Well, its been a while since I posted anything on here, but I have had a good reason. I have had my attentions directed elsewhere with the pregnancy and now birth of our first child, Caitlin Elise Woodward. So, with this going on, photography has been put to the back of my mind somewhat, so no shoots were arranged, no jobs were penned in, just in case I got called away for the impending birth. I apologise that this is not a photography related blog post, but I just had to post to let you all know what had happened and how proud I am! Normal service, at some point in the near future, will be resumed (although I will post a shot at the end that I am quite pleased with….)
As it was, Caitlin was born at 4.57am on 14th December 2011. Labour started for my wife Laura after she was induced on 12th Dec because of the gestational diabetes she had developed during the pregnancy. Nothing really happened until the afternoon of the 13th, when the wife certainly started to feel cramps and feeling uncomfortable. I was there the whole time at the Rosie Hospital at Addenbrookes, in Cambridge and although it got gradually more and more painful for Laura, the day seemed to drag on….the cramps then became painful, turning into full blown contractions by the late afternoon of the 13th, so much so they seemed to be a little on the TOO painful side. As it turns out in hindsight, after all this has now happened, it seems as though Caitlin, whilst still inside Laura, decided to have a bit of a lounge about and sit right on a very important nerve in Laura’s back, causing not only the contractions to be very painful, but almost impossible to endure! Anyway, I digress….
As the evening wore on, the contractions got more and more painful, so much so, that with the combined “lounging” by Caitlin, it definitely did become very difficult to endure, so Laura was given a shot of Pethadin….this didn’t help the pain, just sent Laura into space!!! I was meant to leave the ward at 10pm, but the nurses very kindly let me stay until about 12.30am, by which point, there was nothing I could do and I had to leave Laura in the capable hands of the nurses and go and get some rest. I had effectively been awake for 36 hours…it was needed rest. So, off I went home…..
I got home and went straight to bed….then got out of bed as I had forgotten to lock the door. I then got back to the bedroom (the time now was after 1am), got my clothes off and got into bed, when the phone downstairs started to ring….I got out, went to answer it and missed it before it cut off! As I walked back upstairs, I heard my mobile calling….I managed to get there, noticing that there was already a missed call…..I answered (just) and it was the ward nurse telling me that I had to come back….Laura had been taken to the labour ward and was going to give birth….I had been in the house 5 mins! So, I put my clothes back on, locked up, got in the car, and drove like a maniac all the way back the hospital, ran up to the delivery ward and was told where Laura was….I walked in just as Laura gave a large shout and took in some gas and air……phew!!! I hadn’t missed it!!!
So that was it…..it was going to be now…..we were now going to become parents….no turning back. Contractions happened, time passed, examinations confirmed various stages and overall, the labour was relatively straightforward…..and Caitlin was born with a final push of encouragement from myself, the midwife and the doctor present and she came out kicking, screaming and beautiful….it was the most amazing, incredible, emotional, wonderful experience I have ever gone through….she was and is utterly beautiful, my wife was incredible and its without doubt, the best day of my life…..I will admit to a little tear or too…..
But things quickly changed…..as a matter of course, after a certain time and a first feed, Caitlin’s blood sugar levels had to be measured because some babies born to a mother with gestational diabetes can’t control their blood sugar levels and it makes them lethargic, shaky, sleepy and can be quite dangerous. Caitlin started to show these signs and after the levels were measured, it showed that she was not controlling the levels in her blood. She was taken straight to the Special Care Baby Unit so she could be monitored and treated correctly…..
Treatment started with a tube put through her nose into her stomach so she could be fed regularly and with the correct amounts. Theory is that she could then start to naturally control her sugar levels by herself over time as she has regular feeds that she may not get via mother or the bottle. After the first feed, her sugars went up above the required level and we all thought that things were good! Until she started to drop again not long after….and this became the pattern…..also, as a precaution, she had a cannula put into her hand to be able to administer antibiotics as there was a possibility she had an underlying infection that was also contributing to the lack of sugar control. On top of this, she was thought to also have mild jaundice. It was all a bit worrying, scary and frankly, helpless. Not a nice feeling….
So, we were told that we would be there for a while….monitored, fed via tube and making sure there was no infection…..we went through this, watching our little girl lying in a clear plastic open top box being measured, tested, fed and not really knowing what was going on. But to be honest, the nurses in the SCBU were utterly amazing….they were honest, up front, straight forward, ever helpful and brilliantly truthful, as well as thoroughly fantastic people who we have now got the utmost respect for. Amazing. We can not thank them enough. We ended up being there for 5 long, worrying nights. But along those times, Caitlin started to level out her sugars, she didn’t have the infection they thought she might have and her jaundice was way off the lower end of the scale….so things looked good! The only thing she still couldn’t and wouldn’t do was feed naturally….so we made a big decision and asked the nurses to remove the tube as I had as suspicion she wasn’t feeding because this was irritating her. Laura was there with her every minute of every day, I was there as much as I could be, going home only at night and I started to notice the really bad gag reflex she had and that worried me a lot. Its really not nice seeing a baby that is effectively choking and not breathing for a good 20 seconds….the nurses eventually agreed with me and the tube was removed. What a difference! She stopped gagging (well, at least slowed the frequency and severity) and she started to show signs of at least wanting to feed. Was still a struggle. She fought everything, with a really severe gag reflex making it more complicated to get food into her. But….she got there. Eventually. And the nurses thought it seemed as though she was definitely on the right track….so they moved us to a side room on the ward…a sure sign that they thought they might be sending us home in the next couple of days. We were very happy!
Laura spent a night on her own with Caitlin for the first of those nights….bad move. She was difficult to feed, she was very restless and Laura struggled to get any sleep at all. The second night she was brilliant…..I was there! She slept for long periods, fed for long periods (after still long bouts of fighting it….it was still hard work), but she got there. The next day, we were told that we would be on our way! The doctors did their checks and passed her as fit to leave and in fine fettle….the hearing woman came round and did the hearing tests
She was our little DJ! And she passed with flying colours! And then I was told to get the car seat…..we were on our way!!! At last! She, with a lot of hard work by the wonderful nurses and from a lot of perserverance from us, had come out the other side and was fighting well and was ready to go. Now, it would be up to us….
And thats where we are now….we have worked hard, its been tough, but which baby isn’t when its first born? We actually think we have been very lucky….she is not a bad baby, she sleeps a lot, she eats well now, she is happy, chilled, sleeps for big chunks in the night and only really screams and shouts when she doesn’t like something…..I guess we now have a perfectly normal, happy, beautiful baby….and to us, she is just that. Beautiful…..the best Christmas present we have ever had. She is incredible. The most perfect little bundle of fury, screaming, poo and wee there is….but we love her all the same. Because when she is good, she is very, very good…..the love we have for her is limitless….its very, very hard to describe, but anyone who has kids will know……its an incredible feeling…….
And when she looks like this…..how could you NOT love her?…..
And there you go…..the story so far…..there may be more updates, but I thought I would post this to write down a bit of a record for us, but also as a quick overall for those who might have wanted to know. Maybe not….up to you. But there you go……our life is now changed for ever, for the very best and its an entirely new chapter…..but its definitely worth all the pain, the anguish, worry and excitement…..Caitlin Elise…..AWWWEEEEEE……..
P.S. and yes, her second name IS all about the car…..I am not going to deny it!