Not long after arriving home from shopping for some final nursery items (I am insanely organised ahead of schedule), I started feeling quite crampy and quite sore. Sitting down, lying down, heat packs, warm showers… it didn’t matter what I tried the cramps kept coming with pain radiating down my legs and around to my back. I started to suspect these weren’t Braxton hicks and a couple of the women on the mummies group agreed! A quick check of my ‘pregnancy bible’ (what to expect when you’re expecting) confirmed my worry – all the signs of pre-term labour where there…
A call to SJOG Murdoch and the midwife said it was probably nothing, but to come in since we were nearby, and so we went straight there. Once there, a midwife took me to the delivery suite, just because it was the easiest place to do a few checks. My obstetrician’s partner had just arrived at the hospital todeliver a baby, but popped in to see me after the midwife suspected I was contracting. Dr McKenna took barely a minute before telling us that I was having contractions, that we needed to be transferred to KEMH right now, that there were going to give me a steroid to help Olivia’s lungs shouldshe arrive early, and some little red pills to try and stop the contracting. He told us that even if everything calmed down we would most likely be at KEMH for1-2 nights, so we went home (which was only 5 minutes away) and picked up the hospital bag (yes, 3 months ahead of time I already had one packed) and headedto KEMH ourselves rather than waiting at the hospital for an ambulance. In retrospect, a sure sign that were completely oblivious to the potential seriousness of it all, and still in shock from what we were told.
It was a very surreal car trip and even more surreal when wearrived at KEMH – we initially went to their emergency department only to betold to head up to the labour and delivery ward – that was all a little bit too real! There they took urine and swab samples to test for infection – these cameback negative and they suggested that was positive, and it was now less likely that the contractions were leading to delivery as one possible factor had been eliminated. More muscle relaxants and a quick portable ultrasound scan to confirm bub's HB and we were sent up to the ward.
The contractions stopped overnight, I called DH at 8am todiscuss what he was going to do and when he was going to come in for the day –and whilst on the phone to him I could feel some bleeding start and what felt like a clot passing – I told him that he had better get in ASAP.
We had elected the previous night when we were being admitted to be admitted privately and we were offered a few different consultants, we chose Dr Wu (as my obstetrician was on holidays). He came in as soon as the ward called him and he sent me for a detailed ultrasound. The scan showed I had a 6 or 8cm clot behind the placenta. They also took Olivia’s measurements andtold us that she was about 690g +/- 70g. Dr Wu said I would need to stay in on bed rest, in hospital, for a week, and have another scan at the end of the week to check bub's progress and to see if there was any change to the clot. It could grow, stay the same or hopefully, be reabsorbed. There is no explanation as to why the clot may have occurred.
The week is rather uneventful and aside from the slight twinge which most pregnant women get anyway, there is no more bleeding or contractions for the next few days.
During the week a neonatologist comes by my room and explains to DH and I what would happen if bub arrived now (being 24+6weeks), at 25 weeks, 26 weeks etc. He explains that bub has only a 50% chance of survival if born at 24 weeks, and slightly higher if born at 25 weeks. He also explains that bub’s estimated size is on the smaller end of the ‘normal’ scale for my gestation. We both think “well that was very informative, but that’s not going to happen to us”. We are both still clinging to hope that reabsorption will happen and that no further contractions has been a good sign.
DH is picking up some pizzas after work as I'm sickof hospital food, and was planning on getting to the hospital about 6pm. I shower, wash my hair and actually apply makeup for nearly the first time in the week and eagerly await his arrival! But by 5:30pm I start having some bad cramping – tightenings that start to become regular. I let ten minutes passbefore deciding to press the call button – they are not going away. It takes a few minutes for a midwife to get to the room; as soon as she walks in I can feel myself starting to bleed badly. She immediately calls the obstetrician, Dr Wu. Over the phone Dr Wu instructs the midwives to hook me up to monitoring for both me and bub, and says he will be in as soon as he can. Olivia’s heart rate looks like, but the bleeding and contracting is getting worse.
A little after 6pm DH arrives and I tell him to eat his pizza, because there’s not much he can do!! I'm worried as hell though, the pain is intense. Dr Wu arrives at about 6:30pm – he quickly assesses the situation and says that I’ll need to go down to the labour and delivery ward for closer monitoring, but that he will put an IV in my hand in my room while they sort out taking me down there. He pops in and out of the room over the next 5 minutes getting bits and pieces and making calls. At one time when he is out of the room, one of the midwives asks the other to help her with the monitor reading bub's heart rate. They try moving it a couple of times and then one of them goes to find Dr. Wu after asking the other 'what do we do now?'. No one tells us what is going on, but we know it can’t be good. Dr Wu comes back in and explains that bub’s heart rate is weakening, but is OK, just – he runs out to get a portable ultrasound so he can have a closer look at things. He is gone only a minute, and while he is out my bleeding intensifies significantly, I can feel it, but I can’t see what’s going on. The midwives are getting noticeably worried and discuss going to get him but decide to stay with me and press the call button. Dr Wu and somemore midwives come back in. Dr Wu sees the blood and clots and quickly asks themidwife to call a code blue. “Code blue medical and paediatric, caesarean, ward 5” is called over the PA system to the entire hospital. I would later find out I was having a complete placental abruption.
What seems like the whole ward’s worth of staff rush into the room. There is no time to get a trolley for theatre – they take the whole bed and we are out of the room within 60 seconds after disconnecting me from everything that I had been hooked up to. Someone runs ahead to the lifts to insert the key so that they can stop a lift and have it run express from ward 5 to the theatre floor. DH runs beside the bed and he tells me he loves me, I tell him I love him too and start crying. I can see the lights rushing by overhead and the terrified look on a man's face as he jumps out of the way. I feel like I've been transported in to some scene from a movie. The lift stops at the theatre ward and we are met by more staff who run me through a set of doors into a theatre –they do not pause to have us say goodbye or tell DH he can’t go in. One midwife stays behind with him to explain it once I am in.
Once inside I am transferred to the operating table, they tilt it slightly and I can hear the blood rush off. A woman sits at my head and starts asking me my name, when I last ate, and if I am allergic to anything; they write all this on a whiteboard. I can see Dr Wu outof the corner of my eye getting gowned up. I have a sheet placed over me andsome liquid rubbed over my stomach. Dr Wu asks ‘what can I do?’ (in reference to waiting for the anaesthetist, the only person who is not yet there, although it has only been a minute or two) and the woman sitting at my head turns and tells me ‘they won’t start until you are asleep’. The anaesthetist rushes in, checks the board, and then tells me ‘this will hurt, and you will feel like you’re choking’. It hurts like hell, and the last thing I remember is feeling like I was choking. I didn't get the sleepy gas.. it was straight to business.
While outside DH calls both his parents and my parents, telling them he has no idea what is going to happen. Both rush in to the hospital.
At 7:04pm, DD is born weighing 635g, with an APGAR score of 5 and requiring immediate intubation to stay alive.
At 7:20pm DH is told that he can go and see DD – this is the first update on DD or I he receives. He gets ushered into the NICU and is told that DD’s colour is good and that she is doing OK. Over the next hour the grandparents arrive and visit DD. Dr Wu comes to see DH, my mum is with him at the time. DH finally gets to hear that I'm alive, and Dr Wu explains that another 10 minutes and neither DD or I would have made it, he was there at just the right time, and we were fortunate we were not at home.
DD has two IV lines placed through her umbilical stump and is hooked up to a bunch of different monitors. DH stays there until 9:30pm when he is told that he can come and see me in recovery as I was waking up. It took me a while to come around and my blood pressure was very low due to theamount of blood I had lost. It was a while before I could be transferred to the ward.
To be continued... and please feel free to comment and ask questions if you have any!