It was a Saturday in September 2014. I had been feeling flu-like symptoms for a few days and put it down to being 35wks pregnant and having 2 small children to run after so thought nothing of it. All of a sudden I broke out in a sweat and couldn’t breathe. First it was a twinge, then it was a cramp, and then it was a contraction!
After an hour my contractions had gone from 9mins apart to 7minutes we drove to the closest rural hospital. The hospital doctor decided to give me some medication to stop the labour as it was not advisable to deliver at 35wks. An ambulance was called to take me to a major hospital, who could care for a women at my stage of pregnancy.
We arrived at 6pm (6 hours after labour had started) and were taken to a labour ward. The locum doctor was a wonderfully kind woman who calmed me and put my mind at ease. I was given more medication to slow/stop contractions, a dose of steroids to strengthen the baby’s lungs should delivery happen and placed on a fetal monitor. It was discovered that I had a kidney infection as well as sinus and chest infection. These infections in late stage pregnancy can sometimes set off labour and a survival mechanism for baby.
After 4hours, my labour had slowed and contractions were back down to 10mins apart. I had had no fluid loss, so was admitted for observation. Contractions had stopped and fetal movements had slowed.
Sunday was a day in bed on the fetal monitor for 22hours. The nurses and midwives were keeping a close eye on me and baby.
Monday came and I voiced my fears of little to no fetal movement. The monitor wasn’t showing a lot of movement and I could not feel much going on inside either. I was sent for an ultrasound. Baby’s heartbeat was strong, stomach and kidneys all working, lungs a good size but underdeveloped for birth as per normal with a 35wk pregnancy. There was no issue with the umbilical cord. The woman conducting the ultrasound said she could not see anything wrong that would cause no movement, perhaps baby is ‘chilled/relaxed’. She sent me back to my room and said the doctor would see me soon.
The visiting obstetrician said she could not understand what was going on as the ultrasound revealed nothing abnormal. She was puzzled. She called my own obstetrician who instructed for me to be discharged and sent home until I was 36wks 3days then she would reassess the situation and deliver if necessary. This stuck fear into my heart as I knew that something wasn’t right in there and my own doctor wasn’t listening to me and my concerns for my baby.
We discussed it, the obstetrician, my husband and myself. We decided to wait another day to see if baby decided to wake up and start moving.
Meanwhile, my sister, who was living overseas, stayed in touch and offered advice. She and my mother were very concerned. My sister sent me some [Still Aware] information on monitoring my baby’s movements as a friend of hers had recently lost her baby at term. Her advice made us think harder about our situation.
It was a long night with me waiting for a kick or a movement. Watching the fetal monitor like a hawk looking for any indication that my baby was ok and still alive.
About 4am my contractions started again. Coming on slowing and building to 4mins apart by 11am. I was given a 2nd dose of steroids for baby’s lungs and waited. The doctor called my obstetrician and discussed the possibility of delivery today and my obstetrician said she did not believe that the baby needed to be delivered and ‘the mother is being irrational’. The doctor then again rang her colleague’s and advised them that she wanted to deliver as contractions had started and she felt that as a mother I knew that my baby was in danger.
That afternoon the visiting obstetrician told me we were going to prep for a caesarean. I burst into tears. FINALLY someone was listening to me. As soon as that happened, baby started moving. The fetal monitor was jumping all over the place. My instincts had been right, my baby wanted out now for some reason and I needed to make that happen.
At 8.18pm on Tuesday 23rd September 2014, our third baby girl was born at a slight 5lb 11oz. My husband got to hold Sophie first before she was taken away to be placed on a respirator as her lungs were not strong enough.
It was discovered that my placenta had turned septic and hardened like cement to the wall of my uterus. Whilst the umbilical cord was still working for my daughter, 60% of my placenta was septic/dead. The fluid surrounding my daughter was green and smelly. The doctor could not believe what she was seeing. Four days had passed since I had gone into premature labour. My baby needed out because her life line was dying.
The doctor said that if I had not been so strong on my feelings of something not being right and if I had not voiced my concerns there is almost a 100% chance that Sophie and I, both would not have survived. If we had been sent home as per the suggestion of my own obstetrician and to come back the following week, both of us may not have made it.
Now, almost 2 years on, she is going strong and we are so thankful to have her here with us.
I cannot stress enough that if you feel something is not right, speak up. Don’t wait a few days til your next appointment or a few hours to see if it moves. If you are concerned speak up, make your voice heard. The doctors don’t have to live with your loss, you do and no one wants to experience that if it can be helped.
Written by Sophie’s Mother, Amanda