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Episode 149


In today’s episode I chat to one of my Patreon supporters, Bridget French. Bridget used IVF in both her pregnancies and has experienced the highs and lows of fertility treatment. Her GP was the first to recommend a fertility specialist after running blood tests and discovering that Bridget had low AMH levels (the level of AMH in the blood can help doctors estimate the number of follicles inside the ovaries, and therefore, the woman's egg count) and an iron overload disorder called Haemochromatosis.

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Bridget and husband Rich always wanted a big family so they started IVF treatment straight away and after six rounds they fell pregnant. Bridget admits that she hates taking pregnancy tests so she always relies on the definitive blood test to give her the results and when the clinic called she was, understandably, ecstatic. She experienced a bleed at six weeks and sought the advice of the IVF clinic who encouraged her to rest and explained there wasn’t much anyone could do. At the 9week mark she bled again and went to the ED to request an emergency ultrasound which showed a strong heartbeat. The bleeds could never be explained and thankfully, they stopped at the 13 week mark.

A procedure to remove pre-cancerous cells in her cervix following an abnormal pap smear in 2011 significantly shortened Bridget’s cervix. In her routine ultrasounds with Brisbane OB Dr Brad Robinson, the length of her cervix was monitored and much to Bridget’s surprise, it had lengthened. It had always been in the back of her mind as a risk factor for pre-term labour but Bridget was comforted by the regular checks. However, at 33weeks and 1day, just before she rushed out the door to work, her waters broke. She went straight to the hospital and was given steroids and antibiotics and was advised that she would most probably go into labour within the following few days.

“Every midwife was just so lovely and they each took the time to hold my hand, talk about what would happen over the following weeks and told me that I would be discharged without my baby. I found it really helpful as it prepared me for what was coming,” says Bridget. Without any signs of labour, Bridget was sent home with the strict routine of 4-hourly checks of her temperature, blood pressure and pulse. She visited her OB every second day to check the baby who was always happy with a strong heartbeat although her OB advised a cesarean if labour didn’t commence within the week. It was a challenging time as she felt like she was very much in limbo and petrified of what was to come but on day nine gentle cramps started at 9am and continued so she made her way to the birthing suite.

Bridget had only completed two hospital birth classes and active birth classes before her waters broke and yet she laboured beautifully and stayed in her zone. By 11:30am she was 5cm and regardless of her disappointment at having to lie on the bed for constant monitoring, she happily listened to Aretha Franklin and breathed deep through contractions. “I found it pretty manageable in my zone, I never got fatigued by pain and I was pushing my 2pm. Within 4-5 pushes Molly was born and she came out breathing which was such a relief, especially for a premmie baby.”

She was a good size – 2.33kg – and Bridget had two hours of skin-to-skin before Molly was taken to Special Care. Babies born before 36weeks haven’t yet developed a sucking reflex so Molly was fed through an NG tube and Bridget pumped. She admits that it was very challenging and her supply was affected as she didn’t have Molly close by at all times to stimulate milk production. However, upon discharge Molly was fully breastfed which Bridget counts as her greatest achievement.

“Leaving the hospital without my baby was the hardest day of my life. Molly spent 18 days in Special Care and then we went back to the hospital for two nights so we could have the help of the midwives before she was discharged. By the time I brought her home it was one month from when my waters broke. She continued to put on weight and now, she’s a tall, athletic three-year-old cyclone.”

When Molly was 18months and weaned, Bridget and Rich went back to the IVF specialist as they had ten frozen embryos and opted to transfer one the following month. Sadly they miscarried at 9weeks but soon after, on their third transfer, Bridget fell pregnant with baby Hugo. She was quite anxious about pre-term labour and any little niggle had her worried so her OB put her on progesterone pessaries from 7 weeks to prevent contractions.

Thankfully, she went to 36weeks and 3days before labour started. At 2pm that day she had an OB appointment and her OB told her that he doubted she would go into labour within the next few weeks, sent her home and promised to see her at 39weeks when he returned from holidays. At 3:15pm that afternoon her waters broke and by 8:08pm she was holding her beautiful baby in her arms after roaring him out.

“He fed straight away which was so healing for me after my premmie experience with Molly. Taking him home was so incredibly joyous.”

Tune into this week’s episode to hear Bridget’s story

Topics Discussed

PPROM Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes 36 Weeks

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