Birth Story Of The Week – Alexis and Coco

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At 35 weeks pregnant I was starting to get excited about my first baby, I was convinced the baby would be late. My due date was 16th December and the pessimist in me was fully expecting to be in hospital on Christmas day. But at 35 weeks I got sick – I thought it was the Noro virus that was going around so I didn’t think too much of it, but when I was still having cramping pains a few days later I took myself off to visit the GP. He assured me that I was ok – nothing to worry about… so I carried on having hot baths in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep due to the pain on top of my bump. During the next week I went to my first NCT class, had my ‘baby shower’ afternoon in the pub with my friends and started training up my maternity leave replacement at work. So after what felt like a very long week we went to the hospital for our 36 week check. Hugh was hungover* and I was trying to feel positive after my exhausting week, I remember leaving work and meeting Hugh to get the tube – he suggested we walk to the hospital as it would ‘good for me’… little did he know how ill I was!
The midwife checked my urine and my blood pressure, not giving too much away she said she’d get the doctor to check me over – suddenly I was being found a bed “better stay in for monitoring” was the gist. I remember feeling surprisingly calm about it all, I think as I had been feeling so ill there was a little relief that the pain wasn’t ‘normal’, I had been dreading another 4-5 weeks of it.
The next morning my consultant came to see me. I remembered being told who my consultant was at my very first appointment: “If things go well, you’ll probably never meet your consultant” I was told. Well, here she was at 8am on a Tuesday morning telling me “if you’ve got any plans for the rest of this week I suggest you cancel them…you’ve got to have this baby soon”
Now in my mind, it’s Tuesday, this week – so Saturday… I might have the baby on Saturday… or even next Monday? does that count as this week as it’s Tuesday now? Well that wasn’t quite how things panned out. Hugh left to go home and get some stuff but 5 minutes later the consultant was back at my bedside asking where my husband was and telling me to get him back here. By the time Hugh had got back to the hospital, I was already being wheeled up to the labour ward. At 11am I was in a high dependency suite with a doctor about to break my waters with what looked suspiciously like a crochet hook.
I don’t know at what point the words ‘pre-eclampsia’ or more specifically HELLP syndrome were used, but throughout the whole process I was kept well informed, my questions were answered, I had truly amazing care and I felt very calm and surprisingly in control. We hadn’t written a birth plan – I didn’t have too many expectations of labour, to be honest I’d probably tried not to think about it – I’m the very opposite of my friend who was also pregnant at the time and was arming herself with every bit of information she could: ‘you wouldn’t run a marathon without doing training’ was her stance… well not for me.
Once my waters had been broken I was hooked up to the drugs to start my contractions – a hefty dose of syntocinon and I was in having regular contractions by 1pm. My body was ready to be rid of this baby!
As things started well the consultant was happy to give me a chance to have a vaginal delivery. Because the levels of platelets in my blood had dropped to a dangerously low level if a c-section was necessary I would be having it under general anaesthetic. I really really didn’t want a c-section, however bad the pain was I wanted to be conscious when my baby was born and I wanted Hugh to be able to be there too. However because the chances of having to have a Caesarian were high I had to stay nil-by-mouth. Also my body was basically leaking fluid into my organs so I wasn’t allowed to drink anything either. I had a catheter attached and all fluid going into my body (in drug form) and coming out was being closely monitored, as was my blood pressure which was seriously high…
Between 1pm and 6pm things progressed quite well, I knew being hooked up to so many machines wasn’t ideal but I just concentrated on the contractions which were regular as clockwork. Hugh worked with me and we really felt like a team – we had this strange little routine going where he would put his arm above my head as a contraction started so I could reach up and hold it while I breathed through it… but at some point in the afternoon I also started on the Pethidine. Ah, I know it’s not right… but it was soooo good! I was quite enjoying the drowsy effect.
We also had a visitor in the form of my brother in law who came by having been dispatched off to buy some essentials – we had nothing, no hospital bag, no baby clothes. Nada. Poor single twenty something having to locate maternity pads in Tesco. Meanwhile my Mum went late-night shopping in Mothercare instructing some poor assistant to pick out everything required to clothe and care for an early baby, sex unknown.
Sometime around 6pm after 5hrs of contractions it was decided that the fluid monitoring wasn’t really working, so it was I had to go to theatre to have a central line put in. This is basically a pipe inserted into your neck so that drugs can go straight into your main artery and blood can more easily be taken out. Hugh got to have a little break (and eat some food without making me super-jealous) while I was taken off to theatre. The midwife stayed with me and helped me to stay as still as possible through the contractions while I had a local anaesthetic and the tube inserted into my neck. I just remember looking at the clock and thinking “I should be at my NCT class now… not here in labour”.
Out of theatre things continued to progress well and I was finally allowed a few shards of ice… I was begging Hugh to give me more but the midwife who was with us was pretty strict with him! By midnight I was 5cm dilated and thinking that I only had a couple of hours to go, but at 2am I was only 6cm dilated. I was getting tired and the c-section threat was hanging over me. I felt like I’d come such a long way and I really didn’t want to have a general anaesthetic.
We were having constant monitoring and there was a midwife permanently at the end of the bed – often writing notes; I kept wondering what an earth she could be writing – eventually at about 5am in the morning after 14 hrs of regular contractions I’d got to 10cm dilated. It was time to push. I really cannot remember much – I was quite spaced out and so thirsty… I’d stared fantasising about a cold coke. Suddenly Marcia the midwife wasn’t writing any more and the room that had up to then been dimly lit and quiet was bright and buzzing with people. As my blood pressure rose they weren’t taking any risks so the stirrups came out and were fitted on to the bed.
Coco was born on the dot of 6am by forceps. I didn’t hold her straight away – I remember thinking she looked like a big blue slug! (I blame the drugs.) Hugh suddenly had to jump to it and find clothes, he got a telling off for not having a long-sleeved vest. Meanwhile of course I still wasn’t entirely finished… but the placenta was delivered pretty swiftly and suddenly I was holding this tiny tiny creature in my arms.
I remember feeling quite giggly, in that way you sometimes do in a crisis (or is that just me)? I couldn’t believe I was a Mummy, that this perfectly formed little baby was ours. Over the next few days I realised more and more how ill I’d been, I had more tests and a blood transfusion, I felt ridiculously weak but despite it all I think Coco’s early arrival was the best thing to happen to us. We took it in our stride, because we had no choice and that kind of set the tone, parenthood began.
* He’d had a Dad baby shower thing… is that normal!?… the morning afterwards my urine was looking a bit dark and I asked him to take a look – hungover Hugh couldn’t take it; I think it nearly made him throw up!

Birth Story Of The Week – Josephine and Milo and Elliot

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Blog: Twins In London

Twitter: @TwinsInLondon

“Throughout my pregnancy I had been warned to be ready for my MCDA twin boys from 32 weeks, it had gone fairly smoothly bar sickness throughout the pregnancy, in hindsight I was suffering from depression in the form of anhedonia throughout the pregnancy which is an inability to experience pleasure from usually enjoyable activities, I didn’t feel happy or sad and having such a low range of emotions is really unlike me, other than this I was  fit and had lots of energy though .  I had made the decision to have a C-section quite early on as I’d been scared by stories such as there being a 50% chance of having a c section to get the second twin out.  My consultant had told me that if the second baby wasn’t born after 5 minutes they would give me a c-section which was the nail in the coffin for me.  This is of course not what happened.  At 32+6 I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia on a routine visit to the midwife.  I think it is important to note that throughout my pregnancy I did not see midwives, I was only given doctors appointments and in hindesite I missed some really valuable advice and care as I was seen as a medical risk rather than a mother to be, the practicalities of the safe delivery of my babies went over everything and I was totally unprepared for the natural delivery that I ended up having.

Two days before my pre-eclampsia diagnosis I had gone to antenatal classes something I had had to insist on being invited to early as within my local hospital they were only offered from 35 weeks.  The session I had attended was on natural delivery, I remember mumbling to my partner that there really was no point in us being there.  The midwife leading the class made an important point that I have never forgotten “when you come to hospital bring your bag and an open mind”.

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Having received my diagnosis of pre-eclampsia I was in complete shock, as it had been a midwives appointment I had thought it was a mistaken appointment and told my partner not to bother coming.  The consultant informed me that I should prepare myself to have my babies the next day.  I had come to the appointment on my lunch break, I had not noticed that anything was different, my legs had swollen at the ankles but I had not really noticed and thought that this was normal.  So having gotten home I was on bed rest and went back into hospital the next day and was told that whatever I was doing I should keep it up and they informed me that the babies might not need to come until the Wednesday.  I had felt some leaking sensations and went for investigations, which proved to be a false alarm.  In the waiting room I had been entertained by a woman who was getting a firm but polite bollocking from the receptionist for using an ambulance to get to the hospital, she kicked off and her entourage joined in to give the receptionist abuse who managed it all remarkably well and told her she should have used a taxi and not wasted public money on an ambulance that is needed for more urgent calls.

Anyway. Less than 12 hours after coming home from the hospital at 4:30am my waters broke and I went to hospital by taxi.  Sensibly grabbing a towel to sit on to not mess up the taxi seat.  I was taken to a room and my belly was monitored, from about 5:30am and I was around 2cm dialated.  The midwives came and spoke to me and hoped that my contractions would subside and I would be moved to a bed for a few days before the babies were born.  I made it clear I was having a c-section which was noted.  2 hours and 15 minutes later I had the urge to push, like needing a poo from my vagina.  I had not read anything about it but my body knew want to do.  I asked my husband to go and get somebody to come and help, they ran in saying ‘no no no’ looked between my legs and the dr mouthed ‘F**k’.  I was fully diallated and rushed to a theatre, commenting ‘but I’m having a c-section’ ‘No you aren’t, we don’t push them back up to take them out’.  When I arrived there were 15 people waiting for me.  The anaesthetist were lovely.  I remember the nurse shouting at some of the team for chatting as I was in the middle of a contraction and they were trying to do a spinal block ‘can I have some quiet please for my lady’.  I must have gone in to shock as my body was violently shaking.  When it finally worked I just felt a wave of relief rush over me and I had to visualise pushing as I couldn’t feel anything.  Twin 1 was born fairly quickly as he was already in the birth canal, it took a further 26 minutes for twin 2 to make an appearance, forceps had to be used and he was rresuscitated  I don’t really remember this as I was off my face on whatever had been given to me for the pain.  I didn’t get to see either of them for another 12 hours as I’d lost a lot of blood and couldn’t walk.  I remember being impressed that the beds were heated only to be informed that this was the spinal block wearing off.  That woman who had kicked off at the reception was in the same area of the ward as me amongst the women who needed more support from the nurses.  She was shouting about needing foot massages….

When I eventually got to see my babies they were in different rooms, one with more beeps than the other but both in NICU.  Twin 1 laid back stretched out looking pleased to have more space where twin 2 was curled in a ball with a furrowed brow looking like he was not ready.  Twin one was just over 2kg and twin 2 was just under.  It was so sad to be on the maternity unit without my babies, I got to work on expressing milk, I did it with all my might, it took 2 hours to express 2mls of cholostrum 1ml per syringe.  I took it to NICU and was asked for 6mls every 3 hours.  I was devastated at the impossibility of this task.  I couldn’t take care of my babies and I couldn’t feed them.  Of course my body was able to meet the demands which was such a relief.

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The boys were discharged just under 2 weeks later.  They’ll be 3 next week and are hulking beasts.  I am so grateful I was able to have a vaginal delivery, I was running for the bus 5 days after they were born to get to the hospital, not something I’d have managed with a c-section.  I am still amazed at my body.

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If I was to have another baby and it was a singleton I would definitely opt for a home birth….. we’ll see….. 10% risk of twins again!”

Pre-Eclampsia

Lady Sybil

How tragic to see the lovely Lady Sybil lose her life to such a treatable illness, eclampsia in last nights episode of Downton Abbey. I’m sure for those who watched it found it just as difficult to see her family witness her having an eclamptic fit whilst the family doctor watched on in horror as there was nothing he could do to save her. Luckily in this day and age, pre-eclampsia is a managable condition and with the right detection and diagnosis situations such as these are extremely rare.

Pre-eclampsia is a condition that only occurs during pregnancy. It causes high blood pressure and it also causes protein to leak from your kidneys into your urine. This can be detected by testing your urine for protein. Pre-eclampsia usually comes on sometime after the 20th week of your pregnancy and gets better within six weeks of you giving birth. The severity can vary. Pre-eclampsia can cause complications for you as the mother, for your baby, or for both of you. The more severe the condition becomes, the greater the risk that complications will develop. Somewhere between 2 and 8 in 100 pregnant women develop pre-eclampsia.

Eclampsia is a type of seizure (a fit or convulsion) which is a life-threatening complication of pregnancy. Less than 1 in 100 women with pre-eclampsia develop eclampsia. So, most women with pre-eclampsia do not progress to have eclampsia. However, a main aim of treatment and care of women with pre-eclampsia is to prevent eclampsia and other possible complications.

Your midwife will want you to produce a urine sample at every antenatal appointment

She will also check your blood pressure

And measure the fundal height of your bump

The severity of pre-eclampsia is usually (but not always) related to your blood pressure level. You may have no symptoms at first, or if you only have mildly raised blood pressure and a small amount of protein in your urine. If pre-eclampsia becomes worse, one or more of the following symptoms may develop. Contact your midwife urgently if any of these occur:

  • Severe headaches that do not go away.
  • Problems with your vision, such as blurred vision, flashing lights or spots in front of your eyes.
  • Abdominal (tummy) pain. The pain that occurs with pre-eclampsia tends to be mainly in the upper part of your abdomen, just below your ribs, especially on your right side.
  • Vomiting later in your pregnancy (not the morning sickness of early pregnancy).
  • Sudden swelling or puffiness of your hands, face or feet.
  • Not being able to feel your baby move as much.
  • Just not feeling right.

In the case of Lady Sybil, many opportunities were missed by the family doctor, Dr Clarkson to detect pre-eclampsia. She was heard complaining of abdominal pain, swollen ankles and a serve headache despite her doctor quoting ‘Lady Sybil is just a healthy young woman going through a very natural process.’ However medicine has moved on from the post Edwardian era and pre-eclampsia is much more widely known and understood. for more information click here.

P.s did anyone notice the nurse present at the birth as the doctors aid and not a midwife?! Shame on you ITV, bring on Series 2 of Call the Midwife!