Saskia Hudovsky Bertram
Daughter of Anouska and Tim Bertam
Born on the 24th of May 2013, at Chelsea and Westminster
Hospital, weighing 8lb 1oz
Tim and I met in a bar in Richmond. I’d just finished my A-levels, and had gone out with friends to celebrate. Tim caught my eye; he was obviously older than me – ten years older, I later found out – and I do have a thing for older guys!
In 2008 Tim finally decided to pop the question, and after three years of marriage, by which time I was in my early thirties, we both felt that the time was right to start a family.
It took us six months to become pregnant. We bought the pregnancy test in Westfield, and Tim waited in Waitrose while I took it. I ended up telling him the brilliant news in the vegetable aisle! We were hugging and crying – people must have thought that we were very strange.
I found pregnancy quite hard. I certainly wasn’t one of those lucky women who glow. From about eight to twenty-two weeks I had sickness every day. I can’t tell you how many times I had to get off a bus early to throw up, or had to run to the bathroom half way through a meal. Being sick twice a day, every day, takes it out of you, and there were times when I felt really miserable. In my third trimester I had sciatica, and I was also phenomenally tired.
I went into overdrive to be prepared. I did a lot of research and read a lot of books. I think we must have been John Lewis’ best customers. You know you’ve been there a lot when the sales people chat to you as though you’re their long-lost friend.
My due date came and went. I was booked in for an induction, which I definitely did not want – I had my heart set on a water birth. I had three sweeps, acupuncture sessions, went on long walks, had very warm baths with lavender oil, ate pineapple, and drank tonic water. Out of sheer desperation, I even did squats and lunges in the park with a personal trainer – all to no avail. Three days before my induction date I went to an Indian restaurant and ordered a vindaloo – we’d tried everything else. Two hours later my contractions started.
The contractions lasted for two and a half days, but, as they were irregular, I wasn’t able to go into hospital. They were too painful to sleep through, though, and the lack of sleep made me an emotional wreck. I also was vomiting and shaking, which I put down to tiredness – although it turned out later that I’d caught an infection. My waters broke in Starbucks, but as I was being violently sick, I thought that it was urine brought on by the force of being sick.
I phoned the hospital and begged them to take me in, as I didn’t think I’d be able to cope with a third night without sleep. I phoned at 6am, just before the midwives’ shift change. I got a tired and moody midwife who told me that my contractions were too far apart and I couldn’t come in. I called back at 8.30am and spoke to a new midwife, who was lovely and told me to come in straight away.
By the time I got to the hospital I was 3cm dilated, but my contractions had virtually stopped. It was confirmed that my waters had indeed broken, and, as it was almost 24 hours since they’d broken, I was told I that was going to have to be put on a syntocinon drip. My heart sank.
Because I was on the drip, I had to have constant foetal monitoring. But the monitor which was wrapped around my stomach kept falling off, so they couldn’t pick up the heartbeat. They had to monitor internally, through an electrode attached to Saskia’s head, which then showed that her heartbeat was too high. A consultant suddenly appeared, and said that he’d been observing everything, and that she needed to come out right away. He said that unless I was vehemently against caesareans, they would perform one immediately.
The whole team were amazing – so professional and quick. Tim was there holding my hand, and he was very apprehensive for both of us. Fifteen minutes later, Saskia arrived. The cord was wrapped around her neck and they found that she had swallowed meconium. It was incredible seeing her, though – it was the highlight of our lives.
After an hour on the post-natal ward, they discovered that Saskia was hypothermic. All the other mums had their babies sleeping next to them in their cots, and mine was wheeled away – I felt so sad and worried. More tests revealed that she had liver, bowel and kidney issues, and she was moved to intensive care.
I had caught some sort of infection and had to stay in hospital for six days. Saskia ended up staying in for eleven days. The consultants and all the staff looking after her were exceptional, and the quality of care that she received was second to none. They never found the cause of her problems, but she soon recovered.
When we were finally told that Saskia was well enough to leave hospital, it was like a miracle. That first night at home neither of us got a wink of sleep. We analysed every little noise she made, wondering what they meant, and whether she was okay. It turns out that she’s just a very noisy sleeper!
Six months later, everything is great. Having a baby is hard work, but we have a routine and Saskia is healthy and happy.