Baby Armistead is here and he's safe. Master Hugo Sebastian Henry arrived at 12.27pm on 7/7/16 via caesarian section. None of that was particularly remarkable, except for the fact he was scheduled to arrive on the 25th...
As you've probably already guessed, things went a bit awry in the last weeks of my pregnancy. Baby was doing quite well, his heart rate remained stable, and the thickening of the ventricles was within normal range for the most part. We had sighed a huge sigh of relief and I had settled into enjoying the last 4 weeks or so of my pregnancy.
At 34 weeks I noticed that I grew really big, really quickly. At our scan, Dr Andrew agreed that baby was very big, but as I was having a caesar anyway, no one was super worried. Xav was a whopping 10 pound 1 oz, and Poppy was a good size for her gestation, so we all just assumed I grow big babies. No biggy (no pun intended).
By 35 weeks, I was UN-COM- FORT-ABLE to the max. I felt full term pregnant. But again, whatevs. I could put up with it for another 3 1/2 weeks. Anything to get him here safely. My blood pressure was good, Braxton Hicks were ramping up and there was no sleep to be had for more than an hour or so at a time, but I was up for the challenge.
35+5 weeks, we all went for our 'last' official scan with Dr Andrew. All looked good, but the small amount of fluid around baby's heart had returned. The measuring began. The one thing you don't want to hear from a medical professional: "That can't be right! Wow... What are your dates again?"
Baby Armistead was in fact measuring full term. At a few days shy of 36 weeks. Well, he is a super baby after all.
Off we trot to our Obstetric appointment with Dr Lisa, and I think I start to panic. I knew they wouldn't leave him much longer at the size they were estimating, but even I wasn't expecting to hear the words, "We're done. Let's get him out on Thursday."
As in, in 2 days time, Thursday.
Here we go.
Glen goes into an immediate panic, and needed to be talked down a bit. He's generally very easy going, but the imminent arrival of our third child, over three weeks before he was expected to arrive, sent him into a bit of a spin. Dr Lisa explains that very big babies are just as vulnerable as very small babies. Placentas don't cope, babies get distressed. "We've worked so hard to get this far, let's not risk it."
I whole heartedly agreed; though I was possibly persuaded somewhat by how uncomfortable I was, too. The risks to baby were not considered super high. A possibility of 'wet lungs', or fluid on the lungs which usually rectifies itself quite quickly. A chance of respiratory distress. Jaundice. Trouble sucking to begin with. Maybe difficulties regulating his sugars and his temperature. All very manageable, but likely a Special Care Nursery stay would be necessary for a few days.
So off we went for Steroid shot 1 of 2 to help prepare baby's lungs for his early arrival. And thus began 48 hours of 'Oh, shit, have we got everything we need for the baby?' If Baby Bunting had a spike in sales on the 6th of July...that may have been me.
I didn't think I'd sleep the night before the caesar but, well, pregnancy. I was tired, okay?
Somehow I managed to keep dark thoughts at bay for most of the early morning. We will bring him home, we will bring him home, we will bring him home. I just kept running that mantra through my mind, whispering it to myself constantly. By the time we got to the hospital, after dropping Xav off to my sister, the wait was getting unbearable. Luckily baby decided to be quite active which helped enormously.
Pre op consultation, done.
Anesthetic consult, done.
Meet the Paediatrician, done.
Walk to theatre, done.
Cannula in, spinal in, traditional blood pressure drop and slight vom, done.
Then Glen was there, holding my hand and we get ready to meet our boy.
'Just please cry, baby.'
Our wonderful OB announces he's about to be born. 'Oh my goodness, look at that hair!' she exclaimed and minutes later our sweet boy cried his little lungs out.
The words escaped me before I even thought about it: "He's not dead. He's not dead." before I sobbed my eyes out because he was here and he was alive and he was safe. Glen disappeared to cut the cord and talk with the Paediatrician and discover our boy had a full head of bright red hair, before our little man came over for a cuddle with me. We noticed right away he was finding it a bit hard to breathe, so before long he and Glen were whisked away to the Special Care Nursery.
I felt like I was in Recovery for hours and I just wanted to see my baby. We hadn't settled on a name, we had decided to wait until he was born before deciding, but we hadn't even had time to talk about it before they left. So I pondered to pass the time. Sebastian had been the early favourite, but Eli was a late runner which I loved too. But neither seemed quite right. He was such a big boof of a boy, he needed a strong name. If only I would see him so I could decide!
Finally, Glen reappeared and came with us as we went up to the ward. "He was a whopper! 3875g! 8pound 8oz!" Holy Moly, imagine if he'd been in for another 3 weeks! Xavier arrived and was typically brilliant and loving and totally gorgeous and cried tears of joy with us that he had a little brother. Glen took him to meet baby in Special Care and when they returned Glen said 'I think he looks like a Hugo?'. THis was a massive surprise to me, as I fricken loved the name early on, and despite by very advanced persuasion methods, I couldn't talk Glen into liking it. So, after waiting for 9 months to see him and decide, we agreed on Hugo Sebastian Henry Armistead basically without me seeing my beautiful boy.
When the night nurse arrived on shift, she found me in a bit of a state because I STILL hadn't seen my baby and I was feeling a bit deja vu-y. I'd had a baby but the baby wasn't with me. She very kndly went above and beyond to arrange to have my hospital bed wheeled into the very tiny Special Care space.
And there he was. Tiny despite being big. Peaceful despite his panicked arrival. And well, despite being early.
I held his tiny hand in mine and fell in love with him.
And now after a roller coaster of a ride, our little Hugo is finally home with us. For 13 days we learned to manage having a baby in Special Care, but each little hurdle, he conquered. He got the full assortment of conditions that he could have at 36 weeks, but his lungs got better, his sugars stabilized, the jaundice improved, and eventually he worked out how to feed. Finally we could take our healthy little baby home.
And now we are 5. Bec, Glen, Xavier, Poppy and Hugo Armistead.
And I would do it all again.
In a heartbeat.