It was all smooth sailing; I had a perfectly uncomplicated pregnancy for the most part - a small blood clot very early on and mild placenta previa, which all resolved on its own. I didn't suffer from morning sickness, I was healthy, happy, and the days and weeks were flying by right before my eyes.
I was always itchy throughout my pregnancy, but at around 32 weeks, I noticed it getting worse. My hands and feet would just drive me nuts - I wasn't sleeping and would get up all through the night just to scratch my feet on any surface and to cool them on the cold tiles. I also began feeling nauseous and generally unwell, and I couldn't eat.
I jumped onto Dr Google and researched, and I came across a liver condition called 'Pregnancy Cholestasis'. The symptoms matched what I was feeling, especially with the itchy hands and feet. I went to the doctor and told her about my symptoms, and although the condition is quite rare, I asked for a blood test, just to rule it out.
Results were back, and I got a call from the doctors to come in first thing in the next morning. I was 33 weeks now. I worked that day, but I had to leave early as I was feeling especially off - I was having a lot of what I thought were Braxton Hicks all day. I also wasn't sure if I had felt much movement throughout out the day but thought perhaps I'd been too focused on feeling unwell.
That night I woke to a gush of water at around 10 pm. Something was definitely wrong - it was far too early for my waters to be breaking! I called my maternity ward, and they said to come in straight away. The 40min drive to the hospital felt like hours, just praying the entire time for some movement, but I wasn't confident I'd felt any.
When we finally got there, they put the monitors on and at last I could hear a heartbeat loud and clear - it was the most relieving, incredible feeling. As only my waters had broken, and I was only 33 weeks, keeping baby in for as long as possible was the priority. It was planned that I'd be monitored and stay on bed rest for as long as our baby was willing to stay in.
As the night went on and the monitoring continued, the nurses were concerned with the lack of movement. The midwife called upon the head nurse to look at the readings, who then called upon the head doctor for another opinion. Within seconds, I had nurses and doctors in my room explaining to me that they needed to get the baby out, and I'd be going in for an emergency c-section. For such an intense, emergency situation it was all very calm. The doctors and nurses moved fast, yet slowly to get me to theatre so we could get this baby out asap. My midwife went over what will happen when our baby was born, and that it [we didn't know if it was a boy or girl] will be going straight to the paediatric team who will be waiting for him or her.
At 4:10 am, weighing 2.1kg, our baby girl came out with a big cry - the best, scariest, happiest, indescribable moment. Our baby girl was rushed straight off, and I went to recovery.
7 hours later, I was able to get up and finally meet our baby girl - by the time I saw her, she had come off CPAP [breathing assistance], and she was this perfect tiny, little thing. 14 hours later, I got my first skin to skin hold of her!
The next day I was told by the hospital that I did indeed have Pregnancy Cholestasis; however, my preterm premature rupture of the membranes [PPROM] was completely unrelated. It was the best thing that could have happened, as it alerted us to what was needed to save my baby's life.
It takes a while to adjust to all the cords, the monitors, the hospital lingo, tube feeding and pumping around the clock. Leaving the hospital as a first time mum to go home without your baby is the most horrific, heartbreaking thing you will have to do, but you take every day and hour as they come and you just get through it. You are strong because your baby is strong!
A few bumps in the road, 3 different hospitals and 4 weeks later our baby girl got to come home and is now the healthiest, happiest most beautiful baby girl I could ever ask for. I hope that by sharing my story, I can help someone else who might be going through the same thing or inspire someone to keep the symptoms I experienced and pregnancy Cholestasis at the back of their minds. If you feel off and feel like something is wrong, don't leave it until it's too late - trust your gut! I knew nothing about the premmie world I had just entered, and I spent a lot of time reading other people's stories, which helped so much along the way!