If you have been following my blog you will know that I have been openly documenting my pregnancy journey and all topics that come along with it. What I thought was going to be a straight forward time and something lovely to write about suddenly changed at week 24 when I had a bleed. What followed was a second bleed, the loss of my mucus plug, the diagnosis of Group B Strep and then the preterm premature rupturing of membranes (PPROM) at 30 weeks leaving me in hospital to be monitored and the chances of infection being very high; a normal pregnancy had suddenly changed to one that was risky and quite scary.
I spent 2 weeks taking it as easy as I could, not lifting much, not doing any exercise or anything too strenuous that may possibly bring on premature labour. My aim was to get to at least 34/35 weeks in order to give my little man a better chance but on Tuesday 21st November I woke feeling extremely ill. I had aches in my legs and lower back, my head was scorching hot to the touch and I was shivery and shaky. I thought that perhaps I was just a bit worn out and run down but by mid-morning my temperature had shot up and down on each reading and I was starting to have pains in my pubic area which worried me.
I contacted the hospital and was asked to come in at midday to be checked. I was taken in and the usual observations were carried out. My temperature came out as normal which threw the midwife off a bit as my skin was burning. I was linked up to the CTG machine to read how the baby’s heart rate was and to check for any contractions. Again, both came out as fine. My urine was checked for an infection and did come out as high in one of the results so was sent off for further analysis which they believed could have been the route cause of my ill feeling. Still, I was having low pains and even though I asked several times I was told it was due to the lack of waters left and it was me feeling the baby much more than I could before.
The stretch on the NHS is so clear and what should have been a quick visit resulted in me waiting around all day for these basic checks and then to be assessed by a doctor. By the time a doctor finally became free it was almost 4:30pm– 4 1/2 hours from when I first arrived! I was a high risk case, I had GBS, I had lost a lot of water and I was here displaying early signs of an infection yet I was still left for all this time, the staff were all trying to do their job but it must be so hard when there just aren’t enough of them to attend to the sheer volume of patients coming in the door. Once she had seen me she had to speak to a consultant to discuss her findings… more waiting. I was then finally told I was going to be admitted for observations but there were no beds so I had no choice but to wait for one to become free.
Jake and my Dad had been with me the whole day and as the time ticked by I eventually sent them home at 5:30pm. In the next hour the low pains in my pubic area began to get worse and happened more frequently. I didn’t think anything of them because I had been told several times they were just the baby pressing against my body and they were too low to be contractions but my sister arrived at 6:30pm to find me doubled over in pain every few minutes… Hmmmm, something should have twigged with me but it just didn’t! She took one look at me and said ‘errr, Em are you about to have a baby?!’ I said no, they keep telling me I’m not. She replied with ‘I think you are!’ At 7:15pm they finally had a bed for me but as I was being led upstairs I had to stop to allow these “contractions” to ease, at which point the midwife said ‘oh I think you’re in labour!’
Once in the room the contractions began to take hold and were happening around every 3 minutes. It was clear that my baby wanted to make a very quick arrival so I was moved to a delivery room. I just about managed to eat some biscuits to try and keep my strength up, popped the TENS machine on and took some codeine for the pain. If you have read my previous posts you will know that Jake was born via emergency C-section and that my wishes were to have a natural birth which had been agreed with my consultant. So, due to this I had no idea what to expect pain wise but I was expecting for the labour to go on a while and to have a chance to let everything sink in. Not in this case! The contractions got stronger and closer together and within a short space of time I felt him coming. I was helped up onto the bed where it was announced I was fully dilated– the last time they checked I was only 2cm! He needed to make a fast exit due to all that my body had been through and the possibility of an infection and that was exactly what was happening.
With my sister and my husband by my side along with the amazing staff from the labour ward and the neonatal ward I experienced the VBAC I had so desperately wanted. At some points I did wonder why I had pushed for that but my goodness the feeling of it all afterwards is one I will never forget. Yes, I screamed, I shouted, I made awful noises and repeatedly said ‘I can’t do this, I can’t do this’ but do you know what?… I bloody well did do it and only on gas and air. I felt my baby move down, I felt him crowning and I felt the relief and elation of him being born. It was a shock but it was amazing.
William Henry Reed was born at 9:36pm weighing 4lbs 2oz.
He was placed on me once he came out and my sister cut the cord but due to him only being 32 weeks he was immediately whisked off to neonatal care. I knew this was going to happen because we’d had these discussions after my PPROM during my last hospital stay and I am so thankful that I had the chance to visit the ward, talk to the nurses and doctor and to have those 2 weeks to come to terms with it all. I wasn’t upset that he was gone, I was confident that he was going down to receive the best care he could to keep him alive. I knew my body had become a hostile environment and it couldn’t look after him anymore so, even though he was 8 weeks too early, he was better out than in.
It is now a week on and I have been discharged from hospital after receiving treatment for the infection but my little boy could be in NICU for 5-6 weeks. He has come so far in just 7 days and I am over the moon that he is such a fighter, I knew he would have to be to go through all he has and still arrive healthy.
Our next journey is to get through this tough time, to learn to juggle life with hospital visits and to keep hoping that William will be home in time for Christmas.