I was scheduled to have my 38-week appointment with the hospital on Monday (8th July 2019), and everything was fine until they picked up abnormalities with my baby’s heart rate. The midwife who was in charge was called in to have a look. My baby’s heart rate was jumping up over 200bpm. Thankfully it was coming back down just as quickly as it went up, so they didn’t seem too concerned, and they told my fiancé and I that we shouldn’t worry.
I was asked to come back the following morning (Tuesday 9th July) for another check-up “just in case”. My fiancé was back at work, so I went by myself early in the morning, thinking I’d be back home by mid-morning. I was wrong. I was hooked up to machines for hours, while doctors and midwives kept coming in to have a look. Her heart rate was now jumping up even higher than the previous day, and it was staying high for longer periods of time. Everyone looked concerned, but no one was saying anything.
Finally, a midwife came in and told me that I wouldn’t be leaving the hospital until I had my baby. I had to call my fiancé and tell him to be prepared for the fact that we would be having our baby by the following day. They needed to get her out ASAP. I was asked to go and get an emergency ultrasound so they could look at the structure of her heart, which again I waited hours for. I had to wait for a specialist who was in surgery and luckily for me, was at the hospital only on Tuesday’s.
Thankfully, they told me the structure of her heart was fine from what they could see, but the entire time they were doing the ultrasound, her heart rate was up over 200bpm. They said they don’t know why, but it was potentially very dangerous, and she needed to be Earthside. This was somewhat comforting, but the unknown scared me. I still needed to have a number of internal exams to make sure everything else was okay before I could be induced.
I’d been sitting in the hospital for almost 8 hours, so I was sweaty and gross, and I begged them to let me go home and shower. They agreed, but I had to go home and be back within an hour. I was able to wash my hair, grab my bags and come back with my fiancé.
Once I got back to the hospital, the doctors put the balloon in to dilate my cervix. This was super painful afterwards, and I was given some painkillers to help with the cramping. Unfortunately, I was only 1cm dilated by the following morning (Wednesday 10th July) and had to have my waters broken, and a drip put in.
My labour was awful. My contractions started within 30 minutes of the drip starting, and they felt like they went from 0-100 straight away. I tried to use gas, but it didn’t work at all. After a couple of hours, my contractions were becoming back to back with no break in between, and I wasn’t getting any relief. I still wasn’t dilated enough to be in active labour, but I begged for an epidural. I felt like my pelvis was shattering with every contraction, but I kept being told it was just normal. Nothing was working to help give me any kind of relief, and after 4 hours of excruciating pain, the midwives agreed to give me an epidural.
After I had my epidural put in (on the first try, yay!), my midwife said she was personally glad I had it because at one point my contractions went on for 20 minutes without any break.
Unfortunately, things just kept getting worse for me. My BP kept dropping way too low. I had 15 people in my room at one point. My heart rate was too high, my baby’s heart rate was too high, and my BP kept dropping. In the end, they had to alter my MET call numbers after the 5th call.
The midwives had to turn off the drip to give my body a chance to recover. Thankfully my epidural was working, so I didn’t feel any more pain at this stage. In fact, my epidural worked too well, and I was numb from my toes up to my forehead. This was very alarming, and the anaesthetist was called back in to examine me. Everything was fine; it just needed to be turned down.
On top of everything, I had doctors, nurses, midwives, hospital staff, coming into my room to check out my baby’s heart rate. Word had spread that this “cool” thing was going on that no one had seen before. I felt like an animal at the zoo with everyone watching and taking photos. One doctor even said he’d be following up with us to hear the outcome to use my story as educational material.
I had the head paediatrician come in to speak to us once everything had sort of calmed down. We were told it would be more than likely that my baby would have to be taken to Monash Children’s or RCH after delivery and I’d have to stay where I was. The resources were better for her there, and she had greater chances of being okay than if she stayed. This terrified me.
After about 12 hours of labour, I was ready to push. Except something was happening with my epidural and I could feel every contraction, and it was excruciating. My pelvis felt like it was shattering again. But when they “tested” my epidural with the ice packs, it was fine. But internally, it was not working. Throughout the 45 minutes of trying to push, I kept telling them my pelvis was shattering and that my baby was stuck. They kept telling me I wasn’t pushing properly and that I needed to push into my bum. Considering I was pooping myself with every contraction/push, I knew I was definitely pushing properly. The doctors came in and did an internal exam and realised I needed some intervention to help get her out.
I was in absolute agony this whole time, and I was taken to the theatre so they could use forceps. The doctors did another internal exam, but they finally realised she was stuck, and she was now facing the wrong way. Forceps wouldn’t work.
After what felt like a million years, I got a spinal block put in as my epidural was “malfunctioning” and I had relief at last; except for major uncontrollable shakes. In the end, they had to push my baby back up the birth canal, and I had to have an emergency c-section to get her out safely. They prepared me for a blood transfusion, but I was lucky to not need it. To add to all of this, when they were stitching me up, I could feel it all. By the time I was taken to recovery, I was able to move and could feel pain from my c-section wound – I was told this was not normal.
Ruby was born Thursday morning at 1:37am (11th July).
They took her to the Special Care Nursery straight away. Thankfully she didn’t have to be taken to another hospital, as her heart rate was under control after being born. They think it was SVT (or my own heart) causing her issues, and should not have any ongoing problems with it.
I was told by multiple doctors and MCHN’s that I had PND, but I was embarrassed, and I didn’t want to accept it. I can see now how true it was and how much I struggled post-birth. I feel that being able to share my story will help me heal even more and move past the trauma and fully enjoy my daughter for the tremendous joy that she is.