Life starts early in a hospital. Earlier still when you’ve been lying awake most of the night simply waiting for daylight to creep along the wards. Already washed and dressed by the time my 6am energy drink and medication alarm call rolled by. Ready for a final bump shot…
My first visitor was the anaesthetist who was to accompany me in theatre. I was asked whether I wanted an epidural, spinal, combination of the two or a general. The only thing I was sure of was that I would not have another baby delivered into this world while I slept. It was agreed that a spinal would be used and we talked about what this involved. And it started to sink in that this was really happening. I was being prepared.
To meet my baby, yes.
But to go back onto that table too.
Would it be in the same room that The Toddler was born in? Would there be that little love heart on the board by my name? Would anything be the same?
Or would it be like the other times instead?
What was going to happen when that knife was finally put to skin?
I was being prepared to be sliced open again, for the fourth time. They were going to pull my baby from my body. It was really going to happen.
My next visitor was a rather excited research nurse who told me that her team were very excited to hear that I was due to deliver my baby. They were currently working on researching IUGR- why it happens, what a placenta feeding an IUGR baby looks like, and what can be done to identify, prevent and treat IUGR. And my being just hours away from delivering had the team hopeful that I might want to donate my placenta to their research.
Despite feeling uncomfortable with crowds present during my last section (I agreed to donate samples to a team researching pre-eclampsia when The Toddler was born) I knew I couldn’t say no. Whatever information the team were able to get from my placenta would not give me any answers. I may never know what caused the IUGR but I might be able to help provide answers for someone else, somewhere down the line.
So forms were signed and my jolly research nurse and midwife took us over to the Enhanced Recovery ward, where the poppyseed and I were due to spend our first night together post birth.
Before we were even settled, we received our third visitor- a lady from the Anthony Nolan trust. Would I like to donate some blood and samples of my cord to their research team? Well, yes. Forms were signed and that was that.
I was once more connected to the monitor and ready to meet our fourth and final visitor- the surgeon who was due to operate on me. I was second on the surgery list and they wanted to do a quick trace of baby before she left began to prepare for her first patient. We talked about the fact that this was to be my 4th section and the surgeon reassured me that she would go very slowly as there was a good chance that the previous three sections had left me with lots of scar tissue. She was sure that my uterus would be weak and she did not want to risk it rupturing. We talked about how she would stitch me up. All so clinical, but strangely reassuring and lovely to meet her before the section.
Then the CTG. Again. Things were not looking good and the surgeon suggested the theatre order should be amended to place us top of the list. She was concerned about the previous readings alongside that morning’s trace, and the fact that baby was IUGR and this was a 4th section… too many risk factors. Too many reasons why baby had to come out now. More icy panic travelling down my spine. Emergency section… again?
It was decided that I should remain second on the list, since the person before me was due to deliver twins that were going to need to spend time in the NICU. The order of events was to remain unchanged, and the straps were removed. Yes, I was so grateful to be able to spend the last hour of my pregnancy free from the CTG.
And all that was left to do was to change into my gown and wait.