the thought of actually meeting little Nacho but I am still very afraid to really commit to the idea of him actually turning up. All I have wanted is to have a little person in my life and you’d think I should be happy about it now that it’s actually happening. It’s not that, because I am happy, but I am also terrified, overwhelmed and sad most of the time. It’s hard to explain. I have yet to buy anything really other than a few second hand clothes online, going into a baby shop still fills me with anxiety. Slowly though I think I am coming to terms with the idea that he is OK in there and that he will be with me soon.

The saddest part to this story is that it is looking more and more likely that I will be splitting from my husband before Nacho makes his appearance. I have not really blogged about this before and I feel quite vulnerable doing this, but this blog is my way to vent and I think I finally need to do that. It is a really long story that I don’t intend to bring you all in on but suffice it to say that DH has crossed my one and only line too many times. It would appear that he is struggling with the idea of fatherhood more than he can verbalise. He has yet to confirm this to me, I’m still only guessing.

Throughout our relationship he has needed to blow off steam, as we all do when we live busy lives. He goes out on these benders and does not call, tell me where he is or attempt to come home before 7am. I would normally be fine (well more tolerant) with this except for the fact that 10 years ago DH nearly died of a drug overdose on one of these benders and had to be resuscitated by the paramedics miles away from me and our home. Since that day my only stipulation of our relationship was that he needed to stay away from that drug. Did he want to? Yes. Has he? No.

I don’t believe he is an addict, or maybe I’m naive, because he only does this once or twice a year. For 10 long years I have sat up through the night wondering if he was dead or alive, if he was suffering or alone, until he decided to turn up once he had shaken off the effects to grovel. I have been pregnant many times when this has happened but it hasn’t mattered. He swears that he is devoted to me and Nacho and doesn’t know what is wrong with him but has refused to see a therapist about it with or without me. Until now. I have given a handful ultimatums by now, and none of them mean anything to him. Brick wall. Endless empty promises.

The sad thing is that 95% of the time he is a devoted and loving man who is very excited to meet his long-awaited son. Day to day he takes on so much responsibility to try to eliviate any stress I might be suffering. But then he goes and has these inexplicable sessions of destruction, fully aware of the consequences. It’s like he’s a different person. I understand that everyone needs an outlet for this kind of stress, and some of you may fee like I am being especially harsh, but no amount of day to day support can make up for the trauma of those long nights wondering if Nacho will ever get to meet his dad. I don’t ask for much, just this one little thing. Oddly I am quite a tolerant person otherwise and always have been.

Am I supposed to sit back and watch as my self-confidence and self-worth quietly and slowly wane? After having watched my parents go through more or less the same thing I had always promised myself to have more self-respect than than to allow someone to hurt me over and over until I became a shell of a human. My mum raised me to focus on my career and to always look out for number one and I realise now that I am in her shoes, making that connection 20 years before she made hers. Nacho is too important to allow this to carry on. He deserves to have a father he can depend on.

So somehow I have to find a way to pick myself up, and start to consider life as a single mum. I never in a million years imagined this would be the outcome for me, I had believed DH would grow up eventually and we would finally get to enjoy a child who has meant so much to us both. We had such a long hard journey to get here.

The logistics of actually doing this are sinking in: giving birth without my husband (damn good thing I will have my doula – yes I did end up hiring one – more on her another time), struggling through the early weeks on my own, eventually selling the house, packing and moving across the world back home with a young baby. It has been done by thousands of women before me and my situation is not unique but man does it feel like shit.

It’s too bad that I have very few meaningful relationships now since I dumped all my friends during my struggles with RPL and I live in a country without any family. But I have made it this far and I will have to find a way to do this. In the meantime I have sent him away to try to figure things out. I’m not sure what resolution will come of this. My mum has offered to come out anytime to help and I will take her up on it.

I am so ashamed, so devastated that my marriage is not one those that got stronger through IF and RPL and that Nacho and I don’t mean enough to DH. I visualise how nice things could have been together as a family, it’s what kept me going all these years, but I see now that I would have to compromise myself to achieve that.

What I am trying to remember is that Nacho is the most important thing right now. He needs his mum strong and devoted to him. Nothing else matters. That is my focus now.

Holidaze

I owe so many of you a reply to my last post and I promise to do that but in the meantime we have managed to escape life for a few days in southern Spain. I never want to come back. It has been so blissful already, I can’t even remember what it was like to be at work, to be stressed. 

We have been sleeping in, relaxing by the pool, resting on the beach, napping in the shade, eating super delicious food, reading, listening to meditation tapes and feeling the reassuring twists and turns of Nachito inside. I am sure he has grown quite substantially since we have been here. Maybe it feels good to be free here. I have had a permanent smile on my face and tears in my eyes since we got here. I am just so bloody thankful for him every single moment. Holidays really do do wonders don’t they?

I was quite nervous flying because it had been instilled in me by a TCM a few years ago that flying could cause problems in pregnancy. But our high risk OB was confident as long as I continued to take my clexane and aspirin as I have been and didn’t fly over 3 hours which we didn’t. Nacho didn’t stop moving the whole flight, and instantly I felt more at ease. His ability to relax me totally blows my mind.

So for the next 5 days we are going to lap it up, soak up the sun and rest as much as possible. 

Next opportunity I will update this post with some pics! Hugs to you all xx

Empathetic Sunday

I’m feeling particularly empathetic these days. Maybe it’s the hormones, maybe it’s the anxiety I can’t seem to shake, or the impending doom I feel about Nacho on a daily basis, maybe it’s a particularly emotional time in the blogosphere. But I’m finding it hard. There’s so much pain out there I just want to fix.

My hormones may be raging, yes, but it never ceases to blow my mind how emotional this journey is. It’s not just the highs and lows of our own experiences as individuals, but when you invest in the support of the journey of others in our community as we all do it is can be overwhelming. So much happens in the community of loss and infertility.

For the past several weeks, months, years I have witnessed, via blogging and twitter, long awaited BFPs, painful failed IVFs and IUIs, heartbreaking miscarriages, joyous births, devastating stillbirths, successful pregnancies after multiple losses, shocking second trimester losses, world-changing diagnoses, horrible set-backs, botched adoptions, cancelled cycles, making peace with moving on, cruel anniversaries, all bringing tears to my eyes.

It’s like being on the front lines of a warzone. There’s so much power, so much drive in our desire to be parents. It’s literally life or death. And we are faced with it everyday as we support each other. The sheer strength we all demonstrate to get ourselves through another day is mind boggling.

I’m saddened so deeply lately by my friends, you know who you are, who are struggling through countless failed ivf cycles. My heart is bursting with anger and sadness. The loss is blinding. I just don’t get why these things happen to good people. All we all want is a baby to take home.

And the losses. So many babies lost.

A few weeks ago the loss of a twitter friend’s second trimester twin babies really hit home. The twins were very close in gestation to Nacho, they had just reached “viability”. A cruel word. The grief and disbelief that this poor family must be enduring takes my breath away. How, in one day, can someone go from being fine to losing both her babies? I just don’t understand.

So much heartbreak.

I know, I know, there’s lots of good news out there too. Such happy stories, such relief. I celebrate these little milestones no matter how small.

Apologies for the super down post but I promised myself to get the thoughts that cloud my mind out onto virtual paper when I need to. Today has been a day of reflection too. Thinking of my own lost sweet peas tears me up inside. I think about all six nestled up in a cozy little pod together, looking after each other. I grieve for them everyday. I’m beginning to understand that that’s ok.

Looking forward

Well things have kind of settled down at work since I laid down the law with them the other week. Thanks to you all for your advice and sharing your experiences. That really helped me to feel empowered to do what is right for me and for Nacho. Why should I put up with this shit?! I guess after years of being on autopilot, striving to do the best in my career, now allowing my health to take first place is a big adjustment as stupid as that sounds, one that is long overdue. I feel the guilt of waiting until we were at a “certain place in life” before TTC. Hindsight is total cow. What a fool I was. There is nothing more important that meeting a safe and healthy Nachito and nothing will stand in my way to make that happen.

I am trying now to allow myself to think about actually meeting this little guy, a surreal thought, as a way to get me through each day. Tomorrow we will have reached “viability” – a milestone I had to be reminded of by lovely Lauren at OnFecondThought – and this idea is becoming more and more a possibility. Viability seems so out of this world, so premature, there is still so much time left (I hope), so much growing to do. I am feeling a little bit more relaxed about Nacho doing his thing. This is no doubt helped by getting the all clear on his anomaly scan, by his constant moving and having a Doppler to hand for times when he is isn’t. Little tiny milestones, one day at a time. There haven’t been many things I’ve felt able to think about. Going into a baby store is very uncomfortable. Buying anything is a long way off. Names? No way. But I’m allowing myself to think about getting him here safely.

Have I turned a new leaf? Don’t think so, not yet. As I start to try to look towards the future, I realise just how terrified of things going wrong I really am. Being labelled high risk makes me envious of the experience I always hoped I would have: a home water birth, an experience under my control, under our terms, one that is comfortable and safe physically and mentally for us both. A labour ward is a far cry from a home water birth but I know I should take comfort in the fact that Nacho will be well monitored to ensure his safe arrival. I don’t care what they do to me; just please let it be OK for him.

I think what is freaking me is out is that up until now my care has been a bit sporadic, inconsistent, unreliable and I have yet to see the same midwife or consultant twice. The more I think about it the stronger I feel about the terms of his birth. Obviously I know I can’t control everything, I certainly haven’t been able to control anything related to my fertility so far, and push come to shove I’ll do anything to get him out safely, but I’d like to make his birth as comfortable and safe as possible. I have been educating myself these recent weeks, reading up. I know it’s a long way off but that’s my way of empowering myself. No induction, no forceps, no drugs that can affect his heart rate, keeping the placenta and cord intact until it gives him as much of his own blood as possible, etc. At least that’s what I want. None of it may actually happen but I’d like to try. And under those clinical conditions I don’t know if I trust my body to get shit done. I don’t know if I can trust them to help me through it. Living without fear isn’t something that comes easily after years of losses and infertility. Neither is trust. They are already talking about early induction, something I really don’t want. I had been hoping for as little intervention as possible, and truth is I am terrified.

For this reason we are considering retaining a doula. I don’t know if it is a crazy idea but I am hoping to use a doula as a consistent face, my advocate, someone to limit interventions and encourage me to go as far as possible by listening to my body. Someone with a midwifery background, someone who gets it. DH will no doubt be a lifesaver but even he feels better with the idea of a doula. I feel like I can’t fully trust the hospital to fully support my choices and we can’t afford to go private. And why should we? We pay taxes just like everybody else so the least I can ask the system for is to support a choice I have every right to make, within the parameters of my care, of course.

Saying that, determination has never been something I’ve been short on so maybe if I’m able to get myself in the zone I can do this without a doula? I don’t know. And it’s entirely possible things will not go according to any plan and we’ll have to decide as we go. And maybe decisions will be made for me because things became desperate enough. Maybe I need to sit with this all for a bit.

A doula’s fees are a drop in the bucket compared to the exorbitant fees we have spent on private consultants, blood tests, procedures, treatment. And research has shown a doula can:

  • Shorten first-time labour by an average of 2 hours
  • Decrease the chance of caesarean section by 50%
  • Decrease the need for pain medication
  • Helps fathers participate with confidence
  • Increase success in breastfeeding

After all the extreme measures I’ve taken from preconception, and throughout the pregnancy, I really just want to give the little buddy the best, safest birth experience I can give him. If a doula can help with that I am inclined to go with one. I also see it as another way to try to overcome the fear and anxiety that has become second nature to me in the last three years.

It’s still a long way off but thinking about these things now helps to me focus on the day I might actually meet this little guy.

Have any of you used a doula or know anyone who has? Am I insane for considering it? Does anyone regret it? Were you happy with the decision?