Audrey – My Daughter Was Born At 23 Weeks….
My Name is Audrey and I had my daughter 23 weeks early.
I am from a nursing background and work under extreme pressure; hence I have for a long time enjoyed de-stressing at my local gym. So I’d say I was pretty healthy and was just losing a few pounds when I fell pregnant.
To my surprise within the first month of pregnancy, the GP confirmed I was pregnant and that I was suffering with high blood pressure at a level normally found in second trimester. I thought, ‘ah will just cut out salt from my diet and I will be fine’.
8 weeks on in my pregnancy and I experienced a near miss miscarriage but my little fighter soldiered on. My GP acted promptly and referred me to the early pregnancy centre for an internal scan to confirm all was well. By this time I was referred to Consultant Care at Watford General to keep an eye on the blood pressure. Being a nurse I thought I knew the treatment plan: Plenty of rest, including bed rest, feet up etc…But I was directed otherwise; carry on with the gym as I was a regular except for tummy exercises. So I plodded on with Aqua Aerobics, Pedal X, and Treadmill doing an hour each time.
At the 12 week scan all was honky dory minus the blood pressure. I was seeing the consultant every week. By 21.6 weeks the consultant thought it was best to be seen every two weeks. I was slightly concerned as the protein in the urine was increasing from one plus to three plus, but I was reassured.
Before my next appointment which was held on Wednesday; I started feeling achy in my back from the Saturday night. By the early hours of Sunday I felt severe constipation but thought; that’s just the change of stage in the pregnancy. Having breakfast I felt the worst pain ever, but thought to continue to work and seek help whilst there. I did take peppermint tea and asked my colleagues about this experience and they all teased me ‘first time mum’ relax.
I took it easy by letting Watford know of this complication and they felt I was on the right track but if I felt worse I should call again. I work in the community so after my three home visits which I sailed through until the end, I felt the aches come on again. I took myself to Tesco to get real peppermint from the pharmacy. Only then did I realise it was serious when a gush of blood came. I knew I had to get to hospital. I was very near my work hospital but because of the negative issues that I had heard regarding premature births, I decided to sail homeward bound and called an ambulance to meet me somewhere local to the Watford area.
The SCBU team were ready, and at 19:55 my baby was born viable but tiny at 540g
I did alert my husband to meet me; and when he got there I didn’t show how much pain I was in as he does sometimes think I go on…anyhow the paramedics came, and did I let loose! The pain was more severe and I was desperate to get to the hospital there and then. Paramedics did try to calm the situation by saying it was Braxton Hicks…my BP was through the roof.
The assessment unit at Maternity did give me steroids on arrival and found I was 2cm dilated. They did counsel me and my husband as they believed that the baby was keen to make an appearance soon, but would not be viable at all, having a 6% survival rate. We were resolved with the predicted outcome and just let nature take its course.
The midwives really kept me going especially a lady called Paula. She always looked glam, and worked for the two days I was there. To slow down the contractions and the bleeding I was tilted upside down and felt that was the little that I could to do keep my baby inside. It was very uncomfortable but knew I had to bite my tongue. By Monday night at 19:00 contractions became serious and there was not turning back. The SCBU team were ready, and at 19:55 baby was born viable at 540g but needed an incubator.
My husband was brilliant, until this day I ask if he might have felt like fainting, as it was a grueling experience. He followed our baby to SCBU whilst I went to theatre to have the placenta removed. I was having black outs and felt the end was nigh. When I was back on the ward, my hubby confirmed that the baby was well and would be going to Luton and Dunstable Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I felt so relieved but knew the journey would be a long dragged out one.
It took three days before I could leave hospital let alone drive to Luton being the sole driver in our home. I would check on baby every day; feeling detached as this was all I could do for my baby, being so unwell myself with Chronic BP.
Anyway; enough about me: When we began the daily commute to Luton each day got easier. I guess being from a nursing back ground I went into clinical mode when I walked into the NICU. But this knowledge also was damaging when things went wrong and this was a regular occasion in the first month. Xmas was the worst; after spending a week at Great Ormond Street to close the hole in the heart (PDA) my LO went into renal failure and survived just by fine line.
I must say that through this journey I rediscovered my faith which has restored me. Once thebaby got to 1kg she was transferred back to Watford where it all began, and stayed there until over two weeks past her due date….but it was all worth the roller coaster journey.
We have made friends along the way, realised our dream to give back to such a service that took us from being vulnerable to confident parents and supporting others through HertsPrems.