Eleven years ago today my life changed forever. I became a mum. I actually always had that mothering nature, I was a surrogate mother to over 300 students in my job at the University and my friends thought of me as their mum away from home as I would feed and look after them all. It was just in my nature.
Nathan Thomas Errington was born at 8.03pm on Friday 7th July weighing 7lb6oz. My pregnancy was fine for most of it. I hardly had morning sickness, I worked up until I was 35 weeks before I was signed off and told to rest. I did get heartburn and I did have SPD, but with the size of my bump that’s not a surprise. Being only 4ft10 and having this huge bump did cause some issues and people expected me to pop at any given moment.
At 39 weeks and 2 days, a Monday, I had a standard hospital visit to check how things were progressing. I had been having twinges for the last week and been taken into labour and delivery twice already so they were keeping an eye on me. In the July heat wave, surrounded by world cup mania, I waddled myself off the bus and into the women’s unit for my tests. Tests went as planned and I was sent home. I wandered through the city centre and did some shopping before heading home. As I walked in the door, my mobile rang and it was the hospital. I needed to come back, now. Some markers were flagging for pre-eclampsia and they wanted me back in – now!
I went into panic mode. My mum lived 250 miles away and was due to travel down in the next few days, my partner was at work and I now needed to get all my kit and bags to hospital without having a melt down. If you have been pregnant you will know that is not an easy thing to achieve.
Taxi to the hospital, my mum now rushing from Scotland by train, my aunt rushing from Milton Keynes by train and my partner? Very laid back about the whole situation and would see me sometime after he finished work as he was convinced that the baby would be a while yet. And to be fair, he was right.
The markers suggested that I needed to be induced and I was hooked up to various drips and given something up my hooha to get contractions going. I sat on the maternity ward, I watched women in labour come and go. I watched them come and go for 72 hours and my baby had decided that he was going to be stubborn and not come.
After three days of tests, three days of being poked and prodded, three days of hospital food I had a full on bitch fit in the maternity ward. I had already had too many doses of a drug they were using to set my contractions off, and me being the nerd that I am knew that any more could seriously harm my baby and me so I decided to refuse all further treatment. My baby, my body, my crazy pregnant woman mindset. I was not to be challenged.
Thursday afternoon and the choice of lentil soup, cottage pie or egg salad from the dinner cart doing the rounds and I decided I was going home and no one could stop me. I wanted my own bed. I wanted Chinese food. I wanted to be me. So I did. Much to the doctors objections and protests, I waddled myself out and to freedom, on the one condition that I would report to labour and delivery at 8am the following morning.
At home with the watchful eye of my mother expecting a baby to arrive at any moment, I ate Chinese food and drank tea, watched ER and slept. A proper sleep without being woken by women in labour screaming for help. I begrudgingly agreed to go back to hospital the following morning.
By 8.05am I was in Labour and delivery, hooked up to every monitor and drip going. At 8.10am I had my waters broken as my baby was arriving today and that was the end of discussions. My birth plan out the window I was told to keep walking about to get gravity to do the work and with my waters being broken, all the drugs being fed into me, it was only a few hours till I would meet my son and it would all be over. BOLLOCKS!
12pm I was 2cm dilated, which I was on both Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. My drug doses were turned up and I was off to walk again.
3pm I was 3cm dilated and the nurses could see that I was tired and getting cheesed off. I was not in active labour and was not having any form of contractions. It was decided that just in case anything should happen, I should have an epidural now so it’s in before everything kicks off.
4pm epidural and an hour’s sleep.
5pm I WALK myself to the bathroom. In passing I tell a midwife that epidural suck and I’m still feeling everything. I am checked over, no change in dilation so my epidural is topped up and all the drugs turned up to max to get me going. 20 minutes later all my alarms are going off, I am losing consciousness and the babies heartbeat is lost.
This balancing act of juggling drugs, epidural, and whatever else was being thrown at me continued for another 2 hours and most of it did get very foggy as I was in and out. I can remember my mum crying, lots of people rushing about, some paperwork being put in front of me and my mum helping me sign my name. The anethatist came in and poked my legs and I told him I could still feel everything but I was ignored, being told that I didn’t know what I was saying.
7.25pm and I am being rushed down the hallway to the operating room as it was difficult to keep any trace of a heart beat on my baby even though they had attached a monitor to his scalp. My partner walked in to the operating room in blue scrubs looking like an extra from ER. I was placed crucifixion style on the operating table, arms open and tied down with monitors and drips all over me. If I had my hands free at that point I honestly would have attempted to kill my partner, who in an effort to distract me from the goings on decided to give a running commentary on the goings on around me but suggest that the doctors were all badgers.
As he is whispering tales of badgers eating crisps to me on my left hand side, the staff in that operating room honestly thought they must have a psych patient on the table as I was screaming about not being able to see badgers, that the badgers were not real and that no one should be eating crisps but me. In between these badger outbursts I was shouting at the anethatist to my right that I could still feel everything that was going on as they prepped me for an emergency cesarean section.
It was touch and go if my partner could stay in the room as the c-section started, it became obvious I could still feel everything as I was screaming so much when they stared, it was a searing hot pain across my whole stomach. Nurses and doctors rushed to get my baby out while trying to keep me calm – more talk of badgers from my partner – and me refusing to be given a general to knock me out fully until I knew that my baby was safe. At 8.03pm Nathan was delivered and he took his first breath 60 seconds later. That minute of waiting, to hear him cry was the longest minute of my life. He was bundled up and handed to his Dad who quickly showed him to me and then was pushed out the operating room to go and introduce Nathan to my Mum and Aunt who had been waiting since this morning.
As soon as I knew everything was fine I consented to a general and I woke up at 2am in recovery. There were complications after the birth and I was in a bad way. The doctors struggled to get the hemorrhaging under control and to get me stable. At 3am I was taken back into labour and delivery where I finally got to meet Nathan and have skin to skin contact with him. Everyone was still waiting for me and I shooed them all off home. After a quick cuddle with my baby I was taken to the ward and Nathan was placed in the nursery so I could sleep.
I drifted in and out. There were 5 other new mums in the same room as me with babies beside them. Every time one cried I would jump thinking it was Nathan and panic. When my mum arrived in the morning it was clear that I was still in a bad way and I was moved to a private room to recover. I was delivered my baby and left to get on with it. Of course I had my partner there and my mum but I have never felt so hopeless in all my life.
In the afternoon I was told I needed to get up and get out of bed. I was ordered to have a shower and get into some proper clothes. My mum had the baby and was happy to have a go at changing his nappy while I had a shower with help from my partner. The heat of the bathroom, the loss of blood, being on my feet suddenly meant that I did a spectacular attempt at hugging the floor and passing out – just at the same time as Nathan decided to projective vomit and poo all over my mum. With me on the floor, my partner trying to drag me out of the bathroom and the emergency call buttons being pressed, Nathan’s first 24 hours in the world were certainly eventful.
Sunday we had visitors and I managed to get up and be sociable for a short while. But I was not a happy bunny being in a square white room on my own for most of the day. By Monday morning I had dragged myself and the crib to the nurses station and I signed my discharge papers because I wanted to go home and have some normality. I wanted to enjoy my baby and my family. By 12.30pm I was home and I finally relaxed.
My recovery was not easy but I got there in the end. After the first few days of struggling with feeding and working out how this tiny human functioned, I finally relaxed and started to enjoy real motherhood.
People always ask if I am having any more children and even though I love being a mother, I do not think I could go through that trauma again. My boy is perfect and our split family unit works, it’s not conventional but what is these days. Nathan turned 11 today and it has been amazing to see him grow and develop his own personality. I’m looking forward to seeing how he changes in the next eleven years!