This week has been rather busy with appointments, all focusing on birth and beyond! As we are getting induced at 37 weeks, we actually only have a little over three weeks to go, so now the focus is on birth…
Going through the Motions
So much of years of fertility treatment, and even grief, is about just going through the motions. And this has literally been the method of getting further through this pregnancy. We operate appointment to appointment, week to week. We aren’t really thinking bigger picture. Bigger picture being A Breathing Baby.
I find myself quite comfortable with the pregnancy side of things, given we’ve done this before. I know an element of what to expect, it isn’t new. Although this pregnancy is different in response to Leo’s death, it is relatively familiar. Yet, the postnatal aspect… Well, we don’t really go there and consider the reality of making it through all of this with a baby that cries, moves and breathes at the end of it.
So we are continuing with those motions, doing what we need to do. And this week it’s been talking a lot about birth and the initial postnatal days. Which is a little full on. So we haven’t really done anything else to prepare this week, practically, as I think the appointments are enough for our souls!
One of our appointments this week was with a Consultant Midwife. This isn’t a routine appointment, but one we were referred to to help us plan for birth as I was particularly anxious about it. Whilst Leo didn’t die in labour, I am even more aware of the various risks from labour now, so it’s helpful to address these openly.
My birth with Leo was relatively straightforward, although contractions were intense (they didn’t rise and fall, they were just non-stop). I had an epidural, which needing adjusting after an hour or so. From the start of induction, to birth was about twelve hours.
What is important to me this time, in regards to birth and induction overall, is: my wife being able to stay throughout until discharge and not being asked to go home overnight, taking minimal risk, receiving where possible clear explanation of decisions being made whether it’s action or inaction, and being able to have access to a private room and spend minimal time on a ward.
Many of these things are there to reduce our anxiety levels, to ensure that we have as clear a head as is possible during labour. It was important to me to have these things agreed and in our notes prior to induction, so there was no confusion or ‘fight’ whilst also in labour. There is an element of anxiety about having a new team of midwives and doctors looking after us in labour. Mainly the impact that it can have on our confidence in them, and their understanding of us and our story.
The Consutlant Midwife was incredibly understanding of all the elements that we wanted factored in. In essence we aren’t asking for anything beyond what most families should be offered anyway, outside of a private room. A private room enables my wife to stay easily, and for us to be able to have a bit of privacy and fleixbility with our emotions, whatever they may be.
Outside of these elements, we are aiming to utilise some mindfulness and the relaxation techniques we’ve used throughout dealing with grief. We are also planning to pack some distraction methods from books, music and Netflix in order to pass the time of induction and early labour!
Today, our appointment was with the Health Visitor. In the UK, our Midwife will look after us for up to 28 days. And all being well will look to discharge us earlier. They then hand us over to the care of a Health Visitor, who is able to keep an eye on the baby, and us. As well as this, she’s there to signpost and support us through key milestones.
There is quite a mixture of feedback regarding the involvement of a Health Visitor from other parents, however we were really pleased today. In our area, they meet people towards the end of pregnancy which for us is really ideal. I like to be proactive in our support networks, and know what is available before needing it. Just knowing that there is help available, is helpful.
Our Health Visitor was really nice, and incredibly comfortable with addressing our history and Leo. She appeared confident in the impact that our experience of stillbirth would have during pregnancy, and beyond, and was keen to offer a flexible approach in her support for us. There are other networks that she can also refer us to locally, should be want or need to. It absolutely helps us feel a little more confident that if we struggle, we can still access support. There are so many people involved during the pregnancy, it can feel a little unsettling to know it’s all going to drop off once the little man is here…
Visualising Postnatal Life
All of the focus on birth and beyond highlights how much we don’t really ‘go there’ in terms of considering life after pregnancy. We are so focused on getting through the weeks. The concept of it all going well is still hard to really hold on to.
We do what I’d call “Hypothetical Parenting”. I can make decisions on clothes, or products that we might want. But doing that isn’t really me enagaging fully with the reality. It doesn’t feel real that labour will end happily. Our reality is so skewed, and maybe there is an element of protection, or just a case of not knowing any different?
Either way, in little over three weeks, we will be in the hospital starting an induction of labour. We hope, beyond hope, that the ending will be filled with noise and movement. We’ve just got to keep ticking the days away in order to get there…