I would like to share our story with you all. It will be the first time I have retold it since it happened and my emotions are still raw, but here goes...
On the morning of August 20 2015 when I was 30 weeks pregnant with my second daughter, I woke up feeling like I had the flu with pains in my stomach and back. I was due to go the doctors as they suspected I had a water infection but as I got dressed I noticed I was bleeding a lot. My fiancé John rushed me to hospital. I was losing a lot of blood and having pains, which soon occurred to me were contractions, and were coming every three minutes.
The midwives checked me over and called the doctor straight away. I had a quick scan and was told I was in active labour and that my baby was breech. It was vital that she was born as soon as possible by emergency caesarean section.
I was taken to theatre and given a spinal anaesthetic when all of a sudden the heart rate monitor started to drop. Her heartbeat was rapidly falling. I remember hearing the registrar saying: "right now please" to her colleague. I started crying as I knew something was very wrong. I was terrified, all I could think was: "She’s going to die, I can't bury my baby, I can't do that I’m not strong enough." John sat by my side and held my hand, he appeared calm but his eyes told me he was terrified. When you've loved someone for ten years you get to know them pretty well! At 11.33am, after what felt like years, our daughter Phoebe Nell was born weighing 3lb 11oz. The reason - a placental abruption.
We didn't get to see her as she was taken straight away to the neonatal unit. John saw her a few hours later. He came back to my bedside and sobbed: "She's so tiny, but my god she's beautiful." He had gone from being that strong man who sat beside me in theatre to a shaking, crying wreck. You could tell his heart was breaking. Living the next few hours was emotional torture.
That night at 10.30pm I was wheeled around to the unit in my bed so I could see my little girl for the first time. She was so tiny. She had lines and cannulas everywhere. The nurses assured me this was normal for a baby born at her gestation. They said she was being very good and that she was beautiful. It was such a surreal feeling. I had given birth that day but I still couldn't hold my baby. I put the teddy we had bought for her crib at home in with her. Then I was wheeled back to my room.
She was doing well. She came off the breathing assistance within 24 hours and she was fighting on. She was tolerating a very small amount of milk per hour. This was increased slowly on her doctor’s advice. She was moved into a nursery in the Special Care Baby Unit a week later.
She had a head scan which showed brightness on her brain (a flare) and a suspected small bleed. These tests were to be repeated in a few weeks’ time to monitor the findings. Her blood pressure was elevated so she had an ECG and a kidney scan followed by a doppler scan. During all this she was jaundiced so she was undergoing phototherapy.
She also developed an infection in her digestive tract, so she was taken off all milk and fed via Total Parental Nutrition (into a vein). She was so brave. We saw her become frail but determined. She was prescribed three different antibiotics and was watched over cautiously by her wonderful nurses.
In just over a week she was weaned off her TPN and reintroduced to her milk slowly again. She tolerated it well and one day we went into the unit and she had finally been moved from her incubator into a cot. It was such a massive step for such a tiny little baby. Once in her cot she began to try bottles and had intermittent bottle and tube feeds. She was keeping her own temperature stable too which meant she was doing well.
One day she pulled out her feeding tube and from then on she took only bottles. It was as if she had had enough and just wanted to be in control of herself. She happily took her feeds from her bottles and slowly but surely gained weight. I went in to her nursery one Friday and her nurse gave me the best news ever. They were thinking of discharging her the following Monday. On Sunday night I 'roomed in' and spent my first night ever with her. I didn’t sleep at all, I was so excited to be bringing her home. After five weeks in hospital we would finally get to bring her home.
After two weeks at home and my little girl was thriving. She was steadily gaining weight and taking all her feeds. She is such a joy to have and her big sister, Darcie Lou, loves to mother her and help me to wind her!
I still feel like I was standing watching this all unfold in front of me, as if I was a bystander watching myself and my fiancé go through this. At times I felt lower than low but the nurses and doctors at the hospital saved me from plummeting into a sad place. Just as they saved my little girl and gave her the care and love she needed to muster her fighting spirit each day. I cannot put into words how truly amazing they are. Each and every member of staff on the SCBU are heroes. I owe them everything I have.
I never thought I would go through this. After one miscarriage I had my daughter Darcie Lou. After two further miscarriages I had my daughter Phoebe Nell. Altogether I have three angel babies and two earth babies. My life has taken me to places I never wanted to be and made me feel things I never wanted to feel. Saying that, it has also given me the chance to be a mum to two amazingly beautiful little girls who have each had their own journey to get here today.
I have my fiancé John who is my best friend and together we will keep going forward with our two little girls and giving them the life we always dreamt of.
If you have been affected by any of the issues mentioned in this post and are looking for support, please call the helpline on 0808 801 0322. If you would like to share your story with Bliss, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.