'Sometimes I was getting in the bath at 3am to soothe it' My Birth Story By Zoe Hardy @Zoe_hardy_
I should probably start by saying I didn’t have the easiest pregnancy. Morning sickness: yes, carpel tunnel syndrome from swollen hands: yes, gigantic swollen feet: yep, being heavily pregnant in the summer: also, yes. I had mentioned the swelling a number of times to the midwifes who said it was normal and was nothing to worry about, so I didn’t, I just complained all the time to my partner.
I finished work early as I was unable to carry out my job as a nurse as effectively as I should due to my swollen hands and feet. I spent most of August 2016 being very uncomfortable and towards the end of August in a lot of pain. I would have been 35/36 weeks pregnant. It began with intense right shoulder pain in the night. It was that bad I was awake all night with the pain. Again, I mentioned it to the midwife who said the baby was probably pressing on a nerve which sounded legitimate so I felt like my question had being answered.
However, the pain was that bad sometimes I was getting in the bath at 3am to soothe it. I then started to get epigastric pain so bad I thought the alien from the film Alien was going to burst through my chest. Very dramatic. I had a midwife appointment on Friday 2nd September where I mentioned all my issues and she said it wasn’t pregnancy related and all my observations were normal so to go home and rest. I was so annoyed. I was clearly in so much pain and I felt like she really wasn’t interested.
By that evening the pain was that bad we rang the maternity ward who told us to come in. I was examined and told I was 1cm dilated and to go home. I remember saying to my partner “oh my god, I’m such a wuss if this is the early stages of labour!” off we went home only to return later as I actually thought I was dying.
It was awful. I was made to feel like a liar. The midwife said “well you’re not in labour so you can’t stay here”. I felt like screaming at her WELL WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME!!! But I was so exhausted I sat there for five hours waiting for a Dr who discharged me home with strong painkillers but advised me not to take them as it would affect the baby. Good god. I went home and slept and slept. I didn’t eat all weekend and stayed in bed dreading night time as this was when the pain started.
By Monday 5th September the pain was that bad in I went again. But this time I wasn’t sent home. The midwife in triage took my blood pressure and it was 180/102. I was definitely not going home and was asked to produce a urine sample. Then I was hooked up to machines and cannulas inserted in my arms. I was writhing around in the pain, crying for pain relief. I was given diamorphine which allowed me to relax for 30 minutes. Bloods were taken and because I was the midwifes “special girl” I was moved wards. I of course thought she was so lovely moving me quickly, but my partner was thinking “what the heck is happening?!”
On the ward the surgeon came and informed us that we would be having the baby today as my bloods were abnormal, my blood pressure was raised and I had protein in my urine. I remember them saying something about pre-eclampsia but I was so out of it I can’t really remember.
We were then wheeled up to High dependency unit on the labour ward where I had a magnesium drip put up in case I had a fit due to the blood pressure and I needed a platelet transfusion as it turns out my platelets were incredibly low at 42 (they are meant to be over 150). I was so confused that I told my partner to get the suitcase or the baby would have nothing to wear. Yes, I was on deaths door and freaking out that he would have no clothes and wondering why my mum was coming. Complete idiot. No one really said why I was having a transfusion, it all happened so fast. I was scared when they told me I had to have a general anaesthetic as the risk was too high if I had an epidural. Luckily, I knew the anaesthetist as she was a mentor of mine on a course I had done that year. YES! I know she will luck after me. She gave me an arterial line which involves a catheter inserted into the artery on your wrist. I didn’t flinch. The pain in my stomach was so bad now I thought I was going to pass out. I was taken to surgery next leaving my scared partner in a room alone. Our parents came in shortly after and they waited together.
In theatre, they waited a while to make sure my blood pressure was going down. As I had previously eaten a ham sarnie, they had to press on my neck to stop me from vomiting when the anaesthetic was given. It was awful, but Chloe my midwife held my hand all the way through.
When I woke up I was told my baby had to be resuscitated due to all the drugs I had been given but he was perfect now. I don’t remember most of what happened next as I was high on morphine and the pain was awful. The surgeon later told us I had HELLP syndrome which stands for hemolysis (breaking down of red blood cells), elevated liver enzymes and low platelets. It is a hard condition to diagnose but when looking at the symptoms it seems I had a lot of them. Headaches, abdominal pain, shoulder pain, swelling, high blood pressure and protein in the urine. So, I had severe preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome, an emergency c-section, platelet transfusion, a catheter, magnesium drip, numerous cannulas and beautiful baby Freddie.
The midwifery care from the Monday onwards was excellent. I stayed in HDU until Wednesday when they were sick of me complaining I wanted to go home. They were really good and helped me with Freddie when I was too ill in the night.
I wanted to share my story as we all don’t have perfect birthing experience’s. I certainly didn’t write this in my birth plan. It has led to me struggling to deal with the situation as I nearly died in child birth which is truly horrific but I am getting better and felt the need to share my story so people in the same shoes as me know we didn’t fail because it didn’t go to plan. We are mums, which is a fantastic achievement in itself.