Miscarriage and NICU
I was so happy. We’d been trying for a baby for a year and there it was. Finally.
We went into town after and I was picking out items saying “well we need it for the baby”. A new water bottle because I planned to drink more with the baby. I was ecstatic.
But that night, as I got ready for bed, I had a small bleed. It was small. Irritated cervix? Old blood from implantation bleeding? I woke up the next morning and the bleeding at subsided. I had a lot of cramps. I took pregnancy test after pregnancy test but I knew what was happening – the positive was getting fainter and fainter.
I called ‘111’ and was referred to the local cottage hospital but once I stood up, the cramps intensified and I bled through a pad. I was determined to get to the hospital. Once at the hospital, the urine test came back ‘– Negative’. I would pass the ’tissue’ soon and if the bleeding didn’t stop in 2 weeks, go to the GP. I was told: “You can always try again” and “Well you didn’t know for very long so you weren’t connected to it”. Some GPs need sensitivity training.
I thought I handled it quite well. I didn’t feel like I should be upset, after all I’d only known 24 hours. But that was 24 hours of imagining myself with this baby. I’d never experienced a close death before, I didn’t know how to mourn. But I found myself crying all the time. I didn’t want to tell my family. No one knew we were pregnant, we only knew for 24 hours but I ended up crying to them and telling them what happened. It was never really spoke about again.
I stopped wanting to take part in life; very much transfixed on what happened. Why it happened. What did I do wrong? I didn’t take my calcium tablets – maybe my body couldn’t cope. I was really stressed out from Christmas – maybe it’s my fault for getting stressed. I was in a cycle of blaming myself. But there’s no blame.
The bleeding stopped after a week so my partner and I half heartedly tried again the next cycle. I figured the hormones may still be in my blood slightly so may help have a successful pregnancy if we could manage to get pregnant again. I didn’t really want it to happen at this time as I missed the baby I lost. I wanted to give the baby proper grieving time.
We moved house, I carried heavy boxes, my partner’s birthday, financial stress – a lot of big things followed two months after the miscarriage.
“Consult your doctor if pregnant or breastfeeding” on the box of some medicine made me take a pregnancy test. Of course I wasn’t pregnant, I told myself. The times after the miscarriage didn’t count. + Positive. For a second I wondered whether I had really lost the baby before, but I knew that wasn’t true. Anxiety hit me that this baby wasn’t alive. My partner booked in for a private scan. There they were, my perfect baby. Already you could see the arms and legs in the 3D scan they did for us.
This helped for a week. Then thoughts began to creep into my mind: “will I have a baby at the end?” and “is baby okay?” but the worst was the overwhelming feeling something was wrong. Throughout the whole pregnancy. That overwhelming, strong and intrusive feeling.
I kept the pregnancy fairly under wraps so if I did lose the baby again I wouldn’t have the pain of some well meaning soul asking about a pregnancy that had ended. I didn’t tell the extended parts of my family until I was around 25 weeks. Very few knew until after the birth.
But this made it harder when I was struggling with Pelvic Gurdle Pain (PGP) and a toddler. I had little to no support from outside immediate family. So it was easy within this loneliness to get lost in the strong and overwhelming feelings. I’d get lost in the ways I was going to lose this baby.
The 12 week scan came. The 20 week scan came. 33 weeks pregnant and baby had a heartbeat. Maybe I’d have a baby. I’d experience some clear fluid. I asked the stand in midwife and she told me that it was likely my ‘waters’ but small leaks reseal. I am an antenatal teacher, I’d never read about the resealing and likewise I didn’t read that it didn’t exist either.
I remember thinking that it’s just more wrong with me, it seems as though baby was fine. I mentioned it again at my 35 week appointment and was sent straight into hospital. “It’s only clear discharge” I told myself. But the test came back positive and they viewed a pool of amniotic fluid. Baby was still fine. But they gave me steroids to be safe.
I was to be discharged the next day, but routine observation on baby needed to be done so down I went to the maternity assessment unit. Laying there on my back, a midwife came over and said “We just need you to stay on the monitor a bit longer”. I looked at the heartbeat and it was taking big dips and taking a long time to recover from the surges I was having. Being induced at 37 weeks was no longer recommended between everything, induction at 36 weeks was recommended.
Turns out that feeling of reduced oxygen over my brain when laying down wasn’t just effecting me, it was effecting my unborn baby too. Mother’s instinct was right – there was something wrong.
My partner and I debated over what to do, I told him: “I could go over all the statistics, all the facts but there was a reason my intuition kept telling me something was wrong…”
So I was induced but we went slowly, like I wanted. I was respected, listened to and in the end I had a 5/6 hour labour from the first set of regular contractions to birth of baby. It was the healing birth I wanted after my traumatising first. I thought we could just leave.
We found out my placenta had began to detach from the uterine wall, there was a chance that if I had gone to 40 weeks plus that the placenta would have fully detached and I wouldn’t have had a baby. I am so amazed at the power of a mother’s intuition.
But then baby was wheezing. He (I found at the sex at birth and he was a boy!) couldn’t breathe so wouldn’t feed. My partner went with our son as he got a cannula fitted in case he needed antibiotics and I was told he’ll be back in about 10 minutes or so. An hour passed and they didn’t come back.
I finally got a call off my partner as I lay in my own blood that our son was in an incubator, on oxygen. With all my strength I tried to stand up, but I hadn’t recovered from PGP. I couldn’t get to my son. I had a panic attack on the bed. The midwife who birthed Alex came in to check on me, she sat with me until I calmed down even though her shift was over and told me she would get someone to find out what has happened and get me up there.
I’ll never forget the first time I saw my 6lb 13oz tiny baby in the incubator. I felt my heart in my throat. I remember being told that there wasn’t much difference between 36 weeks and full term. Baby will be fine. He didn’t look fine with all those cables over him.
He managed to recover quickly and was out of the hospital by day 3. He was readmitted on day 5 for severe jaundice. He needed a blood transfusion but they gave him a chance on a 360 degree blood light. His levels were up and down. During this time I read what can happen with high levels of jaundice. That anxiety was constant for the 3 days he was in hospital.
He was under the hospital for jaundice until he was 6 weeks. He’s fine now, he’s big, he’s strong.
But I’m not. I keep picturing finding him dead. I keep hearing the beeping of the monitors. I remember parts of his hospital stay so vividly. I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD, postnatal depression (PND) and postnatal anxiety (PNA). My 3 year old keeps asking if her brother will go back to hospital. She sleeps in the same room to make he doesn’t go back to the hospital. We’re not fine.
By Paris Booton
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