As you will have read, my gorgeous little girl arrived 5 weeks early on 20th January not long after midnight. I have to say it was a real shock as we had just “popped” to the inlaws for the night and I basically didn’t come home for 5 days!
In the days running up to the birth I had awoken at 4.30am every morning (like groundhog day) with period like pains in my tummy. However they disappeared each time after a couple of hours and didn’t seem to have a regular on off pattern. After calling the midwives I was told it was probably just Braxton Hicks. (I had no experience of labour as my first little girl was born by an elective c-section so just took their word for it.)
There was really bad snow forecast for that weekend and I have to say I was very apprehensive about travelling to my inlaws, who live over 40 miles away, but having been reassured by the midwives and not wanting to disappoint, I got in the car on the Friday afternoon and we headed off.
That night, whilst having dinner I got the tummy pains back and ended up having to leave the table and go and lean over my mother in laws sofa! The pains lasted for 10 minutes or so and wore off so I headed back to the table but no longer had I sat down, than I had to stand up again and resume the position as they came back. However after 10 minutes they went and that was that for the rest of the evening… until that was 4.30am again, when I awoke in so much pain that it resorted me to tears. I ended up sat in the living room with my mother in law looking at me rather concerned. After an hour or two they wore off again so we got washed, dressed, had some breakfast and decided to head home. I just wanted to get back to my home town and the comfort of a hospital I knew, as well as my family.
En-route the pains started again and I was so uncomfortable I was holding the passenger side handle of the car whilst ringing the hospital. I was told I could either go home, have a warm bath and see how I felt or come straight in to the hospital. I had a gut instinct that something wasn’t right so we dropped my daughter at my mum and dad’s en-route and headed for the hospital. I felt awful as it was all so rushed and when I gave her a kiss and told her mummy would see her later I didn’t envisage it being the following day in a hospital bed!
We arrived at the hospital and headed for the labour ward. As I stood deep breathing through another set of pains in the packed lift I think I freaked a few people out who possibly thought I may give birth there and then!
On arrival at the delivery suite I was placed on a monitor to see what was happening and after a short while I was told that it did look like I was going into premature labour as I was getting mild contractions (tightenings). However at this point baby looked fine so they decided to give me a drug to stop the contractions and give me chance to have two steroid injections to help the baby’s lungs develop should the worse case scenario happen and she be born early. The first injection was given to me then and there and the second was to be given the following morning, so I was told I would need to stay in over night. (Good job I had packed and taken my hospital bag with me!)
I was examined and told I was 1cm dilated and would be on the monitor for a couple of hours and then moved to the ward. After a 2-3 hours a doctor came in and told me the drugs to stop the contractions didn’t seem to be working and that they were going to stop them and let things take their natural course. The doctor then started really selling the concept of a natural vaginal birth to me instead of a c-section. She was telling me she saw no reason why I couldn’t deliver naturally and it was better for baby. This did confuse and upset me as all my life I’ve been told I can’t have a natural birth and I would need a c-section and the decision had been taken for a c-section last time after consultation with my orthopaedic surgeon and examination. However the doctor still sold the idea to me and I was left to “have a think about it”. Hubby had gone to get himself some tea (I was told I wasn’t allowed anything to eat in case I had to go to surgery) and on his return I explained what had happened and both of us were equally confused and perplexed. To be honest it wasn’t something I needed at this point and was quite out of the blue.
Over the coming hour things started to change and after asking when I would be going to the ward I was told I would be monitored for another couple of hours in the delivery suite. The midwives then started asking me to lay on my side in order to to get a better trace for baby and after at least a couple of hours of turning from one side to another a doctor was brought in to check the reading. The atmosphere in the room was certainly changing and hubby and I were told that the accelerations and decelerations in baby’s heart beat weren’t as they wanted. Apparently they should be quite erratic showing large fluctuations and that’s what they like to see on a perfect trace. However mine were becoming flatter and flatter, despite trying different positions to wake baby up more and get a better reading.
A new doctor had come on by this point and he kept telling the midwives to give it another half an hour but after a while and at least two “half hour” responses the midwives seemed agitated and we overheard them telling the doctor that he needed to make a decision and call my consultant. Next thing I know he’s talking about me having no more fluids (which I knew meant nil by mouth) and there was a hive of activity in the room. I was having fluid pumped through my arm, I was being prepped by an anaesthetist and being asked to sign consent forms and told of the risks surgery could have. All the time the midwives were saying that it was to get me ready just in case my consultant decided I needed to go to theatre. Despite having an elective c-section before I suddenly felt very scared, I’d only been finished work a week, my baby wasn’t due for 4-5 weeks and I didn’t feel ready. I was also petrified that something bad was going to happen and I could lose her.
Within half an hour my consultant had arrived from being called out at home, he took one look at the trace and within 5 seconds said “right lets get to theatre”. I was being wheeled out the room as I was signing a disclaimer and hubby was left in his scrubs waiting for them to give me a spinal and call him in.
As I looked around the theatre room the atmosphere was a lot different to last time, there was a more serious tone and there was double the number of people there had previously been. I was bent forward having my spinal put in place whilst being introduced to special care baby doctors who were already in position to receive my little girl and I could see my consultant and other doctors and nurses scrubbing up in a side room.
Within 10 minutes of being wheeled down the corridoor I was laid on the theatre table with hubby by my side and the screen preventing us from seeing anything in place. There was a Black Eyed Peas song on the radio “Meet me half way” and I remember saying “ooh I love this song” when my consultant asked for it to be turned off and for everyone to concentrate. It was at this point it felt very very real and I began to feel the tugging sensation on my tummy.
I don’t know exactly how long it took but I know it wasn’t as quick as my daughter’s delivery. However when I felt a pull and my tummy become lighter I knew she was out and it was only a short while before I heard her cry. It was the best moment and hubby and I looked at each other with a look of relief, exhaustion and emotion and it wasn’t long before our new little bundle was amazingly handed to us. She had passed the Apgar score and was doing well on her own, as well as being a good 6lb+ in weight, so the Special Care baby team decided that she could stay with me and be monitored through transitional care. I cried with relief and happiness.
Having arrived at the delivery suite around 2.30pm on the Saturday afternoon it was now after 12.30am in the early hours of Sunday morning, a whole exhausting 10 hours later, but we had welcomed our premature baby girl safely into the world and that’s all that mattered.
It turns out I had had an undetected placenta previa that had been missed on the two scans I had had and the cord was pressing on my daughter’s head potentially restricting oxygen at various times. Had I not followed my gut instinct that something was wrong, had I not had a previous c-section and therefore needing to be monitored longer, the whole story could have had a very different outcome for both me and my daughter and that doesn’t bare thinking about. In my consultants own words “You would never have made it to 39 weeks”
The last week has been very emotional, I keep getting flashbacks and shedding a few tears about the experience and what could have happened, but most importantly the overwhelming emotion I feel is sheer love for my little girl. I had been worried prior to having her that all my attention had been focussed on my daughter and I was scared that I might not bond. However this couldn’t be further from reality. It is true there is more than enough love to go round and both my girls mean the world to me. My daughter has been great and keeps wanting to see and hold her baby sister, you can definitely say that we are currently one very happy and relieved family! I love my new arrival with all my heart and just want to hold her close all the time.
I’m just looking forward to a full recovery following the surgery and being able to get out and about with both my girls. Hubby and I both agree however that after my first daughter came at 37 weeks and our new arrival at 35, we won’t be going for a third as this may be pushing our luck! We are quite happy with our gorgeous girls.