Turbulence can be disturbing not only because of the physical experience of dropping through the sky but because you cannot anticipate it, you cannot brace yourself for it. The seat belt lights ping and a calm voice announces “We are experiencing some turbulence, please remain seated with your seat belt fastened at all times as the flight may be a little bumpy for while.” But turbulence is nothing compared to the landing, which is apparently the riskiest part of flying. According to Boeing statistical studies, 16% of fatal accidents occur during takeoff and initial climb, while 29% occur during approach and landing. So, after many hours of anticipation on the long haul flight you prepare yourself for the big descent but again the voice sounds over the tannoy saying “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Due to heavy weather conditions we have been placed in a holding pattern circling the runway before descent...”
Just when I thought we might be coming into land with my whole birthing experience we were put into an decreasing flight pattern with continuing turbulence and an emergency crash landing...
After 4 days of pre birth trauma followed by the major postpartum haemorhage at delivery, I was not given a blood transfusion as my haemoglobin level was on the borderline of 7 and the Dr’s wanted to see if I would cope without one.
The circling begins
My right leg had lost further mobility during labour and we discovered it lacked normal feeling when I had an ice test the next morning. I needed an MRI scan. This meant undoing the metal beading from my stitches around my C-section scar and then re-stitching my scar. I also had to have a drain removed from my wound in order to undergo the scan. I was told to expect a little discomfort at its removal. This was not a correct description so I was unable to brace myself and mentally prepare. Slowly dragging a skewer out of your insides without any form of pain relief is the best description of what it felt like. Bill could hear me shrieking from the other room.
I blacked out during the MRI scan so it had to be halted half way through. (MRI result: aside from discovering I also had a degenerative disc and slipped, tilted vertebrae, was that my daughter had been pushing on the nerves at the top of my leg during labour causing bruising and numbness)
I developed an infection, spiked a fever and became covered in rashes and enormous blisters in an allergic reaction to the plasters I was given around my wound.
My back muscles were too weak and spasming for me to really hold my baby, let alone change her or feed her and I kept having reactions to the various painkillers (we found out later this was most likely a bi-product of my anaemia) I experienced reoccurring dizziness, so was also feeling scared to hold her in case I dropped her during a dizzy spell. I felt an inconvenience to the staff constantly pressing the button for assistance for everything, (even though that is what they were there to do.)
My body was too weak for my milk to come in properly so we had to top up and supplement with formula. I tried very hard to take in the information that the midwives and breast-feeding support offered.
My catheter was taken out. (Too early it would later transpire…)
I had a run in with a midwife who thought I was exaggerating and being a hypochondriac when I said I was worried because it felt like my bladder was about to burst through my scar. She told me that was perfectly normal and just my wound, so I believed her. I later heard her gossiping and discussing me negatively in the corridors. (Bill heard also) It was very distressing.
I just needed to leave.
I was desperate to go home. I asked the midwife if there was a still a medical reason that I couldn’t go home at that point and said that I would stay if there was one but if not I would like to be discharged.
I felt that if I could just go home, I’d be able to breathe out and begin to get better. After all, having raised my health concern issues, the midwife in charge of me hadn’t seemed to take them seriously, so I just figured it was all part of the process and normal to be feeling the way I was feeling.
I was discharged with antibiotics and huge amounts of iron tablets.
I got home... coming into land...
Our baby daughter was safe and beautiful.
Bill and friends were around to help.
I had 24 hours at home and finally after a visit from a community midwife, I went to sleep.
I’d hardly slept for months.
Since my fall I hadn’t been able to lie down without pain, so my nights were spent propped up with pillows all around me and I’d only been getting three to a maximum four hours sleep. During the week of labour and post the birth I’d had much less per night.
I was utterly and totally exhausted.
I woke up several hours later in my bed and felt contractions.
I saw Bill in the doorway, holding a child.
“Who’s that?” I asked feeling confused.
Bill became arrested in the moment and waited for my next words.
I carried on, feeling the afterbirth contractions and said something like
“The baby will be coming soon now.”
Bill began to look alarmed.
“Rach?” he said.
Then, as he began to ask me some questions,
I realised that I couldn’t remember.
I had no idea what had happened or that I’d already had our baby.
It was another of the most terrifying moments I’ve ever experienced.
My reality was not reality.
I felt a thousand things at once, questions, confusion and fear all pounding, "What happens if I can't remember?" My brain clawed its way forward, in an effort to make sense of what was happening. In my minds eye I saw electricity sparks trying to connect as I searched for the pathways that would connect my memory and find the huge chunk that was missing. This lasted about five minutes, but it felt much longer.
Somehow, I found my way back.
How could I not know my own child?
I woke up disorientated and confused for a second time again later that day but the effects only lasted one minute that time. A wave of dizzy, tingling, terror flooded my whole being.
My bladder still felt like it was going to burst though my scar. I could feel the weight of it.
The anxiety kept building.
My mind and body filled with dread as Bill phoned our DR who then called for a first response team and an ambulance to take me back into hospital.... this time our steadfast and unfaltering friend Becky was literally left holding our baby...