All I wanted was a little stroll, just an afternoon wander down to the front doors of the ward, and out into the fresh air for a while. Kylie and I had been cooped up for days. Her husband Brad had brought us a special treat from McDonald’s for lunch that day and we were feeling heavy. So off for a wee toddle we went.

It was an easy walk really, out of the ward, down two floors in the lift and straight out the front doors to bask in the sunshine. We got as far as the front doors, when all of a sudden I felt an enormous pressure “down there”. There was no warning, no pain or discomfort beforehand, just a huge pressure.

“Oh my god Kylie, I think I’m having the baby,” I spluttered. My legs automatically crossed. I was 29 weeks pregnant, and scared witless of what might happen next. Kylie looked at me with alarm and shock on her face. We had been schooled on what to do if this sort of thing happened, and having both been there for so long, we were pretty much allowed to roam around as we pleased when we were in no danger. I hadn’t had any contractions or episodes of bleeding for weeks, and Kylie wasn’t supposed to be in danger of going into labor at all, she was 36 weeks and in for pain management for her spinal fusion. So we thought we were “safe” to go for a short walk.

Kylie headed for the wheelchair that was kept just inside the doors of Maternity. As she turned toward me with it, I took a small step to uncross my legs and felt a squish and a really strange feeling. She sat me down gently and pressed the emergency buzzer, letting the nurses take over after we had explained what had happened.

I had actually lost a huge clot, the size of a grapefruit, and a smaller one the size of a golf ball. These were the blood clots that formed the night I nearly lost 6. This was bad news. At 29 weeks, my baby had a reasonable chance at survival if born, providing he had no health issues other than prematurity. I had been given Prednisalone shots from 25 weeks to hasten the production of surfactant, just in case he was born early. I had also been eating very well and all the time, trying to ensure he was a good weight.

It was back to bed for me, no more walking privileges and I had to use bed pans again! Anything to help the baby stay inside!!

Dr M was called and it was decided after examination, that as my waters hadn’t yet broken, we were in a pretty good position to wait and see what happened next. The longer 6 stayed in utero the better his chances were. As long as my contractions didn’t return, we would be able to stay in bed and wait it out.

I awoke the next morning, and felt very lucky to still be pregnant. A fetal monitor pronounced 6’s heart beat as regular and strong, and there didn’t seem to be any reason for concern or alarm. At around 1pm that day I sat myself up in bed and felt my waters gush. Uh-oh back to panic stations! Once again I was surrounded by medical professionals. I had a feeling that things were starting to happen and there was limited time before 6 would be born. However Dr M said that until I started to contract, the best thing to do was stay in bed and be as still as I could. He said I could go on once the water broke as long as there was still some water surrounding the baby.

Another day passed without too much happening. I had seen Dr M early each morning, and had drummed into him how much I wanted my baby to survive, that I really couldn’t handle another stillbirth. I remember one morning I said to him that if I thought things were getting serious, I would take my knife and fork to myself and perform my own C-section!! I really didn’t want to risk waiting too long. I was agitated, and worried that all the natural signs of imminent birth were being ignored by the staff. He reassured me that everything would be fine and they wouldn’t ever take any undue risks with his delivery. They were doing their absolute best to ensure his safe entry into the world. Still I worried.

This was turned into a hilarious joke on me when at the following meal delivery I was given my meal, but no knife and fork. I buzzed for a nurse who arrived and handed me a plastic set and a silly grin. “Try giving yourself a Cesar with those” she laughed.

“Oh ha ha…. just give me my cutlery you smart ass!” The nurses on the ward were great, (mostly), there was the one who used to sneak in while I was asleep, steal my magazines and return them with the puzzles completed! I finally caught her out the week 6 was born, by faking sleep and grabbing her hand as she reached for my “stash”. She squealed, waking Kylie, who sat up screaming as well! There were some damn funny nights in that hospital!

I’d had many ultrasounds over the weeks at Canberra Hospital. Nearly every time 6 would be sucking not on his fingers, but on his toes instead! Both feet tucked up in front of him, and one in his mouth. Strange little boy? I used to think it was cute. It ended up nearly costing him his life, and definitely cost me a normal delivery….

By late Friday I was becoming increasingly stressed, and wanted my baby out. I was still losing water, and wondered how my baby was “safe”. I just didn’t understand and kept pushing the staff for answers. They agreed that it was probably a good idea to induce labor.

I was now just over 30 weeks. I was given the choice of an elective C-section or a natural delivery. I was surprised they gave me a choice, and of course chose to deliver naturally as I was told this was better for both of us. As I hadn’t had any contractions for weeks, (again the irony, after being in and out of labor for ages!!) I was given an I.V hormone to start my contractions. I started first stage labor almost immediately, however my contractions stayed mild for hours, and there was no progress after the first 8 hours. Fetal monitors showed no sign of stress to the baby at this time, but I was tired and beginning to wish I’d chosen the C-section. I began to worry as nothing seemed to be happening and I knew things could change drastically.

Early in the evening I was encouraged to walk around the delivery ward as this might help my contractions to work harder. Again no success.

At around midnight the nurses noticed 6’s heartbeat becoming a little irregular. I was told Dr M would be called and a Cesar would probably be the next step. The message came back that no, the Doctor wasn’t coming in, I could wait until morning. My heart sank. I felt betrayed. I was just about to open my mouth and start complaining very loudly, when the mid-wife rushed into the room. “Start prepping for surgery, Dr M just called back, he’ll be here in 15 minutes!”

Thank God! I knew things were getting serious when all of a sudden, there was a rush, the baby’s heartbeat was getting very slow, there was tension and very fast preparation for my emergency C-section! From a casual, “she’ll be okay until the morning”, to emergency in under 5 minutes! Like I said, things change fast in Maternity.

I had He who used to be, a friend and Magoo with me at this stage, I had to say goodbye to mum and my friend, and He who used to be left to change into scrubs and meet me in the theatre.

They pulled 6 out in confusion, as his head was down low in the birth canal, and so was his leg, and one of his arms! This child of mine had caused all the trouble with the “natural” birth, because he was trying to be born whilst holding a foot into his mouth with one hand!! I know right? Anyway, any one who knows about birth will tell you that the cervix prefers a perfectly round head to present for birth, or at least a round bum, not a hand and foot over the top of the head presentation like 6 tried! His tricky move had caused his birth to be long and drawn out, resulting in no cervical dilation, and his own rapid deterioration. Silly boy, trying to suck his toes during his birth!

Finally I got to meet my baby son. He was tiny. A mere 3 pounds or 1.3 kilograms. 35cms long from head to toe, and absolutely beautiful! He was delivered, and immediately checked over by the Doctor, and then wrapped and held up to my face for a few moments. I gave his daddy the nod that meant he should go with baby, while I got put to sleep. I was shaking so bad at this stage it was either get put to sleep for the stitch up or pass out!

that front foot sneaking up for a toe suck?

that front foot sneaking up for a toe suck?

2 days old

The photo above was taken when 6 was just a couple of hours old, before they inserted the feeding tubes or dressed him. You can see by the lack of tubes and life support, that he was born very healthy and needed very little help medically. He was a good weight for a  9 week early baby, and only required oxygen for an hour. Just to make sure really. He spent one night in Bay 1 of  N.I.C.U.

Meanwhile, back in the ward, I was waking up from anesthetic and feeling very grumpy and sick indeed. “Where’s my baby?” I demanded over and over. All I wanted was to see my baby, and yet I was all hooked up to an I.V. drip with a Morphine “button” for pain relief, and even a catheter! I quickly asked them to remove the catheter as I couldn’t stand the sensation. After much argument they removed the catheter, but they would not budge on removing the drip or pain relief. I felt horrible from the morphine, and wasn’t using it as it made me feel really sick. What I did next will probably shock most of you.

I waited until the nurses all left the room, after I assured them I would rest some more. Then I removed the cannula and I.V. drip. I’d seen them do it many times, so it was easy really. Then I carefully got out of bed and got myself somehow into the shower. All this is still very fuzzy in my memory, as I was very much under the influence of the anesthetic and morphine at the time. I stayed in the shower for ages. Sitting on the plastic chair with the water as hot as I could stand it pointed straight at my fresh stitches. This honestly felt great to me, and in a while, I don’t know how long it took, but I felt ready to get out of the shower and get dressed. I did this all very slowly, but I think you would all agree, that a mothers determination is a force to be reckoned with?

I was caught as I left the ward, bent over like an old woman, moving along the handrail that led to the lift up to the N.I.C.U. I got in a little trouble for what I did, but really what were they going to do, throw me in jail?

I got to see my baby son though, they put me in a wheelchair and took me straight up to him. The nurses up in the NIC were a little shocked to see me so soon after my surgery, but I explained I just couldn’t wait any longer. I was worried.

This was the start of our journey. My baby was born. He was alive. He was doing very well by the looks of things. But, we had a long way to go, and at just 3 pounds, we were in for a lengthy stay in hospital before it would be possible to bring our baby home.