(Rockin’ the ‘beach ball up the jumper’ look…. Again, in brown…..)
After having a natural birth and a common aversion to the thought of a c-section, this was one of my main worries during the pregnancy – the risks to me and risks to my babies of having a c-section. But as I have said before, I had no option and have no criticism or complaints of why I was to follow this path. I can fully understand why this was the route I was to follow.
Elective c-sections are booked in advance and this was the case with me, however, the date I was booked in did not necessarily mean the day I may have the babies. For a hospital to deliver my three babies, they need to ensure they have three cots available in SCBU (the Special Care Baby Unit) as it was likely my babies would spend some time here on the arrival into the world, the appropriate number of doctors and midwives. Now a hospital cannot know when babies will be born so it could be that some deliveries in the days/nights before could be using those cots or babies could have been transferred in from other hospitals.
So when Mum waved us off one Monday morning in April, I don’t think she expected to see us again in a few hours. Quite simply there was no longer any room at the inn, despite my calling before the trip. And, in fact, there was not to be any room at that inn for the rest of the week, so could I try a different inn on Wednesday? Right ok. So we popped along to another Birmingham hospital that afternoon for a pre-op assessment. This went well and the lady surgeon who would be delivering my babies was pleasant enough and it was all relaxed until my husband asked ‘So how many sets of triplets have you delivered before?’ I don’t really know what type of qualifications we were hoping for given that there are only roughly 180 sets born in the UK a year. It seemed she had delivered plenty of singletons and twins, and in her words, triplets is just another baby and bits to find and get out. All seems quite straight forward then.
The reasons for the change in hospital and due date is all quite understandable but the only thing that concerned me immensely was what happened if I went into labour on Monday night or Tuesday? Who would take me in? I was at home with all my hospital notes, no hospital was responsible for me and it seemed that no local hospital would have room for me and my brood for a few days time. It was somewhat daunting. Luckily I was still holding onto my bundles Wednesday morning and we tried our luck again. And the inn let us in. Relief.
We entered our consultation room sheepishly and awaited further instructions. In enter two midwives- ‘Ooh so you must be the triplet lady! It looks like you have a beach ball up your jumper!’. There was no escaping it. I breathed deeply and told myself I had no choice but to not get irritated with these ladies.
We progressed through to the operating theatre quite swimmingly. My husband got his scrubs on (Did I want to take a photo? No, can we just get on with it please) and I met with ‘the team’ – the lady surgeon and her assistant, the anaesthetist, my two new mid-wife BFFs, two trainee midwives, three paediatric doctors and three nurses. So how many does that get us? 13. That’s 15 with the prize turkey and ER George Clooney (aka my husband). You can’t blame me then when I said no when I was asked if three trainee doctors could come and watch. I know it would have been a wonderful training experience for them and something they may not get the chance to see again, but in the words of the surgeon, it’s only a few more babies and bits to get out than with a singleton.
I just loved my anaesthetist. Isn’t it convenient that when your life is so dependent on someone, like an anaesthetist about to insert the biggest needle ever into your spine for an epidural, that you develop a sudden love for them and become all pleasant and nice. I think you want to give off the right ‘vibes’ to them as you certainly don’t want them to think you are a bit irritating.
So with the good old Take That appropriately singing Never Forget on the radio, everyone set to work.
At 11.02am, Triplet 1 (T1) was extracted, 11.03am Triplet 2 (T2) and at 11.04am Triplet 3 (T3) (with all the bits that came with them).
I felt the relief of weight immediately, particularly T1 who had been so so low down, right at the bottom of my belly. After all three babies were out, one of my new BFFs immediately said ‘Ooh look at the tiny waist, how can you get that back so quickly?’ Well, you have just taken 3 babies out of me. She was forgiven for her earlier ‘beach ball up the jumper’ comment.
Our boys were all whisked to their ‘baby bases’ which were labelled Triplet 1, Triplet 2 and Triplet 3 surprisingly enough and weighed, wiped down and given the all important initial inspection.
We were given T1 first, who looked like a little mouse (and still does) but surprisingly alert. I held him in an awkward position as one could only do whilst lying down on an operating table with a screen under ones armpits. My husband held T3, who to be honest just looked too cool to be a baby, a cross between Brad Pitt and Jack Bauer, slight jaundice tan and wavy hair. I was then greeted with T2 who quite frankly just howled at me and I found this difficult as I was not in a physical position to do anything comforting about this. I did feel particular useless and overwhelmed by it all.
The weights were called as 5lb 7oz, 6 lb 3oz and 5 lbs, and I was overjoyed that my body had allowed me to get my babies so big. The ability to carry these babies to that weight has honestly been the greatest achievement in my life. I always used to struggle with the ‘So what has been your greatest achievement?’ question in interviews, and if I was ever faced with this again, I have a new answer. Relevant to the job or not, you can’t knock a woman for that.
So 16 lbs 10oz of baby plus three placentas is not bad going, and when I moan about the state of my stomach now, I really don’t mind (ok, well, sometimes I do – that’s the thing with skin you see, once it’s stretched, it’s well, stretched).
During the initial check-ups, it was soon realised that T2 was ‘grunting’, and was to go to the SCBU for more oxygen, so just four of us progressed to the post-op room.
We were told that T1 and T3 could stay with us and would be moving up to the maternity ward with me. Their weights were good enough and the doctor’s assessment did not see any reason why they need to spend time in SCBU. We had never expected this, assuming that they would automatically be whisked away and were overjoyed. I set about breastfeeding T1 and T3 whilst my husband followed T2 into SCBU.
Next came the naming discussion. We had already decided on our three names. So now we just had to allocate these out. Some people decide what the first out, second out and so on are to be called. I wanted to see what they looked like. I had been looking at T1 and T3 whilst feeding them (which they were doing surprisingly well at, latching on and having a go which is all a mother could ask for at this stage) and thinking what they looked like. My husband had been doing the same with T2. It seemed that one name had been allocated twice. After a bit of negotiation, we soon allocated out our names, first and middle.
At 3pm the four of us were transferred up to the ward where I was given my own room (with en-suite). I cannot imagine having to be on a ward with others. Can you imagine all the looks and questioning. My room was very spacious with a nice view and we started to settle in. We did the calls to the anxious close family, (yes really, three boys) who had to set pen to paper to jot down the names and weights in the right order so they could liaise with the rest of those in waiting of the news.
And away we went. A baby each and one to pop and see in SCBU….. Surely we could manage that.