My daughter is nearly 2 years old but her birth story will remain imprinted in my mind forever. It’s one of the things that mothers always share with each other and bond over, so I will share mine with you.
Before I write about this pregnancy I will briefly mention that this wasn’t my first pregnancy. I had previously suffered a missed miscarriage in April before I got pregnant with my daughter the following October. It was quite early on at about 6 weeks but it was absolutely devastating. I only found out as I went for a couple of early scans, they told me everything looked ok and to come back a week later for a check up. A week goes by and I have another scan, again I’m told that everything looks on track. I thought that I would be discharged from the early pregnancy unit at this point but they told me to come back in one more week for another scan. When I did it was bad news the baby had died and had stopped developing around week 6. I had to have medication to make me miscarry and it was such a hard time for me. It did taint this pregnancy a little as I was constantly worrying that something would go wrong and I wouldn’t know just like last time. After the miscarriage I spent months very sad and angry and tearing up at the sight of a mother with a pram. Just when I was thinking of asking my Dr for counselling as I felt like my depression had come back I got the positive that I had been waiting for. It took a long six cycles to get pregnant with my daughter but I was obviously ecstatic and I just wanted her to be healthy.
I’m average height and weight and I don’t have any health problems. So when I went to a routine appointment at 36 weeks I was surprised to hear that my blood pressure was very high. It was so high that I was sent to the hospital and kept in. In the back of my mind I kept thinking that I will end up having an emergency c section at any minute. As soon as I got to hospital I had blood and urine tests, my baby was monitored and we had to wait 2 hours in this little room for the test results. In the meantime I was having my blood pressure checked every 15 minutes by a machine. Any blood pressure measuring at 140/90mmHg or over is considered to be high. A normal none pregnant person is suppose to measure around 120/80mmHg. My bottom diastolic number was reading 99mmHg which is very high. Around the 100 mark is where they will hospitalise you. It was scary as I felt completely normal, I didn’t feel woozy or have blurred vision or any pain. I was kept in over night and diagnosed with hypertension and put on the medication Labetalol. The next day the midwives were concerned that my bump was measuring small so I got an extra scan. My bump hadn’t been measuring small at any other time and thankfully the scan went well, my daughter was doing good in there. I was sent home but told that I would now be closely monitored and that I would see a midwife twice a week for blood pressure checks and that I would have to check my urine daily for any protein. If protein was found then I had to ring the midwives immediately as protein in urine is a sign of pre-eclampsia and thankfully I hadn’t had any in mine so far. My feet where very swollen which again is a symptom of Pre-E but I was told that my swelling was within the normal range. Up until now I had still been working full-time. It was quite stressful at that time and my Dr told me that I wasn’t going back to work now and that I had to rest and start my maternity leave early.
A few days after this we had our hospital tour that we had been booked on weeks ago. It was funny as we already knew the way around.
I remember that it was summer and the weather was absolutely gorgeous. I would leisurely walk down to the Dr’s for my checks or the midwife would come to my house. At about 37-38 weeks along I was due to go to my labour class and it was the one that I was most looking forward to and I remember that it was a Tuesday evening. As it is run my local team of midwives they agreed to let me go a bit early and get my routine BP check. We got there and sat down and some of the other parents had started arriving, she took me into another room to do my BP. I felt relaxed as I had been sat down for a few minutes. She took my BP and then didn’t say anything, she moved over and did it on my other arm. I knew that something was up. She called the other midwife over to double-check and she said to her “what are you getting”, it was again at the 99/100 range which was too high. They phoned the hospital and told them to expect me. I’m sure the other parents waiting for the class knew that something was wrong. So off we went again to the hospital. Thoughts of an emergency c section filled my mind and made me nervous. We got there back into the same small room where we had spent hours just the week before. It was the same process, blood and urine tests, wait 2 hours for the results from the lab. I always felt very well looked after as I had a baby monitor on the whole time and I was constantly having my BP taken. We were thankful that Wigan hospital had free Wi-Fi and we made the most of it during our wait. It got quite late maybe 9-10pm when the Dr came. She told me that they where upping my dosage of Labetalol and that I was to come to the hospital on Friday morning for BP monitoring.
On the Friday I went for the monitoring alone as my husband was only entitled to get 2 weeks paternity leave and we wanted that to be after the baby was here. It was all pretty boring and straightforward to be honest. Everything was fine and I was sent home after a few hours. I walked down the road and had a McDonald’s for lunch and a mooch around my local shops.
Pre-Eclampsia & Induction
40 weeks came and went, I was honestly bored out of my mind as I had been off work since 36 weeks. I had watched a lot of Netflix and was about as prepared to have this baby as I would ever be. At 40+2 I had a sweep (a term for a midwife poking her fingers around your cervix to try to bring on labour). Everyone told me that it usually makes you go into labour the day after but it didn’t. The morning that I was 40+4 there was a small amount of protein in my urine according to the pee stick test. I waddled down to my Dr’s surgery to see my midwife and I felt normal, but again my BP was sky-high at 99. I knew the routine by now and I was a bit gutted that I would have to go to hospital again. I hadn’t eaten much dinner and my husband was at work in another town. I phoned my in-laws who lived close by and they drove me to the hospital. I knew the drill that it would be a 2 hour wait for blood results again and I just couldn’t be bothered. It was a gorgeous hot summers day. My FIL dropped us off and went back home as its usually a lot of waiting about and not very fun. As soon as we walked into the hospital I went into the tuck shop and bought an ice cold bottle of diet coke, some crisps and chocolate to eat whilst we were waiting.
I was in the same small room again and had my blood taken. I absolutely hate needles and have fainted in the past having my blood taken. You would think that I’d be used to it by now. After taking the usual blood, urine samples, blood pressure etc things where different. They wheeled me into a very nice big private room, funnily enough it was the pool room, it was where I hoped to have a water birth, hah!. I was here whilst waiting of the results. My blood pressure reached a dangerously high level of /125 at its highest. I’d had a small amount of protein in my urine so it wasn’t looking good. They gave me some medication to bring my BP down immediately and we all waited anxiously in the room for it to work. They took my BP again and the medication hadn’t worked. The Dr came back in and said the words “we are going to induce you, so you won’t be leaving without a baby”. I was feeling excited and terrified all at the same time. I was still starving and thirsty but I was told I was not allowed to eat or drink at all absolutely nothing! oh no I was devastated! I’d hardly eaten any dinner and here I was. They wheeled me into a different private room this time as a water birth was off the cards!. I had now developed pre-eclampsia.
There was quite a few midwives and nurses in the room with me whilst they where getting everything ready. I think it was about 5-5.30pm and my husband was just finishing work and was on his way. This next part was quite traumatic for me as I hate needles. I had more blood taken and cannulas for my drips put in the back of each of my hands. It was a student doing it and she could tell how nervous I was. On the first one on my left hand she was hurting me and making a right mess, it was bleeding a lot and my MIL tells me now that she was shaking whilst trying to do it. On my right hand they put a double cannula in which was horrible as it was heavy. I felt like I couldn’t move either of my hands for the cannulas as I was scared of it hurting. They then connected me to all sorts and I was starting to panic a bit. I was on a saline drip and then they opened a special “pre-eclampsia box” in it was lots of drugs and instructions. I still had quite a few people in the room with me all doing different things, a couple of them where mixing together a special solution for my drip. With my BP being so high i could have had a fit and gone into coma at any time. I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink incase I had to be rushed to theatre for an emergency c section which was looking more likely by the minute. I was worried that my husband would not make it from work in time and miss everything and I was worried for mine and my babies health.
I was put on a magnesium sulphate drip which was a anticonvulsant drug to prevent me having a fit, They warned me that when it’s connected I will feel all hot. I did feel very hot, so hot that I asked if my waters had broken but they hadn’t. Oh yeah I forgot to mention that they inserted a catheter. I was gutted! confined to a bed on 2 drips and a catheter. It hurt putting the catheter in as it goes into your bladder with no anaesthetic. When she did it she released that she had used the wrong tubing (latex free she had used) so she had to do it again with a regular one. Needless to say I was feeling pretty frightened and miserable at this point. As I was on a saline drip and catheter they had to measure what fluids went in and what came out hourly to make sure that it matched up.
My husband arrived yay! He was also starving as he had no dinner. I kept telling him that he could eat the snacks that I bought but he said it was unfair to me and that he would go hungry as well. As soon as my husband turned up my MIL went home. My husband kept contact with both of our parents to keep them updated with what’s going on. At 7pm they began the induction, the Dr inserted a pessary I believe, she might have done this earlier but I can’t really remember. I remember that at 7pm we officially began the induction. At first things where slow, my baby was being monitored and my BP was taken by a machine every 15 minutes. After a few hours the Dr came around and my lips where very dry and flakey, I was so thirsty. She asked the midwife to let me have a drink of water and the midwife told her that she wasn’t allowed. She said I’m the Dr and I say give this woman a drink of water. If you are measuring liquids then lower the saline intake. I was very grateful of the Dr as I was now allowed so many ml of water per hour, it wasn’t a lot but better than none. After a couple of hours they put me on a drip to start labour contractions which quickly became uncomfortable. At 1 am they came in and manually broke my waters, as soon as they did this the contractions felt very painful, there was nothing for them to resist against (the water) so now they where hurting. I didn’t last long maybe an hour before I asked for a epidural. Gas and air was having no effect for me, because I missed the labour class I didn’t know how to breathe it right and I would only breathe it in when I felt a contraction coming on which was too late. It hurt and then I would panic again. They told me that the anaesthetist would be with me soon. She walked in and was setting up for my epidural when she got called away to an emergency. I was in so much pain. This was my worst point where I felt overwhelmed and couldn’t cope. I was still on the drip to bring on my contractions and I was in agony. I asked the midwife if she could give me pethadine or did it have to be the anaesthetist, I was happy when she told me that she could give it to me. They give you 2 injections one of pethadine and one to stop you being sick. I don’t remember though as pethadine made me high as a kite. It was definitely the best decision that I made having the pethadine. Not too long later maybe within half an hour the anaesthetist was back to give me my epidural. I always watched people having an epidural on one born every minute and thought no way I would have that! It’s a horrible big needle into your spine and then they put a tube in but I did it. The most surprising thing is that I wasn’t scared because of the awesome pethadine. I even laughed as she put the tube in saying that I could feel it, it was great. I then lied down on the bed and my left side wasn’t getting numb only my right. They told me to lie on my left side and that gravity would get the medication over to my left side. It did work after a while and I was comfortable. My husband kept trying to doze off in the chair as he was shattered. I was knackered as well. The midwives changed over shifts and said goodbye and the new ones would come and introduce themselves. I was still having my BP regularly checked. When the induction started I said to my husband oh she might be out my 6-7am hopefully. That didn’t look likely as the night went on. At I think 6am they came checking how dilated I was and I remember her saying that she could see hair. She asked my hubby if he wanted a look, I thought that he would say no but he did look. He saw the top of our daughters head before me haha. They told me to try some practise pushes at this point and then we went on to push properly. I can’t remember how long it went on for. I remember trying my very hardest and it felt like it went on for hours, maybe it did? as I’d had no food and no sleep I was soon exhausted. My daughter was still being monitored on screen and they noticed that her heart rate had dropped, it dropped and stayed down.
The big red emergency button
It was emergency time, the midwife pressed the big red button behind me which set off an alarm and about 10 people or more ran into the room. They where all doing different things and I remember one of them was male. I wasn’t bothered at this point. He was the pediatric Dr I was told. They said that my daughter was in distress and that they needed to get her out now. They said that they wanted to do a forceps delivery and I agreed. It was all a bit of a blur and my poor husband was pushed into a corner to the left of my head and was wondering what was going on. We were both afraid of something happening to our daughter. I remember the main midwife said to a younger one “what do you think is causing her heartrate to decrease and stay down?” she replied that she thought “the cord could be around the babies neck” the midwife said “no don’t be silly”. Which seems crazy, why dismiss that as it could be a possibility?
They gave me a episiotomy, thankfully they numbed it so I couldn’t feel it. They got the forceps in place and then waited for my next contraction. On this contraction the woman pulled! I screamed in agony, even with a epidural I thought that my pelvis was going to shatter into a thousand pieces, it was the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my whole life. The next contraction came and she pulled again I again howled like a banshee in pain! My daughter was born and the midwife lifted her up and removed the cord from around her neck, It was wrapped around twice. I could see her eyes open and looking around so I knew that she was alive even if she wasn’t crying. They placed her on my stomach whilst they cut the cord and then they whisked her off to the faraway table. The first thing that I said was “is she still a girl”? and she was. During this time they delivered the placenta and started stitching me up. By this point I had enough, the adrenalin and the epidural had worn off, I was tired, hungry and sick of being poked and prodded and it hurt. I felt them stitching me up and it was very painful, I started to shout and swear at them to leave me alone and to stop mauling me.
They brought my daughter over all bundled up and placed her on my chest. She was born at 11.44am and weighed 6lbs 12.5oz. I had been in labour 16 hours and 44 minutes. It felt amazing, I was a mother. We had a couple of hours family time and tried to get her to breastfeed. Then both of our parents came in to meet their new grand daughter. It was all wonderful and full of very happy memories.
I was still starving as I’d not eaten now in nearly 24 hours. They told me I’d missed dinner but they would bring me a sandwich. My mouth was all dry and sore from not drinking as I’d only been allowed tiny sips of water. Here is a mistake that I will learn from. They brought me a cheese sandwich on brown bread. The bread was rough, I ate the sandwich quick which of course hurt my mouth and caused all of the inside of my mouth to be raw. It was very painful and something that I had to live with for a few days.
We stayed in the private room all day. I still had my cannulas and catheter in. It got to midnight and they told us that my husband had to leave as they would be taking me down to the ward but he could come and visit us in the morning. After he had gone the midwife took all my cannulas out, the epidural tube and catheter. All this was very unconfutable. She told me that I had 6 hours to pee or else they would put the catheter back in. I was also told that I had to breastfeed my daughter every 2 hours. I still hadn’t slept and wasn’t holding up too well but I was living off the endorphins of being a new mum. It was the first time that I was allowed to try and stand and the midwife held me whilst I tried to shuffle around the room. It was crazy as I’d been lied down so long that I had forgot what to do. I managed to shuffle and she let me push the cot down to the ward. I was so proud pushing my newborn daughter in her cot down to the ward it felt wonderful but I was looking forward to sleeping. All the lights where off on the ward and most people where asleep. I didn’t get to settle though as a midwife came to take my BP, something that they woke me up several times in the night to check. They also came with a cocktail of drugs for me to take as my BP was still high, I was also given pain killers and iron tablets. I also had a injection of Fragmin into my leg which was a blood thinner as I was at a higher risk of getting a blood clot. I was woken after 2 hours to try and feed my daughter. They told me that if she was asleep then I had to undress her to wake her up to get her to feed, So that’s what I did. At 6am they would come in and turn on all the lights, breakfast was at 7am. I was panicking about having to wee or I would have the catheter back in, something that I wanted to avoid at all costs. It was painful to insert and uncomfortable once fitted. It was about 4am and I desperately tried to pee. The problem was that I had no feeling down there at all. Yes the epidural had worn off but all my muscles where that knackered and swollen that I couldn’t tell if I was trying to pee or not. I tried my best and collected what I could in a bed pan as they told me too. It looked like just all blood but I must have passed the test as I didn’t have the dreaded catheter put back in.
The hospital stay
Being in hospital was both bad and good. The main bad thing is that it was always so loud even in the night with women going into labour and new born babies about there was always noise and I was exhausted. I remember that after about 2 full days with only about 2 hours straight sleep your brain starts to get a bit crazy. Sleep deprivation is definitely a form of torcher and this one night I just had zero sleep. The midwives where in and out and then one woman’s baby on the ward was crying for what seemed like forever. I had the curtain around me and I remember thinking why aren’t you doing anything. I felt myself getting angrier and angrier and the inevitable happened. The noise woke up my baby which hadn’t been a sleep long. I was so tired that I could cry.
In the first few days as we were both trying to learn how to breastfeed it was hard, my milk came in on day 3 I think that it was. Stupidly I hadn’t bought any new nursing bras and my ones from early pregnancy (when I couldn’t stand underwire) where too small. I had nursing nighties but it was no use without a bra. I was wearing a regular padded underwired bra which was very uncomfortable and digging in. Each time my LO wanted feeding I would pull the curtain around and strip off to feed her. The midwives kept undoing the curtain and telling me that I should have it open during the day. I’m like wtf I’m just trying to breastfeed. They found it odd that I wasn’t properly prepared. The truth was that we couldn’t afford to buy a bra at that time so I just had to manage. Breastfeeding was hard I couldn’t get my LO to latch and I would spend ages faffing about whilst she was getting angry. I would press the buzzer each time and the midwife would come in and be able to latch her straight away. A couple of days in and my nipples where very sore and raw. Each feed was excruciating and I would curl up my toes in pain. One midwife gave me a sample of Lansinoh lanolin cream and it definitely helped.
Visiting time was twice a day and my husband was allowed to stay all day from 10am until 7.30pm I think that it was. He would come everyday about a 30-40 minute drive. Parking was sometimes impossible and cost a small fortune but I was glad that he was there. When he came I could have a shower and use the toilet without being afraid that my baby was crying in her crib. My family would come to visit at both visiting times so I was rarely alone. I noticed the woman in all the other beds around me, most went home on day 2 some even went home the same day. Every single bed changed and then changed again but here I was. I was still being assessed daily by the Dr and my blood pressure was regularly checked. At this point I thought that I would be home soon. My LO had a bit of jaundice but not enough to need treatment. It was full blown summer outside and I would often walk to the window and look out, I hadn’t been outside in days as I wasn’t allowed off the ward. I was in hospital 5 long days! I was definitely ready to come home, I was sick of the sight of the hospital and I just wanted to go home and begin our new family life. My husband only had 2 weeks paternity leave and I’d spent nearly 1 week of that in hospital. Before I was discharged I had to wait of my drugs coming up from the pharmacy and you should have seen it. It was a huge bag filled to the brim with drugs. It was only really then that I realised how ill I had actually been. I had tablets to lower my blood pressure something that would be continued to be monitored, I had pain killers and iron tablets and this was the kicker – I had to have a daily injection of Fragmin for 6 weeks. I was pretty gobsmacked I hate injections and they told me that I would have to administer it myself. I could have cried at this point, being told that I needed a daily injection for the next 6 weeks was the icing on the cake for me, this was my breaking point. It was to prevent blood clots as apparently I was at high risk. The woman in the bed next to me was told that she only had to have it for 6 days and she was complaining about that but I had to have it for 6 weeks. The Fragmin injection hurt as well it stung like a bitch as well and caused huge bruises on my thighs. I’m very prone to bruising anyway and I looked a absolute mess afterwards. The bruises lingered around for a couple of months. Of course I’d just been through childbirth and a injection was nothing after that but mentally that was my limit, it was beyond what I could take and I felt overwhelmed by it all.
So eventually I was released with my huge bag of drugs and it was bliss. We were very proud walking off the ward with our newborn daughter. I said bye to everyone as I knew all the midwives by now. It was mid afternoon and we called at the McDonalds drive thru on the way home something that I’d been wanting since I went in hospital. All through labour I just wanted a Big Mac. We got home and our flat had banners outside and the neighbours congratulated us. I felt more comfortable at home and it was good to see my cats again. The kitten (my baby) refused to come near me which was upsetting. That night I downloaded a app to remind me when to take my drugs. I think at this point I had to have my BP medication every 4 or 6 hours and with the others in between I had to set several alarms on my phone to wake me up in the night. It was very important that I took the BP medication on time as it could easily creep up. It was time to give myself the Fragmin injection and I picked one up and knew that I couldn’t do it. My husband asked if I wanted him to do it but I said no as he didn’t know how to do it and neither did I. We argued a bit but my mind was made up no injection. Yes I was scared of blood clots but I would talk to the midwife who was due tomorrow and get her to give it to me.
The midwife came around lunch time to check up on me and the baby. When she came she taught us how to administer the injection and she gave it to me in my thigh. It hurt as it always did. She took my BP and it was dangerously high again, no! I couldn’t believe it, she told me that I had to go back to the hospital labour ward and that they would be waiting for me. When she had gone I cried as I didn’t want to go back. I was so angry with myself, why wasn’t my blood pressure staying down. I was having my medication and what was it’s problem, my baby was out so pre-eclampsia should be gone as I don’t have that stress on my body anymore. I was feeling pissed off but needed to relax or I would make it worse. So off to the hospital we went, I was given a different bed thankfully so at least I had a different view. Some of the same women were still there and I bet they wondered what I was doing back. I had my blood and urine taken again. My arms where so bruised by now due to blood being taken, cannulas being inserted for my drips and around the top of each arm looked like hickeys it was bruising from having my blood pressure taken so much. It was now dinner time and my husband had to leave the ward for 1 hour whilst I ate. I asked him to buy me some snacks as I didn’t like what was for dinner. A couple of hours later the Dr came around and told me to up my BP medication and that I could go home yay! I was still closely monitored for a couple of weeks and slowly over about the next 4-5 weeks my medication was lowered. The scariest thing about having high blood pressure was that I didn’t know that I had it. I would be sat there whilst they where taking my BP and I would feel normal, no blurred vision no dizziness and they would be like it’s reading sky high and it scared me as it could have been like that when I was home alone. High blood pressure and pre-eclampsia can badly effect the placenta and stop it from working, it could have caused me to go into a coma at any time. It was very serious and can happen to anyone. Even now when I go for a routine check up and they check my BP I’m always anxiously waiting for them to say its high and to send me off to hospital again. My Dr told me that if I have any future children they would keep a closer eye on me and that I would be under a consultant as I would be at high risk of it happening again. I would like to have another child in the future but I can’t say that I wouldn’t be scared about my health because I would. I know that a lot of people out there have suffered a lot worse with Pre E and I am lucky that both me and my daughter came out of it ok.
Have any of you suffered with hypertension or pre-eclampsia during your pregnancy? I would love to hear your story if you want to comment below or link me to your blog.- Jodie x