Five weeks ago I had my second baby. I have a five week old baby. I have to repeat that to myself often as his due date is not for another 18 days. The last 5 weeks sure have been one wild ride!
Before I get stuck in to the ins and outs of how our wee boy entered the world, I want to point out to those expecting their first baby: please remember that most births are very straight forward. Our first born’s entrance in to the world was a totally different, far less dramatic, experience. Sometimes it’s best to stick to reading positive birth stories so I won’t be offended if you stop reading here. But it does have a very happy ending if you want to read on 🙂
32 weeks pregnant.
At 32 weeks I had gained 23 kilos, everything hurt, sleep was evading me and my third trimester stretched out in front of me. I truly thought I was going to get more and more uncomfortable, staying pregnant well over my due date. I was itching to nest although we were still renovating the new nursery, which had previously been a laundry and a shower room. With 4 weeks left at work then another 4 weeks at home before my due date, I decided I would leave all the nesting, bag packing, clothes washing and other newborn prep until I had finished up at work.
How it all began.
On the Tuesday morning of my 32nd week I woke feeling like I was getting a tummy bug. My stomach was cramping but in no way suggesting contractions. I headed in to the office and lasted until around 11am when I was sure I was going to puke. Puking at work wasn’t an option. There is something that happens to a pregnant women’s bladder control that means puking is often not just puking. I raced home, making it just in time, then called my midwife. She agreed it sounded like gastro and told me to go to bed, stay hydrated, and call her if anything changed.
I tried to rest but the cramps got worse and worse. I decided to jump in the bath – I’ve always found water really soothing, I even had a water birth with my first baby. The bath didn’t seem to ease things. I rolled over to try and get my tummy further under the water when I felt a pop inside. I honestly thought I had pooped myself but when I looked down a saw a massive cloud of red. The whole bath turned red so quickly, it was terrifying. Luckily I’m a total cellphone addict so I had it in the bathroom with me. My first call was to the midwife then on to 111. After repeating my address a million times between sobs the operator told me to get out of the bath and unlock the door for the ambulance. I grabbed a towel, stuck the bathmat between my legs and walked slowly to the front door with blood running down my legs. The ambulance had been driving past our house when the call came through so they were already waiting – two lovely St John’s angels. It’s amazing how a medical professional can make you feel such relief. One of them went inside to check out how much blood was in the bath and lock the front door. She even grabbed my handbag for me. Then they whisked me off to the hospital.
On the ride to the hospital one of the paramedics suggested I call my husband. I took a deep breath, put on my most calm voice and called him. I told him I had had some bleeding and was going to head to the hospital. He said he would head straight home. I didn’t think to mention I was already in an ambulance on my way to the hospital – he assumed he would pick me up and take me. Imagine walking in to your home to the back door wide open, bloody footprints down the hall, a bathtub full of bloody water and no sign of your pregnant wife! Needless to say, when he finally found me in the maternity ward of the hospital he was very pale and shaky!
The doctors and nurses were amazing. They had me hooked up to monitors and drips and all sorts within minutes. I was terrified but everyone around me seemed so calm. The baby’s heart rate was perfect, movements were strong but every time the baby moved a gush of blood would flow out. I was given IV fluids, injections to try and stop the bleeding, an anti-D injection as I’m rhesus negative, steroids to mature the babies lungs and a catheter was inserted. The doctor suggested a placental abruption so I was given an ultrasound where they located where the placenta had torn from my uterus. After that was confirmed we were told that we would be having the baby very soon.
The doctor explained that if I went in to labour then I was allowed to attempt a vaginal birth although I wasn’t in labour – the cramps I was experiencing were simply my uterus getting pissed off with all the blood. I wasn’t at all dilated and my waters hadn’t broken. So we met with an anaesthetist and were told to prepare for a c-section. In the meantime I had to sit tight in the hope that they could get another steroid injection into me in 24 hours time. That night was the longest of my life. I sat in a delivery bed, with monitors all over me, IV lines in both hands, no idea when my baby was coming and nurses checking my heart rate and temperature every hour. At one point a nurse turned down the baby heart rate monitor sound so I could sleep (yeah right). I told her to turn it back up – the sound of my health baby was the only thing getting me through.
Early the next morning a team of 6 doctors, including a few junior doctors, came to visit and tell me that I would be in surgery in 40 minutes. They couldn’t wait any longer and I was going to have my baby by c-section, under general anaesthetic. I began to shake. I was terrified. It all happened so quickly and before I knew it, I was laying naked from the boobs down, coated in bright pink stuff, ready to be sliced open. I remember one nurse appearing with a razor saying, “I’m here to shave you. Oh, I see you have taken care of that.” I would’ve laughed if I wasn’t so shit scared. I looked to my left and saw three doctors/nurses standing around a crib looking at me – that was the moment I realised I couldn’t breathe. A few moments of panic, some kind words from the anaesthetist and the last thing I remember is looking up at a huge clock on the wall – 9:42am. Our little boy was born at 9:47am – a tiny little 2.153kgs – with 10 teeny weeny fingers and 10 teeny weeny toes.
A baby boy.
I don’t remember being told we had a boy. We had saved the gender as a surprise. Mr. Mac said despite being asked if we could be told together, I already knew when he saw me. And one of the nurses had let it slip to him earlier. I don’t remember seeing my little man for the first time – they wheeled me in the bed into the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU). I don’t remember much of that first 24 hours after the birth. There is so much that I have mourned through this process but also so much that for which I am eternally grateful. But I will save all that for another blog post.
Feelings of guilt.
I do feel guilty about the way our little dude entered the world. I’ve been told over and over that it is just one of those things – no one can really say exactly what caused the placenta abruption. But I wonder if I did something differently, would he still be inside me? Would he have had a better start in life? My head agrees with the doctors but in my heart, I feel pangs of guilt. The paediatricians have explained that he won’t have any lasting issues but he may reach those first milestones a little later than other children. Only time will tell. For now, we are just so grateful to the doctors, nurses, other hospital staff, family, friends and everyone else who has got us to this point.
We’re on track to bring our little man home today. It feels a little surreal, after so long in the hospital. I feel like we’re finally found our new normal and now the fun is really about to begin. A toddler and a new(ish) baby – wish me luck!