I now have a little clearer head to process and document the events in the 12 hours before and the few hours after Hugo’s birth.
It all started on Sunday evening (20th) about 9pm. Andrew and I had spent a lovely day together where I was allowed outside and we even got yummy Thai takeaway for dinner. We had just sat down at my bedside with some Green and Blacks chocolate to enjoy before he went home.
A warning that this may be too much information for some but I want to be able to remember it for me. I stood up to walk to the other side of the bed and quickly realised that I was bleeding. This is the strange thing about placenta previa. There is no pain and no warning. I got onto the bed while Andrew went out to the desk to find a midwife. They really moved then. We had 3 midwives here setting up monitoring and calling medical staff immediately.
The monitoring on the baby was showing a good heart rate and movements. It wasn’t long before I was noticing tightenings in my lower abdomen, which were showing up as contractions on the monitor. These were period like cramps just like I remember with Eva. All the while the midwives were keeping track of the bleeding and estimating the loss.
The obstetric registrar came to see us to talk about a plan. Basically she needed to liase with the Consultant who was busy in theatre with another case waiting. My bleeding was remaining consistent but not threatening but the contractions were also remaining consistent which was a concern.
From 9-10pm Andrew and I kept looking at each other and not believing how quickly this was happening. It always felt like they were preparing to whisk me off in an emergency. I had just been eating of course so I knew that they would be reluctant to anaesthetise me but they would if they had to. The doctor was a little unnerved how relaxed we were about giving birth at 33 weeks. We were both so pleased that Andrew hadn’t yet left for home.
I had a wide bore intravenous needle put in to give them quick access and give me some fluids. That was after a failed attempt, which then swelled during a blood pressure measurement which probably hurt more than the contractions at the time.
About 10.30 it was decided to move me to the delivery suite where there were more staff to watch me and it would be a short push to the theatre in an emergency. From 11pm we were in room 3 of the delivery suites just waiting, almost in disbelief as each hour crept on. Andrew once again had to be bearer of the news to our families who were then left to wait all night and wonder.
We had a delightful midwife, Susan, who watched over us very carefully all night. She fed me 2 ice chips an hour from a champagne glass, which was heavenly. On arrival in delivery suite I had contractions 2-3 minutely and was still bleeding. They tried 100mg of Pethidine which was meant to halt the contractions. It did reduce the pain for me but didn’t change the intensity of them on monitoring. The bleeding was settling down a little.
At this point the concern was the contractions. Obviously I have an irritable uterus that didn’t enjoy the presence of blood and just wouldn’t relax again. The concern was that the placenta could break away with the contractions.
During the night we met various doctors to assess the situation. It seemed consistent that they were hoping to get me through to the morning where there would be more staff available in an emergency situation. Seeing as the baby had shown no sign of distress the urgency wasn’t enough to take the risks. It was very reassuring to see and hear them always weighing up the risks and benefits.
We couldn’t believe that we made it to 3am and then to 6am. We were so pleased with every passing hour. I was of course on bed rest and attempting to doze between contractions. Andrew was in a very hard chair and finding it hard to get comfortable or stay awake. It was a long night that went quite quickly. I tried to send him out for regular walks including nourishment for him and most importantly coffee. Susan checked me half hourly at first then hourly to give us a break.
We watched the dawn appear on our baby’s birthday. The day staff came on at 8am and reviewed our case. By 8.30 they were in the room telling us that I would be collected for a caesarean in 15 minutes and it would be under a general anaesthetic. We had been preparing ourselves for this all night so it didn’t come as a shock. I had a GA as they didn’t know how complex the operation would be with my placenta bleeding and lying on the front of the abdomen.
Andrew now had to wait outside the operating theatre to hear about the birth of our child and not being able to see what was happening to me. I had let go of any dreams about even my ideal caesarean birth by this stage and just wanted to get the baby out safely.
The theatre staff were very lovely to me and explained just enough of what I needed to know. Just before I went under I saw Dr Dan (the pediatrician who Eva follows up with) who was going to look after the baby after birth. It just made me so much more relaxed to know that he was present. It was hard not to be a bit emotional and panicky at this point but with theatre being so busy I had lots to distract me.
I next woke up at 11.30 in recovery feeling very drowsy and unable to keep my eyes open. I checked that the baby was ok and then got excited about finding out the gender of our new arrival. The ward midwife came to collect me then we went via the NICU to see our baby.
Andrew had received the good news about Hugo’s birth at 9.50 then was able to follow him to the NICU at 10.10 when he was transferred there. Andrew then waited by Hugo’s bedside until I arrived at 12. He didn’t want to call our families until I knew that we had a son and I was out of recovery.
All in all it was a very intensive time yet there was no real panic involved. I can only thank the staff for keeping it controlled and calm yet letting us have some understanding of the risks involved with the situation. All staff acted very professionally and God had us in the right place at the right time.
Hugo Robert was born at 9.24 am on Monday 21st March.