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Our second daughter has arrived, and I’ve been bursting to get this post written and published in the last few weeks! I know lots of people, particularly followers over on my Instagram, have been asking about how the birth went and I thought, as it was so much better than the first time, that I would memoralise it here in a blog post!
Aurora was born on the 12th of April 2021, via a planned c-section, around 3 weeks before her due date. Aurora’s planned birth was brought forward, several times, until the date of the 12th of April was set just a couple of days before she was born. I’ll share a little more about that later on in this post for anyone who wants to know all the details.
Another c-section for me…!
From early on in my pregnancy with Aurora we knew that her birth was hopefully going to be via calm, relaxed, planned c-section. Just for a change versus Daisy’s birth!
I had previously had an emergency c-section with my first daughter, Daisy, in 2016, due to failed induction of labours (I was allergic to the pessary and she needed to be born) and then placental issues at the last minute which became an emergency for us.
With this baby, Aurora, I once again had issues with her growth, around 32 weeks this time, which was supposedly resolved by 35 weeks. Spoiler: it wasn’t!
I wanted a c-section anyway, as I’d had one previously, and didn’t want to run the risk of failed Foley catheter induction or scar rupture.
Aurora was lying in an unstable lie, so a c-section was recommended just on this basis alone, and I was told to call 999 if I went into labour at home, due to a 20% risk of cord prolapse. Fortunately I watched a YouTube video and was able to turn her position to head down, in just one day!
This was a really proud moment for me, and my body, which feels a little inadequate at times, and it meant that the final weeks of my pregnancy were a little less stressful knowing she was head down and in a good position if my waters did break.
My consultant had discussed some other options for a vaginal delivery for me, such as a Foley catheter induction, however, I was advised against any of the induction options for VBAC, due to the high failure risk alongside my own health conditions. As I’ve had the same consultant for years, and though several health issues, I trust his judgement and opted for an elective c-section quite early on.
My health during pregnancy
I have some health issues which can have an impact on my pregnancies. I have also suffered hyperemsis gravidarum through both of my pregnancies with Daisy and Aurora.
Each time I have vomited 10s of times every day, sometimes even more, and this has resulted in teeth & gum issues, throat issues, weight loss and multiple other issues with vitamin deficiencies and generally just feeling absolutely awful. This continues all the way through, from around 7 weeks gestation until just after my children are born, and it is absolutely bloody relentless.
In Aurora’s pregnancy particularly, I have had issues with my blood pressure, with the hospital expecting pre-eclampsia to strike me down at any moment.
At times my blood pressure was 180/120, which was quite scary. No amount of medication, or lifestyle changes, was able to stop my blood pressure spirally out of control sadly and this is why I expect Aurora’s pregnancy may well be my last one! Even though we would love another baby..!
I’ve been under consultant led care for both Daisy and Aurora’s pregnancies, and felt grateful to the NHS for the growth scans and additional appointments to try to help keep us safe. At times I’ve felt like I haven’t really been listened to but that happened much less frequency this pregnancy, which was something positive!
During my pregnancy I had a LOT of appointments (over 40!) with consultants, midwives and other health professionals too. I had to wear a heart monitor for a week, and have some upcoming scans, blood tests and other appointments as a result of my declining health during pregnancy. I am almost 3 weeks postpartum now and feel like things are beginning to get back on track for me thankfully.
Problems towards the end of pregnancy
While my whole pregnancy was pretty stressful, I actually managed well with the health issues until around 32 weeks gestation. Then I had a growth scan which showed that Aurora’s growth had stalled.
The cord, blood vessels, blood supply and placenta all looked in good condition thankfully and due to staff shortages I had to then wait until 35 weeks for an additional growth scan.
Growth scans are meant to be repeated every 2 weeks, for the most accurate results, but what happened was at the 32 week scan they told us the baby was 3lb 14oz. Then at the 35 week scan they said she was over 6lbs. A huge change!
We were really pleased, obviously, but it turned out that this 35 week scan was the inaccurate one, as you’ll see a little further into this post!
Hospital stays for me!
From around 35 weeks gestation my blood pressure started to spike again and again. I would have visual disturbances, upper epigastric pain and some of the other symptoms of pre-eclampsia.
I had some small amounts of protein in my urine on a few occasions, and this is when the hospital stays started increasing for me.
In total, in the final 2 weeks of my pregnancy, I spent 5 nights staying in the hospital, to try to get my blood pressure controlled.
Each time I would see the Doctors on rounds they would talk about how the 35 week scan, the one showing Aurora was 6lb, was positive overall and there was no need to deliver the baby early, and we could proceed with a 39 week elective c-section.
I was happy with this, initially, as I felt that the babies movements were all positive, but then in the late part of 36 weeks gestation I started to have some issues with this and felt that Aurora’s movements were changing in the final weeks.
One of my last episodes of CTG monitoring showed that Aurora’s heart rate dropped down to around 100-105 on a couple of occasions. I was unhappy with this, as was the midwife on duty, and the side effects of some of the blood pressure medications that I was being given, and after a chat with several consultants it was decided that Aurora would be born around 3 weeks early.
I had two lots of steroids, 12 hours apart, to help mature Aurora’s lungs and prepare her for the outside world and her birth.
Preparing for the birth
Once it was decided that Aurora would be delivered early I was finally allowed home, once my blood pressure was semi-stable. We got to enjoy a lovely weekend together, Thomas, Daisy and I, just before Aurora’s birth!
On this weekend we took it really easy, spent lots of time together, ate lovely food and then I re-packed my hospital bag, with some tiny baby clothes, as we knew Aurora could potentially be a little small! We had been told she was 6lb 2 weeks before, so was hoping she would be just over 7lb. I thought 7lb 2oz!
On the Friday I received a telephone call, with a time slot for appearing at hospital for my elective c-section, and that was that! 3 days until our daughter’s birth, assuming she didn’t try to make an appearance earlier.
The day of Aurora’s birth
On Monday, the 12th of April, we had to be at hospital at 7:30am. I was REALLY nervous, and couldn’t even keep my essential medications down on the day of my surgery. Thomas had to tie my hair up for me while I was vomiting into the kitchen sink as we were running low on time.
We arrived at the hospital, at 7:30am, got booked in and by 8am I was undergoing a number of different health checks. My blood tests were taken, my blood pressure was measured really regularly and then I spoke with the anaesthetist, an obstetrician, two midwifes and finally the surgeon who would be performing my caesarean section.
I went through some paperwork, including the paperwork that I signed many weeks before, and then I was reminded again about some of the risks of caesarean section, such as the chance I may need a hysterectomy.
The whole thing was extremely well organised, and efficient, and by 8:30am we knew that it was likely that we would be number 1 on the elective c-section list, and wouldn’t have to wait too long at all.
The main reason for this was that I was apparently the most high risk of the patients for that day, with my higher blood pressure, and potentially smaller baby. Obviously we were thrilled not to have to wait around for hours too!
It was time!
Before we knew it the time came for us to head for the c-section, and Aurora’s birth. It seemed to be just a matter of minutes between each part of the experience, and each stage of the day. I was SUPER grateful for this!
Before I knew it we were in the recovery ward awaiting our slot in the theatre and Thomas and I were dressing ready for the c-section. Thomas was getting into his scrubs and I was getting into my gowns.
For a caesarean section you often wear two hospital gowns, one front facing, and one back facing. This makes it really simple for them to undress just your back, ready for your spinal, and then also have access to your front to prepare you for your c-section without having to ask you to move once you are numbed on the operating table.
What I always find funny is your gown is clipped up basically, as a ‘screen’ while they prepare things, meaning you’re just laying there naked, while everyone prepares for your operation. This isn’t really something you think about at the time but I find it hilarious thinking back to me just laying there, chatting away, with all my body on display!
The birth itself
It went SO well! I’ll write some posts in the coming few weeks hopefully about what to expect during an elective caesarean section, what I packed for my hospital bag and a few other things, but overall it was absolutely fantastic, especially compared to my first birth which was quite stressful.
Aurora was born at 9:20am, and within an hour Thomas, Aurora and I were together in the recovery room. Due to Covid-19 restrictions in the hospital this was the only part of the hospital where Thomas was allowed to visit with us.
We were very grateful that we got almost 4 hours together before I had to transfer to the postnatal ward. I was so so grateful for this time, especially for Thomas to bond with the baby. This was more time than I spent in recovery after Daisy’s birth, despite having a less problematic birth this time, and it was so kind of them to make this happen.
My Caesarean section felt like it went so, so much better than my birth with Daisy. I lost minimal blood during Aurora’s birth, around 400ml, versus more than 1500ml with Daisy. This in itself felt like a different birth experience, and meant that I didn’t feel like I was drained just from the operation itself without any part of the recovery too.
As I didn’t have a large haemorrhage this time I was able to spend more time with Thomas and the baby (Aurora) right after birth and the whole experience was much more relaxed. I felt calmer, as did Thomas, and we were kept well informed after raising a few concerns in the morning meeting before Aurora’s birth.
We were very fortunate to have two anaesthetists and two midwifes with us throughout the procedure, so everything felt more relaxed and very straight forward.
Recovery after the birth
I only had to stay in hospital one night this time, compared to two nights with Daisy, and this was fantastic to be honest.
I was really excited to be able to get home, to start our new life as a family of 4, but unfortunately that was pretty short lived!
My recovery in the first days went well. I was up, and walking around, within around 8 hours of my surgery, and this in itself was really helpful to me.
I was able to care for Aurora, breastfeed, tend to her needs and also just feel more mobile and like I was doing well right from the first day.
The care I received in hospital wasn’t the best post birth, I won’t lie. I think this was more due to being understaffed than a lack of actual consideration.
Multiple times I would have to ask for medication, which would take several hours to come, and also my blood pressure wasn’t checked anywhere near as frequently as it should have been, especially considering how bad my blood pressure had been .
I was desperate to get home, where I know people have more time for me, so I just rode out the 30 hours or so and then Thomas was able to come and collect us both, and I was able to manage my own pain relief and blood pressure readings and medications at home.
I was discharged from hospital around 30 hours after my c-section, which seems to be pretty standard now with the enhanced recovery. I was in good health, and Aurora seemed to be doing well.
At the time of discharge I only had one concern about Aurora, and that was that she was shivering a little. The midwives explained to me that the ward we were in was quite cold, and it was probably nothing to worry about.
A paediatrician gave Aurora a clean bill of health and so we were promptly discharged home. I was reassured that everything was fine, however, it unfortunately wasn’t!
On the Wednesday, two days after Aurora was born, I noticed that she seemed to be losing weight fast, and was not taking as many feeds, despite being offered the breast constantly. She didn’t produce as many wet and dirty nappies as we were expecting either.
I did ask for her to be weighed during an at home health visit but was advised that this was not something routinely carried out until the 5th day post birth, which was still 3 days away.
By Thursday morning, three days after birth, I knew that Aurora was becoming dehydrated, and failing to feed properly. I promptly took her to hospital, where we went through children’s A&E, the children’s ward and then finally Aurora was admitted to the NICU because she was failing to feed even when switching from breastfeeding to formula feeding through a bottle.
Aurora’s NICU stay
Poor Aurora had a terrible few days, with the hospital having issues fitting a feeding tube (5 attempts were made which left her nose and throat bleeding, or suffering ‘trauma’ as they seem to call it!). Then Aurora had several attempts at a lumbar puncture and was started on multiple courses of antibiotics in case she had sepsis.
It was a really brutal few days for us, with our lovely tiny new baby dropping in weight from 6lb 2oz to just 5lb 5oz in the first 2 days! It was horrendous to be honest, BUT we knew, even in the thick of it, that she was going to recover well and we were very fortunate compared to some of the other parents that were in the NICU.
Aurora was really well cared for in NICU and within just a few days she had gone from tube feeds to bottle feeds and now she is home and already enjoying more than half a litre of formula each day!
While in the NICU Aurora had lots of antibiotics, to help her in case she had Sepsis (she didn’t thankfully!) and also she had some x-rays and other tests carried out. Her jaundice levels dropped to below where she needed treatment and on day 5 of her NICU stay she was promptly discharged back into our care, and we couldn’t have been happier!
I was having a nap when Aurora arrived home and it was honestly one of the best moments of my entire life. Just to say her there, in the doorway of our bedroom, felt so fulfilling and now we’ve settled well into our time together almost 2 weeks on.
Aurora’s health now
Thankfully Aurora has been thriving since arriving home. Her weight has gone from 5lb 5oz back up to above birth weight (6lb 2oz) in around 8 days, which is great.
Aurora is now a formula fed baby, which wasn’t the original plan, but it is great as it means that Thomas and I can work together during the nights, with one changing and dressing Aurora, and one preparing the bottle and feeding her. It really feels much less isolating than breastfeeding an FPIES baby did with Daisy!
Aurora has shown no health impacts thus far from her first few days not feeding properly, and she is growing like a weed now. She is on the 2nd centile for weight, head circumference and length, so we feel that maybe I’ve grown a small girl this time.
Daisy was under the centiles for everything, in her first few weeks, and is now one of the tallest girls in her class, 50th centile for weight and overall just a very long, tall, healthy girl!
As Aurora is considered premature, being born around 3 weeks early, we’re going to have monthly visits with the health visitor for the first year of her life, but beyond that nothing is different to when we had our first daughter.
My recovery 3 weeks postpartum
It has been almost 3 weeks now since my second Caesarean and I’m starting to feel a lot more human. On the weekend I overdid things a little bit, and a school run on Friday left me feeling very tender, but overall I am resting a lot more this time and listening to my body.
I have been feeling really shaky since coming home, kind of how you feel when you have low blood sugar, but I don’t have diabetes or blood sugar issues. I’m still monitoring my blood pressure regularly and I’m trying to gradually wean off of some of my medication, on the advice of my doctor.
Overall I feel like this time round I am giving myself more of a grace period to recover. I’m making sure not to do any heavy lifting and I’m really grateful that Tom is home from work on paternity leave for the next few months.
My thoughts on being a Mum of 2!
It is really early days, so I won’t give any advice for other people, but it feels like things are going really well for us.
I am really enjoying more relaxed days, sleeping where possible, and making sure to make additional time for Daisy to play toys, relax, bake and just be super present.
So far Daisy is really enjoying being a big sister and for the most part has taken to it really well. I feel really grateful that we have been able to have a second child and so far there are no signs of any allergies, although it is early days of course.
We are making sure not to set too many expectations for ourselves but thanks to the help of Thomas, home is clean, fresh, tidy and generally running pretty blinking well. This time around we haven’t had to resort to takeaways because we are short on time or effort and we are just generally living a much healthier existence than we did when Daisy was a small baby.
I don’t have much that I want to achieve day today beyond all being alive, happy and eating semi-well. I have definitely gone into life as a Mum of 2 with a lot less expectations than I had when my first daughter was born.
I have actually dictated this blog post with aurora on my chest so now it’s time for a hot cup of tea and bedtime for us. Thanks for reading!