Excitement, exhaustion, pain, happiness. So many feelings overwhelmed me on that car trip to the hospital in the early morning of Thursday 13 July 2017. Excitement because I was on the way to the hospital, exhaustion because I had not slept for nearly 24 hours, pain because contractions fucking hurt and happiness because I was going to meet my little Mason. He was finally coming, finally going to be here after 41 weeks and 5 days! And more importantly, I was going to become a MUM! Like the real deal, yes I had already been a mother for 10 months but I was going to be a full on mother. I was going to give the best hugs and kisses, the mum that was also the best friend.. I was going to be that cool mum that all my sons mates would love to visit, (hopefully some would perve on), chat, share a cheese platter or 4. And my time was coming.
Saunders and I arrived at the hospital after midnight. On arrival I was 4cm dilated. Least it was better than 1 or 2 but I thought after starting labour at 3am the morning before and all this pain already suffered would mean surely I was closer than that! Nevertheless I battled through the contractions, bouncing around on my fit ball and grinding my teeth. I knew how to bounce the shit out of that fit ball, exhibit A (below) on my due date 1 July 2017 trying to initiate mission “GET BABY OUT”.
My birth plan (yes I know, they go to shit and it did for me) was to try to go through labour drug free. No epidural. No drugs. Just me. But in saying that I would agree to put my baby first and do anything it would take to get Mason out safely. So if I needed that epi I wasn’t going to be a hero about it and refuse it. Which I did. Because at midday when the pain was UNBEARABLE and felt like an army of satans little helpers all stabbing their pitch forks of fire into my uterus and when the midwife checked that I was still only 4 DAMN CMS AFTER ALL THESE HOURS… I turned to Saunders and said “I CANNOT DO THIS ANYMORE. GET ME THE EPIDURAL”. He happily agreed.
Heaven. Pure heaven. It worked like a charm. I couldn’t believe how everything stopped. There was no more pain. I didn’t feel like dying. It was gone. Saunders was also relieved, as any husband, no one wants to see your wife in pain let alone the horrible monster they become towards you. So from then on it was a pretty uneventful afternoon until towards the evening my heart rate and temp went up and so did Mason’s heart rate which meant he was showing signs of distress.
The midwife checked how dilated I was and she revealed I was around 8-9cm but would double check with the doctor and get a second opinion. Doc came in and assessed me and said that magical number all women want to hear in labor…”I think she’s 10cm. Let’s get this baby out”. I can’t believe it, here I am, all the hard work of pregnancy coming to an end. Doc said he would use the vacuum whilst I pushed to get Mason out faster as he was distressed. I pushed my darn hardest and Mason came quite a way down but then wouldn’t budge any further. Doc tried 2-3 attempts with the vacuum but the cap kept popping off. He could see Mason’s head but he wasn’t moving. Attempts with the forceps (which were quite violent I must say) and still Mason wouldn’t budge. I was getting quite concerned. My legs were in the air and time stood still. Doc said a c sect would most likely be required but would have to page his boss, (the head obstetrician on call that night) to come down and make that final call. I remember the room being full of people. Saunders, the midwife, the doc, the quiet young man at the back prepared for resuscitation if and when Mason came out and me. Waiting. Waiting for this lady to come down and make that final call. I looked at Saunders without saying anything but he knew what I was thinking, like everyone else was thinking in that room. WHERE WAS SHE. Minutes was going by and I just wanted Mason to come out. He needed to get out. AND MY EPI IS WEARING OFF!! (Turns out from my medical records, there was no obstetrician at the hospital).
She finally came to my room after which seemed like an eternity and I was watching the clock (over 20 minutes!) and felt Mason’s position. She suggested that she thought Mason may have turned and that yes let’s get out of here and prep for a c sect. (I needed a c section earlier. Way earlier. If I did, I would have a healthy happy baby boy in my arms). I was sent down to theater where the team prepared me for the operation. One of the nurses asked if I could feel her pressing my stomach. I could feel everything. And I could see everything happening from the reflection of the surgery lights above my head. My epidural was wearing off and since there was no time, the last thing I remembered was a hand with a mask lowering on to my face.
And I was out.
The first face I remember seeing when I woke up was the midwife that was with us in the room during labor. She had been crying and looked so sad. She kept saying “I’m so sorry”. Then I saw Saunders and he was pale. White. Also looking very sad and worried. And that’s when he told me the worst news possible. Mason was delivered at 7:48pm, flat and apparently the cord was wrapped around his neck 2-3 times. He was rushed to the resus team where they stabilized him. But Mason was not in a good way. The team was arranging for Mason to be sent to another hospital with NICU.
My poor husband. What he had been through was a nightmare. Since I was put under general anaesthetic, Saunders was kicked out of the operating theatre. Made to stand behind a line. Not knowing what was happening. Not being able to be with his wife and baby. Not being able to witness it. Then he hears “code blue” over the speaker and didn’t know if it was Mason or I or both needing resuscitation. My heart breaks when I think of him alone. Not knowing what was happening to us. Then the next thing he sees is Mason needing to be resuscitated.
I didn’t see Mason delivered. I didn’t hear that first breath or cry. I didn’t get that skin on skin which was so vital for babies in their first few moments earth side. When I saw Mason next which was hours later, close to midnight, I saw him in a incubator on his way to being transported to the next hospital with NICU. I was out of it and can only remember seeing him with tubes and wires around him.
And then he was gone.
Taken away. Saunders had to make the hard decision of either leaving me alone or Mason alone in hospital and I told him to be with Mason. I can handle myself. Someone needs to be with Mason. So off my poor husband went.
I finally got word that a bed had become available at the hospital Mason was at, so off I went, by ambulance in the early hours of the following day. My parents followed the ambulance to the hospital. It was 3am when I arrived and the nurses told me I could go and see Mason in NICU. I COULD HARDLY WAIT. I had received pictures from Saunders at hospital but it was nothing like meeting your son for the first time. Wondering what he would look like. Smell like. Feel like.
I was taken to NICU. It was dark. Little incubators in rows and sections filled the place. I remember the smell in the room being sweet like the antiseptic and hand wash you needed to use before entering. I moved passed all the little incubators with these tiny little babies inside. And then I got to bed 13. Mason’s bed. There he was, bruised, swollen, and tubes and machines everywhere. But he was there. And the first thing I thought was “THAT’S MY BEAUTIFUL BABY BOY”…those words I always use to describe Mason and I will continue to use every single day. And the second thought I had…..HE WAS HUGE!! Mason was a chubba (probably from the swelling) but he was so long!!! All that gnocchi I fed him worked a treat! My boy was a big long boy.
I inspected every inch of Mason. He is gorgeous. Simply perfect. I was in awe. I couldn’t fault him. I couldn’t believe we made him. He had the most gorgeous chubby cheeks, the cutest button nose and these big, full, luscious lips that I had seen from the ultrasounds. He is perfect. He is gorgeous. He is mine. His poor little head was bruised and had blood and it was very very swollen. But there he was, this beautiful sleeping beauty. I will never forget seeing Mason for the first time because it was like looking into a mirror. He looked exactly like me.
I went back to bed after seeing Mason to get some rest and Saunders would arrive in the morning. We had a meeting with the Consultant Pediatrician for an update on Mason’s condition. I knew nothing about Mason, what had happened, how long he was, how much he weighed so it was finally good to get some answers. They just weren’t the ones I wanted to hear.
Mason had suffered lack of oxygen to the brain which caused bleeding and swelling in his head. Mason was in an induced coma and on a cooling bed to be stabilised and monitored. A million tests were being conducted and it was just the waiting game for the results. My heart broke into a million pieces. My beautiful baby boy. Mason didn’t deserve this? I had a perfectly easy and healthy pregnancy. How did this go so wrong? But I didn’t give up. I would never give up on my Mason. He will be ok. These tests will prove it.
The hospital put us in our own private room with a double bed so Saunders and I could be together. Each day Saunders and I would spend time and visit Mason. Each time we saw Mason he looked better and better. The swelling was going down. He had good colour. Tanned in fact. Again from my side of the family being half Filipino. Everyone who saw Mason commented on how beautiful he is, his cute button nose, those lips and how he looked like me. I was proud hearing when people said that because he was my son, my baby, a part of me. I was proud.
Saunders and I were the best parents we could have been to Mason whilst he was in NICU. We did everything we could to parent Mason.We read to Mason. My first book I read to Mason was a funny memory. During pregnancy, I aint shy to admit I did have a lot of gas and would love to torment my darling husband with it. I had been given some tablets to bring on movement of the bowels as the meds from the c sect can cause constipation. I had taken them in the morning the day before and that day but nothing seemed to be working. Or so I thought. I was reading Mason his first book when I felt the rumbling in my tummy and that one fart that could destroy the whole NICU ward, which was all caught on tape by Saunders.
Saunders will never let me live that down. My face says it all. It was the inappropriateness of the timing of letting a fart go that got us. Even how serious the moment was I still couldn’t help myself. I hope Mason found it amusing!
My most precious memory I hold to my heart of Mason is my first hold. The first time I held my son. The first time I got closer to him than standing next to his NICU bed. I would give anything to go back to that day. The best day of my life. I will never forget it. I was robbed of holding him at delivery and finally a few days later I could reconnect with my baby boy. The pain was real. I could have held onto him forever. It was the most magical moment. I whispered to Mason how much I loved him, to not give up fighting, that I was proud of him and simply whispered to him “I need you”.
How on earth could this have happened? Healthy pregnancy, healthy baby boy right up until labor? How is this all possible. It doesn’t make sense.
Waiting on results from MRI’s and scans was the death of us. All we did was wait for good news but it never came.