T-Minus 64 hours
Kirsty had now hit the 42 week mark, so at 8am on Monday 11th March we woke up, had an omelette and some coffee then Uber’d to St George’s Hospital for our 10am check-in. The next 62 hours went something like this:
- Constant & severe induction-related pain for Kirsty
- Long periods of uncertainty with nothing to do other than wait and hope that contractions would start soon; got to stay positive!
- Slow shuffles around St George’s corridors – got to stay active!
- Multiple daily trips to Pret for breakfast, lunch, dinner and long strong espresso’s. Whoever decided to install a Pret at St Georges, I salute you!
- Hardly any sleep for Kirsty due to the pain brought on by the pessaries. She feels this picture below best sums up how she felt for most of these 62 hours
- Plenty of sleep for me – I Uber’d home Monday & Tuesday night leaving Kirsty in the hospital (this was enforced, honestly)
- Fending off lots of well-intentioned messages from friends and family. If there is to be a next time we’ve decided we won’t be telling anyone our due date. A +/- ?? week date range is all anyone will be getting
- Lots of false alarms when we hoped that random stomach cramping might lead to contractions – they never did
- Re-watching Series 1 and 2 of Extras, and the Christmas Special. The iPad paid for itself. And apart from the actual arrival of Elsie this was my favourite part of the whole experience
As we went passed the 48 hour mark Elsie was now 16 days overdue – which is quite overdue by most known accounts. Conversations and decisions started to become more serious; Kirsty was really pleased that we didn’t waste any time writing a birth plan.
The hospital staff wanted us to continue down the induction pathway. After multiple membrane sweeps and 2 rounds of pessaries we were told that Kirsty’s cervix still hadn’t come forward or dilated enough. The next set of not very appealing options included artificially rupturing her membranes (breaking the waters) and synthetic hormones to stimulate the womb and hopefully bring on contractions.
We had hoped to have as natural a birth as possible – i’d bought a sieve for the birthing pool and was gutted that I wasn’t going to get to use it – so we’d already decided that the artificial hormones were not high on our priority list. After another inspection at the 54 hour mark the doctor advised that to even break Kirsty’s waters would be difficult, and he would recommend an epidural to manage that. And they would then put Kirsty on the synthetic hormone. None of this would guarantee a successful outcome and the clock was ticking. Generally the baby should be out by now, and we started to get nervous. I was particularly nervous now, but was trying not to let it show.
At this point we were incredibly fortunate to be able to call on the experience of very close family friends – my Mums best friend, Pat (who has been a midwife for over 50 years!) and her daughter Rosanna, a doctor, who has had two babies too. They both strongly advised us to elect for a caesarean section, something which we had considered as an emergency last resort up until this point.
It’s amazing how little Kirsty and I knew about the process process of actually having a baby, but we know now that a c-section is major abdominal surgery with it’s own serious risks. After taking all the factors in to consideration (we wrote them all down and discussed it all properly) and feeling the most grown up i’ve ever felt, we decided that a c-section was our preferred option.
Next, while tired, a bit confused and worried, we had to convince a panel of 3 doctors, all of whom seemed happy to let us continue down the induction pathway. A 30 minute debate ensued – one of the most bizarre and serious moments of my life – and they eventually agreed to let us opt for the c-section. It felt like a win. I was pleased with my persuasion skills. Kirsty was amazingly calm and level-headed throughout. I felt incredibly proud to be her husband and my respect for her (which was already really high obviously!) grew immeasurably during those hours.
St George’s have a low c-section rate which they are proud of. I don’t believe they would ever put mother and baby’s safety at risk, but it was Pat’s advice which sealed the deal for us; “if it was their daughter the doctors would be pushing for a c-section”.
T-Minus 11 hours
Cue the next period of waiting. Now on the delivery suite, in our own room for the first time, the next 11 hours ticked by very slowly. Kirsty was knackered by this point and was now having to fast ahead of her surgery. Kirsty is not known for her fasting abilities. She snacks constantly and found this restriction the most difficult part of the whole experience. It was really tough for me too as I had to sneak in my food & drink whenever she went to the toilet, so as not to make her too jealous. Solidarity, and all that.
We were also reaching the end of Extra’s Series 2. I’d kept the fact there was a Christmas Special up my sleeve – Kirsty has never seen Extra’s before. Thanks Ricky and Stephen!
Around 00:45 on Thursday 14th March 2019, on one of our regular slow shuffles down the corridor (remember bonobo bum), the head midwife, as we passed her desk, casually said “you’re going in now, go and get ready”.
After all the waiting around we were both excited and quite tired, and nervous. I was given some dashing blue scrubs and a few minutes later Kirsty was being wheeled into an operating theatre. I remember feelings of helplessness and blankness – I was thinking that I should be worried, but I weirdly I wasn’t. I think i’d just accepted whatever fate was coming our way. Apart from being really cold, it was really calm in the theatre. Very surreal. Magic FM was on the radio and all the staff went about their preparations diligently and professionally. We both felt in safe hands.
Kirsty was calm and collected, even before she was pumped full of pre-op anaesthetics. I remember feeling proud of her, in awe of the way she was dealing with this, her considerable inner-strength really shining through. She is a tough cookie.
The surgeon told us he was ready and KJ said go. George Ezra came over the radio and to the lyrics of “What you waiting for” baby Elsie was finally prised out of her cocoon and placed on to Kirsty’s chest, all slimy, squirming, crying, red and confused. Kirsty fell in love instantly, tears rolled down her cheeks. I was shell-shocked, it took me a minute to be confident everything was OK and they were both safe. Relieved beyond words when it became clear everything was fine, I stared in disbelief at this little bundle of noise. She looked so shocked, but within a minute had calmed down as she nestled in to Kirsty’s chest. It was the most incredible sight. I began to relax and fall in love with this new life.