At just 28 weeks pregnant my waters broke, we hadn’t realised at the time but now know that was it. From week 28-29 I felt unwell. I was lethargic, fatigued, nauseated and moody and suffering from periods of extreme anger, severe abdomen cramping and headaches/dizziness. These symptoms came and went for a few days during my 28th week of pregnancy. On the Sunday when I hit 29 weeks my symptoms were slowly improving, I told myself okay, things are fine. I had been in contact with my local hospital and they reassured me I wasn’t in labour and to just stay at home and attempt to manage my symptoms and problems.
Monday morning came around (now 29+1) and I felt off, I didn’t feel myself. My brother said something, I can’t even remember what now, and I lost it. This wave of anger hit me and I felt like I wasn’t even in my body, like I was going to collapse there and then. I knew at this point that something wasn’t right. I called the hospital Monday afternoon and explained the last few days of symptoms since I had spoken to them last and they asked me how quickly I could get there. At the time, my partner was at his mums house and I was home with my parents (we were waiting for settlement on our house and living with my mum and step dad).
My step dad was in the kitchen cooking dinner and mum was upstairs, I calmly went up upstairs and told mum I was going to the hospital to get checked out. I packed a phone charger, bottle of water and my maternity book, assuming I’d be home in a few hours. I was trying not to panic and just got in the car and drove myself. I was dizzy and lightheaded, probably not in a fit state for driving but was convincing myself everything was fine. I got to the hospital and realised how exhausted I was, I called my partner, Tyler, and told him to get a lift to the hospital so he could drive my car home. When I arrived to the birth suite I was put in monitoring where they could see small contractions and I had started to feel them as well. They took bloods and did swab tests and quickly found that my waters were definitely broken and I was dilated 1cm.
I was immediately arranged for transfer to Monash Hospital in Clayton as the Angliss Hospital can’t manage babies smaller than 34 weeks. On arrival at Monash I felt scared, nervous and overwhelmed as I was rushed into a birthing suite and prepped for birth by obstetricians and also paediatricians and neonatologists who informed me on how my babies would be cared for! I hadn’t slept in over 24 hours by this point and spent the night/early morning fading in and out managing the small contractions and getting pumped with drugs to try and stop the labour. I also received my first dose of steroids to help the boys’ lungs develop more.
By lunchtime the next day I was transferred into the post-natal ward as they were happy that I was no longer in labour and it was to be that I would now remain in hospital until the birth of these babies. The idea of spending up to 2 months in a hospital bed sent me slightly insane, I didn’t know how my mental health was going to cope. We managed to keep the boys in until exactly 30 weeks. I was suffering from Chorioamnionitis also known as IAI, an infection in the fetal membranes and during those 7 days between admission and birth I had become too unwell, the bubs were happy and healthy on the inside but my body was not coping and I was having episodes of illness so severe that we were risking fetal distress. It was the strangest thing I had ever felt, I would be really hot and dizzy and felt super restless to the point where I was fidgeting and angry that I couldn't move and then I would start shaking and it felt like I was in the middle of a snow storm, then I would pass out and fall asleep.
So on that Sunday around noon after seeing my health declining they decided it was time, it was going to be safer for both me and bubs if they came and we were booked for an emergency caesarean. I was taken back to the birth suite where I begged the nurse for a shower before my surgery as we had an hour or two before a theatre was free. I quickly showered and was rushed back into bed to receive a magnesium drip. This was the most disgusting and awful thing I have ever experienced. The nurse warned me it would make me feel super hot but it made me feel like I was dying, I screamed to Tyler as my body burned in places I didn't know possible and my throat felt like it was closing over and screamed for a nurse. She came running in and to my shock didn't panic, she told me it was an extreme reaction but it was still in the range of normal. I thought wow okay, you could have warned me better. The magnesium drip made me feel drained and depleted so I lay there for the next hour waiting to find out when it was time. And on that night it all began, the 11th of August 2019 these sweet boys arrived.
T H E B I R T H
We were taken to theatre at around 6:30pm and they ran through pre-op and Tyler got into some scrubs. We waited for all of the teams of people to arrive as they came and introduced themselves, I don't remember who each person was but both babies had a team of about 5 medical professionals each. The room was full of at least 15 people from anaesthetists, surgeons, obstetricians, scrub nurses, NICU nurses, neonatologists and paediatricians. It was overwhelming to say the least but I am blessed in that it felt like one big family, everyone was so kind and joking with each other and the environment remained positive, I didn't feel anxious. My anaesthetist and the nurse (Amy) looking after me were incredible, I will never forget that. The anaesthetist was so gentle and kind and talked me through as they cut my stomach open (I was like whaaat, I didn't even realise it had started!) and the nurse looking after me took Tyler's phone and grabbed photos (luckily because Tyler got so distracted he barely took any).
At 7:39pm Oliver entered the world weighing just 1308g and 41.5cm long shortly followed by Riley at 7:42pm weighing just 1263g and 41cm long. They were perfect. Ollie struggled with breathing and as they pulled him out the surgeon shook him a bit, it was frightening but thankfully he cried shortly after. He was whisked away and put straight onto C-PAP. Riley was somehow breathing for himself so the NICU nurse whisked him over so I could see him quickly before they took him away. Apart from the moment they pulled Ollie out I never saw him. My heart broke as they wheeled the cot away with both babies inside as Tyler followed them. I sat in recovery panic texting Tyler making sure they were okay, I was so sure something would be wrong. Luckily they were both stable and doing okay.
I passed post-op observations and was taken back to the ward. All I wanted to do was hold and see my babies. I was heartbroken, angry. Why me? Why did this happen to me, what did I do wrong? I was grieving the loss of the end of my pregnancy at that 'normal' birth.