Introducing Baby Sunshine: Sophia's Birth Story

Saturday, 16 April 2016

At 7.24pm on Friday 18th March, our entire world was flipped on its axis with the much anticipated arrival of Baby Sunshine. Our daughter, Sophia Molly Byles was born ten days prior to her official due date in a slightly more rapid and dramatic fashion than we were expecting. But despite a somewhat distressing entry into the world, as soon as I laid eyes on her I knew that everything was OK. From her tiny button nose down to her dinky little toes, she was healthy, thriving, and in my eyes, absolutely perfect.



The climactic story of Sophia's birth actually began several days beforehand, on Tuesday 15th, when I woke suddenly in the middle of the night with mild but noticeable contractions. Excitedly, I began to measure the length of time in between each one, and calculated an average of 1-2 hours. This indicated that we still had a long way to go and with nothing more that I could do at this point other than sit and wait it out, I gradually coaxed myself back to sleep.

The next day, much to my dismay, I awoke to find that signs of any contractions had completely disappeared. I knew that this was not unusual in the very early stages of labour, which can sometimes accelerate and decelerate again for days or even weeks, but I couldn't help but be disappointed - I was just dying to meet our little girl! In order to distract myself, I headed out for a coffee with my friend Donna and tried hard to get on with everyday life until the contractions returned.

On Thursday 17th we had an appointment with the Head of Obs & Gynae at Al Ahli Hospital where we had decided to deliver. Having described my symptoms from earlier in the week to him, he asked whether I'd mind him doing an internal examination to find out whether I was beginning to dilate, to which I agreed. I was delighted when he told me I was 1.5 cm, and that our little girl would soon be on her way! Mr Sunshine and I headed to Spice Market at the W Hotel for lunch to celebrate.

The 24 hours that proceeded can only be described as a bit of a blur. Visiting the ladies in the W after lunch, I noticed that I was bleeding. At first I put it down to the vigorous internal exam, and tried to put it out of my mind. Visits from more friends the next day helped to distract me, but I couldn't ignore the fact that the flow was growing steadily heavier. It was around 4pm when they left and as I shut the front door behind them, I felt a sudden gush of blood and rushed to the toilet. Feeling sick to my stomach, I called Mr Sunshine. I couldn't ignore this any more; it was time to go and get this checked out.

Luckily, Mr S was already on his way home from work and when he stepped in the front door he immediately turned around again to accompany me to the hospital. Now, for all of the shortcomings of my little adopted country, one thing I can say with confidence about Qatar is that the standard of healthcare in an emergency is incomparable. I've witnessed it once before when Mr S required surgery on his back. Naïvely though, I never imagined that either of us would ever be seeing the inside of an operating theatre again while we were here.

The nurse noted my symptoms and I was immediately whisked from the emergency room up to the delivery suite on the maternity ward. Despite protesting that I didn't want any more internal examinations as I was convinced this was the cause of the bleeding, I eventually conceded when they explained that it was the only way to truly find out what was going on. Two more internal exams and a CTG later and one of the senior Consultants was flashing a form in my face, saying I had five minutes to call whoever I wanted before agreeing to sign my consent to an emergency C Section. Two nurses were busy attempting to take the nail polish off my toenails, and Mr Sunshine was called outside by another doctor to discuss the cost of the operation and to be told that he wouldn't be able to join me in surgery as it's not allowed here. Left alone with my mind racing, I shakily tried my mum's number, and then my brother's. Both went to voicemail. In desperation, I then called the Obstetrician I had been visiting since week 15 of my pregnancy, Professor Badr. "You must trust the doctors there," he said, "Unfortunately I can't come out but if they have examined you and say you require it then go with it. You'll be OK".

So that was that. I signed the form, waved goodbye to my husband who gave me one of his reassuring smiles and told me that he would see me soon, and I was wheeled into surgery.

It's difficult to describe what went through my mind during the 45 minutes that I was on the table for. Time seemed to speed up and slow down at the same time. I was aware of every sensation, every voice, every movement and every feeling, as if every ounce of my being was being magnified under some kind of microscope. Over the past 8 months I had read and researched so much about the labour process, and had planned Sophia's birth in minute detail, perfecting a comprehensive birth plan which detailed the natural labour that I wished to go through: no drugs and no interventions. And yet here I was experiencing the birth of my daughter in a very different way from how I'd imagined it all that time. And I didn't care. All of this went out of the window the second that the doctor said that my daughter was in danger. All I cared about now was that she was delivered safely.

I had been given an epidural to see me through the operation, which meant that even though there was no pain, I was still awake and could still feel the sensation of the surgeons cutting into me. It also meant that I felt the moment that they pulled her out of me. At this point, I held my breath, desperately willing her to cry out so that I knew that everything was OK. As soon as it came, I felt my whole body relax. She was here, and she was alive. I vaguely remember someone pressing her warm little cheek onto mine for a second before she was taken away and everything went black.

I woke up a little later in the recovery room, and tried to make sense of what had just happened. I had arrived at the hospital at 5.15pm that afternoon, not knowing what to expect, and by 7.25pm our daughter had been delivered. And I didn't even know what she looked like yet! Luckily it wasn't long until I heard Mr Sunshine's voice outside, and then he was with me and the nurse was placing Sophia on my chest and I think I was crying. I held her close while Mr S told me that he had bumped into the nurse as she wheeled Sophia out of surgery and had insisted on doing skin to skin with her on his bare chest in my hospital room while they waited for me to be stitched up. One small but important item on our birth plan had been ticked off. At this point in the day, it made all the difference and right then at that moment I couldn't have loved my husband any more.

We spent four days in hospital as I slowly recovered from the surgery enough to be able to get out of bed and move about. Mr S stayed with us the whole time, sleeping on the bench-come-bed by the window of our private room. I was so grateful for his support. All the time we were there, I felt as though I fell in love with our little girl a bit more every time I looked at her. I felt so lucky, and I really hate this word, but am going to use it anyway...blessed. The doctor came in to see us the morning after she was born to tell me that I had been having a placental abruption - basically Sophia's lifeline was coming away from the wall of my womb - and if we had left the C Section any later it could have been fatal for either one of us. Ever since this had started I didn't care about my fate all that much, but the fact that Sophia was OK was everything to me. In actual fact, she was more than OK. Her APGAR scores were 9 and then 10. Her eye sight and hearing were perfect. At 6 pounds 11 ounces, her weight was excellent, and the paedeotrician was happy with her development and reflexes. After worrying throughout my entire pregnancy about whether she would be healthy, I could finally rest easy.



On 22nd March, 2016, having received the all clear from my doctor, we finally got to take our baby home. It was one of the most exciting moments of my life. After all of the drama, pain and struggle, we were able to leave the sterile and unfriendly environment of the hospital behind and head home to begin family life for real. I was so proud of myself, and of us for getting through the past few days, on the other side of the world from our main support network and family. But most of all I was proud of Sophia. Becoming her mummy was undoubtedly the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I will be forever thankful to the doctors that acted swiftly enough to bring our daughter safely into this world.

Daddy and I love you Baby Sunshine. Here's to many years of fun ahead.






 

33 comments:

  1. A beautiful birth story Polly.. She is absolutely perfect and cute. God bless your family.. xx

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    1. Thank you so much lovely!!

      Polly xx

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  2. A beautiful birth story Polly.. She is absolutely perfect and cute. God bless your family.. xx

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  3. I know someone who had the same thing happen to her! I'm just glad that she's here and everything worked out okay :) She is absolutely tooooo cute. You two did good haha. Can't wait to see more updates later on! :)

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    1. It's far more common than I thought! Hope your friend and their baby were ok. Aww thanks Kendel, I can't wait to write more!

      Polly xx

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  4. She is absolutely gorgeous! I absolutely love that you have found so many sunshine related clothing - adorable!

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    1. Thanks Danielle. Haha, our friends and family did good. She's so on brand ;-)

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  5. Oh Polly, this was an incredible read. You must have been so scared but what a happy ending and Sophia is so beautiful. I love her little outfits! One silly question though, why did nurses have to take your nail polish off before the operation?

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    1. Also wondering the same thing over here!

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    2. Thanks Angie, I can't wait for you to meet her when we're back in the summer! I didn't know about the nail polish thing either at the time but apparently they need to be able to see your nails to check that your blood circulation is ok - ie. That they're not going blue! You need to take it off for all operations apparently.

      Xx

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  6. Wow, what an amazing story. And what a gorgeous little cutie she is!

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  7. I am glad that everything was ok at the end, thanks for sharing your story! Sophia is so adorable!

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  8. She is so precious and I am so glad you're safe! Your photos of Sophia on IG do make my heart melt.

    Honey x The Girl Next Shore

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    1. Hehe, I'm pleased, I was worried that people might have become bored of my baby spam on Insta by now!! Thanks Honey

      Polly xx

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  9. Ahhh Polly, this is such a beautiful read. So happy to hear that everything was okay in the end - she's gorgeous! xx

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    1. Thanks Hun and thanks again for her lovely little outfit, you're so sweet!!!

      Polly xx

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  10. So proud of you Pol! You're all doing so well xx

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  11. Well, that was eventful, but thankfully it has a happy ending. Loving how you're keeping your baby 'on brand' with all her cute sunshine gear ;) xx

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    1. Haha, she is going to be so embarrassed when she's older ;-) thanks Frankie

      Polly xx

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  12. She is just so beautiful - I'm so glad everything was fine! It must have been scary to say the least.

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    1. Scary but totally worth it. Thanks Em :-)

      Polly xx

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  13. Wow - what a scary experience but so happy that it all turned out so well for you guys and what an incredibly beautiful little girl you have - you must be so proud! xx

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    1. Thanks Kirsty - I really am! :-)

      Polly xx

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  14. Gosh I didn't realize it had been so touch and go for you both, I'm so glad to hear that you both came through it fine, and what a lovely little girl she looks!

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  15. Little cutie!
    Www.glitzandglamourmakeup.co.uk

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  16. Prolly huge congratulations she is a mbsomuteky gorgeous and very much a ray of sunshine. Time passes so quickly so make the most of it Lucy x

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  17. Ohh probably that was pretty scary!!! I'm not sure how I would feel or react if doctors would tell me my baby daughter was in danger! Still 2 months to go, but looking forward to meet her. Sophie is really a sunshine and adorable :) You must be so happy right now

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