My pregnancy had been straightforward, only frequent nausea superseded by stinging heartburn had been the price to carry my little angel. She hadn’t caused me any worry or alarm. In fact, my Consultant stated that he was impressed at my healthy blood pressure at each clinic visit as well as my level of fitness and energy. I was secretly smug, feeling I had proved that older mums can have a good pregnancy, especially if they live a consistently healthy(ish) lifestyle prior to falling pregnant.
I ended up spending 6 days in hospital after my little girl was born at 10.04 on 11th March. She was small and fragile, but healthy. I was, and still am, grateful for this little treasure who has chosen to live with our family and who trusts us to raise her and guide her in life!
I was taken down to theatre around 8pm later that evening after I’d started to bleed in bouts (post partum haemorrhage). In my naivety, I thought this was something that was common to most new mums and ‘had to be done’ as a precaution. My baby was wheeled down behind me, as were my belongings, and all placed in one corner of the room. She slept the whole way and for a number of hours later.
Once in the room, a team of nurses swarmed around me and I was hooked up to various machines. There was little small talk. I was asked several times what my little girl was called, but I explained that my husband and I couldn’t agree on a name yet! As I gazed around the room I was impressed at the teamwork of the nurses and the efficiency with which they carried out their roles. Each new the part they were playing. I wasn’t aware what they were giving me but I know they said my name each time they administered a fluid into my veins and told me what it was. A doctor, who never made eye contact, advised a speculum was being inserted to catch the flow of blood to measure it ….a nurse stated they had collected 500 ml…….900 ml…..now a 1000 ml…..I heard them announcing the time certain medicines were injected (9pm , then 9.30, don’t remember much after that). I noticed a nurse was vigorously massaging my stomach for the entire time and I thought that this action should hurt as I’d had my C-section only hours before. I didn’t feel a thing! It hadn’t dawned on me that I had been given a strong painkilling drug! I was given gas & air and every inhaled breath made me feel lightheaded and drowsy. I felt I was drifting off and remember thinking that this is strong stuff! I looked over at my sleeping bundle of joy wondering if my condition could be fatal and would she be left without her mother. I thought I can’t die without giving her a name. ‘Charlotte’ I said to the nearest nurse ‘Her name is Charlotte’.
I wasn’t sure where this name came from as it wasn’t on my top 5, nor my husband’s, but it felt right.
Then a nurse told me I was being given warm fluid to raise my body temperature. I realised I was sweating. I asked her outright if my condition was dangerous as my thoughts had turned to my own mother who had not survived a hospital operation two years before, and had been given a warm fluid in intensive care to warm her cold body as she lay unconscious, the family around her willing her to survive. She couldn’t and didn’t.
‘Could this be fatal?’ I asked a nurse, as I looked down at the large pools of blood spilled over my bed sheet, over my legs, splattered on the cabinet next to the nurses, then looked back to my young daughter, sleeping soundly. ‘I have up to 7 shots of this anti-clotting drug I can give you. You’ve only needed two shots so far’, she said. ‘That sounds fairly positive’, I thought to myself.
I was given oxygen to inhale alongside the air and gas. Time stood still for me. One by one the nurses left the area, including one who had been splatted on the face by my blood caused by an over zealous ‘collection’ by the overseeing doctor who had been manually lifting the fluid into bowls to be accounted for. ‘Yuk!’ I thought ‘Poor lady!’
Then it was over. I lay in recovery for a few hours , then was asked if I was able to walk around before being taken back to the maternity ward. So at 3am I found myself gingerly shuffling up and down the corridor feeling proud of my attempts.
I was back in a ward around 4am. Disorientated. Tired. Sore. And Charlotte wanted fed!
Despite my mini-drama, I was woken at 05.30 by a soft tapping against my bed…the daily ward cleaning was underway and a brusque Auxiliary was mopping around me, the head of her mop gently brushing against my bed frame. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. No long lie-ins for me in this ward. Well, better get used to it!! Preparation for things to come as a new mum!