My pregnancy was fairly straightforward up until 30 weeks. As a reasonably active person before pregnancy, I kept up running until 23/24 weeks and regularly did yoga, walking, swimming and stationary cycling.
On Wednesday night, the day we turned 30 weeks, I felt a bit of a trickle into my pants. I went to the toilet but didn’t think much of it – except for getting a towel for the couch. Luckily the next morning, I had a routine check-up with my midwife at the One for Women clinic in Midland. I casually mentioned what had happened the night before, and she told us to go straight to the hospital.
I had the tests, and sure enough, my waters had broken, and I was getting frequent tightenings. While the tests were getting done, my husband had to sit down on a chair at the thought that our baby could be coming this early! My husband and I had to drive straight to King Edward Memorial Hospital (KEMH) as SJOG Mt Lawley could not help babies less than 35 weeks. I spent a week at KEMH after two steroid shots, antibiotics and medications to stop the labour. I was allowed to go back home on light duties, and thanks to COVID, I was already working from home. I was a bit frustrated at having to take it easy, but so many people told us that each day you could keep the baby in, the better the outcomes would be.
At about 34 weeks, I had another check-up with my midwife. It was in the afternoon. I mentioned to her that I hadn’t felt bub move as much as normal that day, and she popped me on the CTG at the clinic. Our baby’s baseline heart rate was about 150/160 bpm (as I had learnt from my time at KEMH). On the CTG at the clinic, his heart rate had dropped below 100 – I think about 80 or 90 BPM. Again, we rushed straight to the hospital, where I stayed another week with close monitoring on the CTG.
The CTGs showed that my baby kept having quite frequent decelerations, and we weren’t sure what was causing it – maybe him leaning on the cord or holding it with his hand. I got discharged on Sunday (after missing my baby shower) and went back on the Monday for another CTG. We had an almost 10-minute deceleration on the CTG – it was pretty serious. The call button was pushed, and lots of staff ran into the room, and a caesarean bed was prepped outside the door. I had come in by myself as my husband was working, so I was pretty scared. After an hour, the heart rate was back to normal, and I got sent home.
That night, we spoke to a family friend who is also a paediatrician and got advice about continuing or getting the baby out and what the risks of each would be. I was so stressed about the baby and not knowing if he was having decelerations or not that we decided we needed to get him out. First thing Tuesday morning (after our team check-in for work), I called the hospital, and we went in. We asked to get the baby out, and I was scheduled for a caesarean at 3 pm as it was too risky to go through labour with the decelerations as they tended to coincide with tightenings.
We quickly called our families to let them know what was happening and that the baby was coming today. I then had to call my manager to let her know I’d need to stop work. As neither my husband nor I had handed over anything for work, we both had a few calls and emails during the day waiting for 3 pm. My husband was still typing on his laptop as I was getting loaded on the bed to get taken down for surgery. I had wanted a natural birth throughout my pregnancy, and I’d tried so hard to stay fit and strong and did lots of prenatal yoga in preparation. I was really against a caesarean. However, it was the safest outcome for my baby.
Liam was born at 3.08 pm at 3.01kg on the 13th of October (a pretty decent size for five weeks early).
He had to get some oxygen and was transported to the special care nursery straight away with my husband while I got stitched up. We spent a week in the hospital as Liam got stronger. He had to have a feeding tube, and I was breastfeeding and pumping at every feed so he could be topped up through the feeding tube and eventually bottles. Liam also spent 48 hours under the lights for jaundice.
The first couple of weeks were pretty rough with our feeding schedule. Liam fed every 3 hours (even overnight), but each feed took me 1.5 hours with the breastfeeding, pumping and top-ups. I was exhausted from not getting much sleep between feeds and felt so frustrated and tied to the house by my pump. We had lots of follow up with our beautiful lactation consultant and eventually weaned Liam off the top-ups, and now he is exclusively breastfed.