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Sarah's story

19 February 2016
Sarah and Eryn kangaroo care

Friday 21 March: I have an inclination that I may be pregnant, breakfast was heaved at and I feel exhausted. I take the test and a few minutes later - it's positive! I go into a state of stunned silence and panic, while Mark remains calm. It’s too hard to hope that maybe this time it's going to be ok. We get a scan booked before we go abroad, only to see on the screen a small sac that looks reasonably well formed, but empty. The consultant is very tactful, when we explain that this is pregnancy number 11, he couldn't say one way or the other that this would be all ok this time as it's just too early to tell. We head off on holiday full of hope and fear only to find I spend the entire week curled up in the shade trying to control the waves of sickness. Is this a good sign or bad sign?

Tuesday 8 April: We come home to another scan. We run through the paperwork and information about the past - 10 pregnancies, with none past 12 weeks, including one ectopic pregnancy, one miscarriage in hospital and the rest miscarried at home. Fear starts to kick in. The sonographer calls us in and, despite our fears, there's a nicely formed sac and a heartbeat. We are in pieces, the tears can't stop - we've even managed to get the sonographer in tears. We’re pregnant!

Tuesday 26 August: We’ve made it to week 28, and we’re having a girl! Unfortunately I am told I have gestational diabetes. I'm upset, I just can't deal with this on top of everything we've already had to endure.

Monday 1 September: My waters break. We go to the hospital and little contractions start, I'm in a state of panic. I’m hooked up to machines which show the baby’s heart beat is good. By 4.00am we are on our way back home as the hospital is insistent that my waters haven't gone, so we go back to bed.

Friday 5 September: We head in for a scan, a small bag packed just in case! We had a chat with the midwife and I mention that overnight I've lost loads of waters so they pop me on the monitors and the consultant confirms my waters have gone. I will need to have steroids for the baby to mature the lungs, and antibiotics in case of infection. The only problem is that they won’t deal with a 29 week baby at the unit I’m at, so I have to be transferred.

Saturday 6 September: We arrive in the early hours of the morning, shattered and with no idea what's happening. The first steroids, antibiotics and blood thinning drugs are given and we are left to rest.

Sunday 7 September: The consultant suggests twice daily monitoring, a scan for later in the week, pain relief as I need it and rest. I'm in agony and can feel every baby kick, stretch, minor movement and hiccup due to my waters being gone. I've named my bump Little Miss B, it makes me feel happier about naming her without seeing her.

Tuesday 9 September: The scans show low waters, but the baby is coping and the level of amniotic fluid has gone up slightly. It also shows that the cord is starting to suffer but at the moment it's all ok.

Wednesday 17 September: The ward sister suggests I go home and rest. I’m still in pain but glad to be back in my own bed.

Thursday 24 September: A caesarean section is arranged for 7 October. The next few days go as planned with rest, getting bags ready and planning the remaining items that need to be sorted out.

Wednesday 30 September: I notice that some waters have leaked overnight but decide if there's any more change later on I'll call the hospital, and head back to bed. At 8.00 am I call the hospital as I am beginning to get contractions, they tell me to head down. Mark races back home and I'm packed and ready to go. By 10.00am monitors are showing that the baby isn't moving around much and her heart rate is fairly static. The consultant books a slot for an emergency caesarean. At 2:00pm we walk across into theatre. They begin the procedure but she gets stuck and they have a job getting her out. At 2:51pm our daughter is born, she lets out a cry and we are in tears, we are finally parents. Mark takes some pictures to show me, our baby girl is finally here. Our bundle is raced away from us into SCBU, I haven’t seen her yet and I don't know what's happening.

I'm moved back to my delivery room and the consultant comes in to tell us it was a difficult delivery but all seems to be ok. One of the SCBU team pops in to let us know the baby is ok, and is responding well. I can't even think of a name until I see her but Mark is allowed to see her and brings back the first precious photos that I can only cherish until I can finally see her myself. Our parents visit but I've never felt so alone in all my life. I'm the only mum on a ward of just six beds without a baby. All I can hear is babies crying.

9.00pm: I'm determined to see our daughter, so I’m wheeled down to SCBU. I'm welcomed onto the unit by the staff and wheeled into a small room full of incubators, monitors and equipment. I dissolve into tears. She's so small and perfect, ten fingers and toes, tiny ears, nose, mouth, arms. All I want to do is stay here and not move until she can come home. We discuss names and finally we settle on Eryn Elisabeth. I spend the night alone, wide awake listening to the rest of the ward full of babies and ladies sleeping their labour off.

Thursday 1 October: The following morning the doctors do the rounds and I get a visit from the diabetic midwife, but I'm itching to see Eryn. Mark is over on the unit. It's got to be the hardest thing watching other mums on the ward picking up their babies as and when they want, while I have to wait to be allowed to cuddle mine.

A few days later, cuddles can finally begin, she's breathing on her own. I'm scared, she's so tiny and already I feel I want to protect her, but that first hold is scary. They hand her over, complete with tubes and wires and I crumble, she's perfect, I feel a rush of emotion and love, then she's sick all over me - now I finally feel like a mum! The nurse asks about feeding, something which I'm determined to do myself.

With the advice of the nursery staff I begin expressing but I feel useless, nothing is happening at all. I keep trying and don't give up. After two days my milk finally comes in.

By the Saturday I decide I want to go home, we pack up and head straight to SCBU for cuddles. I’m in tears all the way home. The staff are excellent, they say I can phone anytime I like, but I feel like my stomach has been ripped out. I don't want to leave her.

We settle down for an early night with an alarm for 2.00am for me to get up to express again. A 2.00am call is a rude awakening to express for a baby that's not even at home, with just a photograph of our daughter and a machine for company.

We are back at the hospital after breakfast and Groundhog Day begins. Our routine of sitting by the incubator, expressing feeds, cares for Eryn, cuddles and returning home becomes the norm for the next few weeks. Every day we head back to the unit with a glimmer of hope that we can get a date for her to come home. We just want to be a family, we feel like we are stuck in limbo.

Eryn is refusing to latch, I want to carry on feeding her as I'm doing so well at expressing, the freezer at home looks like a mini dairy. The team suggest popping my milk into a bottle, not ideal, but she took the whole bottle.

22 October: I'm still expressing, Eryn is gaining weight and we get to come home. We pinch ourselves when we walk in the door. She's so tiny in her car seat, it feels so surreal. The first night is good, Eryn is home at last and she's as we expect her to be but we can hold her when and for how long we want, it's amazing.

Eryn is now a fun, feisty, happy little girl and we are so blessed to have her in our lives. 

If you have been affected by any of the issues mentioned in this post, please call our helpline on 0500 618 140. If you would like to share your story, please email media@bliss.org.uk.  

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