I’d like to share my story with you and I'll start from the very beginning - it feels really good to get it all out!
My baby boy Tate was born on 15 April 2015 at 33 weeks’ gestation by emergency caesarean section.
I had previously been told that getting pregnant would be almost impossible, due to my stage four endometriosis. I had been seeing a gynaecologist for a number of years and, following several laparoscopies to try and relieve the pain slightly, the conclusion was that the best way for me to lead a normal life would be to have a hysterectomy. As I was only around 30 and didn’t have any children I was absolutely devastated.
I met with another consultant to see what the next steps should be and he recommended IVF.
I was shocked, as my tubes, ovaries and uterus were so scarred and merged together, I had never been told that this was an option. My consultant said my chances weren't great, but it was definitely worth a shot.
We went through the process, which was particularly painful for me as I was already so deeply scarred inside.
Two days before I was due to take my pregnancy test, I had a very heavy bleed for eight days and all the medical professionals assumed I had miscarried.
I went to the hospital every day for a week and was told I was having a slow miscarriage, but every time I took a pregnancy test it said I was pregnant, and the number of weeks it said I’d been pregnant was increasing.
It was so distressing going to the hospital every day when no-one was able to confirm if I was pregnant or not. One day, after waiting around at the hospital for 11 hours I demanded they give me a scan. Finally, someone came and they found a heartbeat - everyone was absolutely dumbfounded, as on paper I was having a miscarriage.
The pregnancy went fairly well until about 20 weeks, when I started to notice that my bump was much bigger than it should be and I started to get high blood pressure. I went for lots of extra appointments at the hospital, but they kept saying everything was ok.
For the last few weeks before Tate was born I felt awful. I had been feeling really unwell with severe diarrhoea and had reduced movement. I tried to get ready to go to work one day but felt especially ill, so I popped into the hospital to get checked. Thank goodness I did!
After a few checks they confirmed that I had pre-eclampsia. They monitored me and the baby for most of the day but they weren't happy with my blood pressure or the movement of the baby. After one scan they told me it looked like Tate had severe anaemia and that they would have to perform an emergency caesarean section. I never expected them to say that, and at that point I was convinced that my baby wasn't going to make it.
On top of my pre-eclampsia and Tate’s anaemia, my endometriosis meant that it was dangerous for me to have a section, because my organs weren't in the same place as everyone else's. This added to the anxiety, but at this point my health was irrelevant to me and I spoke with my husband and told him that if anything was to happen to save the baby and not me.
At 11.40 pm my beautiful baby boy was born and he used his last little breaths to let out a cry. He was then resuscitated and taken straight to intensive care. He immediately had to have a blood transfusion and was being ventilated, he also had severe jaundice and some other problems. It wasn't until 7.30am that we heard anything about how Tate was. We knew he had to have a blood transfusion as they asked our permission and later he had to have a second transfusion.
It wasn't until much later that day that my husband was able to see our little Tate. I wasn't well enough to leave the room at this point as I’d lost a huge amount of blood and was hooked up to several machines.
After returning from the intensive care unit, my husband showed me a picture of our beautiful little Tate, in an incubator and on a ventilator, covered in what looked like a million wires. I gasped - my heart was broken, I couldn't believe it was my son. I hadn't even met him and it didn't seem real that I had a son at all. The picture showed that my husband had put his hand into the incubator and Tate had immediately grasped his finger.
I met Tate the following day. It was absolutely heartbreaking to see my baby in the state he was in, and every day I was just waiting for someone to tell me we'd lost him.
I started expressing milk straight away so they could give it to Tate with all of his medicines.
He had a very bad week, with infections and low platelets and haemoglobin levels, but after about eight days, things started to settle with his health. He then developed reflux and his weight plummeted and it took a couple of weeks before the doctors prescribed him with Gaviscon. He was born at 5lb 2oz, but had gone down to just under 4lb. The rest of his time in hospital was to get him feeding and to put on weight. I was able to breastfeed some days, which was the most wonderful feeling in the world, but I expressed mostly so it could be mixed with his medicine andwe could make sure he was getting enough.
I was discharged after ten days, but spent every day from 9.00am until 10.00pm with Tate on the ward.
The whole experience is without doubt the hardest thing I've ever had to do. Unless you have been through it, no one will know the torture and heartache of having to leave your baby, wondering if he is going to make it through the next day.
Tate is now six months old and is still on a few of his medications but is absolutely fine, and the biggest miracle to ever grace our lives.
I recently found Bliss when I was starting to research the feelings I was having. I was feeling very sad and crying at the drop of a hat. It's taken six months, but all of a sudden the experience has hit me. It was triggered by me visiting my sister, who recently had a baby. I ended up outside the unit where Tate had spent the first month of his life, and had an anxiety attack. Since then I have found it difficult to deal with what happened to him.
I am so glad I found the Bliss website, as I started to realise that what I was feeling was common, and it has made me feel so much better.
I felt awfully guilty for feeling sad about what happened to Tate, as he is fine now and I also have friends that have lost their babies, but the feelings I've had in the last couple of weeks have just consumed me.
I'm extremely protective over my beautiful son and a lot of people around me can't understand why, but I look on the Bliss website and social media pages and I know that I am not alone when I see the amazing parent stories.
If you, like Paula, need someone to talk to, you can call the Bliss helpline on 0500 618 140 to speak to a qualified advisor.