Birth Story – Premature Labour and Birth
This is a local mother’s story of reproductive difficulties, a threatened pregnancy and premature birth.
Supported by her own mother, this woman experienced many scares and stressful events in her journey to become a mother to her beautiful little girl. Mother and baby received medical care locally and in Melbourne for part of the pregnancy, the birth at 33 weeks and her daughter’s intensive care.
Back when I was 13 years old I was diagnosed with PCOS and endometriosis, and was told that the chances of me ever naturally conceiving were extremely low. I have always loved kids and had always wanted my own so even at 13 I was really devastated to hear this from my Gynaecologist. By the time I was 17 I had been through several laparoscopies and curettes. I had also required several blood transfusions due to blood loss through my period. Since I was 15 I have needed iron injections at least twice a year as I become anaemic due to blood loss from my periods.
At 18 I decided that I wanted a baby no matter what so I did everything in my power short of IVF to fall pregnant, I had a lot of different medications and cysts lasered and D&C twice in 18 months to try and help me conceive. Nothing worked; I fell into a spiral of depression as all I could think of was the baby I was never going to have – because that’s how it felt at the time.
After trying for 3 years to conceive and having ridiculous amounts of medication and injections to try and control my bleeding and regulate my period it was all getting too much. So at age 21 I gave up on the idea of being a Mum, which in turn caused me to become even more depressed. In January 2010 it was discussed and decided the best thing for me was a hysterectomy because my bleeding and other medical issues were making it impossible for me to work or anything like that.
In March 2010, I presented for my pre-op check, urine was tested and to my surprise and the doctors it said I was pregnant! Not believing this I was sent for bloods and ultrasounds but the ultrasound wasn’t going to be for another week. Bloods soon came back saying that I was indeed pregnant. My doctor then rang the radiology department and told them I needed an ultrasound sooner. By that afternoon I got to see this tiny little baby growing inside my belly. I cried for days because I just couldn’t believe what was happening.
I was told to make sure I took things really easy as with some of the medical problems I have put me at high risk of losing the baby. When I went back to the doctors the next day about my ultrasound results I was told I was 9 weeks and 5 days pregnant approximately. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing or what I had seen the day before on the ultrasound screen. I was 22 years old when I discovered I was pregnant after many years of reproductive difficulties.
At 12+2 weeks pregnant I had my first major bleed. Upon arrival to the A&E I was told after an internal that thing were looking pretty bad and if I hadn’t already lost the baby I soon would. They said there was nothing that could be done and we would just let nature take its course. So yet again I lay in another hospital bed, devastated that I was about to lose my baby (if I hadn’t already). Thankfully though we made it through and an ultrasound showed that bub was still there and doing okay. I was sent home and told to stick to bed rest for a few days and wait to see what happened. After a week all was well, bub was still there and the bleeding had stopped.
Then at 16 weeks exactly I had another bleed so it was back to A&E. Upon arrival I had my jumper around my waist as the blood loss had flooded my pad and my jeans were now also covered in blood. Embarrassed, upset and very stressed they took me back out and put me in a cubicle, where again hours of laying and having blood tests and ultrasounds seemed more like forever than just a couple of hours. I was told there was nothing they could do this time as well and just wait and see what happens as nature would take its course, but again bub was still doing alright despite the bleeding.
I then had bleeds at 19 weeks, 22 weeks and 24 weeks. Being almost at, and over, the halfway mark I cried so much as it had been such a struggle to fall pregnant in the first place and then to almost lose my baby so many times I was struggling to cope emotionally.
When I had my 24 week bleed I spent two nights in hospital so they could monitor me and bub. After all being okay for two nights and the bleeding stopping I was off home again.
At 27 weeks+3 I woke up in the morning and had a shower. I then went back to my room to get dressed and there was a sudden gush of fluid that ended up all over my floor. But as it wasn’t blood I wasn’t to panicked. I rang my mum who was at work to ask her how I would know if my waters broke but she was unable to answer the phone, so I left her a voice message. She soon rang me back and tried to calmly tell me to go to the hospital and she would meet me there. I could tell by her voice something was wrong and maybe it had been my waters breaking. I rang the birth suite at GV Health and told them I was coming. They took me straight in and had me lay down.
They performed an internal exam and a swab to test if was my waters (amniotic fluid) and before the tests had come back I was having contractions. Everyone seemed a little worried so I in turn started to panic. It went quiet for around 10 minutes and then I was told an ambulance would be there in 15 to 20 minutes to take me straight up to the Royal Women’s Hospital (RWH) in Melbourne. The whole time I’d been there I was crying but this made me become hysterical as it looked as though my little girl was going to be born.
I was given medication to try and stop my labour. I had the IV drip to try and keep me hydrated as due to severe morning sickness right through my pregnancy I was often unable to keep food or water down. Being in the emotional state I was in just the thought of food was enough to make me vomit. The ambulance arrived and we were soon on our way to Melbourne, my mum accompanied me there in the ambulance.
Upon arrival at the RWH on the 21st July 2010, I was taken straight to birth suite which scared me a little as I was no longer having contractions and didn’t think I was still in labour. I soon found out the labour had stopped and we just needed to monitor baby and myself for a while to make sure I didn’t go back into labour.
I was taken to a hospital ward room a few hours later. My mum was then told it was time for her to leave the hospital and panic set in again – but not for me this time but for mum! We had not even thought about somewhere for her to stay. Her first idea was to go and sleep down at the train station I was really upset by this idea as I couldn’t handle the thought of something happening to her while I was in here. I soon called the nurse who brought us a list of motels in Melbourne. She suggested mum ring the “Local” ones. Neither mum nor I had any clue what was local or close.
Mum went downstairs and sat for a little while and another nurse asked her what she was doing. Mum explained she had nowhere to stay and didn’t know what was close and what wasn’t. The nurse soon helped mum find somewhere within two blocks to stay. Mum came back to the ward to let me know and I was no longer panicked or in tears over that, I was relieved. The day had been bad and good all in one. Bad things: 1. My waters had broken and I was in labour, 2. We were such a long way from home. 3. Mum originally had nowhere to stay. But had gotten better: 1. I was no longer in labour and 2. Mum had somewhere safe to stay, so I could try and get some sleep knowing bub was okay and so was my mum.
The next day it was organised for mum to go into the Royal Women’s Hospital Crisis Care Accommodation. The first week was just so full of ups and downs. To start each day it was an internal examination, A CTG and a heap of medication (some to try and stop me going back into labour, some to boost my iron levels back up, and some to try and prevent infection, as well as steroid injections for baby). I was in a room with another lady which didn’t bother me – what bothered me was I felt trapped and in the dark and extremely shut in. I couldn’t see the sky outside, I was unable to walk anywhere and relied solely on my mum to take me anywhere even for a cup of tea in a wheelchair as I wasn’t allowed to stand. It became unbearable as I live for the outdoors and I am always outside and suddenly I was stuck in this room, I couldn’t see the sky, smell fresh air or even watch the people in the street below out the window.
I spoke to one of the social workers and was soon moved to another shared room where the lady was fine with the curtain being pulled back so I could at least see outside! It made the world of difference to my emotional and mental state.
The next 6 weeks before my daughter was born were really scary. Doctors came in daily to do tests and monitoring, I had so many trips to birth suite as they would decide baby wasn’t doing well and I was going to be induced but after some more monitoring things would settle down a little again and her heart rate would pick up.
On the 23rd of August I went into labour again but thought I was just having Braxton Hicks contractions so I didn’t worry about it. Monitoring was done and I was allowed to go downstairs and get a drink. While downstairs the doctor had checked the CTG results and wanted me back to birth suite immediately. So in a panic I rushed back up to be informed that he thought I was in labour again, so back on the machine it was. I was in labour again but only 1cm dilated.
That was all before 9.00am. By 7.00pm I was still only 2cms dilated and it was decided they would give me the drip which is used to induce labour to try and speed things up a little as I desperately wanted to give birth and avoid a C section. By 10.00pm my cervix was closing although I was having constant contractions without a break. I was given an epidural, which I had previously had when I was younger for surgery due to being asthmatic. Nothing seemed to be happening and I wasn’t allowed to hop off the bed I had to just lay there even before the epidural. I started to become very stressed and exhausted due to the fact I was so far from home and so many things had and were not going the way they should. My baby’s heart rate dropped majorly and the doctors came in and watched the monitor as if something was really wrong. Bubs heart rate sat at between 20 and 40bpm for 10 minutes and it was decided there was no choice left I had to go for an emergency c-section as bub couldn’t handle labour any longer.
My epidural was topped up and I was rushed to theatre when I would soon become a mum. Upon being delivered my daughter wasn’t breathing at 5 minutes resus was begun. I lay on the theatre bed crying at the sight of my baby being grey and not moving or making any noise. Fear had set in and I was becoming hysterical again but I was so exhausted I couldn’t even make a sound but the tears ran down my face. My mum was standing at the top of my head holding my hand telling me it was going to be alright.
Finally she moved and coughed and slowly started to get colour to her. I was finally able to stop holding my breath! I was allowed to see my daughter H very briefly before she was taken away to NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). I longed to see my little baby girl all night but no one would take me. I was put in a room with another lady on the ward who had just had twins that were beside her bed all night long. Every time I heard them cry I cried – I wanted to see my baby. No one had even told me if she was still okay and the nurses wouldn’t let my mum (who I had sent with H to special care) into the ward to even tell me about H or check I was okay. I felt a serious sense of hate towards the other lady as she laid there and goo’d and gah’d at her babies while I sat there in tears longing to see my baby.
8.00am the next morning mum snuck through the doors with one of the doctors, grabbed a wheelchair and took me to see my beautiful little girl. She was just so precious but I didn’t want to touch her at first because she was connected to machines and drips.
After 3 days in NICU in Melbourne we were transferred back to Shepparton – owing a big thanks to all the doctors and nurses at G.V Health and the RWH, and a very special thank you to NETS (Newborn Emergency Transport Service). There was six more weeks of hospital care needed for my daughter, she was suffering apneas and braddys, and a few other things but then I finally got to take home my baby.
I’d like to add that during this very stressful and momentous time I did get to meet some other wonderful mums in hospital who were there when their babies and mine were born. I am happy to say I am really good friends with them to this day.
So all in all on the 24th August 2010 at 12.03am my 33 weeker H was born, weighing 1700g (3.75lbs)
There is a world of people I owe thanks to for having my daughter here with me today. For their support and expertise, words can never convey my full appreciation.