Well not entirely unexpected given that I was nine months pregnant but slightly ahead of the plan.
After the latest visit to my Haematologist and OB/GYN, my platelets were even lower. To take out some risk at birth and to allow me the choice of an epidural, if I so desired it, we had to get them back up over 100. So a cunning plan was hatched between the 2 Doctors. I was to go on a 5/6 day course of steroids twice a day to temporarily help increase my platelet count and then I was to be booked in for an induction on Thursday 16th September so that I would give birth while the count was up at an acceptable level. All sounded like a good plan so we left the Doctors office late Tuesday afternoon and took my first steroid tablet that night. Off to bed we went relaxed in the knowledge that a good plan was in place.
Well, clearly my baby had not received the memo with the plan and at 3.30a.m. on Wednesday morning after getting up to go to the toilet, I found that my waters had broken! When your waters break you have to phone the OB/GYN immediately even if you are not experiencing any contractions, which I was not experiencing yet. After Jarlath talked to the Doctor we were told to head straight to the hospital to be assessed. Of course, because it was ahead of plan Jarlath had not packed his bag and I still had a couple of items to put into mine but we got organised and made the short car journey to the hospital.
On assessment I was booked into a Labour and delivery room and after discussion with the Doctor it was decided to give me Pitocin (an induction drug) to start of my contractions and get the show on the road. So off I went. I must admit my body responded very well to the drugs and over the course of the day all the relevant parts of it were responding as they should - cervix effacing and dilating and baby moving down into my pelvis. It was all quite uneventful although after several hours the pain became so unbearable that I did give in and have an epidural. The decision was fairly easy in the end as I knew I could not take that level of pain much more and I was fairly bed bound anyway due to the IV I was already hooked up to with the Pitocin and Saline I was receiving. I am now a big advocate for an epidural - why suffer pain when you really do not need too??!!
So late morning my other birth partner, Vicky, turned up and we just spent the afternoon going through the contractions and waiting for my body to become ready to give birth. It was good having both Jarlath and Vicky there as it allowed each of them to go and get something to eat or step out the room and I still had someone with me to distract me or just to chat.
Eventually by about 7.00/7.30 in the evening on the Wednesday (16 hours after my waters breaking) my body was ready to push. Off I went with Jarlath holding my right leg and Vicky holding my left, allowing the labour and delivery nurse to concentrate on taking action to minimise tearing "down there" and allowing her to move around the room checking monitors etc. I just remember her smiling face telling me that the pushing was progressing well and that I must have very strong stomach muscles and the baby was moving down with each push. Just after eight we had a wee concern as my OB/GYN was involved with another woman in labour and hers was not going so well. I was told that dependent on what happened to her I might have to stop pushing as my Doctor may have to be called into an emergency Caesarean or other procedure on her. While I understood and was only concerned for the welfare of her and her baby it was rather annoying to have to consider halting the process when it was going so smoothly.
Luckily, I didn't have to pause so continued pushing until about 10.00p.m. when the OB/GYN, Dr Osmun, came in and saw that I was tiring significantly, so we discussed various options. The main option was to give baby a little bit of help with a suction cup (I guess the modern equivalent of forceps) with no risk to me or the baby it was an easy decision to make. The only side effect was a slightly more pronounced "conehead" on the baby from the suction cup. I still had to push but this just meant that the baby did not slip back into me when I stopped pushing. After only about 3 more pushes out came the head and my beautiful daughter was born at 10.28p,.m on Wednesday 8th September 2010. In my OCD way I love the date of her birth when written in the British format 08/09/10 as the numbers are sequential - typical accountant in me still coming out. She was taken over to the corner of the room followed by her Daddy and fully checked out by the Neonatologist. She weighed 9lbs 2oz, lengtth was 21 inches and everything else was perfect and she had scored well on her Apgar score.
So this is where the drama began. While the baby was getting checked out in the corner and Daddy was taking photos and getting footprints in the baby book, my OB/GYN had to deliver my placenta. Usually fairly routine and takes about 10 minutes or so and you can hold your baby during it. Unfortunately, it went all horrible wrong at this point.
I had what is known as Placenta Accreta, whcih is a very rare condition where the placenta grows into the deeper layers of the uterine wall and becomes firmly attached to it. There is no apparent symptons of this during pregnancy and it only became apparent when my Doctor tried to deliver the placenta and it would not separate from the uterine wall. This combined with my low platelet count causing blood clotting issues posed a serious problem. In severe cases it could rupture the uterus but in my case it led to a lot of bleeding. I am lucky in that I became slightly disoriented at this point due to the blood loss and didn't suffer the trauma that poor Jarlath and Vicky did seeing me bleeding heavily. I only really remember snippets - seeing the Doctor covered from neck to knees and up to his elbows in "someones" blood, lots of medical staff suddenly coming into the room, clutching Vicky's hand, seeing Jarlath being ordered to take the baby and sit in the corner out of the way and then I felt incredibly cold. The last thing I remember hearing was a discussion about various procedures and the words "Hysterectomy" but again I was lucky in that I was so out of it that I didn't truly appreciate what was going on.
Skip ahead and I must have been coming round from surgery as I was being wheeled on a trolley and I remember seeing the words Intensive Care Unit over the door I was being wheeled through. Jarlath was at my side immediately when I opened my eyes and he says my first words were " Where is the baby?" and "Am I going to survive?" - being a bit of a Drama queen there methinks, lol!! I was seemingly also muttering about them pumping my breasts so that the baby could feed on some breast milk - makes a slightly hilarious visual now of me expecting someone to administer a breast pump while I am hooked up to all sorts of monitors in ICU.
So my night in ICU! From Tv and movies ICU is a quiet place where all you hear is the whispered voices of nurses and the rythmic sound of machines helping to keep the patients alive. In my experience it was the busiest, noisiest place ever as every hour os so a nurse would come in and poke or prod me, change IV to put fluids in and stick me with needles to take fluids out. Not really ideal for a restful night. I was wide awake bt 5.00a.m. feeling relatively ok but absolutely aching to see and hold my newborn baby. They decided to give me another pint of blood - my third that night - as my blood volume was still low, along with Magnesium, Antibiotics, saline, steroids and goodness knows what else. It was very surreal just lying there watching the heart monitor on one side, which kept rechecking my blood pressure every 15 minutes, as well as watching all these lines going into my left arm. It took every molecule of patience in my body just to lie there and wait until Jarlath was allowed in to see me.
I got to see Dr Osmun, who looked like hell, after going through that the night before - he only looks about late twenties/ early thirties in age but I am told by Jarlath was so amazingly collected as he instructed the team the night before. I then got a visit from my Haematologist who happened to be visiting someone else in the ICU and when my name came up he popped in to visit me. Then I had a long wait until 11.00a.m. when Jarlath was allowed into the ward. He immediately burst into tears on seeing me, which of course made me panic that something was wrong with the baby but he assured me there was nothing wrong and it was just the trauma of the night before catching up with him as he was conscious throughout it, I was lucky to be knocked out. He had visited the baby that morning before visiting me as she had been cared for in the special care nursery. The poor man was in tears when he saw the baby and the nurses were all very good in trying to comfort him. I can't imagine having to go through what he did mentally. On the lighter side he said it was slightly funny seeing our 9lb 2oz bouncing bundle lying amidst all these teeny, tiny premature babies who were all hooked up to machines. It made us both realise, despite everything, how lucky we actually were in that the baby was a big, bundle of health and did not have to go through anything herself.
So the moment I had been waiting for eventually came and at 1.30p.m. on 9th Sept I was taken up to the Postpartum unit and my baby was brought to me. I can't even put into words my feelings when seeing her for the first time 15 hours after giving birth. I will never get those hours back but I am sure they will become meaningless with the many hours I will get to be with her from now on.
On the plus side they did not have to carry out a hysterectomy and managed to just give me a D & C (Uterine scraping) and cauterise the bleeding. So I guess I am a very lucky girl.
Well I will sign off there for now as I am exhausted just writing it all down. Lots more blogs to come of me boring you with all my new baby is achieving!
Love to everyone and thanks for all your kinds thoughts and wishes and gifts and cards.
Hazel, Jarlath and Hannah Xx