At 32 weeks I went for my regular midwife check, that was the Wednesday, and everything was great, BP, urine etc the normal tests. So even though I’d had a nagging feeling that the babies were going to arrive early, I obviously wrong.
The next day, less than 24 hours later I have my, now fortnightly, consultant check-up. My check-ups were fortnightly because my little girls’ growth had slowed, and my little boy was taking up all the space, pushing her up into my ribs. I’d finally got a rapport with the consultant, our first meeting was very abrupt and to the point, I guess they see so many people that they don’t have time for niceties. I remember, we’d been sitting in the waiting room for 3 hours and I’d just put hand cream on when we were called in, I apologised that I couldn’t shake hands given the ridiculous amount of hand cream that I had put on, he looked at me somewhat oddly, he clearly wasn’t used to shaking hands with his patients. The lack of rapport, was in itself is a real shame because the consultant appointments were a big part of the journey for me and it would’ve been nice if they weren’t so functional, but the main thing is that my babies were being looked after. Anyway, I digress, I was feeling relaxed, BP is taken and then he asked to repeat it, he did this 3 times. My BP had shot up, suddenly the mood changed in the room and we got down to business very quickly. He diagnosed me with pre-eclampsia, I was put on medication with immediate effect and told that my babies would be delivered anytime within the following 2 weeks, dependant upon how I responded to the meds. I was booked in for steroid injections, starting on the Friday and told that I would need to go to the hospital every day /2 days to be scanned, get bloods done and be monitored. Suddenly it was all very real and very scary, I’m told I can’t do anything, I’m to lie down, not lift anything and not to walk to far. My consultant suddenly became human to me, I could see that he meant business and that I was in good hands, he wasn’t going to take any risks with me and he was there to ensure I get the best care possible.
Over the following days I had my steroid injections to help develop the babies lungs, I was monitored and all was under control. I saw my consultant at each visit and he made it clear that the babies will be delivered not a day later than 34 weeks. He also told me that he suspects that it’ll be my little boy who struggles, as he is happily growing as he should be inside of me and the shock of being born early could disrupt that. He then suggested that my little girl would probably be absolutely fine, as she was struggling on a daily basis for space, so she’s already a fighter. So, I started to prepare myself, put my hospital bags in the car, I rested at home, which I should add was a complete building site. We decided to have an extension before the babies were born, it was tight, but we could just get it done before the babies arrived at 38 weeks. At this point, the whole of the back of our house was completely open, I had absolutely no kitchen or lounge, no glass in etc.
A day before 34 weeks, I was admitted to New Cross hospital for delivery the following day. My 34 weeks fell on a Thursday and on that morning I was taken up to the theatre area, my consultant came in to see me. He doesn’t normally do sections on a Thursday because that’s his clinic day, however he managed to get me first on the list so that he can do it. He explained everything to me, the anaesthetist came in and talked me through the process and what to expect, they would be doing a spinal block. Then the theatre nurse came in and explained who will be in the room and what each of them would be doing. So I’m ready, I wasn’t scared, I was really excited and strangely relaxed, I quite liked my gown and socks set up and Chris looked great in his blues (I’ve always had a thing for hospital blues). My consultant walked in, he was wearing green gowns and we’re off! Only we weren’t, I was cancelled, an emergency had come in and they couldn’t deliver me unless they had 2 NICU cots available and the baby that was now in front of me will definitely need one. It was a 24 weeker and the mom has discharged herself from her hospital and come to New Cross.
I got back to my ward room, I was gutted but equally if it were me that was an emergency I’d want the same treatment and at the moment my babies and I are doing well. My consultant came in and apologised profusely, he told me there was no point in staying in that day as there was no way I would be delivered that day. All checks were done, I was sent home to return early the next morning, Friday. So that was it, off I went but by now I was starting to get stressed because I was now 34+1 and he had been very clear that I was not to go over 34 weeks. So suddenly all my pregnancy fears came back to haunt me, would my babies die, were they really safe inside me now, maybe it had all been too good to be true. I was in panic mode, not great for the BP.
I went back on Friday morning, I was shown to a ward room and told that my consultant would come and see me but that I wouldn’t be delivered during the morning session. With this news came food, as I’d been nil by mouth until then, so I ate. A couple of hours later, the news we’d been waiting for, there was 2 beds for the babies and a slot allocated for me in the afternoon session. It would be later in the afternoon because by now I’d eaten but it would be that day. Amazing news, our excitement returned, we messaged family and friends to update them. After what felt like an endless wait, my consultant came to see me, they’d had another emergency, I’d lost my slot again, I was devastated. It definitely wouldn’t be today but he wanted me to stay in over the weekend to be monitored and also, because if I am in hospital, as soon as the beds became available, they would be allocated to me. On Saturday morning, I refused to eat, I didn’t go on hunger strike or anything like that, all I just wanted to be ready to go rather than miss another slot.
To cut a long story short, on Sunday afternoon I had a complete melt down with the Registrar, my stress levels were crazy with worry as I was now 34+4. My business head kicked in and I was very clear with her that I did not want to become the next emergency and I re-iterated that the consultant had been very clear about not going over 34 weeks. A couple of hours later, I was told that I was being blue lighted to George Elliot, Nuneaton and immediately my stress levels rocket. GE is not a level 3 in terms of care, my consultant had also been clear about needing that as they were premmie and my little girl was much smaller than my boy. They were quick to reassure me that due to being 4 days further on, a level 2 was absolutely fine, so that was that. The transport arrived and I was off with Chris trying to keep up in his car, bizarrely he beat us there. I suspect a few speed limits were broken that day !! The team there were amazing, so welcoming, they showed me around everywhere, the theatre, the special care unit and introduced to just about everyone they could, given it was 22.00 on a Sunday night. Lisa, one of the seniors in Special Care asked what I was having, she was relieved to hear it was one of each. They asked if I wanted delivery that night or if was happy to wait for the main team to be on site on the Monday, confirming I would be monitored throughout the night. They were amazing! We opted for the Monday morning. Suddenly the stress of the last few days hit me, and I sobbed and sobbed, it all felt like too much. I think I just needed to let it out, I’d been brave for so long and now I felt like I was in really good, kind hands and I could relinquish my job as the strong one.
Monday morning soon came and there was a trail of people introducing themselves to us, each one explaining everything to me. The last person to come in was the consultant paediatrician, he chatted away and the last part of what he told me was that if my babies were poorly and needed support then they would be shipped off within 4 hours as they were level 1 only. LEVEL 1, how did that happen, New Cross had misled me just to get me out. Chris and I discussed discharging ourselves and going back to Wolverhampton, after all that was what people were doing from other hospitals and why the beds for my babies kept getting taken. I was told if the both needed help they would more than likely be shipped to different hospitals, the furthest being Glasgow!! Not the best way to go into a section and for a spinal where they ask you to be relaxed! We felt we had no choice but to carry on and within minutes I was with Frank the anaesthetist. He was the jolliest, funniest consultant I’ve ever met and I’ve met a few. Immediately I was at ease, I felt so safe in his hands, his southern American drawl was so calming.
Now after watching so many episodes of One Born every minute I expected them to tell me when they were starting but the first I knew was when my little boy was whisked passed me to the side room to the team waiting for him. I knew this would be the case, they’d explained it but I just wanted to see him. Next I feel like I’m being pulled down the bed, my little girl was wedged up under my ribs and they were tugging her down. I should say I felt absolutely no pain, just a funny sensation, I was sure a hand was going to pop out of my mouth at any point they were reaching that high, or so it felt. After what felt like a long 2 minutes, my baby girl came out and gave a cry, after what felt like a lifetime. She was whisked away to the team waiting for her and then I guess I was stitched up, to be honest that’s a bit of a blur. I sent Chris in to see the babies, one of us needed to be with them, he took some photos and showed me them. After some time, I was allowed to hold my little ones for split seconds before they were taken off to the unit and put in the incubator. My little man needed help breathing, he was on oxygen but little lady was doing ok just needed a canula and feeding tube. So that was that, I was a mummy, ironically it still didn’t feel real, I’d barely seen or held them. Before being taken up to my room they wheeled my trolley into special care so that I could see them both. They looked so tiny, Rupert being 5lb.10oz and Nelli 4lb.4oz, they were mine, my baby boy and my baby girl, my son and my daughter.
I hope you enjoyed this article, I shall be sharing the next part of the journey in another article. xx