So, I'm just going to say this straight away; what I'm about to talk about is rare so all you pregnant Mum's and Dad's to be out there (who happen to be reading this), please don't freak out. I am writing this to share my story and potentially raise a tiny bit of awareness, that might help someone.
Finding out I was pregnant was a nice mix of excitement, fear and anxiety, reading up on what was happening inside me
(maybe a tad obsessively at times) and of course the good old sickness. Ticking along in this unkown new land of mum to be and then one day (16wks), I start to have pretty strong Braxton Hicks and a few spots of blood in my pants. Every medical professional I asked said it was all normal and on checking the baby said all was fine and then Carry on as usual. This was tough as my gut said no its really not ok but being an introverted rule follower, I did as advised and forced myself to not panic. I'm one of those people who walks into the doctor's and pretty much apologises for being there.
One Sunday morning I started to leak fluid and was so frightened I couldn't get out of bed, I had visions of my waters gushing everywhere. I called up the local maternity ward and the nurse on the phone asked a few questions and then said all sounds ok? ! I burst into tears in a blind panic as I just knew inside myself it wasn't. So I went into the hospital where they checked me out and said it was something to do with my cervix and I should expect more bleeding and that it was all ok, CARRY ON AS NORMAL. What really is normal? They had no clue what was normal for me either.
Once again, I followed the advice and told my gut to just shut up, convincing myself I was being silly. I then started having dreams that I was in the bathroom at work and a tiny baby girl came out and I named her Snow. I know I sound like a complete loon but it was so very vivid and happened more than once and I did actually tell my partner, so I promise I'm not just making this up.
I had to go to Colorado for a work meeting which had been planned since before falling pregnant. I was 23 weeks and I went to my GP to make sure I was all ok to travel. Guess what I was told, all looks normal and healthy, carry on as normal. Everything was booked and paid for, and the meeting was pretty crucial to a business move we were about to make so yet again I gritted my teeth and told myself to man up and stop being paranoid. I did however get the insurance checked to make sure both me and the baby would be covered in the event of premature labour (we used Insure and Go and they do cover this - they we're amazing by the way!)
Off we went to Colorado, had a few arguments with cabin crew about the seat belt signs being on forever and me needing to pee etc. We got the meeting done, although I felt terrible. One morning I had to show my partner my knickers as I had sooo much bloody goo, but due to being told to expect bleeding, only a week before, we thought it was ok so once again ignored it. It was my show, but being only 24 weeks at this point I had not got that far with my pregnancy self-education so was none the wiser. The "show" had not been mentioned by female family members or friends, nothing I'd done at school or seen on TV had ever mentioned it either (probably because it's a bit gross!).
Looking rather goofy at 24 weeks pregnant in the foothills of the Rockies
I went into a Pilates workshop the following day, feeling a little peaky; did a class and had to sit out a few times to take a few breaths which, in retrospect was due to powerful contractions but I still had this mantra in my head that all was OK and it was just pregnancy stuff I had to deal with. I got back to the friend's place where we were staying and managed to hold down a conversation over some food then headed to bed early as I had to be in workshop again the next day. I had a bath, thinking maybe I'd done too much so just needed to chill out and get what I thought was just Braxton Hicks to settle. Let's not forget that I had been having these pretty strong for a while now and was told it can happen and not to worry unless they were painful. Well here's the tricky judgement call, what is the difference between pain and discomfort??! I would say it was around this point that they did get painful! After wriggling around into various positions that I thought might help ease them it dawned on me that they were really intense and coming pretty regularly. They were not settling, and it was midnight.
I didn't want to wake my friends who had work the next day and I couldn't get my phone to work to call Charlie to get his opinion on what to do. I rang the local hospital and explained what I was feeling to have them suggest an ambulance. I declined in the paranoia that it might all be nothing. I found a taxi card on the fridge so called for a taxi which took another 30 minutes and as I didn't want to wake anyone and cause a fuss I stood outside. It was 12.30am and -10c(!) outside, the taxi found me squatted down in agony. I got in not looking pregnant at all as I was just 24 weeks and 4 days, quite tall and had a winter coat on so when the driver asked me what was wrong, he got a shock when I said I think I might be having a baby. He put his foot down and got me to the hospital.
I walked in and feeling unsure and silly, told the receptionist who tried to get me to sit in a wheel chair but I stubbornly declined. The doctors asked me to pee in a pot and seconds later i was told......"YOU ARE IN LABOUR". It hit me, shit it is actually happening, I was right all along and oh my god the baby is only 5 and a half months cooked!
The hospital staff were putting things in pretty much every orifice, jabbing me with needles, telling me things which I couldn't process whilst I was trying to get hold of Charlie to let him know. I did not want to be on my own at this point, but I was and just had to deal with it.
I was sent over to a larger hospital where they could care for babies/fetus's of this gestation. After 30 minutes or blue flashing lights, lots of hard core contractions and a few random phone calls from estate agents and midwifes in UK(!), I landed at a large hospital in Denver at 5am. I was, by this point, 3cm dilated. Various people were entering the room and spouting stats at me, I was being checked constantly, monitors for the baby, my blood pressure, oh and I was not allowed to leave the bed, even to pee. Charlie rushed in the room at 9am in a bit of a mess, after having gone round every hospital in Denver! I spelled the name of the hospital completely wrong whilst in a fluster messaging him, oops! By That point all had calmed down, the copious concoctions of drugs were working. To be honest I think I had mentally shut down with fear and shock by this point, plus I felt guilty and a tad stupid for not trusting myself.
Another rough shot but to give you an idea
By the 3rd day of constant monitoring, lots of skype calls and complete bed rest, we were getting used to things, but I just didn't feel right, so I said to various medical professionals "somethings not right, my tummy feels strange" and guess what happened? Even whilst being monitored and seeing contractions coming and going they said its OK, baby is fine. I kept asking if they could examine me, but they didn't want to due to the risk of setting things off again. I just knew it didn't feel right.
Charlie popped back to the place where all our stuff was to pick up some clothes and phone chargers etc and I made a few Skype calls to my family. Chatting away but pausing for a few deep breaths here and there. Then, just as Charlie arrived back, I go bam into way more obvious contractions, get checked and "oh yes, you are 7cm. Baby is footling breach and so tiny, we need to do a classical (vertical and best avoided if possible) c section, uh now!".
So, that was my first pregnancy story, I'll tell you the rest soon but not to panic you too much, we had a beautiful girl, it was snowing as I had her, so the snow part of the dream along with the tiny and girl (we did not know the sex) parts all were true. No, I didn't call her snow and yes she is fine now which we are eternally grateful for. We had a lengthy stay in 3 different NICU's across two continents. Next time I will fill you in on our NICU roller coaster experience....
Ror after she was born and on her way to the NICU
Instinct, gut feeling or whatever you want to call it, in my book is real and not to be ignored, please trust your body. The guilt of not doing so is yuk. As I have said a few times, this experience is rare and usually it is fine but if you don't feel right have the balls to fight against the 'you're fine, all looks normal' mantra we get in an unfortunately over stretched health service. I would also like to recommend that anyone in the early stages of pregnancy read up on the early stages of labour and what happens in the 3rd trimester. Learning a little more in advance may have prevented Ror being born so early. There's loads of info out there once you can look past the crazy changes happening to you in the moment.
Tobs and Ror, is a way of me earning a living, whilst looking after my children and I want to give back and help others who land in this situation. If it is wasn't for the amazing care, equipment, research and support, Ror wouldn't be with us today.
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