Daughter of Nina and Greg Nichols, Alice Rose Leaberry Nichols was born on the 3rd January 2012, at the Wittington Hospital, weighing 8lb 13½oz.
reg and I started trying for a baby on New Year’s Day, while we were on holiday in Egypt. It took us four months to conceive – on the morning of Kate and William’s wedding I took a test on the off-chance, we thought that we could see a very faint line, but we weren’t sure, so we hopped in the car and drove to Tesco. I was too excited to wait until we got home so I rushed into the toilets at Tesco to take the test. We had a bottle of champagne that we were going to drink while we watched the wedding, but I had to scrap that idea!
I had a pretty rotten pregnancy. At six weeks I started to feel exhausted – a bone-aching tiredness that sleep didn’t relieve. People kept telling me that I would feel better in the second trimester, but it just didn’t happen. I was also plagued with terrible heartburn from very early on – I swear Gaviscon and Rennie must have noticed drops in their profits since I gave birth! I became very swollen and none of my shoes would fit, so I had to buy a rather ugly pair of wide-fitting shoes. I also suffered from pelvic girdle pain which made walking painful. All in all, it wasn’t the magical time I’d hoped it would be!
At midnight on New Year’s Eve I was sitting in bed, watching the fireworks over the Thames on TV, when I started to feel sick. During the night, I began projectile vomiting. Because I’d been so swollen during my pregnancy I’d been concerned about pre-eclampsia, so Greg and I decided to pay the triage department at The Whittington a visit. When I arrived, my blood pressure was high, and it was agreed that I should be admitted immediately, and induced.
I thought that the baby would come soon after the induction but I was very wrong. After three days, I had dilated a measly 4cm. I was put on a drip to get my contractions going and I was given an epidural, which didn’t seem to help with the pain. Every time they topped up the medication, it felt as though water was running down my back. It turned out that the epidural had slipped out, and what I could feel was the medicine. I was given a second epidural which felt like it had gone into a nerve – I remember shouting ‘get it out, get it out!’
By around 5.30pm Alice’s heart rate was very high, and the decision was made to rush me in for an emergency caesarean section. By this point I was exhausted – I hadn’t realised, but I also had a urinary infection which was making me very ill. I was too out of it to register the seriousness of the situation, which was probably a good thing – I clearly remember seeing cats walking around in the delivery room, which seemed totally normal at the time!
I couldn’t feel much as Alice was delivered – I’d been given a spinal block, because both the epidurals had failed, but I knew when she was out because I could hear Greg sobbing behind me. He doesn’t cry often, so he was obviously very moved. Someone lowered the sheet that was in front of me, so that I could see Alice, and this puffy, frog-like creature spat in my face! I was wheeled into recovery, where I held Alice for the first time. Over the next twenty-four hours her puffiness went down, and a beautiful little girl with big eyes emerged. Not frog-like at all!
After a couple of days I started to feel quite unwell, with uncontrollable shivering and sweating. The urinary infection had spread to my blood and given me E-coli sepsis. I was very upset because all I wanted to do was go home with my baby, but I just wasn’t well enough. I was in hospital for a week, which was horrible at the time, but when I look back I probably should have stayed in longer because I still didn’t feel right when I got home. I was born at The Whittington myself, and my mother confirmed that the maternity ward hasn’t changed much since then!
The first night that I was at home I was woken by Alice crying, and I was so confused that I thought ‘what is that?’ I still wasn’t well, and I just needed to sleep, which wasn’t possible with a newborn. But slowly, things improved. Greg was amazing, and a natural dad – I couldn’t have done it without him. We’ve settled in to a good routine now, we love watching our little girl grow and we’re so excited about what the future holds for us as a family.