However they do say that live is always better than recorded, and that was what we got today, with the first specialist appointment at Frimley Park. After the complications with gestational diabetes Beth had to have an appointment to get booked in for two glucose tests, the results of which will determine how many more appointments and ultra-sound scans we will have during the rest of the pregnancy, and ultimately when baby 2.0 is born. The due date is officially 14th June, but if the diabetes returns, as it is expected to, the birth will be induced early.
Having said that, it does look like the trips to the hospital will be a little bit less of a hassle as after leaving early to take account of the usual vast queue to get into the chaos of the hospital car park, we got in really easily, and even got one of the big spaces that make it a lot easier to get Lucy in and out of the car. At first I thought it was just that it was the time of year, but it turns out that it wasn’t only that…
As far as possible we’ve always tried to get morning appointments at the hospital, because you can usually get into the car park – although it’s often busy, you can usually get a space. In the afternoons it has always been absolute chaos, with the queue for the car park stretching out onto the road outside. The problem has always seemed to be around the couple of hours of visiting of an afternoon. Aside from one or two exceptions, all the hospital visiting is in two blocks, one in the afternoon and the other in the evening, so in the afternoon you have visitors cars and patients heading to clinics all competing for spaces. According to the sign coming into the hospital today they seem to have finally taken heed of the problems, and afternoon visiting is only available on the weekends, during the week visiting is limited to the evening only. We’ll have to see whether it helps as we go through this pregnancy.
And before anyone mentions the importance of visitors, and how inconvenient it will be to only have evening visiting, I am well aware of that, but short of building a bigger car park, or introducing park and ride – especially with parking charges for hospitals looking like they will be abolished, it is more important that patients are able to park.
As some of you may know, Beth was diagnosed with gestational diabetes part way through the pregnancy. Basically what this means is that thanks to the hormones produced during the pregnancy her system is less sensitive to insulin, so as with a normal diabetic she needed to supplement her insulin levels by injection. Another side effect is that the birth weight is generally larger, especially if the condition has not been diagnosed, plus there is an increased risk of the baby being still born. As a result, the hospital recommended that labour be induced at around thirty-eight weeks, rather than allowing the baby to go full term.
As a result, we were booked in and dutifully turned up at the delivery suite at the hospital at 8am on Monday morning, and were put in the largest of the delivery rooms with instructions that it would probably be a long wait.
It has to be said, in terms of business, the delivery suite was pretty quiet, by Monday afternoon were were the only people in there (although they made up for that over the next couple of days with every room filled), and with us there wasn’t much happening. Beth was treated with prostaglandin shortly after we arrived and not much happened. We walked numerous circuits around the hospital corridors, but the baby resolutely stayed put. So we read the paper, Beth did the crossword and generally sat around and tried to pass the time. As a result of the failure of the first go they tried again at 3pm, and again not really much happened – Beth had some mild contractions, but by about 6pm they decided to transfer her over to the part of the maternity ward reserved for mothers before birth and sent me home, with instructions to come back for 8am the next morning when they would have another go.
In actual fact I didn’t have to wait that long. Having had something to eat, and phoned around various people with updates I got a call from Beth. Having just got settled in the ward her waters had broken and she’d been rushed back to the delivery suite. As a result I jumped into the car and headed back to the hospital.
I got back just before 10pm to find Beth pretty zonked out from gas and air, and apparently things moving pretty quickly. The midwife thought it would still take a goodly amount of time, so at about midnight we had a visit from the anaesthetist who administered an epidural to allow Beth to get some rest, and they set up a bed in the corner of the room for me to sleep on whilst they monitored during the night.
The overnight monitoring found that Beth dilated pretty well up until the check at 4am. By 8am she was still dilated the same amount and the doctors were called in. The problem appeared to be that because of the positioning of the baby it was being pushed into Beth’s pelvis. They said that we could continue with normal labour if we wanted – but added that we could very well be in exactly the same position in a few hours time. The other option was an emergency c-section. Since Beth was pretty tired at this point we opted for the c-section, and went into theatre about 9:30am, with Lucy being born at 9:41am.
Not surprisingly, us as parents didn’t see much of what was going on. I was sat up by Beth’s head, along with the anaesthetist, and they set up a screen so that Beth and myself can’t see the operation in progress. It takes them all of about a minute to get to the baby (the start time of the operation was officially 9:40am, and you could hear Lucy crying before she was even taken out. After that Lucy got handed over to a paediatrician to check she was okay, whilst the surgeon removes the placenta and closes up the incision. After the paediatrician has done his initial checks Lucy was brought around for Beth to see, and all the rest of the checks, the weighing of the baby and dressing are all done where Beth can see, in part as a distraction from what is going on over on the other side of the screen.
From there we went through and spent a bit of time in the recovery bay along with a mixture of other patients from the other operating theatres, and from there we were taken straight through to the maternity ward. Beth and Lucy spent a couple of nights there, and came home yesterday.
All in all we had a great experience with the hospital and the five midwives we went through during the over twenty-four hours we were going through the system. Perhaps the only complaint we’d have is the sauna like heat throughout the building. People may point at lots of other ways that the NHS is losing money, but if Frimley Park is typical, one major way is straight out of the window. In our room in the delivery suite the main radiator was going full pelt all day, with no way to turn it off, and as a result the staff keep both windows in the room permanently open to keep the temperature at something reasonable. It is the same story in the maternity ward where again they had windows open to keep the place at a reasonably constant temperature. Only the private rooms actually seem to have some ability to control the temperature, and there are some radiators around the place with valves, but not all.
Anyway, mother and baby are now home and doing well, and we’d like to thank everybody for all the good wishes and gifts – indeed the first piece of post addressed to Lucy was sitting on the step when we got home yesterday. We’ve had various people ask if we have things we particularly need, so there are a couple of wish lists going for Lucy. One is at Amazon, and is mainly toys and books, the other is at Mothercare and is generally more practical items, so if you’re stuck for something to get feel free to take a look at those. Once again, we’d like to thank everybody for all the good wishes, offers of help, and gifts, hopefully we’ll find time to get around to thanking everybody personally once things have settled down a bit around here! In the mean time, not surprisingly we have an ever growing collection of pictures of Lucy, which you can see over on our photo pages.
One of the worst parts of any hospital visit is the interminable waiting, and we had a pretty good example of it today when we went down to Frimley Park for Beth’s next ante-natal appointment.
They did seem pretty flustered when we arrived for our 2:45pm appointment, certainly like they had staff off. Unfortunately we had a list of people we needed to see including diabetic nurses, midwives, consultants, plus another scan, all of which had to occur in the right order, as a result we spent most of the afternoon sitting in the waiting area. Even then we weren’t done, the postscript was that once we’d finished at the clinic, we had a twenty minute wait at the pharmacy before we finally left the building at about 5:30pm.
Anyway, in terms of a news update, everything seems to be going okay. Beth has one more appointment next week, before they try to induce the baby in the week after. From what we can gather whilst they might succeed at the first attempt, they might need to try multiple times to induce the baby, so it might well be that we’ll have several days of sitting around in a different part of the hospital. Whichever way, we’re on the home stretch now with only a couple more weeks before the birth.
The picture here is the scan picture we got today. Since the baby is now pretty big, the operator can’t now get a clear picture of the whole baby, so this one is probably a lot less clear than some of the others, but the baby is lying across the picture with the head on the right. You can see a nose, and then the hand is held up in front of the face. Suffice to say in a couple of weeks we hope we’ll have some much better pictures to look at.
Thoughts from, and the lives of a Canadian and a Brit living in Southern England.