It’s taken far too long, but here’s the second part of Sorsha’s birth story! If you haven’t already, you might like to read part one first!
I wasn’t fully aware what had happened until Allan came to see me after the operation. Sorsha had been taken to the intensive care unit as she wasn’t breathing properly. Allan had been so reassuring throughout the whole birth and this was no exception. He had already been to find out where and how she was. He knew I’d be worried but told me the facts and that she was being well looked after and monitored to make sure she was ok. Once he was sure I was fine he went home to feed the cats and the guinea pigs, and freshen up.
I was given a bed-bath and checked over before being released to a ward and Allan came back just in time for my family to visit. They were all so excited to see Sorsha but I had sent a message out earlier letting them know that she wouldn’t be there and I would explain when they arrived.
It wasn’t until the following evening (Thursday), around 32 hours after she was born, that I got to see Sorsha properly for the first time. There has been absolutely no mention of me getting to see her, but Allan made it his mission and appeared with a wheelchair to take me to her. It was such a strange feeling, here was my baby in an incubator covered in wires and tubes but it didn’t seem real. I was only allowed to put my hand in to touch her and she seemed so fragile. I suppose it was because I was drained from the operation and routinely filled with meds, but I remember feeling numb. I wanted to cry but I couldn’t and I wanted to feel this burst of unconditional love that everyone talks about but it just wasn’t there.
The following day (Friday) a nursery nurse came to visit the ward. At this point most of the other mums had their babies beside them and she went round each of them, doting on the newborns and talking about breastfeeding. I had attempted to express when the midwives prompted me but only managed a little. The nursery nurse reached me last and the bubbly woman I’d seen going round the ward had changed, asking why I wasn’t using the pump yet?! (I wasn’t even aware that there were breast pumps available to use) She told me “you just have to get on with it”. Allan came in to find me crying and when the nurse stuck her head round the curtain he asked her to give us a moment. He reassured me again and went to complain about her to the midwife, during which time the nurse, making no attempt to find out why I was upset or check that I was ok, took time to write some untruths in my file.
Sorsha was now out of the ICU and had been moved to the High Dependency Unit and Allan had arranged for me to go down to see her every four hours to attempt breastfeeding, but by this time she was already drinking way more than I was able to produce as she had been formula fed.
I was so excited on the Saturday when they wheeled Sorsha to my bedside! I finally had my baby with me and she was well. I was now one of those mums I had been jealous of and could dress her and change her and stare at her endlessly! I finally felt I was bonding with her. During the night I attempted to breastfeed her but I was struggling. She just didn’t seem to be getting enough milk. I buzzed the midwives through every time she woke and tried all the tips but nothing seemed to work. As much as I tried I always ended up giving her formula. But the next morning something amazing happened. I was trying to feed Sorsha and one of the nurses on the ward saw I was still struggling, pinched my boob and Sorsha latched on! I immediately felt the difference and a weight was lifted! I had my baby, I could feed and bathe her, and now I wanted to go home.
Sorsha was fine, it was my fault that we couldn’t leave. I was still a little anaemic and they wanted to test me again to make sure I was at the right level. The blood test was taken and we waited on my bed next to our packed bags in the hope that we’d get the all clear any minute. It took hours and hours but the results came back and we were free to go! We took tiny Sorsha home and sat her in her car seat on the living room floor and I burst into tears. I was sat in the exact spot where, five days earlier, I had been timing contractions and clutching the controls to my TENS machine in agony. I was so full of emotion but so glad to be at home with my new family!