A few weeks before due date Matthew was in a transverse position so gynae scheduled a Caesar. A week or two before the Caesar Matthew turned down and engaged but I’d already had my mind set on the Caesar so we left things as they were. I was so nervous because I had no idea what to expect. Having a child is a life-changing event after all.
The elective Caesar was scheduled for Friday 23 April 2006. On the Wednesday before that Riaan had taken me to the beach in the afternoon to relax a bit as I was nesting like crazy and very nervous. We had to leave as I wasn’t feeling well at all. On the Thursday night Riaan painted my big tummy into a beautiful butterfly. Of course we hardly slept that night due to nervousness.
The Friday morning we were at Parklands Hospital bright and early at 08h00. It was an overcast day outside. We booked in and got settled into the bed, I was booked into a general ward. The Caesar was scheduled for 12h00. We were very nervous and excited. Eventually it came time for us to get ready for theatre. I got to wear one of those “lovely” open backed hospital gowns and Riaan and I walked down the passage to the theatre. Once there Riaan changed into green theatre clothes that had embroidered on the left pocked in bright colours “Parklands Dad”.
We walked into the small theatre and there was this narrow little bed and I was wondering how on earth I’d get my wide load onto that! Nevertheless I did and I still don’t know how I did it. The anaesthetist came in to administer the epidural and that was the most horrible thing. I had to sit up on the edge of the bed and hunch my back over while she gave me an injection to numb the area. Then she started with the epidural. I kept having pain down my right leg and when I told her she kept telling me that it can’t be. But how could I be imagining this strange pain? On top of all that she couldn’t get the epidural in so we had to keep trying. Each passing second I became more and more nervous and the tears started flowing.
Then my blood pressure dropped drastically low and I wanted to vomit. A nurse came rushing with little a kidney bowl for me to vomit in and I was heaving but nothing came out of course because I hadn’t eaten/drank anything. I lay back on the bed allowing the epidural to take effect while they inserted the drip, catheter and gave me oxygen.
My gynae had arrived by now with his assistant and the paediatrician. They tested me to make sure that I couldn’t feel anything and then they started the cutting. I could tell by the colour of the skin on Riaan’s face that they had started cutting, it was white! When they got to the sack they broke my water and started suctioning the fluid. My gynae remarked that Matthew had made a poo and that they “shall call him Winnie the Pooh”. So Riaan joked that Matthew’s nursery theme was exactly that and they all had a good laugh. All this while I lay on the bed feeling like a piece of meat and sick as a dog… I just wanted to die. What was happening? Was this what I had been working myself up for these whole 9 months? I felt completely detached.
Matthew was already engaged and quite far down in my pelvis. They really battled to get him out and after much pulling and tugging Matthew was lifted out for us to see. Riaan had tears in his eyes and was very emotional. I on the other hand took a look at Matthew and just felt absolutely detached. It was the worst feeling I have every felt. Matthew was born on 23 April 2004 at 12h20 weighing 4.13 kgs and 53 cm long.
Matthew was checked out by the paed and wrapped up tightly in a blanket and given to Riaan to hold. Riaan was crying and so happy, he kept thanking me. Riaan gave Matthew to me to hold and I managed a smile at the camera but inside I wasn’t smiling. Inside I was beating myself up for feeling this way – “its not normal Karin! You’re supposed to be happy!”, I kept telling myself.
He had AGPAR scores of 7/10 and 8/10.
After this Matthew was taken to the nursery and Riaan followed to be with him. Laying there while the gynae and his assistant stitched me up felt like an eternity. They were chatting about their recent holidays in Mauritius and carried on as if I wasn’t even there. I felt like I was dead and just looking in. I was wheeled into recovery room and lay there for what seemed like ages. I so wished Riaan could have been with me. I felt so alone and cold and they had run out of hot blankets so I was freezing!
Finally I was taken back to the ward and the nurses all came in to settle me in. I still felt so dead. After they were finished Riaan came to my bed and held my hand and told me that Matthew was really sick and not doing so well. He couldn’t look me in the eyes properly. I was so worried… up until then I had felt nothing and now I had these overwhelming feelings rushing in! I was so confused about what was happening to my body.
Riaan ran back and forth between my bedside and Matthew in the Neo-Natal incubator – Matthew had been put on antibiotics, taken for x-rays and was being monitored as he had swallowed meconium and was having difficulty breathing. I started feeling this incredible urge to hold and protect my baby and I felt as though I was miles away from him.
The whole afternoon I wriggled my legs as much as I could to try get the life back into them, I was determined to go see my baby. By 5pm I could move my legs! I started bugging the nurses for a wheelchair and for them to take me to see Matthew. However they seemed to keep stalling me. Riaan left for home as he was tired beyond repair. I kept on and on about the wheelchair and they eventually brought me one at 20h30. Finally! I sat in the wheelchair, catheter, drip and all! I was very out of it from all the morphine they had given me but I knew what my goal was – to see my baby. Isn’t nature amazing? The way you can feel such despair one moment and then your mother instinct kicks in nothing in the whole world matters to you except your child?
As I entered the neo-natal ward I wondered if I would recognize my baby, but then I saw him and knew him straight away! Of course, how could I not? He was fast asleep and looked just like Riaan when he was sleeping. I went to the side of his incubator and just stared at this little being from top to bottom. I stared at each inch of his body and just let it sink in that he was mine… my little baby that had grown in my tummy. Wow! He was the biggest baby in the ward and just managed to fit into the incubator.
I asked the nurse if I could touch him and she said yes. So I opened the little round window and gently touched his soft newborn skin. I then spoke to him the way I had spoken to him when he was in my tummy. Then he turned his head right around towards me and opened these huge blue eyes and just stared at me. I just broke down into tears, full of love for this little boy – he knew who I was!
I had to tear myself away from him after quite a while and went back to the ward. There I slept a bit and woke early the next morning at 04h00. Immediately I summoned the nurses and did my trip again to the neo-natal to see my little boy. I touched and spoke to him some more.
That morning my catheter and drip was taken out and I was finally mobile on my own. I existed between my bed (expressing breast milk) and the neo-natal ward.
Over the next 3 days Matthew was tube fed and eventually bottled fed. I tried breastfeeding but the nurses scolded me for that and that (in my opinion) contributed to my baby blues. Sometimes I would just sit there staring at Matthew sobbing that he was in this situation and I couldn’t hold him and have him at my bed like the other moms in my ward. I so badly wanted to breastfeed and because I couldn’t I felt like a failure.
When Matthew came out of the incubator, Riaan and I took turns holding and feeding him a bottle, it was wonderful. He was the most beautiful little thing I’d ever laid my eyes on. Seeing Riaan with him was amazing, he was a natural. I must admit I felt kind of nervous a lot of the time as I wasn’t sure I was always doing the right thing.
On day 4 I awoke early as usually and went to the bathroom to wash. I heard a knock on the bathroom door and opened it. There was the sister from the neo-natal with my little Matthew in her arms! He had had his first top to toe bath and his hair looked beautiful and felt so soft. She let me keep him in my bed for a little while – just me and him… wow! It was stunning, he was so small and cute, I just sat there sobbing tears of joy whilst holding him.
He hadn’t been able to have a bath yet as he was so sick. They had wiped him down but because he had such a bush of hair and it wasn’t washed, he had matted hair the whole time he was in hospital. After it had been washed it was so soft and silky.
That evening we were discharged and oh so happy about that. We could take our little bundle of love home and be a family.