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Episode 264

Em

Today’s episode is different from most because Em didn’t realise she was pregnant until she birthed her baby. After going to her GP in January complaining of abdominal bloating, she was encouraged to limit fast foods and take a multivitamin. A month later she was told that she was experiencing bloating due to stress. In early April, after working all day and experiencing severe pains, she started bleeding and went to hospital. The doctor in Emergency presumed she had a heavy period but less than twenty minutes later she had birthed her baby boy who was born en caul.

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As a PCOS sufferer, Em was accustomed to irregular periods and she had been incredibly religious with taking the contraceptive pill because she didn’t feel ready to have a baby. She admits that she feels really sad about the fact that she never got to experience her pregnancy even though she’s grateful to now have baby Harry.

“They’re pretty certain my placenta was at the front and acting like a cushion because I never felt him kick. My skin was really clear but I did have heartburn and I just presumed that was because of my abdominal bloating. They didn’t do ultrasounds which upsets me now because I didn’t get a chance to care for him while he was in my belly. I really would have liked to have known. I didn’t get to have so many experiences and I didn’t get to enjoy those blissful moments of pregnancy that most women get to; baby showers, feeling the baby kick, seeing the baby on ultrasound.”

In January she went to a GP as she was concerned about tight abdominal bloating that wasn’t resolving. She did a pregnancy test and bloods were taken but they both came back negative and she was advised to limit fast foods and take a multivitamin. She returned four weeks later and was given the diagnosis of stress bloating without any explanation of its cause or how to treat it.

“At 2am on Easter Saturday morning I was woken up by a pain in my belly; it wasn’t unbearable but it was strong enough to wake me up. I couldn’t go back to sleep because the pains kept coming. I got ready for work at 7am and was prepared for a busy day at the hair salon. I was behind the basin towards the end of the day doubling over because I was in so much pain. By 4pm the pain was taking my breath away but I just knew I had to get through it so I could go home and rest. But I also thought that the pain was quite bad and not normal.

“I went home and with every pain I just breathed through it. They were more regular and at 6pm I called my mum – she’s like my guru – and I told her I was having regular, intense pains. I sat on the shower floor and I was rocking backwards and forwards. At 9pm I called mum again and told her it was getting worse and I started getting emotional. I was thinking that it could have been  appendicitis or kidney stones. Whatever it was I knew that there was something wrong but because I’d been brushed off in the past I didn’t want to overact and turn up to the hospital to be told that I was overreacting.

“I drove to my mums, had a bath there and the pains were fast and intense. They were taking my breath away and I was starting to get worried because it was getting worse. I tried to get some sleep because I was exhausted but of course that didn’t happen. At midnight I went to the toilet and felt the urge to push but I didn’t know quite what was going on. I started bleeding quite heavily, in gushes, and that’s when I knew something was wrong. I panicked and we got into the car and went to the hospital. It was the worst car ride of my life; I felt every bump, turn and stop. It was so painful and I was scared. Mum got a wheelchair for me and I had to wait to be triaged in emergency.

“I had to answer all their questions, I was asked to rate the pain out of ten (I said 9) and they wheeled me to the toilet and asked me to put a pad on because they thought it was a heavy period. It wasn’t a period, I was hemorrhaging. I also felt completely humiliated because they thought it was just my period and they were dismissing me because they thought it was something minor.

“They wheeled me through to the ward and they got me to get on the bed. It was 2:45am and they decided to give me a blood test. The doctor asked if I wanted pain relief because she could see I was in quite a lot of pain. The nurse was in the room, she’d just taken my blood and I felt an overwhelming urge in my body that I needed to push, I buckled over and pushed – one big push – and felt instant relief, as if something had left my body. I felt something on my lap but I was too scared to look under the sheet. I pulled the sheets back and I could just see his back; he was in his amniotic sac, born en caul, and I thought it was my intestines or something.

“The nurse screamed the hospital down: There’s a baby! There’s a baby! And that was the moment I found out I was pregnant and had had a baby. I went into complete shock. And then I started panicking because the room was flooded with people; there were midwives, doctors, obstetricians, paediatricians, anaesthetists in my little cubicle in emergency.

“Mum had to leave the room because she saw it all and just couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t stop shaking, I couldn’t really talk because the thoughts were just overwhelming. The midwives told me I’d had a boy and asked if I wanted to hold him but I couldn’t, I just couldn’t. I was in so much shock but then he had to go to NICU because he had hypothermia and a hole in his lung. They also didn’t know what gestation he was so they had to do tests to check his blood sugars and general health.

“I was also naive to the fact that I needed to birth the placenta when you have a baby. They wheeled me up to the birth suite and I had a beautiful midwife with me who was talking me through everything. She gave me the injection and they pulled it out because I was no longer having contractions. They gave me gas – the first pain relief I’d had. I had a third degree tear upwards so I needed to go to the theatre as it was borderline 4th degree. I was also losing quite a lot of blood – close to 2L – so I had a blood transfusion.

“At 4am I called my partner and the first time I called he didn’t answer. I called again and he was half asleep. I said: Hi, just letting you know that I’m in the hospital. I’m okay but we’ve just had a baby. We have a son.

“He thought he was dreaming. I told him I needed to go to surgery and I needed him to come to the hospital so he could give consent for anything the baby needs. His priority was naming the baby and he said we both liked the name Harry so that was that. He came to the hospital but I didn’t get to see him before I went into surgery. My midwife had taken my phone to NICU and came back to show me photos of Harry and she explained every tube and needle to me. It was very special of her to do that.

“Brody was in my room when I was wheeled back from surgery. I was quite out of it, I was on morphine, I had an IV line in and I was still on oxygen. As soon as I saw him it was like instant relief. I slept for two hours and then they pushed my bed down to the NICU and I got quite upset seeing all of the preemie babies. I also had no idea what Harry would be like. I was wheeled next to the incubator; it felt quite surreal and I wasn’t too sure what was happening. They offered to g
et him out so I could hold him and they passed him to me.

“They estimated I was 42 weeks. I was so blessed to have the same midwife every day in the hospital. She was the most beautiful person I’ve ever met; her name was Donna and she was incredible. She recorded all the details, took so many photos, and explained so much to me. I’ll always be thankful for her.

“I only saw the mental health nurse once in hospital and I wasn’t offered any other support. I went to my original GP – not the one I had seen in January – and organised 10 mental health sessions with a psychologist through the Raphael Centre. Listening to the episodes on the podcast really helped me heal, too. I listened to them in hospital and I found listening to other women’s experiences really helped me to understand what I’d gone through.”

Topics Discussed

Postpartum haemorrhage (PPH), Undiagnosed pregnancy, 3rd Degree tear, PCOS, PND

Episode Sponsor

Today’s episode is brought to you by Active Truth. The maternity activewear tights from Active Truth were a staple in my wardrobe when I was pregnant.

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