· By Tiny Hearts Education
My husband and I were absolutely thrilled to find out we were pregnant with our first child in January 2021. It was something we had talked about for a long time but finally felt ready for. After taking a test at home, I attended my GP. I was so excited and nervous that when she did, my blood pressure, which was a little high, but it had come down to normal by the end of the appointment. “I just have white coat syndrome,” I told her, “this happens every time I go to the doctor, I get nervous, and my blood pressure is higher than normal. Gosh, they are going to think I have pre-eclampsia at all my pregnancy visits, aren’t they?”. I had a bit of a laugh at this.
My pregnancy was relatively uneventful. I was on top of my nerves for all my appointments, so my blood pressure and everything else was completely normal at each visit to see the midwives at my chosen hospital. Besides some pelvic girdle pain and carpal tunnel syndrome, I felt pretty good.
A few days before my 39-week appointment, it felt like my feet were extra swollen. At this point, I was slightly concerned that I might be pre-eclamptic. About two days later, at my 39-week appointment, my blood pressure was up slightly – it had been 110/70 through all my appointments, but this time was 140/70. As I had just walked up a flight of stairs to get to the appointment, my lovely midwives said they would take my blood pressure again at the end of the appointment. My urine was checked and showed protein, and my blood pressure had not come down by the end of the appointment, so at 10 am, I was sent up to the birth suits to have some blood taken and for baby to be monitored.
The CTG monitoring showed no issues with the baby, but my blood pressures were holding steady at 140/70, and my blood test results showed signs of pre-eclampsia. Throughout the afternoon, my blood pressure was trending upwards, eventually reaching 180/110. I could feel the swelling in my legs getting worse over this time, slowly travelling up from my feet towards my knees.
The obstetrician came to see me and advised that the next time I went home, it would be with my baby. She advised me that I was pre-eclamptic and suggested that the best course of action would be to be monitored on the ward overnight and to induce labour in the morning. She started me on some medication to bring down my blood pressure. By this time, my husband had arrived at the hospital, and I had a bit of a cry at the frustration that the birth of our baby wasn’t going to go the way I imagined it. I had imagined going into labour naturally and having very minimal interventions. However, I knew the seriousness of pre-eclampsia, so I decided that the induction was the safest course of action for myself and my baby.
That evening, a balloon catheter was inserted. I had some discomfort overnight with the balloon catheter, and despite being given some pain relief, I didn’t get much sleep. First thing the next morning I was taken into the birth suite. At about 8 am, I was checked and told that I was about 3cm dilated. An oxytocin drip was started, and my waters were broken. My husband and I sat around with our midwife and student doctor, chatting for a few hours while not much seemed to be happening. My midwife advised me that the CTG was showing some uterine contractions, but I couldn’t feel anything at that stage.
At approximately midday, I started to feel some very small contractions which quickly became very strong and very close together. I found it difficult to find a comfortable position and noticed that my legs had become swollen up to my thighs, which was all the fluid because of the pre-eclampsia. My wonderful husband was helping me move around and try to stay comfortable while I was breathing through my contractions.
At approximately 4 pm, I had been having strong contractions with almost no break in between for a couple of hours; I figured that we must be getting close to meeting our baby. I was experiencing shaking/ tremors as a reaction to the contractions, so I had to really concentrate on breathing and remembering what I had learned in a calm-birthing course and tried to focus on letting my body go floppy with each contraction. This immediately stopped any tremors I was experiencing.
I was checked again by the obstetrician at 6 pm and told that I was still only 3-4cm dilated. I was exhausted and so uncomfortable at this stage. I also had a fever, which was believed to be due to an obstructed labour. The obstetrician advised that since the labour wasn’t progressing, she suggested an emergency caesarean. Again, I didn’t want to unnecessarily delay the birth of our baby. Knowing how unwell my baby and I could be because of the pre-eclampsia and given how exhausted I was, I agreed. I was prepared to go to the operating theatre, but I was advised another woman was already down there and that there was another woman who was more emergent than I was. The oxytocin drip was turned off, and I had some relief from the contractions. By this stage, I could barely stay awake, so I was able to doze on and off.
Just after 10 pm, my husband and I were taken down to the OR. I remember lots of people being in the room and my husband sitting with me, holding my hand, but I could barely keep my eyes open. Suddenly my husband and I heard the faintest little cry, and we knew our baby had been born. At 10.40 pm on the 1st of October 2021, our daughter entered the world. We looked at each other, both with tears in our eyes. Then the curtain was lowered, and we could see our baby girl for the first time. She was checked by the midwife, and my husband was able to cut the cord. Once I had been stitched up, she was placed on my chest for some skin-to-skin. My husband and I were both in awe, watching her. We had our first attempt at breastfeeding before being taken up to the maternity ward.
Once back on the ward, we were asked if we had chosen a name for our baby. We had a couple of names in mind, but I looked at my husband and said I was too tired to decide at that time, so we would make the decision the next day instead. Our baby was weighed and measured, coming in at 3540g and 50cm. After a couple of hours upon the ward, my husband had to leave due to COVID restrictions. Thankfully one of the midwives was able to help out and, in between breastfeeds, feed our sweet girl some colostrum I had collected by antenatal expression so I could get some sleep.
My husband came back the next morning, only really a few hours after he had left. We decided to name our beautiful girl Sophie Marie.
While the labour was absolutely nothing like the natural, intervention-free labour I had imagined and was definitely the most difficult thing I have been through, I was incredibly grateful that my daughter Sophie arrived safely.