I have started this blog primarily to keep our friends and family informed about Rose’s progress in the NICU but hopefully it may be useful to other families should they be faced with a similar challenge.
I am a 37 year old Australian woman with an incredible, supportive partner. We have two sons, the oldest is 6 and was born at 42 weeks in a labour ward in Sydney. His birth was 5 hours, a vaginal birth with no intervention required, a caulbearer and one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Our second son followed almost 3 years later, he was born at 41 weeks + 1 in the birth centre of the same hospital, a beautiful, comfortable, empowered 2.5 hour labour, we took him home the same day and didn’t look back. So it was with great bravado, naievity and arrogance, that I “campaigned” for a third beautiful, perfect baby to complete our family. I believed our baby would be a boy and imagined him dark haired and plump, Edward. How ridiculous I was to pretend I had any control over this!
A couple of hours before I was due to have my 12 week scan for my third pregnancy, I had a large, watery, almost pink bleed… I’d say between 100-250ml and as nothing like that had occurred during my previous pregnancies and because the volume of liquid seemed incredible to me, I assumed I’d lost our baby. I called my doctor from the toilets at work and she encouraged me to keep my ultrasound appointment.
Miraculously and to our great relief, the ultrasound was completely normal and showed a small amount of residual blood from the bleed (10mls or so), it was of no concern to the doctors. We were given great NT results.
I stopped spotting about a week later and there was no recurrence.
The rest of my pregnancy until about 25 weeks was fairly comfortable. I can’t put my finger on it but it wasn’t as joyful as my pregnancies with the boys but there isn’t anything that stands out as being different until around 25 weeks when I became exhausted and so so uncomfortable and really really big and stretched. I started measuring about 2 cms longer than was normal for me, I usually measure on the week. then at 27 weeks my fundal height measured about 3 cms longer. The midwife I saw sent me for a glucose test thinking I may have gestational diabetes, it came back negative. I went to my GP who checked me out thoroughly and gave me a referral to the obstetrician I saw for my first pregnancy, just to check everything was as it should be. Neither care-giver could hear the baby’s heart easily or work out position from manual exam. If I’d known about polyhydramnios then all this may have set off alarm signals but I was too busy being positive (a calm birth lesson I seem to have learned very very well – amazing tool for labour but perhaps, with hindsight, not pregnancy).
Two days later, at just under 30 weeks, during a 4am bath intended to ease my discomfort and help me sleep, I realised I was probably in pre-labour. I caught a cab to the hospital, while Andrew stayed at home with the boys. I was thinking worst case scenario I’d have to let them give me drugs to stop the labour and I’d be home and on bed rest for a couple of days.
This is where our nightmare began in earnest!
When I arrived they took my blood pressure and tried to find the baby’s heart.. I wasn’t concerned they couldn’t find it as I could feel the baby moving and didn’t feel like it was in distress, also my Dr and the midwives had had a lot of trouble finding a heartbeat in the days and weeks prior to this. A few midwives tried and finally one found a faint heartbeat and decided the problem was positional so called for an ultrasound.
At the same time they put monitors on me and could see I was in labour. We started talking about drugs, steroids for the baby’s lung development should it be born and drugs to stop the labour.
The stenographer arrived and the first thing he said was that there was A LOT of fluid and the next thing he said was that the shoulder appeared to be engaged (hindsight tells us he thought the teratoma was the baby’s head!). Then the obstetrician examined me using a speculum, to avoid inducing full labour, and said I was 5cm dilated and that she could see the head (lots of dark hair). They asked me to turn on my side to get a better look at the baby and the baby’s heart rate dipped and from then it was people running beside my stretcher, down corridors shouting “CAT 1, CAT 1”. They explained they’d try to get the baby out as quickly as possible and all my slow brain could think was that if they’d let me lie on my back and do the ultrasound again that I was sure the heart rate would be fine…
The last thing I remember is all the medical staff standing over me in the operating theatre and introducing themselves and the obstetrician poised over my tummy with a scalpel while the anesthetist was trying to get a line in… someone pressing my throat hard and the dr in charge saying “GO!”, the obstetrician asking, “ME?” The dr in charge saying “NOT YOU!” and then I woke up to people saying it’s a girl and have you chosen a name and there’s a problem… we don’t expect her to live long and we’re taking you to see her now… meanwhile I’m shaking from the drugs and the shock of it all but still thinking somehow that everything would be okay…
Things are going smoothly with Rose these days – well enough that I don’t have anything significant to report but that doesn’t mean I’m not here if you’re looking for more information. Contact me privately with any questions you have, using the form below, if you wish.