Wednesday, 21 January 2015

After the birth

by Bex

So, our birth story was pretty straightforward, better than I imagined and we got some amazing photos of the event which I'm so chuffed with.  The next part was a bit harder.  I lost quite a lot of blood in theatre (1 litre) which left me a bit anaemic and therefore more tired than expected and extremely pale.  I was in a bit of pain following the surgery as well and had a catheter so was stuck in bed for the first day or so.  As a result, Nik changed all the nappies while we were in hospital and I only had to worry about feeding them.

I often felt like we were in our own little world, I had absolutely no idea what the ward was like as it is a corridor of private rooms and we were in the first room so I hadn't seen the rest of the place pre-surgery.  I was glad we had a window with some daylight coming in and a view of trees.  I found the nights quite long and hard and was glad to have my phone as a connection to 'the outside world' - it all sounds very dramatic but it was a bit surreal during those first few days and nights.

The first day was spent in a haze of newborn snugglieness with lots of skin to skin as the twins and I tried to get the hang of breastfeeding.  I have written a post about my breast feeding experience so I won't go into that much here but I did find it easier than I expected at first before it became very difficult due to the pain I experienced.  I also found it hard not knowing if they were even getting anything but their sheer cuteness was the perfect distraction to any worry, pain and tiredness.  I loved looking at them (obviously taking dozens of photos) and just spent the day amazed at how lucky we are - they were here at last!

Because Mum had come in with us in the morning so she could take the car home while we were in hospital, she basically just stayed in our room while I was down having my section so we got to keep her all day!  ;)  It was lovely being taken back up from recovery knowing she was in our room to meet the twins.  Later that day Nik's parents came for visiting time for lots of cuddles and many more pictures were taken including our first as a family of four.

Kalyan trying to latch on to Nik's face!

(Shame about the lanolin stains!)

Opening the gift from Alison

After visiting time I was supposed to be getting helped to get out of bed and mobilise, have a shower and get my catheter out.  Unfortunately when someone came to help with this I was feeding so they said they'd come back later and never did.  This ended up being a bit of a pattern the following day too as the first time someone came I hadn't had any painkillers and despite trying to get up it was far too painful and I ended up in tears so we had to give up until I had some pain relief.  The next time someone came, I was feeding again.  We tried pressing the call button and were told someone would come as I was now quite uncomfortable having been sat in the bed for over 24 hours.  Eventually we gave up waiting as I got quite upset and Nik had to help me get up, carrying my catheter bag into the shower with me.  I was in a lot of pain and found it extremely difficult to move but managed to give myself a much needed rinse in the shower before hobbling to the chair in our room.  I was desperate to get back into bed as I was exhausted just making the effort to move (which we later learned was due to my anaemia) and became out of breath quickly but the bed was soaked in blood despite my maternity pads being changed regularly by the nurse.

We tried the call button again to get the bed changed so I could get back in and had to wait quite a while again, being uncomfortable in the chair.  Once I was back in bed, they said they'd come back to remove the catheter but this didn't happen until visiting time in the evening.  Generally we were very well looked after in Pembury - when staff were available, it just seemed they were really short and struggled to help us when we needed it.  We were left alone for very long periods as we tried to get to grips with being new parents and having had a section this was much more of a struggle as I was also finding it hard to recover following the surgery.

My bloods were checked on the first day and noted to have low haemoglobin due to blood loss but they weren't too concerned as they knew I'd lost 1 litre of blood in theatre.  It wasn't checked again until day 3 and before we got the results, one of the midwives was talking about me going home the next day.  I could barely walk to the toilet never mind down to the car!  When one of the junior doctors came to review me, he agreed that we could stay as we didn't feel ready to go home yet.  He returned a couple of hours later to say he was glad we weren't ready to go as my haemoglobin was now below the threshold for a blood transfusion which explained my shortness of breath and extreme tiredness.  It was a relief to know there was a reason and I wasn't just pathetic!  It turned out I had lost a lot of blood postpartum as well as in theatre and had just half the blood volume I should!

He recommended I get a full 4 units of blood to make sure I was well topped up back to where my levels should be, especially as we had twins, his consultant agreed I should receive a transfusion to make sure I was strong enough to cope with twins when we returned home.  He said it would take a while to organise as they needed a new blood sample as the previous one was now out of date for a group & save but that I would at least get one unit that day before the remaining 3 the following day.

Sadly that didn't happen either, the midwives said they would only be able to do it before 9pm (as in it had to have been transfused by then) and if they didn't get the blood by then we'd have to be transferred to the labour ward to receive it overnight but that would only happen if they had room to take us.  We really didn't want to have to move everything and the twins and hoped we wouldn't have to move anyway.  The midwife on night shift said she'd be happy to do it where we were if she could start it by 9 but despite her calling for the blood numerous times, it never came.

We eventually received it the next morning, once the handover and breakfast was done!  The 4 units were finally finished by midnight!

It was amazing how quickly I felt better, even after the first unit!  It made such a difference when dealing with the babies and generally recovering following the birth.

Already getting a bit more colour in my cheeks!

As a result of receiving a blood transfusion, I've been told I can no longer give blood.  I thought it might be for a certain period of time but I'm never allowed to donate again.  As a result, I'd like to urge those of you who can to please, please donate blood.  It made such a difference to me and of course can be even more essential in other situations to save lives!

During all this blood drama, I was well distracted by our gorgeous babes of course ;)

They each had a security tag added to their ankle which set off an alarm if they were to leave the ward!

Yet another thing bringing me down during those first few days was the rash which had started as a small patch under my belly button (the bit that's now purple below!) spread throughout my stretch marks across my whole belly.  It was extremely itchy and uncomfortable.  I asked Nik to take photos to document it as well as the size of my bump post-delivery as I was surprised just how big it still was once the babies were out.  It was initially very deflated looking but then became quite round again as I mobilised.  I found it quite uncomfortable due to it hanging down onto my wound once it was no longer stretched out with the babies inside, it took a while for me to be able to walk without supporting it with one hand.  I also got quite a lot of back pains similar to the Braxton Hicks I experienced in the days before the birth.  They explained this was due to my uterus contracting quickly due to the breast feeding.  The photos aren't pretty but I thought they might be useful for other new mothers who might experience the same horrible rash (Polymorphic Eruption of Pregnancy).

Unfortunately the rash became much worse, spreading across my whole body - the only places not affected were my face and chest.  It took about 3 weeks for the rash to disappear and another couple for the itching to fully disappear from my legs.  This made sleeping really difficult even when the twins were asleep which was an extra added difficulty for those first few weeks being a new mum too!

Anyway, eventually it was time to leave the hospital and on the last day, I just happened to receive a call from our local midwife checking up on me as she'd seen I was due soon.  I explained we'd had the twins and were being discharged that day and she asked how everything was.  I told her about the section, the blood transfusion and my difficulties breast feeding and Kalyan's tongue tie and she asked if we'd like to go there for a stay before going home.  There being Crowborough Birthing Centre which was much closer to home.  She explained that they only had one mother currently there so we'd receive one to one care and we wouldn't be taking a bed away from anyone as they had plenty spare.  She seemed very keen for us to go (we think they're fighting to keep it open) and we'd heard great things about the place when we went to an NCT baby show a few weeks before.  Some mothers there described it as being like a holiday while recovering and suggested we ask to recuperate there if we could (we couldn't since we were having twins but since we were now being discharged, they could take us).  So, off we went to have a couple of nights there to help us feel more ready before heading home.  It was the best choice we made but I'll save that story for another post!

It was quite late by the time we were discharged so we left in the dark after dinner to make our way there.  I was terrified of the first car journey so padded out my wound under the seat belt and Nik drove very slowly.  It was actually fine (I was also given morphine before we left to help with the trip) and we made it there by about 7pm.

Heading outside for the first time!

1 comment:

Tuff said...

Loved reading about your experience.
So sorry about the awful rash! - and thanks for writing about it: it's so great to have an honest account of parenthood :)
Also: I can't believe how much your little ones have grown already! They look SO small in those picture (and SO cute :)

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