You may have read our posts from the lovely Claire who shared her heartbreak at loosing her daughter Alexandra but also the joy at discovering her rainbow pregnancy. Today we are sharing the next instalment of their journey and the arrival of their gorgeous daughter Ophelia and how they have learnt to parent after loss.
Well it’s been one hell of a “journey” to get here but here we are just over 6 months as parents to our darling Ophelia. I would’ve written about her earlier on the blog if we didn’t have a crashing graphics card which rendered our PC completely unusable! I’m also suffering a bout of mastitis so apologies if I don’t make any sense at all! I’m also doing bits one handed as O doesn’t nap for very long! Let’s rewind a bit…
Monday 17th October 2016. We were booked in for the caesarean. At some unearthly hour we said a slobbery ta ta to Humphrey the wonder-dog and meandered our way into Leeds. I was duly deposited on to the delivery suite while Andrew went and parked the car. I was asked about movements – yep happy with them and I was left to wait. There was a poor woman early labouring opposite me whilst I was sat twiddling my thumbs getting more nervous by the second. As Andrew had requested that we weren’t in the same theatre as where we had Alexandra we had to wait for the second slot of the day.
A couple of hours later the consultant and anaesthetist came to talk about the procedure. The consultant was probably the most poshest person I’ve ever met! He sounded like Captain Duff from “The High Life”. Captain Duff asked me which elements I was most worried about – that would be the needle going into my back and the first incision. EEEEERRRLACK. If he could just get on and do it without telling me when things were happening that would be great. Before I knew it a midwife appeared and introduced herself and asked if I had a hat and nappy ready for the baby? My immediate internal reaction was “why?” it still hadn’t dawned on me that we had a good chance of not only this baby being born healthy; we’d probably actually get to take her home.
When I first walked on to the suite I didn’t really recognise where I was from when we had Alexandra so I thought “great; I can do this.” Yeah….. as I walked to the operating theatre I instantly knew where I was as it all came flooding back. My legs held out and I made it into theatre. The first challenge was to get a cannula in my hand as my veins kept blowing oh the joys. In the end a green one was put in; I highly suspect this was a child’s size! The spinal was swiftly put in and once it took effect we were rocking. During the cannula frustration there was a search for a CD player – got to have my Michael Jackson playing! My consultant Dr Breeze popped his head round the door to say hello – not that I saw him what with being on my back and paralysed!
After a few minutes of pulling around out came Ophelia! She was lifted up and she looked like a blue little alien pod with her arms and legs scrunched up to her chest. My immediate thought was “I’ve just given birth to my husband!” Thankfully my community midwife (most awesome midwife ever) had warned me that babies don’t always cry when they’re fetched out so I wasn’t to panic if she didn’t. She finally cried when she was being cleaned up – what a relief! Andrew went with her as she had her checks done (sailed through) and he informed me that she was 8lbs 4oz. She was fetched out via the sunroof at 38 weeks and was on the 93rd percentile – I’d grown another hairy whopper!
We went around to recovery and Ophelia latched and fed for about an hour – so breastfeeding would be easy for us….. ha ha ha nope it wasn’t to be rainbows and unicorns for me on this front.
When my hormones crashed 3 days in I felt truly awful. I flipped between wanting to hold her 24/7 and not wanting to put her down as the last baby I put down in a crib was Alexandra when we had to say goodbye. When Ophelia was in the crib next to me I could barely look at her as she looked so much like her sister in profile. As far as I was concerned this was the wrong baby. I should’ve had Alexandra not Ophelia.
We expected to go home on Wednesday night but unfortunately Ophelia became badly jaundiced and as a result became difficult to rouse to feed and found it extremely difficult to latch. She lost 10.8% of her body weight. The support workers assured me I was doing everything right it was that Ophelia was finding it hard. One of the reasons was that my nipples were too big for her mouth; oh the shame! I expressed and promptly filled up the fridge – I was an over supplier. Ophelia spent 2 ½ days under the sunlamp to treat her jaundice and we finally went home on the Saturday night.
We bought some readymade formula as a backup and we hired the hospital grade pump as we had no idea how we were going to feed this child. The midwife who did the home visit basically put the fear of god into us that we weren’t feeding her enough and so we had to embark on feeding her, expressing and changing her nappy every 3 hours around the clock. I was ready to drop. I was kept under the care of the community midwife team for a lot longer than normal to give me extra support. I remember being sat in my midwife’s office with engorged boobs that were overflowing at my wits end with breastfeeding. I just wanted to walk out of everything; it was too hard. I’ll admit it now but I did need Andrew to give me that extra push. We decided to give it 3 more weeks and if she still hadn’t got it we were canning it. One of the support workers spotted that Ophelia may have had a posterior tongue tie. We were referred to the LGI and the doctor there said it would be 50/50 if it would work. Ophelia had been getting the hang of left boob but not right and after her little snip she completely cracked it and we haven’t looked back since. Honestly, for me breastfeeding once established has made life so much easier. We’re using re-usable nappies and I really didn’t want to be washing nappies and sterilising bottles. Once Ophelia was back to birth weight we could feed on demand and away we went.
I was referred to the counselling team to help with my bond with Ophelia. At first it was really difficult as I was acutely aware I didn’t want to mess it up for her – she didn’t deserve a Mummy who looked at her with sad eyes all the time. The early days were marked by me sobbing onto her little head. I’m still figuring out how to enjoy her but remember Alexandra at the same time. In reality all I needed was time and now I think our bond is pretty awesome. We’ve lucked out as most of the time she is really chilled out, very smiley and only screams the house down when she’s tired and refusing to give in. She slept through from roughly 8 weeks but now she’s got into the habit of waking up for a 3am feed since we started weaning. It’s probably best that it’s happening now as I feel a lot more emotionally stable to be able to deal with. There was talk of prescribing me with antidepressants at the start but I wasn’t willing to breastfeed while taking them even if they were safe so I persevered with the counselling route.
I started baby classes in the New Year. I held off as the run up to Xmas was too hectic and I couldn’t drive for 6 weeks anyway. I was also really hesitant in putting myself out there as the first question people always ask is “is this your first?” ermmmmm. We didn’t do NCT again which was the right decision during pregnancy but it meant that I felt even more isolated once I started to try and get a routine. I’ve basically done the classes that were recommended to me and I’ve now got a policy of telling the truth in baby groups and lying to random people in shops. Random people don’t get to have that precious part of me and baby groups are a safe space to be able to talk about both of my babies.
When it came to choosing Ophelia’s name we had a long list again. We couldn’t decide really. I liked quite a few names and really wanted another name beginning with “A”; my favourite being Ada. I thought I had fighting chance in convincing Andrew to go for this as Ada Lovelace is considered to be one of the first programmers and he’s an engineer I thought he would go for it. Nope; Andrew only liked Ophelia. A few weeks before we went into hospital to have her I read that the meaning of “Ophelia” was to heal in Greek. That’s when the name was really sold to me – another Greek name for our girls and Ophelia does a pretty good job of helping us to heal every day.
So it wasn’t by any means an easy ride to get here. Andrew even started asking our consultant about the plan for subsequent children before we left the hospital! Gimme chance mate! But if we decide to have another baby we will have the same community midwife and consultant care which is good to know.