Family · Pregnancy Care

Daphne’s Birth Story

Daphne is now 3 weeks old and I thought I should publish her birth story. When I think about it, Daphne’s birth story is almost the perfect example of a near perfect abdominal birth.

It was far away from Alexandra’s birth as possible and not quite at the same level of apprehension as Ophelia’s. What made Daphne’s birth slightly different was the extra layer of complication of the pandemic and having to isolate for 2 weeks in the run up to the birth and the nagging nerves in the background.

This time around we had the benefit of knowing that a baby can come home safely and grow into a lively 4 year old that very definitely knows her own mind. We owe a lot to Ophelia as she gave us a cushion of experience to draw on whilst being cautiously optimistic. During Daphne’s pregnancy I was able to say “when baby comes home” a lot more than I ever had with Ophelia’s.

It seems to be a running theme during the pandemic that we completed a week of isolation before the country went into lock down and this time was no different. The first week wasn’t so bad because Andrew was off work but the second week was challenging to say the least. We couldn’t take Ophelia out for walks to the park or take her to the playground to burn off energy, I felt guilty about the level of screen time she was getting and I was increasingly finding moving around more difficult due to general pregnancy aches and pains and my acid reflux was starting to reach unbearable levels. It got to the point where I either had a good day reflux wise followed by a horrendous night or vice versa. I wasn’t getting the rest I needed. Thankfully I had a community midwife appointment and a scan during our isolation period which broke up the weeks somewhat and provided reassurance during those last few days.

Getting some fresh air before the new arrival

Under normal circumstances we would’ve had the opportunity to take Ophelia out for some day trips as us three before her whole world turned upside down but thanks to lockdown, this is something that will niggle me that we weren’t able to do.

My nerves and anxiety during the days before my delivery date were steadily increasing to the point where I wanted to sit in a dark room and have a little hide away under a duvet. Despite being a fan of Dr Pimple Popper and Botched, I’m terribly squeamish about surgery on myself. As I had already had 2 c-sections it wasn’t really advisable for me to try VBAC and having another c-section gave me the advantage of knowing when; it gave me a definite date to aim for.

Eventually the big day came and we were due on delivery suite at 7am and we were second on the list. Our consultant had requested the same theatre that Ophelia was born in as opposed to the main theatre that Alexandra was born in. This was a major issue for us for Ophelia’s birth but it shows how far we’ve come that on the day we just requested whatever theatre made it easier for the surgical team.

I’d got my music choice of Six! The Musical sorted and as we’re old school had taken in a CD copy. Unfortunately, the only CD player to be found was very much strapped down and not moveable! This meant that it had to played on Andrew’s phone in a kidney dish for amplification! This also meant that Andrew had to concentrate on the song list on the CD and also to keep an eye on the ads. It would be sod’s law that baby would be born to an ad rather than a particular song and therefore which Queen.

We had decided against steroid injections to help with baby’s lungs as we hadn’t done this with Ophelia and because the scans showed that baby was likely to be a good weight we felt confident in our decision. The consultant doing the c-section offered them again and if we took them we would have to come back the day after for the c-section. No thanks; I’m “fired up; ready to go” I can’t wait another 24 hours!

The midwife assigned to us was absolutely amazing. I can’t praise her highly enough. She knew our history and we spoke about Alexandra’s birth along with Ophelia’s and as a result she requested that a neonatologist be in the theatre on standby in case of any breathing difficulties so we wouldn’t experience anything triggering like other medical staff running into the operating theatre.

I’d warned the anaesthetist that local anaesthetics can sometimes take a while to work on me and that my veins like to play up so I might need a smaller cannula. I thought that I’d anticipated where the issues might be but oh no no ma cherie, the cannula went in no bother…. Boom done excellent… The anaesthetist had decided to give me an epidural and a spinal block to give a back up just in case it didn’t take as quickly as needed or if one simply didn’t take.

The trainee and anaesthetist worked on my back for over an hour trying to get both of them in. I can’t remember which way round it was but whatever was going in first took the most time. My back just decided not to behave which wasn’t expected. What went in second was a doddle in comparison. As you can imagine sat hunched over on the edge of an operating table was not much fun. As time was ticking on getting the drugs into my back I suddenly felt really overheated and Andrew said I turned a delightful shade of grey and my blood pressure and heart rate plummeted and my vision went all sparkly and I nearly passed out. Bit of an inconvenience! I couldn’t feel my leg as a result of sitting awkwardly so my lovely midwife ended up massaging that and sticking a cold air blower up my gown so I ended up looking like the world’s least convincing Marilyn Monroe tribute act! Finally everything was in and we were ready for the surgical team to enter the room.

Family birth photo pandemic style

I will always be impressed by how well the surgical teams work in such fluid motion, it’s almost like synchronised swimming. Before I knew it, the team had got to work and it was seamless. A few moments later I heard a scream and the surgeon saying “hang on, you’re not even born yet” so clearly she was making herself known to the world before she had been completely fetched out! Andrew managed to clock what song was playing and Daphne made her grand entrance into the world to Jane Seymour’s power ballad “Heart of Stone” specifically to the lyrics:

“You can build me up, you can tear me down
You can try but I’m unbreakable”

Which was nice.

Andrew got all the nice jobs whilst I was being put back together: cutting the cord, getting the first cuddle and double checking her weight. She was a perfect 7lbs 80z which to us is a bit of a tiddler after 9lbs 150z and 8lbs 4oz babies! We then spent a couple of hours on recovery which was amazingly calm without grandparents being there. It meant we could keep our bubble going for a bit longer.

From there I was transferred to the post natal ward and Andrew was sent home. By this time we’d spent most of the day together so we were ok with Andrew heading home. Due to the pandemic the number of people on the post natal ward was very restrictive. Personally, I found this amazing as it didn’t feel as chaotic. There were no spouses chasing down medics, people arguing with the staff and discharging themselves against medical advice, no grandparents hovering around but crucially, best of all no Bounty staff with the heavy sell on photos!

Despite the quietness of a socially distanced bed layout it turned out that I had other Mums to chat to as there was a lady from SANDs and a lady from my NCT group on the ward so it wasn’t too lonely without Andrew being there.

Naturally, I’d forgotten how incapacitated you are after a c-section and I quickly got the weird shoulder pain due to trapped gas. Obviously I had a major wound, a cannula in my left hand and horrendous shoulder pain on my right side so it was rather difficult to get up and going to get my laps in and use the facilities to complete all the necessary ablutions before I could go home.

I decided that I was happy with how things were going with Daphne’s latch and went home the night after delivery and it was a lucky decision as the snow came down on the Thursday and we might’ve got stuck for a few days!

We’re now 3 weeks in to being a family of 2(3) girls and Ophelia has really risen to the occasion. I was worried that she might feel jealous or resentful of the newcomer. It turns out that she’s very protective of Daphne and eager to help out with nappy changes and frequently tells me when Daphne needs feeding! Humphrey dog has given Daphne a few kisses but generally sighs a lot and curls up for his mammoth naps out of the way.

Meeting of minds

I’m now halfway through the horrible anti clotting injections and once those are finished, I’m taking myself back to Slimming World to eat healthier and feel stronger within my core and generally feel fitter so I can keep up with both girls and Humphrey. You definitely need a strong core when Humphrey sees one of the many many things he’s scared of!

After much thought, we’re officially done with having babies. It’s been just over 6 years since we started building our family. Of those years nearly 3 have been spent pregnant and just under 2 puzzling over unexplained secondary sub fertility. Pregnancy with Alexandra was the most difficult physically but with Ophelia and Daphne the stress at times was unbearable. So we’ve made the decision that Team McLennan is now (in)complete.

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