I had planned on writing one final blog before actually having the baby acknowledging the end of one chapter and the start of another as I have kept this blog since the middle of IVF Round I. However, although I had good intentions the blog never happened as in that final week I spent my time obsessing about toilet roll holders, bathing Toby and washing every blanket, towel and piece of bed linen that we own. I did jot down a few thoughts and feelings on the impending arrival of our baby which looked something like this:
- What happens if the baby doesn’t like me?
- What if she is missing a limb?
- What if I am a shit Mum?
- What if I die during the C-section?
- Should I write a ‘If you’re reading this then I am dead’ letter to Ash & the baby?
- What if I get PND?
All totally normal and rational, right? Well, today is Em’s official due date and today also marks the fact that she is officially one week old – I can’t believe it. Everyone tells you to cherish this time because it goes so quickly and before you know it they will be learning to drive and they ain’t lying. This has been the quickest but most magical week of my entire life starting with what is now the best day of my life (our wedding has quickly been relegated to second best day by both of us). So, here it is – the birth story of the girl we have waited our entire lives to meet.
Tuesday 11th April 2017
It’s a bizarre feeling knowing that you are going to meet your tiny human in the next 24 hours however, the positive is that it allows you to be ridiculously prepared. I spent the entire day cleaning, scrubbing floors, emptying the wash basket, taking in a food shop of semi healthy frozen meals and washing every blanket in sight including all bedding belonging to Toby. For whatever reason I got all obsessed over fresh flowers as I wanted to come home to flowers in every single vase that we own so off I went to the local (not local at all) shop in pursuit of cream roses and pink tulips. After dropping Toby off for his staycation at Nanny and Grandad’s I came back to a spotless house, took a long bath accompanied by the latest episode of Homeland and set in for one last evening as a duo. Ash was home from work by 8.30pm, we ate, put the pram together which I wheeled round the house while wearing my sleep in rollers, watched Rambo (random choice I know) and headed off to bed for an early night knowing that tomorrow was THE day.
Wednesday 12th April 2017
We were up at 5.15am and it literally felt like Christmas morning which is a totally cringy thing to say but also very true. I bounced about the house getting dressed and couldn’t wait to get in the car and get to hospital. We arrived by 6.30am allowing plenty of time as we needed to check in at 7am. It wasn’t long before the other four couples arrived, all of which were having C-sections that day. We were taken into an initial room where they carried out several checks, completed all of the administration side of things and then we were told when we would go through to theatre. Ash and I were last, I knew we would be. We waited and waited for what felt like forever and at 1.30pm we were told that we were up next. We changed into our gowns for theatre, took some obligatory pre C-section photos and wandered through to the procedure room. The team were incredible, so relaxed and welcoming which helped as by this point I was feeling teary, anxious and incredibly nervous. I was given an epidural and spinal (both of which Ash watched with intrigue) and before I knew it I was dead from the boobs down. It was the most unnerving experience of my life, so much so that I had to close my eyes and focus on my breathing as watching my legs move here there and everywhere and not being able to feel a single thing freaked me the fuck out. I did managed to make a mental note of what song was playing over the radio just as the C-section begun & low and behold it was I will Always Love You by Whitney Houston, I mean you couldn’t ask for a more poignant song could you? Anyway, Ash asked if he could film the procedure and all the staff agreed but warned him that it wasn’t for the faint hearted and if he passed out there was no way they were getting him up. So there we were, me one side of the partition, Ash next to me holding my had and filming with his free hand. I remember asking questions like “Have they cut me yet“, “Is she here” all of which were met with a “No” – knowing that I would loose my shit if I really knew what was happening Ash was actually lying the entire time and out of no where I hear “Here is your baby” and Emily’s head pops up over the partition – my first words were “She’s so tiny” and then I cried, I looked over at Ash and he was crying too. She was soon whisked off with Ash in hot pursuit to be weighed, cleaned off and checked over, at this point I was in some weird trippy state but was able to make another mental note of the song that was playing just as the procedure ended – Always Be My Baby by Mariah Carey – I couldn’t make this shit up if I tired and I feel like the fact that she was born between songs by two divas is a sign of things to come. Em was soon handed back to me for skin to skin contact and that was it, we were a family and even thinking about those first moments makes my eyes well up. I have never seen Ash more overcome with emotion, not necessarily with tears but he just had this look about him that I have never seen before – it was like he was going to burst with love, pride and relief all at the same time. After I was patched back up we were taken to the observation ward where we were visited by both sets of Grandparents and both of her aunties. I finally felt worthy, like I had finally given them all the thing they had be longing for too – I felt like I had finally made everyone proud which is ridiculous & I know none of them felt that way but all I have her wanted was to upgrade them all to Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Grandparents and now I have finally done it. Once visiting hours were over we were moved to the main maternity ward and if I’m honest I think I was still shocked, like I couldn’t believe she was actually here, that she was mine and I couldn’t quite get my head round it all. That first night is still super hazy, they let Ash stay over as I wasn’t in the greatest shape after losing a litre of blood and if I’m honest I don’t know how I would have coped without him. I never realised how much a C-section would hurt – like, insane toe curling pain so having him there to fuss over us both was an absolute God send.
Thursday 13th April 2017
I remember waking up thinking, we did it – we survived the night. Truth be told it really wasn’t that bad, Emily slept like a trooper and so did we only waking every 4 hours to feed her and for me to take pain meds as well as have my BP and temperature checked by the Midwives. It wasn’t long before the ward had a slight hustle and bustle to it but in room 20 we were on cloud nine, we were in our own little bubble slowly getting to grips with looking after a tiny human. I mean, prior to that point I think I had changed a handful of nappies yet there we were, nappy changing, feeding, winding – the whole nine yards. I mean, I say we but truth be told it was all Ash as moving in and out of bed was a No, No especially as I still had my catheter in. Ash did pretty much everything that day which was amazing to watch but equally hard. I mean, finally I had my tiny human but couldn’t do all the things I wanted to, I wanted to look after her but simply couldn’t manage which made me frustrated and teary. The day soon zoomed round and before we knew it visiting hours were fast approaching with Grandparents soon making their way over to the hospital. As I wasn’t doing so well that day the Midwives requested that I cancelled all visitors and just slept, so thats just what I did. I slept while Ash walked round the ward with Emily even taking her to the visitors room where he watched TV allowing me to get a few hours of uninterrupted rest. I remember waking up to an empty room and buzzing the Midwives asking where my baby and husband were like a total crazy person. That night was little tougher, it was like Em was starting to realise she was actually out in the world and the breast feeding malarkey was becoming more challenging as I was so tired even falling asleep under the watchful eyes of Ash while feeding her. I never had a preference on how to feed, I was always very play it by ear so that night we slipped her two pre made bottles just so I could catch a break and she slept like a dream. I mean a fed baby is a happy baby in my opinion and all that breast is best stuff is just total BS.
Friday 14th April 2017
Possibly the most emotional day out of the above for several reasons. Firstly we were told that we would be going home that day (happy tears) but first Emily-Rae and I had to pass several checks and thats where my anxiety started to build. Our morning began with a check over of Em by the senior Midwife who looked at all sorts, the majority of which is a total blur as I just sat there in the appointment room in my PJs trying not to be sick as for some reason I came over all trippy (again). I do remember her looking at things like her hips and sight – the entire time I sat there praying that there wasn’t something wrong, holding my breath until the appointment was over because thats the type of luck we have, or thats how it feels. Thankfully she was signed off with a full bill of health leaving us with three more checks. A check on her heart after that horrific 20 week scare that we had (all was perfect), a hearing test (she scored 8/8) and a jaundice test (she scored 85 below), I was then checked over and given the all clear by the doctor. We then waited and waited to be discharged. While waiting I think we got through the majority of the GF section that the M&S downstairs had to offer, slept, had uncomfortable snuggles (it’s hard to fit two people that are 6ft on a hospital bed), cuddled Em, sang the beginning of September Song to each other over and over as we had it stuck in our heads – its now kinda the theme tune to Em’s first few days in the world – Our love was strong as a lion, soft as the cotton you lie in and I finally had a shower. It was literally the best shower that I have ever had, not because it was amazingly powerful but just because I have never felt so manky and then so clean. I did however cry shortly after said shower because my hairbands broke and I didn’t pack a spear. I also packed the wrong size nappies but whatever, I mean this is a place of no judgment, right? After a few gentle nudges to the Midwives we were finally told that we could head home and thats where he tears began. Tears when I got to put Emily in her going home outfit, tears watching Ash stroll down the hospital corridor holding the car seat in one hand and my hospital bag in another, tears in the lift as we made our way to the exit, tears in the car because Ash told me how proud he was of me, tears when we stopped at M&S on the way home as I just couldn’t believe we were heading home with an actual baby – our baby, tears when we carried her through the door, tears as we stood with her in our beautiful nursery that Ash worked so hard on and then tears when we went to bed and I freaked out about going to sleep and not watching her. Told you it was an emotional day.
Wednesday 26th April 2017
I have been writing the above on and off for the past two weeks, one because every time I have tried to write I have cried thinking about it all and two because although Emily-Rae loves to sleep the days just seem to go so quickly now that there is so much more to fit into them, you know – breast feeding (which takes forever), expressing, making bottles as well as seven outfit changes and seven loads of washing per day. What I have learnt over the past two weeks is nothing prepares you for motherhood and it doesn’t matter how long you have wanted it for, raising a tiny human is a rollercoaster ride but the best kind of rollercoaster out there. You would think that you would be sent home with some guidelines or top tips of how to look after your baby in those first few frightening days but no, you’re sent home with nada, zip, zilch. In all fairness instincts do take over but I have never Googled more in my life, things like:
- How should I dress my baby?
- What is the best room temperature?
- What temperature should the bath be?
- Why is my babies skin dry?
- What can I put on her skin?
- When should her umbilical cord come off?
- Why are poppers on sleep suits so fucking hard to do up at 5am?
- How much should a newborn sleep in the day / is she sleeping too much?
- How to tell if my baby is allergic to dogs?
I mean the list is endless and all of a sudden I see the danger in EVERYTHING. It’s like I have a heightened spidey sense for danger and its hard not to become a total head case with it all. That’s where Ash comes in, he is the absolute ying to my yang and I have never been prouder to be his wife or call him my husband. I always knew he would be an incredible father and never doubted it for a second but to see him in action makes me fall in love with him all over again and so much more. He is beyond hands on, he drops everything the second that she cries, he gets up in the night, he makes all of the bottles, he changes her, dresses her, he lies on the bed just watching her and is so genuinely in love with her. He has looked after me and held our little family together while I have been recovering doing the cooking and cleaning as well as teaching me how to do things as at times I’m not the sharpest knife in the draw. I’m a practical learner and need to be shown how to do thing before they actually sink in. He’s helped me shower and dried my hair, listened to me cry about totally irrational things and just been so patient with all of my crazy. I know we’re only 14 days in but last night while sat on the sofa Ash said something to the effect of people say that having a baby can put pressure on a marriage and can tear people apart, but I’ve never been happier or felt closer – that ladies and gentlemen is my husband and I have never loved him more. Emily-Rae is an absolute dream come true, I have never known love like it and she has been worth all the wishes on eyelashes, birthday candles and shooting stars. She is worth the tears and the hard times that the past four years brought us and now that we’re here on the other side I wouldn’t change our journey for the world because it has made me appreciate all of this so much more. Being a Mum, being her Mum is literally all that I have ever wanted so while sitting here in her nursery rocking in the nursing chair as she sleeps I can’t help but feel teary and incredibly proud of just how far we have come. We never gave up on each other or our dream and truth be told I have never been happier, there really is such a thing as Happily Ever After.
- Name – Emily-Rae Chappell (Rae chosen by Ash because *and I quote* she is our much needed ray of sunshine)
- DOB – 12/04/17
- TOB – 14.22
- Weight – 7lb 13oz
- DOB Number 1 – Shape Of You – Ed Sheeran
- Star Sign – Aries
- Current Nick Names – Baby Spock, Zombie Baby, Zom Zom, Baby Warthog, Warty, Wartina – don’t ask.