NATASHA & IGGY
The debilitation of my body marked the third trimester of my pregnancy. Rapidly my weight bearing joints decomposed, unable to stand let alone walk I became confined to a wheelchair and the house. I was diagnosed with Pregnancy Induced Transient Osteoporosis after a five day stint in hospital, a warm up to the birthing sleep over. The pain transient osteoporosis inflicted was choking. No position either lying or seated would relieve it, painkillers alike were redundant. I would writhe in pain for hours, howling with tears streaming down my face. The pain relief made me dozy and emotional, with a searing headache for good measure. Pain contaminated every part of my day; I would sit for hours needing a wee, simply not going to avoid aggravating it further. If it was not pain radiating from my bones, it was an inflicted pain – clexane injections were a daily torture administered by my patient partner. He would sit with me every night and talk me through the process, holding my hands and wiping my tears.
A C-section was booked, a beacon of light out of pregnancy and into motherhood. We were bringing our boy into the world early as my body was utterly failing me. We were reassured by doctors and midwives alike that he would sail through the sunroof with ease. The evening before the section I busied myself with packing and re reading the guidelines and rules provided by the hospital countless times. There was an energy in the air, I slept shallowly and woke minutes before the alarm sounded. I felt deeply nauseous with excitement and trepidation – please let it happen, please let us be safe – resounded in my mind. We disturbed the entire labour ward at six am with our roller suitcase and wheel chair, by seven thirty am the surgeon, anaesthetist and midwives had prepped me with words of encouragement. I had lathered lidocane on both hands to alleviate cannula pain, and covered them with crimpling cellophane sheaths, which were met with smiles by the medical team.
Once I was wheeled to theatre, time sped up. I perched on a table in the centre of the room, and within moments I was paralysed by the spinal block – the anaesthetist worked like a magician, anticipating everything and explaining the sensations I would feel moments before they happened. My body flopped with paralysis on the bed, and within (what felt like) seconds I felt hands pulling and pushing my abdomen – I felt everything but painlessly. I felt the push of my son’s body from mine, I felt pieces of me being moved to one side, I felt hands pulling me back together. The surgeons were exceptional – cool as cucumbers. The entire process lasted less than an hour. My boy Iggy arrived safely, bar a minor respiratory bump in the road. It was on being wheeled out of theatre that things began to go wrong.
I was placed in recovery. My baby had been taken away from me for monitoring – I was shaking as the drugs began to exit my body. In abstract thoughts and somewhat incoherent words I asked for my baby. After what seemed like an eternity he was finally brought to me. My little sparrow was miniature, fragile and quiet. He was lifted onto me and I clutched him, desperate to imbue him with life force. His cries were equally small. Breast-feeding did not come, not for days, so those early hours were desperate. I fed him with formula to the horror of irresponsible midwives. The midwife put in charge of my care dropped the ball – several times. It is because of her negligence I was left without my urinary output being monitored (via a catheter) and without any feeding support whatsoever. I was subsequently left with bladder distention and a hungry baby. The catheter had to remain in place for ten days post section, a humiliating kick in the teeth, which absolutely impeded my recovery and bonding with my boy. I was dosed with mass pain relief, managed for panic attacks and kept sedentary. My partner, Kevin is the only reason I am able to write this today, with my baby breast-feeding as I type with one hand – he saved both of us. Kevin held me together; he cradled our baby, nursed me back to health and was my advocate in every possible way. It is hard to reimagine my experience in the hospital post surgery for the purpose of this text, it was traumatic. We were essentially imprisoned in a cell, grey walls, locked windows, stifling heat – there was no way to feel clean, no opportunity to get nutritious meals – I was trapped in my body by transient osteoporosis, the Caesarean wound, bladder distention and muscle atrophy. The room felt smaller and dirtier every day. I am a level headed person in real life, but I fell apart in that room – I began to believe I would never walk again, that I would not be able to care for my new-born son, that it was possible I may never get better. I suffered a series of panic attacks and by day five begged to be discharged. The following day we would be readmitted.
I did get better, I am three weeks away from that experience and I am in love with my boy Iggy. I have walked and I have carried him. I am bruised by my "birthmare", but I am also liberated from the pain. And I am excited by life, because after hitting the floor I have managed to stand up again.