My birth story…by Gabby

I had hardly any sleep the night before the big day.  I lay in bed thinking about this huge bump and what was going to happen. I was going to be a mum to not one but two babies in a matter of hours! Up until that day it all seemed a bit like it was all a game – a being pregnant game, and one that had not been very pleasant most of the time. But this was real. This was really happening to Andy and me.

6.30am. My sister Leigh arrived to pick us up in her brand new car.  I could only think  I hope I am not sick in her car! I felt really sick! Sick with nerves, worry, anxiety, excitement, the overwhelming feeling of love for Andy that I have. I was sick just before we left the house – oh how I looked forward to the pregnancy sickness being over! It was a beautiful, warm July morning.  the roads were quiet – it was so early! I was getting text messages every few minutes from friends and family wishing me luck.  I phoned Mum in South Africa, how I wanted her with me!

We arrived at the hospital and went up to the ward after a couple of photos in the car park by Leigh. The “before” pictures! They were not ready for me in the ward so we sat on a couch in the hall until my room was cleaned. In the room I was told to get unpacked and wait for the nurse to come and speak to me. We sat, waiting, feeling the emotion,. You could have cut it with a knife. Poor Leigh,  she is not very good with hospitals but she was a great support to me and in the absence of my Mum she was the very next best thing.

The nurse came, went through things and gave me a rather fetching gown to put on. Leigh insisted of having a photo of me in that as well so I held the back so my bum wasn’t in the shot!

Then it got closer. I had cream put on my hand and lower spine to numb them; blood taken to check my blood type (I kind of thought they would have known that, given that it was all pre booked!!!) and then the time came it was section time. I gave Leigh a hug.  I was fighting back the tears. I wanted her to be in there with us – me and my hubby, about to become a Mum and Dad and I wanted her there too. Maybe she would have fainted, been sick and just not coped with the mess, so I didn’t even ask her though I feel now maybe I should have.

After shuffling along the corridor with my bum hanging out and my red fluffy slippers on we finally made it to the pre op room. So many machines, lights and people! I hadn’t really thought about how many people would be there. Andy just looked so dazed, and scared too. I just wanted to hold him tight and tell him it would be okay but I was terrified myself. What was happening to me ? I had no idea about what was going to happen next – no one had really gone through it with me in very much detail.

I was put up on a table, and asked to take off my slippers. For some reason all I could think of was losing my slippers and not getting them back ! I was told by a doctor to try and lean forward as far as I could but to stick my bum out and arch my back… WITH THIS BELLY ??  You must be joking!  I didn’t really feel the epidural needle but the stuff going in was like fire.  I was too excited and apprehensive to feel recognise it as real pain though. Within seconds I couldn’t feel my legs.  I could tell they were there but I count do anything with them. Then the catheter was put in, and I didn’t feel a thing!

I was then lifted onto a trolley and wheeled into the theatre. There seemed to be hundreds of people milling about, and as ever I had  Andy by my side. He looked around, held my hand and went white. He looked as terrified as I felt! A frame and then a sheet were put up so that we couldn’t see anything. I remember looking into the big lights to try and see if I could see a reflection of my belly but I couldn’t. Then the operation began. Music was playing although I couldn’t tell you what it was. I remember lying there thinking this was like watching an episode of Casualty, only I was the star!

Some time later, I don’t know how long, I asked if they had opened me up yet.  Yes they had, apparently there was a HUGE pool of my blood on the floor (I lost 2ltrs of blood during the operation) and poor Andy could see it! He has told me since that they were wading around in it! I then felt some tugging and like they were kneading my belly but no pain. A very odd sensation indeed. It’s very hard to describe. Then a sudden rush of activity, a big pulling feeling and ..a baby !

At 11.27am a tiny little foot and some bright ginger hair went passed my head. It’s a boy! 5lbs 4oz. Then more movements and commotion, 11.30am – It’s a girl! 6lbs 7oz.  I didn’t see this baby they were rushed off. Isn’t it lovely, two boys, one of the people said.  Mmmmm, I had thought I had heard it was a boy and then a girl so she went to find out. It WAS a boy and a girl, James and Eilidh I immediately thought. My babies, our babies! Andy kissed me and I cried. I wanted to see them.

Then the consultant came to me and said that they had found a cyst in my womb and that they were just going to remove it while I was still open but not to worry, as it was quite common.  I didn’t even notice anything happening, the emotion of my little babies had taken me over.

Its quite common with caesarean Births that the baby or in our case babies need a little help to start breathing and then there they were – first the tiny little red haired boy with a very serious looking wee face and then the bright red and chubby cheeked little girl with a mop of dark brown hair. Overwhelming immediate feelings of love rushed through me, I just couldn’t take the emotion. I cried my eyes out. I held James for a bit while Andy held Eilidh, then my arms went all shaky and I had a sudden shooting, agonising pain in my shoulder.  James was taken from me and I was given morphine – something to do with trapped air under my diaphragm.

A while later James and Eilidh in cots on wheels, me on a bed with a drip and Andy following, were taken to the recovery suite. Andy went off to tell Leigh and make some announcement phone calls, he was in shock! I lay there and a nurse came and put Eilidh to my breast as she thought that she looked ready to suck, was she heck! She never did suck!!! Neither of them did!

It’s all a bit of a haze, the next couple of hours but I remember being taken back to the ward with my babies and seeing Leigh’s face.  I have never seen that look in her eyes before – a look I don’t think I will ever see again. It must have been quite overwhelming for her to see her sister looking the way I was after a major operation and then to meet her nephew and niece for the first time. She was a tower of strength for Andy and me that day!

There we were, my husband and I and our two beautiful, perfect little babies. We had made them, I had grown them, and they were here. Our lives would never be the same again. It was all happening to us and they were so perfect.

Over the next few hours I tried to feed James and Eilidh but there was hardly any milk in my breasts. I massaged and Andy sucked up what little milk there was (into a syringe!) at one point he squirted it all up the curtain trying to get an air bubble out ! 25 minutes of tugging, rubbing,  like milking a cow to get 2.5mls of my milk out and he squirted it all away. Funny now looking back but at the time we were not happy at all!

We had LOADS of visitors and phone calls that afternoon, Mum phoned in floods of tears from South Africa,  she was so far away and both of us felt it.  Grandparents, Aunties, Uncles, Great Aunties, friends,  everyone seemed to come at once. Lots of photos were taken  I looked so drugged up and felt very rough but I was so happy and so overwhelmed that it didn’t matter.

Andy went home at about nine o’clock, Emma and Pete picked him up and they went out to “Wet the babies heads” and that they did! By 4am on Tuesday the 15th of July after numerous heel pricks to test his blood sugar levels James was finally diagnosed as having low glucose levels and the Midwife told me he was going to be taken along to neonatal care so that they could tube feed him as they needed to get some milk into him. I just couldn’t get any milk out of me and he was not sucking at all. So they came and they took him away at 5am.

I was heart broken my little baby, so new and so fragile, I hadn’t really had the chance to get to know him and they were taking him away. Eilidh however was starting to feed a bit better but not from me. So I made the difficult decision to put them both onto formula bottles. I felt like such a failure but it was the only thing I could do under the circumstances. They NEEDED milk and bottles were the only way! So, onto bottle-feeding and it all started to come together.

I spent the next few hours holding Eilidh, feeding her and crying. I wanted to be close to both of them and I was missing James and Andy so much. I felt so helpless and that I just couldn’t cope with the emotion. By nine o’clock I was wondering where Andy was, he had said that he would get the first bus and be here first thing. He didn’t even know about James yet. How was I going to tell him that I had not been able to take care of his precious new son?  It broke my heart.

So at 9.30am I phoned – he was still sleeping, too much baby wetting apparently. He sounded awful, I told him about James and I wept. I wanted him here with me, by my side like he always is,  he felt so far away. He was mortified, he had slept through his alarm. He arrived 45 minutes later, unshaven, looking like death warmed up and with a HUGE bunch of flowers for me.  I just wanted him to fix things.

He spent the next few days between my room, spending time with his wife and new baby daughter and also in the neo natal unit taking care of James, asking lots of questions and reporting back to his tearful wife. Andy is the reason I kept it together, he did everything for me, he was so special and I am a very lucky lady. He told me all the things he had found out in neonatal about James and he fed and changed him. I found the whole thing very difficult. The neonatal unit was so far away from my ward and it took me ages to get there, battling with the pain from the section.

The first time I went to see my son I cried. It was a room full of babies in incubators, with tubes, oxygen and they were all so little. James was in a plastic cot, all bundled up with blankets and he had tubes coming out his nose and hand. It just broke my heart to see my little baby looking so helpless and small and I couldn’t do anything. I held him in my arms and wept. The nurses were there to tell me about his progress but he was going to be here for a few days.

On Thursday the 17th of July Eilidh and I came home. Leigh came to collect us in the late afternoon once all the paper work had been done and I had been checked over by the Dr. I was torn between wanting to be at home, in my own bed and wanting to be near for little James. But I was doing him no good anyway. I was so useless and so helpless he was being taken very good care of by the staff and by his Daddy that I thought the best thing was for me to go home, recover a bit and get used to having at least one baby in our flat. When we got home, we put Eilidh down onto her cabbage patch and we just stared at her –  our daughter. She was in OUR care now,  no midwife, no doctors,  we were on our own now.

When we went to bed that night, after several phone calls to see how James was, we both lay in bed and just stared at Eilidh sleeping in her cot next to us. She was so small, so beautiful, so perfect our daughter.

James got better and his blood sugar levels went up over the next couple of days. Andy went to see him every day and he was allowed to come home on Saturday the 19th July, on a strict four hourly feeding routine. Cathy and I went to collect him. It was a funny feeling, I didn’t really know him, we had been apart from day two and I felt like he wouldn’t know I was his mummy. Cathy was brilliant; I kept bursting into tears on the journey there and back. It was all so overwhelming. I was so happy and also so proud that I was going to have my little family all in the one place again. I remembered to take the car seat but not clothes. I had forgotten to take clothes for my baby to come home in – not a good start I thought! But the nurses were fine and gave us clothes for him to wear.

Finally we got James home; we had two babies now to care for. Seeing James, our handsome little fella and Eilidh together on their mat on the floor was the most wonderful feeling, I was overjoyed. Andy just beamed with pride,  he was going to be a fantastic Daddy, I could tell! And I was their Mummy. They BOTH knew it and no matter what sort of start we had that would never change.

It was all up to us now, we were their parents and we had to get on with it and be the best parents we could. Which is what we have been doing ever since. We will have our ups and downs but we are a family now,  the Carlyon family!

My Mum always said to me that there is no feeling like the feeling of love you have for your children. I never really understood that until now. It’s completely overwhelming, amazing and indescribable. Its love that you have with your whole body and soul and it will never go away, infact it grows stronger and stronger as each day passes.

Love Gabby

to be continued….


My other birth story… by Gabby

“Just the one this time Mrs Carlyon” I was told at my booking in scan, due date of the 11th November 2005. James and Eilidh would be 2 years and four months when this baby was due… three children under three… cant be that bad can it??

The pregnancy itself was so different to my twin one, the sickness ended at 14 weeks (with the twins it lasted right up until the morning the were born), I didn’t get pelvic pain up until the last month this time (with the twins I had it from about 22 weeks and ended up couch bound for the last 6 weeks). The BIGGEST difference, only getting ONE scan! With the twins I had scan after scan after scan, I think we single-handedly paid for the New Royal Infirmary to be built with all the parking fees!

In June we decided to move house. I must say, I would highly recommend moving house when pregnant. All I had to do was point and wave my hands! No box lifting etc, great! We moved on James and Eilidhs 2nd Birthday, what some people will do to get out of having a children’s birthday party!

On Tuesday the 8th November I went to look out my window to see if my sister was here, she had arranged the day off to come and spend time with me before the baby arrived. She insisted on me waiting in for her. Fine I thought. So… I saw her car parking… a passenger in the car… Oh she has brought a friend. The “friend” got out; at  this point I am also wondering why she has parked so far away… “Friend” walks towards my house… OH MY GOD its my MUM!!! She lives in South Africa and had arranged as a surprise to be here for when my 3rd child was born! I went downstairs, opened the door, started shaking like a leaf and cried! I couldn’t believe it! I had been so worried about what was going to happen with J&E while I was in labour, in hospital and after the baby was born…now it was all sorted, Granny Ali was here!

Wednesday the 9th November…was really struggling now, day-to-day life with two toddlers and being almost due a baby. Had tried the usual stuff, pineapple, sex, driving over cobbled roads, wobbling up and down stairs etc etc. Saw Dr Liston at the hospital and arranged a section for Monday the 14th November… just in case… didn’t want mum to miss this baby arriving, she was only here for two weeks. The same night I went to bed at about midnight woke at about 1am feeling a bit odd and discovered my waters had broken.

Phoned the labour ward, MW said that I should go in to be looked at. Phoned my
poor sister (Andy doesn’t drive), she was hilarious (looking back that is), got here in
MINUTES from the other side of Edinburgh!

I had been told that I would be allowed to have a “trial” labour this time having had a section with the twins. I was terrified BUT really didn’t want to have another section if I could avoid it, with having two toddlers to look after as well. The thought of not being able to lift them up and cuddle them broke my heart… so push I would try! I was told that I wouldn’t be allowed to be in labour for too long and that they wouldn’t induce me. Lets hope this waters breaking thing was the start of labour. At this point I wasn’t having any contractions, just LOADS of fluid pouring out every time I stood up!

Got to the hospital with my sister leaving Andy sleeping at home (HOW I don’t know… wife off to hospital cos her waters have broken and he falls asleep again worrying about getting up for work at 4am!!!) was examined and told to go home. With having no contractions and not even slightly dilated there was no point in being at the hospital yet. So home I went. I don’t know whether it was my sisters hairy driving but as soon as she dropped me off at home and went off home herself to go to bed, I started getting contractions… slow to start off with, every ten mins or so… Then closer and closer, until it felt like one big long one. I phoned the hospital back who told me to get up there ASAP, phoned back my poor sister who had JUST got back into bed, she picked up my mum so she could stay with James and Eilidh, got here, I cried and off we went to the hospital. Andy by this point was super panicky and obviously worried about his wife!

3am got back to the hospital to be examined and told I was 4cm dilated… looks like this baby was on its way! Spent the next few hours walking round and round the courtyard outside to try and get things moving a long… 7am I was re examined… NOTHING!! Hadn’t dilated any more. Was sent up to the labour ward where they would give me a few more hours to see if anything was going to happen.

Nothing did so at midday they put me on a drip to try and get me a bit more dilated. Several hours went past with me bouncing around on a ball and sucking on gas and air, great stuff that… for the first few hours till it stopped helping… then I decided that I wanted an epidural. I was 7cm dilated. It was wonderful to start off with, and then it stopped working down my left hand side… I felt immense pain. Several different types of drugs, positioning and anaesthetists tried to get it to work… nothing helped at all, so numb down one side and full pain down the other was the way this baby was coming!

After a few ore hours of contractions and pain I cannot describe the midwives decided that the baby was in distress and so was I… they decided to do an episiotomy and use forceps  to get the baby out ASAP. Felt the cut being made, had several HUGE contractions, forceps used and at 9.33pm Hannah Alexander Carlyon was born, weighing in at 8lbs 1½oz. They placed her on my belly. I looked at her, fell in love and cried!

Now… try and picture this following scene… me there with new baby on belly, legs up in stirrups, Hubby all emotional, I notice Hannah is a bit blue… Midwives whack the alarm button, she isn’t breathing… student midwife is called over to watch the stitches being put in my cut… she takes one look and faints!!! WHACKS her head on a door and is carried out the room at the same time as a crash team come in and whip Hannah off me and take her away to get her breathing. In the mean time I delivered my placenta, had a wee look at that while they were giving me several injections down below that were MEANT to numb me so I didn’t feel the stitches being put in…. But OH yes I did!!! Felt every one.. I swore at the MW with every one!

At one point I remember Andy telling me to try and calm down… well take what he got!

Eventually I was all sewn up and Hannah was brought back into me, all pink, perfect and
healthy looking. She had just needed a wee bit of help to start breathing.

Then I started to shake and shiver, they checked me over and realised that my temp was over 40. Was given some sort of medication to bring that down but can’t remember what it was, all a bit of a daze. Turned out I had Strep B and ended up on an intravenous antibiotic drip for three days! It’s funny because people will tell you how quickly  you forget the pain of childbirth.. I thought they were lying, just saying it to cover up how awful it was. But its true.. I would say that by about the second day I had forgotten what contractions felt like.

My stitches were a bit sore but they were okay and to be honest, compared to having a section this was nothing! At least I could get up and walk, even if it was a John Wayne waddle. And when I got home… I could pick up James and Eilidh and give them a cuddle right away! The stitches themselves healed after about 6 weeks… would have been much quicker had I not popped them getting into the car coming home with Hannah…. Note to self… DON’T do that again!!

Hannah is now five months old as I write this,  she is a dream baby, has slept through the night since about 10 weeks from 7pm to 7am, finishes off her bottle, burps, smiles and sleeps. I couldn’t have wished for a better baby! James and Eilidh have taken to her so well, I was so worried about how they would react to a new baby and I needn’t have bothered! They are brilliant with her. They help me, they cuddle her, they feed her and most of all, and accept her. James is a true big brother and adores his little sister, he has a little soft spot for her, which is lovely, melts the heart to see.  Eilidh is very caring and tries to help when she can. James and Eilidh still have a special bond but its like they have just included Hannah into it… its truly heart warming to watch them.

Getting out the house has been a trial at times but is getting easier as the weeks go by. And the newest novelty… buying a single buggy! All in all I would say that having a single baby
after twins has been wonderful. I can’t remember or imagine life with out Baby Hannah now and am already seriously thinking about number four…although him indoors has other plans!!!  We shall see…

Love Gabby

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