Sunday, 19 December 2010

A birth, an update and an apology

I gave birth to a perfect baby boy on a misty morning in mid September.

I am so sorry to have been away for so long. I can see from recent comments particularly that my absence has let regular followers down and even caused some upset, and I feel terrible about that. Let me try to explain myself...

My son's birth didn't go exactly as planned. The tale is a post in itself - and one I promise to write - but the long and short of it is that he had to be delivered with forceps, as during the final part of the pushing stage his heart rate started to drop alarmingly with each contraction. That twenty minutes was the most terrified I have ever been, because I thought that after everything I was going to lose him right at the end. I'd had an epidural (in desperation after twenty-six hours of labour!) so he was on the fetal heart monitor, and his gentle, fast thudding was the soundtrack to my labour. The sound of when the thuds started to taper off into the occasional soft thump continues to haunt my nightmares.

A doctor was summoned and the expression on her face made my blood run cold. She told me we had to get him out now, and that forceps would be necessary. The next few minutes were simultaneously a blur of speed and seemed to last a lifetime. I watched with almost detached horror
as I was cut and the forceps inserted, and then I was told to push like there was no tomorrow. This I did, and then the room was filled with the best sound I'd ever heard (only recently superseded when he started laughing for the first time) and my screaming baby boy was delivered onto my stomach, shitting himself effusively in the process and covering us both in black, tarry meconium.

The reason for my long absence from the blog is that the combination of forceps and the speed at which his head was born left me with what the medical profession class a fourth degree tear. This means the cut in the vagina tears through the perineum (which in my notes is described as "completely disrupted", for which read "gone") and anus and into the bowel. I had to be taken immediately to theatre to address the blood loss and also to have a rectal specialist stitch me up, which took nearly two hours.

The upshot of all of this is that only now, with my baby just reaching the three month milestone, am I returning to normal life. The recovery process has been slow and physically gruelling; the pain of sitting in the early weeks was something else. Would you believe that today is the first time I've felt able to sit at the desk chair and spend time on the computer? It's true.

I'm describing all of this in a factual and rather clinical way because the last thing I want is anyone to think I'm eliciting sympathy. I don't even feel sorry for myself, never mind expecting other people to. I have what I've wanted forever, a healthy baby, something I know many people yearn for and can't have. If sustaining a bit of damage to my nether regions in the process is the price to pay, so be it. Flesh heals but I know that the pain of infertility does not. I am so very, very grateful for my beautiful boy.

I always, always intended to blog as soon as my son was safely born. It's just taken me a lot longer than I anticipated to be physically up to it. My reasons for not blogging more during the pregnancy are more complex. I'll do my best to explain...

I'd heard it said before I was pregnant that the first twelve weeks are the worst; that this is the time of fear and uncertainty about whether things will proceed as planned. Not so for me. I developed a wrenching dread of miscarriage and all complications of pregnancy after the first trimester, to the point where at the slightest twinge I was misguidedly consulting Dr Google and self-diagnosing with the worst case scenario every time. I did have quite a few complications as things turned out; nothing life-threatening for either my son or me, but enough to render me a nervous wreck and a frequent flyer at the local maternity assessment unit. The staff there were, for the most part, understanding and sympathetic; many times I was told that such levels of anxiety are common in IVF pregnancies because every step of the way you doubt both that this miracle is actually finally happening, and that your body, for so long your enemy, has the ability to do it.

I also became incredibly superstitious. I'm talking to the point of OCD. I wouldn't have the pram in the house till we were both safely home from hospital. And I developed a totally irrational superstition about my blog. Don't ask me why or how the idea came into my head, but I became fixated that if I continued blogging - and particularly, if I continued in my usual style, with comic griping about the trials and tribulations of stretch marks, having your cervix headbutted, and lakes of curious-looking discharge - that something bad would happen.

I know that's not really an adequate explanation for a nine-month absence, and worst of all for leaving regulars hanging as to my health and that of my baby. I only hope that it explains my action, or lack thereof, at least in part. I never, ever intended to upset or let anyone down.

I have so much to say about pregnancy, childbirth and the early weeks of becoming a mother. I sometimes feel like my brain is teeming with unwritten blog posts; a line will come to me now and then and I want to write it all up so much. I have so much to tell you all! I can only hope that those of you who can forgive my long absence stay with me and have the patience for shorter, less frequent updates snatched when the baby is asleep, as he currently is.

As always, thank you to everyone who has ever read and/or commented on my blog. I now need to catch up with the journey of all those bloggers I came to treasure, whose stories I've also been away from for too long.

I honestly, truly promise to write more soon. My birth story simply has to be committed to the blogosphere - after all my other graphic entries, a tale in which my anal sphincter is torn in two (yes, really, at 10 o' clock and 2 o' clock, according to the diagram in my notes) is too good not to tell! So I mean it when I say I'll be back soon. For now, lots of love.