37 weeks pregnant
Waters went at 4 pm, on Wednesday 2nd November! I was somewhat excited that it was going to work out, I reckoned we would be in hospital for 3 nights due to him being a whole 3 weeks early… meaning we should be out in time for me to be home on my birthday on the 7th of November. But that was not meant to be because things went horribly wrong.
The husband and I arrived at the hospital to be greeted by a wonderful midwife and her student. They were bubbly, warm and really friendly and we immediately connected ! The room was spacious and had a birthing pool.
I was asked if I had a birthing plan, to which I laughed and said my only plan was to use a cord tie to clamp the cord. The rest I was going to make it up as I went along!
At that point I was having very mild niggles, they weren’t contractions at all.
Because I tested positive to group B strep we decided to accept antibiotics in labour, the midwife administered the antibiotics while we talked excitedly about our existing kids, baby names and generally just had a friendly chat!
In the middle of it all, the husband, clearly nervous, dropped his iphone on the floor completely smashing his screen 😬 He assured me he wasn’t nervous at all ha ha.
They monitored Isaac’s heartbeat for half an hour, antibiotics were finished and everything was fine. All we needed was to get myself into labour. I took this bump selfie then
We sat down to eat but I wasn’t really that hungry, all I could think about was having our rainbow baby soon. By the end of our meal I could feel the niggles turning into tightenings. They were irregular and mild, but definitely there.
The husband and I just couldn’t wait to meet our baby, we talked excitedly about what he would look like, if he would have lots of hair and what colour his eyes would be!
We went into the hospital chapel and prayed together, cried together and I felt such a strong connection with my unborn baby.
We paced the corridors , the husband held my hand as I stopped to breath through each tightening.
We continued to walk around the hospital as I knew the best I could do was to keep active. I took this picture at that point:
At that point the tightenings suddenly turned into contractions, I sat on the birthing ball as I recognised the strength of real labour and felt a sudden panic wash over me.
Listening to my heavy breathing the husband nodded in recognition and hugged me, he knew too that this was the real deal. He massaged my back and gave me ice cubes to suck on, I am always obsessed with ice cubes when pregnant.
The midwife suggested I got into the pool for pain relief. I quickly told her a big NO, but as I felt another contraction coming I said YES please!
At exactly 6.20 pm I went into the pool and the relief was amazing, I loved the warm water soothing each contraction. The midwife said she thought I was in labour and wanted to start the documentation accordingly.
I was adamant they could just go for a cup of tea and that it would be ages until real labour started. The midwife and student were happy to leave my husband and I to just get on with it. They left the room and pointed out where the buzzer was should we need them.
We dimmed the lights and put some music on. I sang away during contractions while trying to relax and allow baby to descend. The panic disappeared and I felt calm and in control.
This was new to me, the pain of labour always made me terrified but this time I wasn’t scared at all , I felt so relaxed as though I was swimming in the sea with the sun shining down on me.
At 7.05pm I recognised things were now moving and being a midwife I checked my own cervix and I was 4 cm dilated. I buzzed and asked the midwife for some gas and air.
But the gas and air didn’t help me, I felt I was coping better without it, I stopped using it and concentrated on my body instead.
I remember telling the husband, the midwife and the student that I was over reacting and that I wasn’t in labour yet! I also recall giving the student a midwife a lesson on fetal heart monitoring … oh dear!
My instincts just took over at that point
The room was dark and only a small light was on, inside the birthing pool itself, the water was warm, I felt safe and told myself this is it. Next, the midwife said to the student to get her gloves on.
At 19.25 With one single and mighty push I saw this perfect baby covered in vernix at the bottom of the pool!
All I said was: oh my goodness, don’t touch him, don’t touch him, I will get him! over and over again ! I wanted to be the first to touch my baby.
I picked him up gently and brought him to the surface, he had the cord wrapped all over him.
I remember thinking he was tiny and didn’t have much hair. I held him and cried with the husband. He was so perfect, I had the perfect birth, there was not 1 drop of blood in the pool, something that always put me off a water birth before. The image of being inside a pool full of blood didn’t appeal to me! But that didn’t happen ( the only tiny bit was from cutting the cord).
After a while, we tied the umbilical cord and the husband cut the cord.
I was elated! Isaac was perfect, so small at 7lb 2oz, only Emily was smaller than him at 6 6lb at birth. He took to the breast straight away.
I had the perfect birth, the kind of labour and birth that only happens in your dreams!
I remember the overwhelming happiness at that point, our rainbow baby safe in our arms after our loss. Perfection!
The midwife performed Isaac’s checks and pointed out everything was perfect apart from his breathing rate that was ever so slightly raised and we could hear him grunting a little.Nothing to worry about at that point, to be rechecked soon. I wasn’t worried, I expected that for a his gestational age. Emily was born at 36 weeks, a week earlier than Aaron, and she too had an increased respiratory rate and some grunting. She was in the neonatal unit for 48 hrs for monitoring and was fine after that. So I knew this was a possibility for Isaac and I had packed our bags for a 3 day hospital stay anyway!
We were transferred to the postnatal ward , I had something to eat and said goodbye to my husband who was going back home to the other kids (my mum and sister in law were looking after them).
I told him to keep his phone next to him as I was pretty certain Isaac was going to the neonatal unit for monitoring as he continued to make grunting noises and breathing a little faster still. I just wanted to be able to text him through the night.
Once the husband left, I got Isaac into bed with me and we both dozed off. Shortly after I was woken up by a doctor coming in to check on Isaac, he pointed out we should be cautious and take him to special care where the nurses would keep an eye on him. I readily agreed.
As I bundled Isaac up in his cot I felt emotional but knew it was the best for him. The doctor told me they were going to take about 20 minutes to settle him in special care and they would phone me once they had done so, I could then go and see him. I kissed Isaac and said ‘see you soon baby boy’ as the doctor wheeled his cot away. I got back into bed, texted the husband and fell asleep.
Nothing prepared me for what happened next
‘Will my baby be ok?’
‘We don’t know that yet, we need to take each minute as it comes’
Waking up from my sleep I jumped out of bed. The room was so dark and so cold I felt something was wrong. I quickly looked at the time and it had been 2 hours since Isaac was taken to special care but nobody came to wake me up to go and see him. I buzzed in a panic for the midwife, one came in and said she would ask the midwife looking after me to update me, she couldn’t look me in the eye. I knew in my heart some was not right.
Finally my midwife came into the room with a wheelchair telling me she would take me to see my baby. I asked her how he was and all she could say was ” the doctors will update you when you get there, I am taking you to the Salisbury nursery”. My heart skipped a beat when she said that.
Being a midwife and having worked in that hospital I knew exactly what the Salisbury nursery was, it was for the very ill babies, some babies in there never make it home.
Why on earth was my baby in that room? He was meant to be going to special care not intensive care! He was only going to be there for a little extra monitoring. As the midwife stared at the floor she told me to get onto the wheelchair. I told her I could walk there but she insisted I sat down, confused and scared I did so as my mind raced.
As she pushed me through the long hospital corridors I reflected on the times I was the one pushing that chair, the times I cried for the parents when their babies were so ill. I braced myself for the worst with my own baby whilst being in denial and believing there was some sort of mistake and everything was fine with my baby.
As the weelchair was pushed through intensive care , also known as Salisbury nursery, they had 6 cot spaces . My eyes scanned the room , 5 of those were in incubators, tiny premature babies inside, so tiny you could barely see them. And then there was a full term baby , on a ressucitair , not a cot or an incubator, a full ressuscitair where babies likely to need ressuscitation were placed. There were numerous doctors and nurses around that baby, it was intensive and it was critical and I knew it was my Isaac.
I got out the wheelchair and washed my hands as quickly as humanly possible whilst trying to breath normally. The nurses directed me up the ressuscitair, it was my Isaac, my rainbow baby lying there, in a nappy , looking so poorly. I was shocked to see him in that state.
I could see brain scan pictures scattered around his cot space, x rays , machines beepings, he had monitors around his head. I knew this was bad. There was no sugar coating for me, as I midwife I have seen poorly babies before and this was a very sick baby indeed!
The consultant introduced herself. She had a concerned look but was slow and composed as she spoke to me.
” As we were settling Isaac in special care, he suddenly went blue and floppy and struggled to breath. The crash team was summoned and he needed to be resuscitated.
He is now on oxygen and unable to maintain his saturations on air breathing alone.
He had seizures, we are now monitoring his brain for it.
This could be due to infection, we are particularly worried about meningitis and we have started him on strong medication for that and any other bacterial and viral infection.
I was also worried on examining him by his distended stomach , we x rayed his abdomen and I am not certain his bowels are formed properly. We have woken up the surgeons at the children’s hospitals so they can have a look at the x rays and tells us if Isaac will need to be transferred there for emergency surgery.
He is receiving fluids and we are keeping an eye on his blood sugars as he hasn’t been able to maintain them stable.”
Is my baby going to be ok?
“we don’t know that yet, we need to take each minute as it comes’
I started to shake uncontrollably as they sat me down in a chair, I shook and shook like I have never shaken before. I was distraught, I was confused , I was panicked but above all I was scared for my baby. A thousand thoughts came into my head and at that point all I said was that I NEEDed to phone my husband right now. I picked up my phone as I looked over at Isaac lying there , I could feel the tears falling. Calling the husband: ‘Please come here right now, Isaac is very poorly’. It was 5 am.
Seeing him walk through those doors 15 minutes later I felt relief but also felt sick as I knew he would go through the emotions I had just been through, the doctors never left Isaac’s side and started to repeat the same story to my husband. Watching him break down like that really was heartbreaking.
The doctors talked to us a lot but everything was a blurr and I don’t think I could take all in, my eyes were on Isaac and on him alone. As the husband and I stroked Isaac, his lips went blue, we were scorted out the room, screens around him
2 hours later he was stable but still critical. He had so many tests, so much blood analysis it was gruesome for such a tiny baby but Isaac was strong.
I cried as my arms ached to hold him and I prayed and I talked to Isaac telling him how much I loved him.
After discussion with specialists they agreed Isaac did not surgery and his bowels were actually fine.
All initial results, including a lumber puncture came back clear. But Isaac continued to struggle with his breathing. The relief of getting clear results was great but also frustrating as we did not know why he was so sick.
The stress of it all took such a toll on my health, I ballooned and was very swollen every where. I had a horrible headache and when I put 2 and 2 together I realised I had postnatal pre eclampsia. Sure enough when my blood pressure was checked it was sky high.
Now not only was Isaac ill but so was I.
to be continued next week …