The 19th of February: A date that will forever be our favourite day for not one but two reasons.
It was the date we finally found out what true love at first sight was by becoming first-time parents in 2019, and, then two years later, on the 19th of February 2021, we relived the memory of welcoming our second son into the world on his big brother's 2nd birthday.
I didn't have the most smooth sailing pregnancy. My first pregnancy was fairly easy going. I had morning sickness until 16 weeks and no issues. The second time was challenging. I had morning sickness all day, every day until 30 weeks. At eight weeks pregnant, I spent the day in Emergency on the drip to hydrate my body. From 20 weeks until the day our little boy was born, I experienced awful pains from my tail bone down to my feet. My bones had all started relaxing, so my glute muscles were holding everything together and taking the load of my relaxed bones. This meant that all my nerves running through my glutes down to my ankles were being pinched (sciatic nerves).
I tried Physio a few times, but it didn't help. My obstetrician did warn me that it would worsen as the pregnancy progressed, and that is precisely what happened. I got to the point that I couldn't move anymore, and when I had to, I was in extreme agony. The challenge I struggled with the most was keeping my very active toddler happy so he didn't get bored. I also returned to full time from part-time for the final four weeks of work due to paid maternity leave requirements. This was a huge struggle, but I managed to do it somehow. Finally, I made it to 36 weeks pregnant, finally on maternity leave, sitting in our obstetrician's office arranging our final plan.
After having an emergency caesarean in 2019, the chances of a VBAC were looking slim. My baby was above average, estimated at around 3.8kg, which was the same as my first. We were asked to pick a cut off date because if I didn't go into labour on my own, the cut off date would be the date of a booked in caesarean. We had joked about the boys birthdays being on the same day but thought it best to spread them out a week apart. My obstetrician was happy to plan it a week earlier until he looked in his calendar and remembered he was going away for the week (why is this always the way?). He then told us we only had two dates to choose from due to him trying not to get too close to my due date as he didn't want me going into labour on my own so close to my due date.
Those dates were the 18th and, you guessed it, the 19th of February. We decided having their birthdays a day apart would be more challenging than the same day, so the 19th it was. On the morning of our son Lenny's 2nd birthday, we quickly wished him a happy birthday (we celebrated the day before, and he was coming to the hospital that afternoon), packed the car and drove to the hospital.
We got to the hospital at 6.45 am. We were taken to our room to do all the paperwork with our delivery Midwife beforehand, and I was in my gown and wheeled down to the theatre by 7.30 am. I feel fortunate to have had the same delivery Midwife as my first pregnancy. I also feel extremely lucky that my Midwife and my obstetrician are husband and wife, and they delivered both my boys into this world together. That wouldn't happen very often, and that is pretty special.
There was a little wait once we got down there, but by 8 am, they were ready to start. I was wheeled in to chat with my Anethesist and his nurse, where they put the cannula in my hand. At this point, I broke down into tears. I tried to hide my emotions all morning, but it was at this stage the memories all came flooding back, and I got really scared and anxious. I was assured everything would be okay, and they would take it slow to help with my nerves. We then went into the theatre room and met the whole team. The time came for me to move onto the operating table and to lean over the side for the spinal block to go in, being asked to sit as still as possible.
I remember them putting the numbing agent on and the needle going in, and all of a sudden, I felt something I know I shouldn't have and jumped. This frightened me as I knew that shouldn't have happened. My Anethesist was so reassuring, and everything was okay, but I do remember thinking the whole time, am I going to come out of this with all my feeling back or will that have permanent damage (of course, it was all fine).
I was then laid down, and the lack of feeling started to kick in. It is the most bizarre feeling that you can't quite explain. Everything starts feeling heavy but also feels really strange, like a tickle running through your body. We were soon underway, and my Anethesist sat with my Husband, Sean, and me the whole time, explaining everything that was happening.
It seemed to take a really long time this time, but given it wasn't an emergency, everyone was calm and took their time. A few times, I started feeling sick due to my heart rate dropping slightly, but it was nothing to be concerned about; I just felt like I was going to puke. The time was almost here, and we were asked if we wanted the curtain to be dropped. We were asked the first time too, but we were way too scared, and this time I just said no thank you, not even asking Sean because I assumed he wouldn't want to see, but suddenly he yelled out "YES PLEASE!".
I was so shocked he decided to watch but also so glad that he chose to be brave to watch our little boy be born. I was then told my obstetrician had to press down really hard on my stomach to create a mimic contraction to help everything move down. It was the most uncomfortable feeling as it was in between the part of my body that I could still feel and the rest of my numb body. I couldn't see anything, but my husband said he pushed pretty hard (I certainly felt it, though).
He then watched our beautiful, healthy 3.780kg baby boy; Jimmy Athol Townsend enter the world.
They lowered the curtain a little more and asked me to reach out. I didn't get this experience the first time, so this was super special. I was able to touch and hold my baby boy as soon as he was born.
They then took him and brought him around to us. I started going weak and felt sick due to all the emotions and adrenaline running through my body, so they thought it was safer to take Sean and Jimmy away to cut the cord.
I was then stitched up and taken to recovery, where I felt much better, so Jimmy was placed on my chest, and he knew exactly what to do. He latched perfectly and had an extremely strong suck. He didn't come off my boobs the whole time in recovery.
The next day my obstetrician visited to see how we were going, and it was then we found out that I had a very abnormal placenta that had overtaken my whole womb and had started to come apart.
He said it looked like there were two, but only one had the cord attached. My obstetrician was shocked to see it when it came out, so had it tested. The results came back that it was a bipartite placenta, and it should have been picked up at my 20-week scan but never was.
He confirmed that any future pregnancy would be deemed high risk, but we now have two healthy boys, and that is all I could ever hope for. It also explains some extreme bleeding and clotting I experienced early on at six weeks. I presented to the ED, where I was told I was miscarrying. The next few weeks were scary, but everything was fine, and the bleeding, we now know, relates to the two placentas I was growing.
I really did hope for a VBAC this time around as this is most likely our final baby, but I am so grateful for both of my experiences of an emergency and an elective cesarean. Both experiences were so different, but both so special, and I have two very healthy, happy boys that are the perfect fit for our happily ever after.