The Birth of Katie Leigh Prior

The Birth of Katie Leigh Prior

Katie’s birth was a very different experience to Emma’s as it was a planned Cesarean rather than the natural birth we’d tried with Emma. We made the choice to go C/S primarily because of the complications we’d experienced with Emma’s birth when, after 24 hours of labour and high levels of stress on Emma, we were forced to have an emergency Cesarean. Since our doctor couldn’t confirm whether we’d experience issues again, we felt it was safer to opt for a Cesarean from the start.

The funny thing about knowing the exact day was that although it removed some of the excitement and anticipation of the unknown, it also meant we were far more prepared. I also found that with Emma we were getting tired of the pregnancy by the by the end, while with Katie we never seemed to reach this point. And hey, it was also easier to book my leave. On the flip side Sharon was far more nervous this time. This was partially because she knew what to expect, but mainly because she knew when it was going to happen.

It was a strange feeling heading to the hospital on Monday morning without the excitement of labour having kicked off unexpectedly in the middle of the night. All in all it felt very calm and planned. We dropped Emma off at Granny Gerry’s house and explained to her that mommy was going to hospital and her sister was going to be born. She didn’t seem to fully comprehend it (although she was excited) and thankfully stayed with granny quite happily. With a bit more time to kill we then decided to stop on route to purchase a new pram and travel system to make Sharon’s life easier. Happy wife, happy life!

We arrived at Westville Hospital at 10am and set about booking in. Sharon started the process by queuing at reception where she was told to go to the labour ward, which we did. In the labour ward Sharon was connected to a machine to check the baby’s heart rate as well as monitor her contractions (which she obviously wasn’t having since she wasn’t in labour). They then asked for Sharon’s file which we obviously didn’t have since reception had sent us straight to the labour ward.

I was therefore asked to head back to reception to book Sharon in, which I did. The strange thing was that reception now wanted Sharon to sign several forms? How exactly did they expect her to sign the forms when they’d instructed her to go to the labour ward? When I questioned them about this they awkwardly said it was fine and left those blocks blank. It did however leave me wondering if anyone actually knew the process. Anyway, ten minutes later I’d filled in the necessary paperwork, they’d created a file, and they’d printed a million stickers which were shoved haphazardly into the file.

Back in the labour ward we were informed that although we were originally second on the Cesarean list, the couple in front of us had gone into early labour and had already had their baby. This meant we’d been pushed forward and would be going into theater at 1pm. With the admission tests coming back normal we were asked all the standard questions before taken through to the maternity ward where Sharon was shown to her bed for the next 3 nights.

One of these questions we were asked was whether we wanted to have Sharon’s tubes tied during the procedure. Sharon and I had discussed this in detail and wanted to have it done as long as it wasn’t painful for Sharon, worsening her recovery. The nurse ensured us it wasn’t, however I wasn’t comfortable we’d adequately discussed our options with the doctor and we therefore elected not have it done for now. We really should have been more prepared for this, especially since my balls are now in danger of a prodding.

Katie's heart rate and Sharon's lack of contractions
Katie’s heart rate and Sharon’s lack of contractions

And then we waited. It was only around 10:30am and the procedure was scheduled to begin at 1pm. We took the opportunity to head over to the coffee shop for a quick cappuccino before returning to our ward and waiting for the anesthetist to pay us a visit. Our “old friend” Dr Wisniewski (who had been Sharon’s anesthetist for Emma’s birth) popped in just before 1pm and asked Sharon the usual questions before heading off to prep himself.

At 1pm Sharon was wheeled into the waiting room, and I was sent to put on my scrubs. Sadly (this time) I was not joined by our two doctors which removed the whole locker room feel of scrubbing up. Being a planned Cesarean rather than an emergency they were already changed and waiting.

Before heading into theater I took the opportunity to double check that I knew what we were naming our daughter, having learned from the previous experience where I accidentally named Emma without Sharon’s full consent (read my blog entry on Emma’s birth for the full story).

We were then wheeled into the theater and it was a go! Dr Wisniewski was waiting for us and began by inserting Sharon’s drip. This proved to be problematic as Sharon’s veins are very small and despite his best efforts he couldn’t get it flowing correctly. He was therefore forced to redo it in a less than favorable position which resulted in Sharon being far from comfortable for the next day until it was removed. With Sharon’s drip finally in place Dr Wisniewski administered the epidural which he did with absolute precision thanks to the help of the nurses.

Dr Czarnocki and his wife then joined us and the Cesarean began. One of my main memories of Emma’s birth was the speed of the procedure, even though I saw very little of it since I primarily comforted Sharon. On this second occasion we were more prepared and I therefore watched the entire operation, from the first incision to the birth of Katie Leigh. Amazingly the procedure was a lot slower than I remembered, although this could possibly have been since it was a planned Cesarean rather than an emergency.

With Katie out of Sharon’s womb and lying on her abdomen I once again got to cut the cord, which is an amazing (yet weird) feeling. Katie was then given to Dr Botha who cleaned her and did her APGAR tests. With his amusing chuckle, not unlike Crusty the Clown, he proudly showed us our daughter and then handed her to Sharon, telling her she scored a perfect 10 and 10. My daughter was already smarter than me.

Katie's Cesarean Section
Katie’s Cesarean Section

Dr Botha was also kind enough to fire off a few family photos before taking Katie back and placing her in an incubator. This was a great relief to me after what had happened with Emma. Possibly due to it being an emergency Cesarean there had been no incubator waiting for Emma after the birth. As a result I was forced to carry her the 200 kilometers from the theater to the nursery, panicking every step of the way as each floor tile became an imminent tripping hazard resulting in sure death for both Emma and I.

On this occasion I got to calmly follow the nurse who wheeled Katie to the nursery in her warm incubator. On route the nurse asked me to remove my scrubs which had received a decent splattering of blood while cutting the cord. Suddenly the 200 kilometer walk was mere meters, whilst the floor was perfectly level. In the nursery they weighed and measured Katie who was 2.97kgs and 48cms long. Amazingly this was smaller than Emma, although to be fair she was delivered 10 days early due to it being a Cesarean, so she would have been bigger had it been a natural birth.

I was then allowed to hold my angel (briefly) before she was placed back into the incubator to warm up from the cold of the theater. I sat with her for a while before asking the nurse about the paperwork I’d had to complete for Emma (when I’d accidentally named her). As it turned out this paperwork was to register the birth and the hospital no longer offered this service. Instead I was told I’d have to go to home affairs and do it myself. Not ideal and, to make matters worse, I was warned to phone around since some home affairs required the mother, father, and child be present.

Sharon was meanwhile being closed and had probably been moved to recovery. I went in search of her but was not allowed to see her since I’d removed my scrubs. With Katie in the incubator and Sharon in recovery I took the opportunity to grab a quick toasted sandwich in the canteen for lunch. This almost proved to be my undoing as it took 45 minutes to prepare. I eventually asked them to bring it as a take away and headed back to the maternity ward to see if Sharon was out of recovery.

My timing was perfect and I met up with Sharon in the corridor as she was being wheeled back to her bed. She once again had the shakes from the anesthetic, but was otherwise looking good, albeit tired.

Dr Botha with Katie, our first family photo, and Katie Leigh Prior
Dr Botha with Katie, our first family photo, and Katie Leigh Prior

Back in the “room” we eagerly awaited Katie’s removal from the incubator so I could bring her through to Sharon. This took longer than expected – probably around an hour and a half – and when she finally did get out it was time for her first bath. I helped the nurse with this and, when we were done, she gave Katie her 2 injections (vitamin K for blood clotting and the BCG vaccine against TB) as well as the drops for polio. Finally, at round 2:45pm, I got to take Katie through to her Sharon for their first real visit and bonding time. At this point the photos (and various other updates) started to fly to the WhatsApp groups I’d created to keep everyone informed of the progress.

Afternoon Cesareans are not ideal as it was already 3pm and the grandparents were banging on the doors to visit their granddaughter. Sharon had just received a morphine dose, she was still recovering from surgery, and had spent very little time with Katie.

Tommy and Glenda joined us to check on their daughter and to meet their new grandchild. Granny Gerry and Emma had to wait their turn as only 2 grandparents were allowed in at a time. They therefore arrived at 3:30pm, and we somehow managed to sneak them in so all the grandparents were present when Emma met her sister, which was a magical moment.

Well, it was almost a magical. Although Emma was extremely excited to meet her little sister, she was also extremely cautious and barely wanted to touch her. She marveled at her tiny size and gave her a small pat, but other than that looked more shell shocked than anything else. She also made sure to inform us that her name was Katie Lady, and not Katie Leigh.

Emma was perhaps more excited with the present “from her sister” than with her sister herself. The Paw Patrol figurine and puzzle in a tin went down a treat and she was extremely eager to head home with granny to work on it. We’d been worried about whether Emma would stay with granny overnight (happily), or whether I’d need to go home early to look after her (leaving Sharon and Katie alone in the hospital). Thankfully the present solved the problem and Emma and granny headed home while I was able to stay and help with the baby.

Katie getting her measurements taken
Katie getting her measurements taken

There were 7 babies in the nursery that night, which was far more than the 2 or 3 which had been in the hospital when Emma was born on Easter Sunday. This meant that most of the nurses were stricter on the “no dad’s in the nursery” policy, as well as on the “sign your baby out” policy. I still believe consistency is a problem in the hospital as some nurses let me into the nursery, while others did’t. This left me uncertain as to what was and was’t allowed, which resulted in me being kaked on by the same nurse who had kaked on me 3 years before (I promise I’m not bitter at all). Thankfully, ignoring the grumpasaur, all the other nurses were incredibly helpful and friendly.

Visiting hours were manic with 7 babies in the nursery. The queues at the viewing window were 6 people deep, and the other mothers in Sharon’s ward seemed to have an endless supply of noisy guests (clearly we’re getting grumpy with age). We meanwhile chatted quietly to our few visitors until things finally calmed down at 8pm. I then spent the next half an hour settling Sharon and Katie in for the night, before finally saying my goodbyes and heading home (dad’s are only allowed in the hospital until 8:30pm).

Sadly Sharon had a bad first night thanks mainly to 2 high volume snorers. I did offer her a private ward but she decided to hold out and instead went the earplugs at night route. That said she was so exhausted the next evening, sleep was certainly not a problem.

The following morning I stopped off at granny’s to spend some time with Emma, before heading to the hospital. She was as happy as Larry and asked how her mommy and baby were doing. She even put together a small gift bag for me to take down to mom in hospital. Scrunched up paper and a few small twigs are somehow cute when they come from a 3 year old (for her sore mommy).

Our day in the hospital was very relaxed and calm. The pediatrician had done his checks by the time I arrived and was very happy with Katie. Sharon was also off her pain meds and drip, and was relatively mobile (albeit slow). We sat with Katie in our arms and chatted the day away. The good news was that Sharon’s colostrum (and later milk) had come in and she was feeding Katie like a demon. Not only had Sharon mastered the feeding, but clearly so had Katie. She seemed to eat permanently (both in hospital and in the weeks that followed) which was very different to Emma who hardly ever wanted to eat. I guess this was a good thing, although it did mean Sharon was permanently feeding and could do little else (unless of course she could do it with one arm and a baby attached to her).

Katie Leigh Prior
Katie Leigh Prior

Emma visited us later in the day and brought yet another care package, this time containing a beautifully home-made card and some flowers for mom. She was also far less shell shocked by her sister and asked to hold her for the first time. They sat on the bed together, Emma gently holding Katie, staring lovingly into her eyes.

Our remaining days in the hospital were much the same with us relaxing in the morning, and granny and Emma visiting in the afternoon. I made sure to give Emma some extra special attention, and even took granny and her to Spur for a quick lunch as well as to do a little clothes shopping (isn’t this what girls love?). All in all she seemed un-phased by this life changing event, and was more than happy to get on with her normal routine. Granny Gerry was an absolute champion through all of this, although I’m sure she was happy that only Monday and Tuesday were holidays as it meant that Emma was back at school on Wednesday and Thursday.

As nice as it was to have the help of the nurses, we were itching to get home and were incredibly happy when Thursday rolled around. By the time I arrived at the hospital the pediatrician had already visited Emma, and Dr Czarnocki had checked Sharon. The good news was that Sharon was given the thumbs up to go home. The bad news was that Dr Manjra was concerned that Katie may have had some jaundice, and had drawn bloods to do a test. There were three possible outcomes; we could go home as planned and return in 2 weeks time for the standard checkup, we could go home but would need to return on Saturday for more tests, or we would need to spend another night at the hospital as Katie would need to go under the lamps.

Since the results were only due back in an hour or two I rushed off to Dr Czarnockis office and paid the bills (in hope of being released). It was quick and painless so I was back at Sharon’s side when we got the good news that Katie was fine and that we could go home.

It took us another hour to actually get moving since every time we tried to book out Katie decided she needed another feed. Finally, at around lunch time, we managed to strap Katie into her new car seat and took a slow and steady drive home to restart our lives. Emma was at school and we used the quiet time to settle in before I headed over to pick her up at 4pm.

As one closing thought I’ll again say thank goodness for granny through all of this. She certainly was amazing, as was Emma! The next few days certainly were interesting; we had a newborn in the house, and Emma and I were both sick and banished to our corners. But hey, that’s a story for another day…

Emma being introduced to Katie
Emma being introduced to Katie