If you follow us on social media you will have seen that 3 weeks ago today we welcomed our newest member of the family into the world.
Our baby boy Asa Beau was born on Sunday 12th May weighing a whopping 9lb 15oz! I had jokingly said the week before that knowing my luck I’d have a 10 pounder but hadn’t expected to be right! He is absolutely perfect in every way and has slotted in to our family like he has always been here. We are all completely in love with him and can’t get enough of his cuddles.
I started getting contractions at 6am on Sunday morning while at home on my own with the other 3 kids. I messaged Danny at work once they started getting strong and he came home as quick as he could. We got all our stuff together and dragged the kids out of bed and into the car in their pjs. They looked slightly bewildered at what was going on and remained quiet in the car to Nanny’s house. We had explained everything to them well in advance so they knew baby was on its way!
With it being early on a Sunday morning the roads were nice and clear to the hospital and we parked easily (something we’d been worried about as it’s usually chaos trying to get in to the hospital). We were assessed and discovered I was 5cm dilated. Contractions were regular and strong so they got a room prepared for us. After waiting and waiting suddenly baby moved much lower with one big contraction and we decided to push the buzzer. A midwife appeared just as 2 others did to take us to the delivery suite – perfect timing!
Once in the delivery suite we chatted to the midwives. We had two as one was a trainee in her 3rd year and one was fully qualified. We talked about my previous births and I told them Cody had been a water birth. They asked why we hadn’t wanted that this time – apparently I’d been misheard as I’d said I DID want a water birth if the pool was available. The midwife apologised for the misunderstanding and kindly went and and got the water running in the pool down the corridor. Knowing the pool was available and I could have the water birth I’d hoped for was great.
We moved down to the pool room and made ourselves comfortable. By this time the contractions were very close together and getting stronger and stronger. I was offered gas and air but chose not to have any pain relief. I’d rather be in pain than feel sick from the drugs! Things did reach a point where I didn’t think I could keep going much longer. The contractions were so painful and I just couldn’t find a comfortable position to be in.
Thankfully this didn’t last long as very soon things changed again and I needed to push. After just a few pushes my waters broke and baby’s head started to emerge. I was very aware that this could potentially be a big baby and really didn’t want to tear! Small little nudges helped move him down and his head finally emerged. After encouragement from the midwife I reached down to touch his head. Not going to lie – it was a very weird sensation! I’m glad I did it once, not sure I’d do it again! One more push and our baby was born into the water. I held him there while the midwife unwrapped the chord from his neck, which thankfully hadn’t caused him any problems, then brought him up to the surface. He was so strong from the moment he was born holding his head up to look at Danny who was leaning over the side of the pool behind me. His eyes were big and wide and he was so calm with only a few little cries. As we looked to see what we had and discovered he was a baby boy we both felt the tears in our eyes. The other 3 kids had all been desperate for a brother and we knew this little boy would make our family complete.
After The Birth
We spent a few lovely relaxed hours in the delivery suite having skin to skin contact with Asa and recovering from the birth. Tea and toast was also brought to us which went down nicely, we were both starving! The trainee midwife showed us the placenta and all the different parts to it which I’d never really seen before and was actually quite fascinating. All in all my labour was 6 hours from the first contraction to Asa being born. I didn’t have any pain relief and didnt tear so no stitches required – woohoo!! We rang our parents to let them know baby had arrived safe and sound but didn’t tell them what we’d had as we wanted the children to be the first to know. It was hard keeping it secret! After a few hours relaxing and feeding Asa I enjoyed a lovely shower. On my way back to the delivery suite I bumped in to our midwife who had been called away to help with another delivery. She gave me a big hug and told me how amazing I was and that I’d made her love her job again today. It was so lovely to hear that!
We were given the option to stay the night but as I felt fine we chose to go home and introduce Asa to his older siblings. At 6pm we were discharged.
Introducing The Family
We left the hospital and headed back to Mother-In-Laws house to pick up the big kids. Unfortunately Lily had already gone home to her mum’s house so we video called her instead so she could meet Asa at the same time as the other 2. They all guessed right that he was a boy and were absolutely over the moon. They all had the brother they so desperately wanted and we couldn’t have been any happier. Lois had her first cuddles with him and was so proud. Cody was a little more nervous so didn’t want to hold him just yet but was happy stroking him and talking to him.
After a brief stop at Mother-In-Laws we jumped in the car and headed to my parents house to introduce them and my sister. We tricked them by putting a pink blanket on Asa in the car seat as my Mum had been so adamant we were having a boy! They were all thrilled to meet their new grandson/nephew and Asa was passed around for more cuddles and hundreds of photos. We had dinner with them and then headed home to bed.
The First Few Days
As expected Asa was awake and feeding a lot on his first night at home. We had him in the moses basket beside me and did eventually manage to get some sleep.
I had been warned that my stomach muscles were severely separated earlier on in the pregnancy and knew I’d need physio to bring them back together. Because of this I expected to be in a lot of pain and discomfort but actually I felt surprisingly well. We had decided I would breastfeed Asa as I had done with our other children and he seemed to take to feeding like a pro.
The following day Danny took the big kids to school. We went to see a midwife at our local midwifery unit for Asa’s newborn checks to be done as these hadn’t been done at the hospital. We were shocked to discover that Asa was jaundiced and his levels were high enough that he needed hospital treatment. The midwife went off to call the main hospital and make arrangements for us and we quickly rang my mum to pick the big kids up from school. We were advised to go home to pack a hospital bag and expect to be in for at least 24 hours. Assuming that Danny wouldn’t be able to stay at the hospital overnight with me we decided it was best for him to stay at home with the kids and my parents gave me and Asa a lift to the hospital.
When we arrived at the hospital a private room had already been set up for us on the maternity ward. I took Asa’s clothes off while he was assessed by a midwife. Lots of questions were asked and paperwork filled out. A nurse came to help me hand express milk into a syringe as by this point we were struggling to wake him to take a feed. One of the things with jaundice is that it can make babies really drowsy really quickly which makes feeding them difficult. It’s important they feed as much as possible as this helps break down the bilirubin in the baby’s blood. Basically it becomes a vicious circle that can escalate into quite a serious situation very quickly. Thankfully once we got some milk into Asa’s mouth using the syringe he stirred enough that I was able to latch him on and get him to feed properly. Once he’d been fed we quickly got him laid in a crib under the phototherapy lamp.
For the next 6 hours it was a constant battle to keep Asa fed and settled while under the lamp as much as possible. We were monitored constantly and at midnight his jaundice levels were checked with a blood test taken from the heel of his foot. Unfortunately his levels hadn’t dropped enough and so we had to face another 12 hours of him being under the lamp before being tested again. I spent most of the night stood rocking his crib to try and get him to sleep but it was so hard. Every time he moved he knocked the orange screen protecting his eyes and started crying again. At some point in the early hours of the morning a nurse came in to do our checks and could see how unsettled he was. She went and got a blindfold or ‘goggles’ as they called it so I could have him laid in my arms or beside me in bed with the lamp over him still. This worked so much better and finally we both got some sleep.
After 18 hours in total under the lamp Asa’s jaundice levels finally dropped low enough to turn the lamp off. I thought this meant we could go home but no. He had to now have 12 hours being monitored to make sure he could maintain the levels without the lamp. This meant another night in hospital which was fine except it was Cody’s birthday and I was gutted I wasn’t going to be able to celebrate with him. Instead I video called him and watched him open his presents and have his birthday cake at home with Daddy, Lois and my parents and sister.
While we were in the hospital I was approached by two different groups about taking part in research studies. Not having much else to do and appreciating a bit of company I agreed. One was researching bronchiolitis and breathing issues in babies up to 12 months of age. This something both Lilian and Lois had as babies so very close to our hearts. It simy involved filling in a short questionnaire and we will be sent a follow up questionnaire when Asa is a year old.
The second one was a large group who are doing a European wide research study on how babies process pain. As Asa was going to be having a blood test which involved a pin prick in his heel they asked if I would mind him being hooked up to monitors while the blood test was done so they could record his body’s reactions. This didn’t cause him any additional discomfort or pain so I was happy to agree. I think research is so important to be able to improve care for babies. Asa was a star and slept through the whole thing. I’m very proud of him for being part of such an important study that can help improve pain relief for babies in the future.
After 12 hours without the lamp Asa had another blood test to check if he had managed to maintain the levels on his own. By this time it was 2am! The following morning we were given the OK that we’d be discharged that day so Daddy came to the hospital to collect us. After waiting until 1pm for medication to arrive (I had to inject myself every day for 10 days to prevent blood clots) we got home just in time to pick the big kids up from school. To say they were pleased is an understatement!
Since then Asa has had his bilirubin (jaundice) levels checked every other day. His weight has also had to be closely monitored as he dropped to 9lb 2oz and struggled to regain as his body was working so hard fighting off the jaundice. With lots of perseverance though we have finally been officially discharged from the community midwives and can start to enjoy family life as a crew of 6.