Some people say that your second pregnancy is easier and there is some kind of pattern that your pregnancies and labours follow. Others say every pregnancy is just different and to expect the unexpected. During the episodes of bleeding, Fane and I definitely accepted that this was going to be an unpredictable pregnancy. But what we were not expecting was our baby girl to be born at 24 + 5 weeks gestation, at 11:05pm in Addenbrookes, weighing around 550 grams.
On Wednesday the 29th of June I put Alex to bed as normal, watched some Dexter and hit the sack looking forward to the staff conference at work because it’s always a bit of a doss and we get a free lunch. I awoke at 1am soaking wet. I thought I had peed myself, but upon investigation I was lying in a pool of blood. It had gone through my pants, my pyjamas and the sheets. I woke Fane up and he was so calm as if it had become a routine. I messaged my brother in hope he would be up and thankfully he was. He looked after Alex whilst we went to Bedford Hospital Cygnit Wing for the third time.
Upon arrival we were taken to the usual examination room on delivery suite and showed them the mess on my clothes. They went ahead and poked and prodded and once again we heard the same thing; we don’t know where the bleeding is coming from, you’re fine, the baby is fine but we have to keep you for 24 hours and do another scan. The difference this time was that I was 24 weeks pregnant so they decided to give me the steroid injections that would help the babies lungs develop in case she came early. Some of the night is a blur, all I remember is sleeping in one of the big delivery rooms for a little while whilst Fane slept on a fold out chair.
In the morning I was an emotional wreck. The midwives were lovey, but the doctor who came round was certainly not. Before Alex I had a miscarriage and the doctor who examined me that time was absolutely horrid and to my surprise he entered the room. I immediately went into shock, I was shaking, I could feel my face getting hot and my stomach churning. He was cold and stern and didn’t ask me anything about how I was feeling. It was a very quick “chat” in which he told me I’d be sent to Luton. I knew why he was saying this but I told him to leave and let me speak to the midwives. In tears I was desperately begging them not to send me to Luton. “She isn’t coming”. I was showing no signs of labour, I still wasn’t in any pain and nothing was opening up downstairs.
So we were admitted to the ward again. It was staring to become very familiar, we recognised most of the midwives and the consultants who were floating around and they remembered us. Thankfully Alex was in nursery that day and staying at her dads that evening. Sadly, the following day was to be Fane’s 30th birthday! I was so upset that we weren’t going to be able to celebrate it as planned; we cancelled the bbq that many people had arranged to come to and I wasn’t going to get out to buy him a cake or wrap his presents or even write a card. Obviously he didn’t care about any of this and he was only concerned for me and the baby. Sadly, my anxiety doesn’t allow me to see it that way. So I spent that Thursday in hospital distraught that I had ruined everything.
We were discharged on the Friday around lunch time and had to go back for a scan for 4:30. So 1 macdonalds and a happy toddler and Fane later I was back. This time they actually found the possible cause of the bleeding! A small blood clot and tear in the placenta which could either keep on bleeding throughout the pregnancy or heal itself. The worst case scenario being that the placenta tears away completely and they have to deliver baby…again stubborn me would not accept this…not gonna happen, I said!
Finally we were able to go home and celebrate Fane’s 30th birthday with caterpillar cake, many Game if Thrones related gifts and a 9pm bedtime!
The weekend had to be relaxing! I had to get through Saturday and Sunday with no bleeding and get to Disneyland on Monday! So I spent Saturday doing as little as possible, which for me was still a bit of cleaning and pottering about. Alex was happy making gloop in the garden and painting Fane’s face green.
Doctor Kim called me again in the morning and sadly advised against going to Disneyland in any way after talking to some of her colleagues about the clot in the placenta. So this put a massive downer on the day, but I decided I wasn’t going to let Alex not have a holiday! We booked a last minute trip to Butlins instead because luckily Alex never knew it was going to be disneyland.
After a crazy day of playing and noise and not really relaxing at all we sat down with a curry to watch The Hateful Eight. Only 20 minutes in I felt something familiar happen downstairs and on a visit to the toilet, there was lots of blood once again. I called Fane to come in and he said “Right, let’s go, back to the hospital!”. I was in tears and tired and frustrated and I just desperately wanted the bleeding to stop and everything to just be normal!
We spent the night again and this time the bleeding wasn’t settling. It wasn’t horrific but it wasn’t settling. So the concern for early labour was much higher but I was adamant it wasn’t going to happen; I was arguing with everyone about it and just outright refusing to be transferred….so we were transferred to Addenbrookes. Considering that I should be trying to avoid labour they made a good go at trying to induce it in the ambulance with their blues on whizzing down the A428!
Fane met me at The Rosie Hospital in Cambridge and it was decided that butlins definitely wasn’t going to happen…not for us anyway, but I gave the trip to Alex’s dad instead so she could at least go!
When Alex came to see me on Monday before she went there was a lot of upset from all parties, we just wished we could all go together. But it was for the best. She brought me flowers and a card.
The bleeding had stopped but my back was killing me. We had another ultrasound with a fetal medical specialist and he didn’t seem massively concerned. It was just clear that she was going to be tiny but he said not worryingly so. But so so so tiny!!
My mum made it over after work and Fane popped out to call his parents. During this time I expressed my concern to my mum about the back ache I was experiencing as my tummy started hurting simultaneously as well…I told a midwife who was remarkably good at hiding her concern but she asked if it felt like contractions. Nahhhhhh don’t be silly! She’s not coming!
She got a doctor to check my cervix but she couldn’t get a good look. The pains…or contractions…we’re getting more intense and closer together, so that was it, over to delivery suite, “just in case” they said. Fane was looking more and more and concerned but kept his cool.
So much is a blur again…I don’t remember the order in which things happened. A neo natal consultant came in and was very concerned at this point as the contractions were getting closer and closer and I was getting louder and louder. She said a load of stuff about decisions that had to be made and cesareans resuscitation options…my mum was taking it all in and Fane caught bits, but I was just desperately trying to keep her in! Then there were neo natal doctors that came in and I was surrounded by a dozen people trying to explain to me what was going to happen if I gave birth which they were clearly convinced was going on.
I was hooked up to a drip with liquids, antibiotics and infused with magnesium which would protect babies brain. This burnt like hell, I felt like my face was on fire, and I started feeling faint and sick all I wanted was a bucket of cold water thrown over me. This took 10 minutes to go in then there was a diluted version dripped through the canula. Fane was trying to tell me that it could still turn back around as that happened to his mum once, but I knew he didn’t really believe what he was saying.
Several people spoke to us about possibilities; a neo natal doctors spoke to me…no idea what was said…and an anaesthetist spoke about cesareans…don’t fully remember what he said. It all felt so fast and we were both so exhausted.
The herds of people left the room leaving just the midwife, my mum and Fane. My pain became constant and as a neo natal nurse came in the midwife checked my progress…5cm and I was wailing!! She told the nurse to get the team quickly and I felt it was time to start to push.
Literally within 3 minutes all neo natal people were in the room and God knows who else and I started to push my baby out before they all even had gloves on. And 1 more push later she was out…my mum was in tears and Fane was in complete shock. She was whisked over the doctors and nurses and put in a plastic bag to keep her warm and they intubated here and god knows what else I kept saying sorry to Fane that I couldn’t keep her in for any longer.
They let Fane take a picture but I wanted to wait till she was wheeled past me. A doctor came over after a matter of minutes and said she was doing well, everything happened the best that it could have. She came out naturally and in the sack…which is apparently a good thing. But there there was an infection. Which explains why she had to escape so soon.
They brought her past me and I burst into tears. She was the most beautiful and tiniest little thing I had ever seen. And then gone to neo natal to be looked after. It was 23:01 on July 4th…15 weeks and 2 days before her due date.
There are some more gruesome bits to the after birth, but I won’t go into detail. We didn’t see her again till 9am the next morning because of these things though.
We were warned that the unit would be scary with lots of wires and noises and things going into her, but when I saw her none of the mattered, all I cared about was that she was okay.
As I write this it’s been 2 and a half days and she is breathing without a ventilator (thanks to the steroids I had in Bedford!), she is still on antibiotics, her general health is good and they are pleasantly surprised at a lot of her progress. They might be feeding her some milk today; my new job is to express every 3 hours!
The nurses watch her 24/7, we can see her whenever we like. At this point Alex doesn’t know but she will meet her this weekend.
Emotions are running high for all of us and my hormones are playing havoc. All we can do is take every day as it comes and hope for the best. We are incredibly thankful to have been in the right place at the right time and couldn’t praise all of the midwives doctors consultants and whoever else enough between here and Bedford! Our position now would not be so positive without the help of every single one of them. Not to mention the free accommodation we have been given on site. There will be a lot of fundraising when we’re home!