As I wrote in my last post (Are you ready to Commit to Knit?), I committed to knit last year, but hadn’t actually completed my commitment. The call to Commit again spurred me on, and I spent the last few nights finishing off my 2 bears for the Angel Teds project for Yorkhill Hospital, which has been organised by Woolly Knits (click HERE to see their current projects including Angel Teds). I plan to do some more when I can. Woolly Knits have described the project better than I could:
“It is a very sad project, but we are so glad to able to help families at this time. The idea is to make two identical teddies for babies who pass away in Yorkhill’s SCBU. The family can then give an Angel Ted to their baby and keep an identical one in their very precious keepsake box that the hospital provide”
I chose this project for a couple of reasons, and I thought I would share them with you. They are quite personal, so I hope you don’t mind me sharing a little more about myself and my family. It might be a long one. Bear with me.
When I read the different projects that I could commit to, I was grabbed by this one. It was in Glasgow, where my children were born and where I live. I will of course support projects further afield in the future, but I wanted to support something close to home for my first commitment. More importantly, my own daughter spent some time in the SCBU when she was born nearly 3 years ago (not in Yorkhill, but in the Southern General).
I didn’t really have a plan for how I was going to give birth. Well, that’s not strictly true; my plan was to have the baby. And as plans go, that’s exactly what happened, just not in the way I had hoped deep down it might. I was nearly 2 weeks overdue (my first so not exactly a surprise) but Scotland had had it’s own mini-heatwave and we had decided that now was the time we simply must move house, so my body had swollen up and I was extremely uncomfortable.
I was induced with pessaries initially, but my body was not for dilating the way it should. As I had been having mini contractions because of the pessaries for the past 24 hours, and thus not a lot of sleep, the doctors agreed to break my waters.
All was fine, and I laboured on gas and air for the next 4 hours, with the drip in to bring on my contractions. But the gas and air was making me very quesy so eventually I decided to have an epidural. Oh the bliss. For the next 6 hours I chatted away to my lovely midwife, and sent my husband off to have some food and a nap. All was well.
And then I started feeling sick.
Now I’ve heard epidurals can make you feel jittery, but I couldn’t stop shaking. And I was freezing (except I wasn’t, I was roasting). And I tried desperately to get off the bed – which obviously I couldn’t because my legs weren’t working, before I was very sick all over myself and my husband (I think I even tried to help clean up. Forever my mother’s daughter). The doctors and nurses were still fine with this until my daughter’s heart rate increased to a level they weren’t comfortable with. As I’d only got to 4 centimetres dilated after 12 hours on the drip, they decided to perform an emergency c-section.
I don’t remember a huge amount about the section. I remember my teeth wouldn’t stop chattering. That I felt scared. That it seemed to take forever to set it all up. I do remember that they were joking about how the anaesthesiologist wasn’t a real doctor and I told them that I was probably the only real doctor in the room (why on earth I would say this to the person cutting into my stomach I’ll never know. I blame the need for distraction). And I remember them pulling my daughter out, hearing her cry and them telling us it was a girl. And shedding a tear.
Then she was taken away to be given some antibiotics and my husband went with her. And it seemed to take another age for them to sew me back up. They moved me to the recovery room, where I remained for the next 10 hours, as they couldn’t get on top of my infection. As I wasn’t stabilising, they moved me to the High Dependency Unit on the labour ward, where I remained for the next 4 days as they filled me full of antibiotics and sent me for multiple tests to see where my infection was coming from. In the end they diagnosed me with sepsis (I didn’t find this out until my second pregnancy).
As for my daughter, they didn’t realise she was poorly for a while. It was actually one of the midwives who remarked she was a bit cold but didn’t take it further. I had sent my husband home for a rest at this point, but mentioned it to the next midwife when she was changing her nappy. She undressed her again and noticed that she was also breathing quite quickly. I often wonder what would have happened had I not mentioned it to the midwife. Would they have noticed that she wasn’t well? It doesn’t bear thinking about, but the care we received in the hospital was excellent, so I have to think they would have.
I was quite out of it, so it didn’t really compute when a nurse came and told me they were taking her to monitor her. I texted my husband and said there was nothing to worry about – they were just taking her to another room to check her out. But they weren’t. They were taking her to the SCBU. So it came as a shock when we went to visit her later and she was in an incubator with tubes and wires coming out of seemingly everywhere and alarms going off constantly. And she looked so poorly. And it was so scary. And we couldn’t hold her. And when we left her, she cried and it broke my heart.
After some tests, it transpired that she had Group B Strep (click HERE to read more about it). I had never heard about it but it is the main cause of infection in babies and can cause meningitis and, in some cases, death. But she was one of the lucky ones because they had learned about it early on, and she was given the medicine she needed. We had a couple of scary moments where she needed extra oxygen, and I’ll never forget howling on the post-labour ward because my husband had stayed at home to organise more clothes and there was no-one to take me to see her – I was too poorly to walk the distance to the SCBU. But for the most part she did well and joined me on the post-labour ward 6 days after she was born. And it was bliss. We were discharged a few days later and she has gone from strength to strength since then.
But I’ll never forget the babies on the SCBU. Lots of them were premature so were tiny in comparison to her. And you could tell that some of them had been there for a while, and would probably be there for a while longer. I also remember the ward that was for the really poorly babies. It was next to her ward and always seemed to be darkened.
Which brings me to the Angel Teds project. There are days with my children when it is really hard work; when I yearn for my old life, when I could do what I wanted when I wanted. But there are other days, more days, when it is the most wonderful thing in the world. When I can’t believe how lucky I am to have two such perfect children. I cannot even begin to comprehend what it must be like to lose your child. I don’t ever want to have to comprehend it. I don’t know if all of the children that were on the SCBU when my daughter was there, left the hospital. I hope they did, but the reality is they might not have.
So this is why I chose to support Angel Teds. I cried whilst I was making them. I cried for the babies, but I cried so much more for the parents. I don’t know how you move on from such a loss. I hope this small token gives them some comfort.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. Aileen x