I was really unsure whether to share my birth story or not. It’s kind of traumatic and I didn’t want to scare anyone. I realise now that I bottled up how I was feeling about it all for 6 and a half months and that I probably need to process it really so I stop having horrible flash backs.
When people kept commenting on how well I coped with it all I would just reply, ‘oh yeah I’m grand,’ type of thing and not give it much more thought. I don’t know if I was just stunned by it all or in some sort of little bubble, but as time has gone on I find myself thinking back to it all more and more.
So if you’re pregnant dont read on, or if you do, don’t worry, its kind of a one in a million type scenario, you will be fine, and even if your story isn’t the most positive either, the most important thing is that our babas get here one way or the other and safely and we wouldn’t change that fact for the world.
I was 36 weeks pregnant and the whole situation happened from a Tuesday to a Sunday. I was actually geared up to go full hypnobirth doing daily affirmations and relaxations, on the whole really looking forward to my birth. On Tuesday 8th early hours, I woke up and had some bleeding. I was so sleepy I hadn’t even realised that it happened until I looked down and saw it all in the toilet bowl. It was one of those times where you don’t know if it was quite a lot of blood or just a tiny amount that had been diluted by lots of water. I didn’t think much of it and went back to sleep, I cherished my sleep so much my bed was constantly calling me. The next morning I thought nothing of it until I was texting my midwife friend Lucy who told me I needed to go in right away.
Of course it hit me as well because I was rhesus negative so I probably needed an AntiD injection. I went and got checked out, got my bloods taken to give them an indication of how much blood may have leaked over from my placenta to Florence and check my blood count level. My tummy was nice and soft but I was a little uncomfortable just at the top when they pressed. I had no signs of early labour so was sent home just to keep an eye on things, with an explanation that sometimes women have random bleeds in pregnancy and we don’t know why.
The next day I had a phonecall from the hospital to say that my blood test had come back to say that it showed there was a lot of contamination of my blood with foetal cells in their sample and that I would need a further AntiD injection. This meant that I had had quite a significant bleed. So up I went again, my tummy was quite sore this by this time but the midwife told me I just needed the injection and to go home and keep an eye on things. By this point I was feeling uneasy and was definitely starting to feel like something was not right but off I went home for a little bit of rest. I had my baby shower on the Saturday so wanted to be well for that.
Over the next couple of days my tummy became more and more painful. Saturday came and as much as I was looking forward my baby shower I was feeling awful. I managed to get through the day and was absolutely shattered by the time bedtime came around. I couldn’t sleep, I was so uncomfortable and my bump was as hard as a rock. I got up to go to the toilet and noticed a tiny bit more blood and that was it for me, I knew there was somthing wrong and needed to go to the hospital ASAP. I woke Dean up and at half past midnight we bundled into the car and went to the hospital.
It was really busy and we were waiting for almost 3 hours whilst I was doubled over in the chair. By the time we got to a room the midwife noticed that I was in a lot of pain and called the Consultant right away. She was so lovely and provided a lot of reassurance whilst telling me that I was having a placental abruption. Of course I knew what it was, and I knew that it wasn’t good. She said that she wanted to observe me a little longer because we were a little early but most likely the baby would need to come out in the next 24 hours. She tried to convince me to have some strong pain relief, but I refused, I didn’t want anything to make Florence sleepy if she was already in danger.
A placental abruption is when part or all of the placenta separates from the uterus before childbirth. In most cases a diagnosis can be made from obvious blood loss and it can also be concealed, which is what I had, where the blood is trapped between the wall of the women and the placenta, so you just have pain ranging from a bruise (Thursday’s pain) to excruiating pain (Saturday night)
The consultant continued to check in on me over the next couple of hours. At 5am my CTG was showing contractions but I couldn’t feel them, I was in too much pain from the abruption. I was so tired, I hadn’t slept in almost 24 hours, but I was terrified to take my eyes off the CTG incase there were any decelerations.
At 7am the Consultants handed over and I had a Greek gentleman, who will remain nameless, who came in and declared, ‘if baby does not come out, baby is dead.’ I don’t know if he was just being blunt with me because he knew I was a Doctor, but you can imagine that that was the last thing I wanted to hear, even though I knew it was true.
I was taken to Intensive care and all my final bits of blood work and anaesthetic prep was done. Whilst I was there the Anaesthetist came to see me, who told me that the Consultant had wanted me under a general anaesthetic for a cesarean section. I knew why, he didn’t think we were going to have a good outcome. At this point I broke down. I said I didn’t care what he wanted, that my little girl was not coming out not to be with her parents. I told them if it all went pear shaped they could put me under whilst I was in there.
Dean got changed and we were taken round to theatre. I could barely walk, but had one last trip to the toilet before I went. I saw that I had lost my mucus plug, so I knew now that Florence was coming today one way or another.
I was taken away from Dean to get my spinal done. It was at that point that the registrar read out my Blood count level. Very calmly, the Anaesthetist said that they needed to prepare as much blood as possible and make sure the crash team for Paediatrics were aware. It was horrible because even though they were all being very discrete and professional, I knew exactly what they were taking about, why they were getting these things ready, and what they thought might happen. I was told that I would be given lots of medications to stem the bleeding and shrink my uterus as quickly as possible and that I might feel really horrid once all the bleeding is released. They were going to use a machine called a cell saver to collect as much of my own blood as they could, clean it and give it back to me.
It seemed like an age by the time I was numbed and they were prodding me. I was so so scared, everything that I had heard made me think that it was all going to end badly. We heard them break my waters and were told that our baby would be out soon; everyone was on standby. Then out she came, absolutely screaming, completely perfect, to everyones’ surprise. I sent Dean with Florence and told her not to leave her side.
He told me later that he looked over the curtain and had never seen so much blood. Once Florence was out, I didn’t care, I was so happy she was okay but I was feeling awful all of a sudden. All monitors started to beep as my blood pressure dropped with losing all the blood. A do remember feeling very sleepy and sick. The anaethetist gave me the medication to stop all the bleeding and bags of blood were hung. I was given Florence to hold on my chest but they were tugging so hard at me trying to sort everything out that she ended up around my neck so I asked Dean to cuddle her whilst I got sorted.
Some time later, I was being sewed up once all the bleeding had been stopped and my placenta was removed (in pieces). The Registrar told me that we had a really good outcome despite everything and I couldn’t agree more. I was given my blood back from the machine and sent to recovery with all my bags of blood hanging.
Obviously I was tired and a bit sore afterwards but I don’t think anymore than anyone else. I just wanted to get to know my baby and get as much skin to skin as possible. I still maintain that this is the happiest day of my life. Even though there are aspects of it that were beyond terrifying and will stay with me for the rest of my life, the moment that Florence was pulled out and we saw her for the first time was like nothing else I’d ever experienced.
Yes my scar is probably about twice the size that it should be, but if thats the only ‘bad’ physical thing that I take away from it all then I have no problem with that. It gave me the greatest thing in my life, and for that I will always feel thankful.