“This time two years ago I was busy buying Christmas presents exclusively from the high end delis and delightful book shops on the Fulham road (not so lucky this year, *packs up pressie from weekly shop at Sainsbury’s*). We lived in London and I was due to have our first baby at the end of January at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. Having to make daily jaunts to hospital for a month gave me lots of chances to shop!
All was going to plan in my pregnancy until 28 weeks came around and I had a blood sugar test. I had the one where you need to do a long fast first, as I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and am more likely to get Gestational Diabetes. The next day I had a message from the midwife saying I must come in to see the Consultant the next day as my blood sugars had been high and I did have Gestational Diabetes.
After the initial shock of no more cake (nope, not even a sneaky choccy biccie, I tried and I was TOTALLY busted the next time I checked my blood) I got used to the change and looked forward to the bonus extra scans every 4 weeks to check the baby wasn’t getting too big.
At 32 weeks we went along to the extra scan and lay there whilst the sonographer clicked her mouse and pressed the scanning thing on my tummy. She pressed and clicked and sighed and typed and clicked and sighed and pressed again. Then, after some results came up, she said ‘oh no, let me just type that in again’. There was silence, and then the sound of her fingers clattering on the keys was deafening. Then I was told: ‘the baby is very small, the placenta isn’t working well and there isn’t much fluid. You need to go up to labour triage right now.’
In a worried haze of words and tears my husband and I managed to find the right ward and I was set up on a CTG to monitor the baby’s heart rate. After a couple of hours they sent me home saying that everything seemed ok but that the baby was small. I must return daily for CTGs and be very aware of the baby’s movements. A few days later I saw the Consultant Gynecologist and he explained that they had concerns about Oligohydramnios (lack of fluid around the baby), as the placenta was not working correctly and was restricting the baby’s growth.
Everything like blood pressure was fine and he admitted he wasn’t really sure what was going on (!), so his plan was daily CTGs and weekly scans to check the baby was growing. He asked me to make sure I finished work that day, ‘as you might have a baby next week, which could be pretty small and in need of special care for a few weeks!’ I was terrified.
The days and weeks in December continued in weird little 24-hour bubbles of ‘oh, ok we’re not having a baby today’, let’s go to the cinema/quickly book a hospital tour/get legs waxed,’ until the next CTG. Each day the baby seemed to be doing well and with each scan had grown a little more, right up to 37 weeks. However, at each scan it was pretty obvious that the baby was breach extended, with his legs right up over his head!
The plan was to try an ECV to move the baby the right way around and then induce me. If this didn’t’ work, a C-Sec was booked for the next day. Three attempts to manually move the baby the right way round came and went – it was a really weird sensation pushing and pulling when there wasn’t much room to move! In the end, they realised that his little bottom was well an truly wedged, so we were scheduled for a C-Sec in the morning.
The next day came and I sat down for my in my zillionth CTG. ‘Goodness, you’re very relaxed’ said the midwife. I explained I’d had them A LOT.
9am on the 3rd of January: in I waddled to theatre with the surreal constant questioning of one of the doctors, who was asking if I was related to one of the members of The Sex Pistols because of our surname, and with and the hum of Magic FM in the background. The lovely Anaesthetist kept talking to me whilst they dug around getting the baby out, saying she had had her last baby in this very room! Then she peeked over and said the bottom was coming out and did we want to know the sex – a boy! Henry George Frederick Lydon was born at 09:18, weighing 5lb 10, to the dulcet tones of ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey. (This can be a bit unfortunate as I have been known to well up in the aisle at Asda when the cheesy, heady chords of the opening bars strike up!)
He came out squawking and screaming and perfect, and his legs stayed up by his ears for weeks to come until he finally unfolded. After some problems feeding, as he was tiny and his blood sugars low, a couple of days later he finally latched on and we went home … just in time to see the Christmas decorations.
Yes, it was so far removed from the straightforward birth I had hoped for, but then mine wasn’t a straightforward pregnancy. I am so incredibly thankful for thankful for modern medicine and technology for keeping Henry and I safe. For some women around the world this may have been a very different story.”