Labour's so close I can almost taste it!
Everything was smooth sailing (with a few rough waters here and there, but overall, all going well). Remember I said I was enjoying being pregnant? I’m still going to my midwife and obstetrician appointments, and everything was going well. I am leaking milk more than you could ever imagine might I add. This was such a happy time for us, as I had a breast reduction a couple of years ago and we weren't sure if my milk ducts were still connected. The surgeon did his best to keep them connected, but it wasn't guaranteed (if this is something you are interested to know about, let me know). All we knew was this gal’s body was now ready for her baby.
Everything is going too well, too good to be true some would say, and those who said… were right. The universe had other plans for us. My scrubs are beyond tight by this point, my tummy is growing quicker than ever, and so are my ankles! Towards the last few days of my nursing prac I started to become swollen, very swollen. Especially in my ankles. Just assuming it was because of being pregnant though of course. After all, I am in my third trimester!
I went to my midwife appointment on Thursday the 17th of October. They told us the protein in my urine was extremely high but they weren’t too worried as it tested for no infection, and due to being asymptomatic (not showing any symptoms) we were told to just be cautious and mindful of the signs and symptoms of pre-eclampsia.
What is Pre-eclampsia Madds? Well let me tell you, it is hell.
Pre-eclampsia is a condition in pregnancy in which it is believed that the placenta embeds incorrectly into the lining. Blood vessels are narrow and struggle to pass sufficient amounts of blood from the mum through to the baby. This is what creates high blood pressure in the mum, as the baby is demanding more and more blood from the mum. If not treated, the high blood pressure can lead to a seizure or stroke in the mum, and therefore become fatal for mum and baby. The way to “cure” pre-eclampsia, is by removing the placenta. Which means delivering the baby. Once the baby and placenta are out, the human body will slowly return back to normal. Normal blood pressure, relief of fluid retention, reduced swelling, etc. I will leave a link that might explain it all a little more if you would like to know more about it. https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/pre-eclampsia. Friday the 18th of October rolled around and it was my final day of my nursing prac. As happy and excited as ever, to finally be finished and be a qualified nurse! As exhausted as I now was, and my legs more and more swollen, I was ready to be finished.
After a long day, I completed my final nursing placement (YAY!).
Jake arriving home from work and after discussion we started to realise I was showing more and more symptoms of Pre-eclampsia, which we were only informed about yesterday! We called the midwife on call and were advised to go into the hospital to be checked. While in the waiting room of the labour ward, the line of pregnant women ALL having contractions while hearing multiple women in labour rooms, pushing their child out –giving birth (the screams were definitely a put off to put it nicely)! So, once again, against medical advice, I signed a form and discharged myself. (I do not recommend doing this and you’ll see why soon). I wasn’t in labour, my problems were minimal (I thought) compared to what all these ladies were about to go through, and the wait was hours! So home I went, to have celebratory Indian cuisine for completing my nursing! It’s now Sunday 20th of October and the day has come, where my long 2-month journey begins. Back to the hospital I go and… admitted. My blood pressure is now through the roof, as high as anything. Caused by the pre-eclampsia, with the concern that this can cause a seizure or a stroke. I was eventually stabilised and discharged after a few days. A whole 2 days would pass before I’m admitted again due to the swelling and high blood pressure.
During this time, we were told they wanted to possibly deliver our baby at 29 weeks (Today would be Wednesday or Thursday and they were talking Friday delivery).
As the doctors prepared for what could be a possibility giving me steroid injections to strengthen my baby’s lungs, doing tests, etc. We were attempting to process what could be. Definitely not something we were prepared for!! We didn’t have the car seat in; we didn’t have any of her clothes ready, no baby bag packed! Nothing was ready! We thought we had weeks! I’m only just over 28 weeks! How can I possibly deliver a baby so soon? Trusting the doctors and not knowing any different, this is what was happening and it was time to mentally prepare! The hospital that informed us of this, also added that they couldn’t deliver babies that little as they simply don’t have the facilities. I’m put in the ambulance and transferred to another hospital, which could deliver our baby so soon.
While still in the hospital, Jake was on prac for his degree so he wasn’t able to be there throughout the day. This made it all that much more stressful, as I was trying to pass on all the information that the doctors were giving me, trying to process all the information first hand and try to not stress. The last thing we want is the stress that would result in my blood pressure going even higher! But how am I meant to not stress?!
Jake was just as stressed that he couldn’t be there and getting all the information second hand. Unsure of what was going to happen with his wife and baby. It was starting to take its toll on both of us. It was hard. But it’s not even at it’s worst.
Discharged again, home for a couple of days, and readmitted!
This became the norm. This was now how we were now doing this pregnancy. As swollen as ever, my face as round as a pumpkin, no ankles – imagine your thigh all the way down your leg, with a foot stuck on the end.
We took to hiring a blood pressure machine to keep me monitored, had blood pressure medicine within arms reach the majority of the time and Jake came home every lunch break he had to check on me. We continue the cycle of spike, hospital, stabilise, home, repeat. Eventually, after all the admissions, they then informed us that with my autoimmune disease and having pre-eclampsia; these hospitals weren’t able to deliver our baby. Being told time after time, that the pre-eclampsia is because of my autoimmune disease and my disease is making my symptoms worse, they were very unsure about how to treat and manage it all. I jumped into the back of the ambulance to be transferred to ANOTHER hospital. The Women’s Maternity hospital.
I am admitted under the complex care team. The specialist in the complex care team informed me that my disease has nothing to do with what is happening with the pre-eclampsia. Confused as ever, we carry on with the new information and just get on with it. Getting on with it seemed to become basically our mantra, just keep swimming am I right?
Remember how, in the beginning, I mentioned about stopping my medication and not being in pain any more?
Well, the specialist told us 1/3 of peoples diseases will get better during pregnancy, 1/3 will remain the same, and 1/3 will get worse. By this point, I was in the category that was remaining the same, back on my medication that I originally stopped. I wasn’t in pain in the beginning, purely because I still had medicine in my system and was on a high from being pregnant, sick joke right? False hope city, population: me girl. Now that I’m admitted, I’m also informed that I wouldn’t be leaving without a baby. Also told that I’m the “best oven” and they won’t be inducing me any time soon. So who knows how long I’m going to be in here right? Days? Weeks? Months? Will I still make it to 37 weeks (full-term)? After everything that seems unrealistic, but no one knows how far I will make it. Hours? Maybe. Weeks? Also maybe. Will it be in a day’s time? After all, they originally told us at 29 weeks, but now I’ve made it to 32 weeks. Everything was so unsure. No one had an answer. It was a matter of analysing my results hour-by-hour, day-by-day. By this point, my swelling was so bad that my original weight before being pregnant was 60kg. I went through my first and second trimester at 64kgs. Until my third trimester, my fluid retention due to the preeclampsia was sky-high. Within days of being diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, all the retained fluid and swelling has made me jump from 64kg pregnant to 85kg! My blood pressure was extremely high, and I was now getting headaches and feeling dizzy! All the symptoms are getting worse and worse as the days pass, being swollen, headaches, abdomen pain, high blood pressure, the works!
Weirdly though, I was feeling quite well within myself, I didn’t “feel” sick, but looking at the stats, its bad juju. As the days pass, the more I want to go home or have my baby delivered so we can all go home. “I feel fine!” I was constantly telling Jake, our family and the doctors. But all my results weren’t showing “fine.”
So, of course, I wasn’t going anywhere. Having multiple blood tests every day, meetings with the doctors, ultrasounds every day, monitors on, monitoring my baby all day every day. Trying to make the best game plan they could without delivering my baby too soon, but trying to balance on the fine line of not leaving her inside of me for too long where it becomes unsafe for her or myself. It was now Wednesday the 20th of November, and I’m still in the hospital. No baby, yet! So no going home any time soon. I have now made it to 34 weeks gestation! WOO! Waiting day in, day out to be told I’m being induced. We’ve been told that the placenta is starting to stop working, and the growth of our baby’s stomach is slowing down. Days pass and we’re now told the blood flow through the placenta to her brain is starting to slow. I had well and truly fallen off that fine line that I spoke of and I was waiting for the doctors to fall off it too and induce me! Not very calm about having her inside me anymore and starting to get agitated.
I want her out.
It was one thing to have her happy, healthy and still comfortable while I was swollen, with high blood pressure, dizzy and headaches and I was being managed and stabilised the best we could. But now it’s affecting her, and I want her out. The guilt is starting to kick in. Am I a bad mum? Is this my fault? I’m not a good “oven”. Is there anything I could have done to prevent getting pre-eclampsia?! Ill answers those for you. No! There is absolutely nothing you can do, to prevent it. We were informed that it’s the luck of the draw, and can happen to anyone (of course there are risk factors, but that’s the same with anything right? Who will get pre-eclampsia is unknown). And no, if you get it, you’re not a bad mum. It’s not your fault!
The doctors still trying to sugar coat everything, so that my blood pressure doesn’t go any higher than it already was. But being a fully qualified nurse by this point, I knew exactly what was going on. Every meeting, ultrasound, result, I knew I wasn’t ok, and my baby is starting to become not ok. I don’t care about a single other thing; all I’m wanting is to be induced. Asking every day to be induced. Praying and hoping that the doctors come in and say: Today’s the day. Saturday 23rd of November, I woke up with my blood pressure higher than ever. The medication was given and it wasn’t coming down. We thought things weren’t very safe before? My vision is now blurred and I officially have every symptom possible. The midwife paged the doctors, so the doctors came in to assess. After discussion, reading of my notes, looking at my results, and seeing that medication is no longer fixing what was happening to my body. I called Jake and told him that I think today is the day. Excited and shocked as ever, he was on his way to the hospital. The final decision was made. THIS IS IT! I’M BEING INDUCED. It was time to take me to the labour ward and have me induced.
All of my worries and guilt, gone! She will be safe and okay, soon enough! We’re about to be parents! I’m about to see what my mini human is going to look like! I’m about to experience the most surreal moment of my life, the moment I have dreamt of since I was a little girl! I get to feel labour pains, the pain I’ve always dreamed of experiencing (crazy right?!). We thought we were mentally prepared for this moment. We have had weeks in hospital with so much time to spend preparing ourselves. Well…I guess not. It was like a big wall of reality, hit us both right in the face as we entered that labour room. We couldn’t believe what was happening! This was about to be the best day of our lives. Is that even something you can prepare for? We thought so because we thought we had prepared for it.
But until the moment came, we realised we weren’t prepared. We may now have her clothes ready, her car seat in, and her pram set up. But what we hadn’t yet experienced was the unconditional love for another human being, one that we had made. In how long till we experience this unconditional love? We didn’t know at the time, labour could go for hours, or even days.
But I can tell you now. 17 hours and 22 minutes from when I was induced, is when we experienced love like never before.
Can’t wait to chat some more once she's on her way! -Madds xx