For me pregnancy equalled constant feelings of anxiety about one thing or another… from the beginning when I found out about the pregnant late (ish) at 11 weeks and I’d made no lifestyle changes, to the weeks when I lost all my symptoms and didn’t even feel pregnant… plus waiting for results of every blood test and ultra sound and then the random aches and pain causing me to wonder… what’s that? Is this normal? And the answer? Well yes it was… that is up to week 34…
On Saturday Mr S and I had gone to John Lewis and had a really busy day buying things for baby boy… we’d been so busy that I hadn’t really stopped to think about his movements. Then at night when I was lying in bed, the time that I felt him most busily snuffling and hiccuping, I suddenly realised that I hadn’t felt anything for a while. I told Mr S and he said ‘Let’s go to hospital’ but with it approaching midnight and me feeling exhausted plus acknowledging a few kicks… I thought it was fine. The next day I had a sugary drink and lay on my left side (this is the advice if you haven’t felt movement) and waited for kicks. I still didn’t feel much but we decided to attend our first NCT class as planned. Soon baby burst into action and his movements normalised and I felt no more worries throughout the week. At the end of week was our week 34 appointment, Mr S usually came with me to appointments but with everything feeling fine, I told him not to worry as the standard weighing and blood pressure just weren’t worth him missing work for.
Mr S and I have opted for private healthcare which means that we have frequent appointments with an ultra sound every time. The NHS only offers two ultrasounds at around week 12 and week 20 for low risk pregnancies which is just not enough in my opinion… as our obstetrician was carrying out the scan I noticed she was a little quieter and taking a little longer than usual. After completing the scan the doctor sat me down and explained that my placenta wasn’t performing as efficiently as it had been and there was reduced blood flow through to the baby. She encouraged me to get in contact with Mr S and meanwhile sent me for CTG (cardiotocography) monitoring.
Heart pounding and tearing pricking my eyes, I headed up to be hooked up to a machine with sensors placed on my bump so that baby’s heart rate and movements could be monitored. I held on to a button which I had to press every time I felt a movement. I sat there willing him to move whilst texting and calling Mr S who was busy at work and not replying. After fifteen minutes the midwife came back into the room and told me that baby boy had passed the CTG and wasn’t in serious trouble, I was just breathing a sigh of relief as Mr S came rushing through the door having picked up my message. With fear on his face and tears in his eyes, I quickly reassured him that I’d seen baby on the ultra sound and his heart rate was normal and he was stable. Soon we were back in the doctor’s office and she explained to us that baby’s heart rate was normal and his growth was still on an even trajectory… despite the reduced blood he was protecting his vital organs such as his brain and heart. The doctor wanted to keep him inside me as the situation was not yet critical but she suggested we take him out in ten days time before the situation worsened. Currently at 34 weeks and 1 day, ten days time felt scarily early and I had visions of NICU time and a very small baby. The doctor reassured me that at this point he was a good size and probably wouldn’t need intensive care, she suggested in the mean time we monitor him daily on the CTG machine and we came to see her twice a week for ultra sound. We left feeling scared but with some reassurance everything would be ok. By the way, any time you feel reduced movement, call your hospital and go in for monitoring, I knew this but when the movements normalised, I didn’t think it was necessary.
The next day was my baby shower, a day I’d been very much looking forward to which now felt tinged with sadness as I worried about my little one. It was great seeing all my friends and family and my sister and my friend Theresa created such a beautiful day for me. It was great to take my mind off my worries and to be surrounded by support… but as I opened the presents I couldn’t help but think will he ever get to wear this? Our last NCT class on Sunday saw more support from new friends but it was Monday when I was home alone that I was left to dwell on the situation, looking in his nursery and eying his pram hoping everything would turn out ok. At this point I was thinking I’d be having the baby in a week’s time so rather than brood, I tried to suck it up and rush along anything we had left to prepare for.
The next few weeks pased like a bad dream… we visited the obstetrician again on Tuesday and Friday, on the days that she had her clinics and each time the placenta remained stable and she was keen to keep baby in as long as possible. Meanwhile we were also visiting the hospital every day for the CTG monitoring to make sure heart rate and movements were normal. Baby boy passed the monitoring every time within about fifteen minutes so the obstetrician reassured us we hadn’t yet hit a critical point and we could safely keep the baby in. Days turned into weeks and the Monday that I thought we’d have him came and went and with it a mixture of relief but also anxiety… I just wanted to hold him in my arms and know he was safe but of course I knew keeping him inside was the best thing for him. We had time to finish off the nursery, buy anything that was still outstanding on our list plus we had our pregnancy photo shoot in London (I’ve used the pictures for this post), I felt like I’d really got myself ready.
The doctor told me we’d definitely still need to have him early and explained my two options… caught between rock and hard place, my choices were inducing labour or a planned c-section. My original ‘plan’ had been natural labour but now I was forced into make a big decision about how I wanted to deliver my baby boy.
In my usual way, I over thought the decision deeply… I had the doctor’s advice, the many mid-wives we met during our nightly visits to the Lindo Wing at St Mary’s hospital for monitoring but I also scoured the internet for articles on the two options. However, my preferred way of getting information was reading personal blog posts, watching YouTube videos and above all speaking to friends and family members some of which who’d had first hand experience of both.
Each option had several pros and cons… induction of labour is known to be more painful than natural labour as contractions build more quickly. The induction is also an unknown quantity and could last for days, plus I was warned that 30% of women who had labour induced ended up having an emergency c-section or assisted delivery. But induced labour meant avoiding major surgery and if all went to plan, the recovery time would be minimal. As for the c-section it is physically more traumatic as it’s an operation and recovery time is longer, the baby doesn’t get the healthy bacteria from passing through the birth canal nor does he have the fluid squeezed out of his lungs and may need to go on oxygen. On the plus side, there are very few risks in having a c-section, the team perform them multiple times a week and there is the reassurance that you know when and where the birth is happening no surprises. And personally, I don’t like surprises. With the pros and cons weighed up and after my multiple conversations with people including family and friends and friends who were doctors themselves, I was most definitely leaning toward the option of c-section — especially as the induction had the potential of ending up with an emergency c-section. What I didn’t quite realise were the taboos surrounding c-sections and the online negativity levied towards women who elect to have this kind of birth. Accusations include ‘not a real birth’, the ‘easy option’ and it’s for those who are ‘too posh to push’.
[I love this photo cos it feels like Oscar is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!]
Well I’ve discovered that part of becoming a parent is learning to filter out the unwanted ‘advice’ and do what’s right for you and your baby…With frequent monitoring, we’d kept baby Silver inside for longer than the doctor had originally foreseen but at 36 weeks and five days she saw a change on the ultra sound. We’d been waiting for this day with dread but after the ultra sound when we were told the condition of the placenta had worsened the doctor said, ‘I think we should take him out tomorrow’. With that, my mind was made up, I wanted the c-section. I didn’t want a potential four days of uncertainty with the induction, I wanted him here safely in my arms as soon as possible. We were quickly sent for CTG monitoring and when he passed that test the doctor decided to wait until the day after tomorrow, this would put him at exactly 37 weeks gestation which would mean he was officially full term (albeit it early full term) and therefore not classed as premature. At this gestation with his estimated weight it was very unlikely he’d need intensive care and I felt much more comfortable with this decision that giving birth to him any sooner or later. I was given a steroid injection and booked in for another steroid injection the following morning which would help with the development of his lungs.
Then we were booked in for our planned c-section on the 18th of July at 3.30… It felt strange knowing exactly when he would be born but very exciting. Now all there was to do was wait until we met our little man.
Next blog post… my birth story and what it’s like to have c-section at the Lindo Wing.