My third pregnancy had been a tough one. I had suffered extreme nausea through out the first trimester. Then during my second trimester my pelvis separated, leaving me in so much pain I ended up in hospital. I began to get headaches all the time, my hands and feet were going numb, which was also a quite painful. I would wake up in the night seeing black spots, I would rub my eyes but the spots wouldn’t go away.
At the beginning of June we needed to travel 10 hours away for Jeff’s Grandpa’s funeral. Two days before we left I came down with “gastro”. So I travelled with an ice cream bucket in my lap and many frequent toilet stops.
I had never met most of Jeff’s family before, yet here I was staying in their house taking up the toilet. I was mortified and feeling more unwell by the day but didn’t want to say anything as we were there for Jeff’s family and to celebrate his Grandpa’s life.
I ended up taking maxalon to get me through the funeral, stayed for some of the wake and then went home to nap. The rest of that day is a bit of a blur for me. I remember I woke up in the night and I felt cold. So cold I was shaking I couldn’t get warm and my lower back was really hurting.
I woke Jeff, who woke his parents. Jeff and his Dad drove me to the hospital where they suspected I may have had a kidney infection and admitted me. They put me on a drip and gave me pethidine for the pain. They also took a urine sample which came back positive for protein.
Jeff had already had to take unpaid leave to come to the funeral and now I had been in hospital two nights longer than we had planned to be away and his work was pressuring him to return. I was feeling better so we discussed returning home with the doctor. He was hesitant to let me leave and said that if I had any pain again at all to return to a hospital.
As we drove home I started feeling lower back pain again and pain in my upper right part of the stomach. We decided to drive the two boys straight to Jeff’s parents house when we got home and Jeff would take me to our local hospital.
It was around 9pm when we got to the hospital. We explained the situation to a nurse, who said she couldn’t admit me because there was no obstetrician on duty that night. She wanted us to return in the morning. We both argued with her for half an hour before she called a GP to come and see me.
The GP wanted Jeff to drive me to the next hospital half and hour away. I argued that he couldn’t do that, he’d already driven 10-11 hours that day, it was unsafe. The nurse butted in and said “shall I just call the flying doctor for you?” I was starting to feel like maybe I was being silly and nothing was wrong, but the doctor in Broken Hill had been adamant that I needed to be in hospital.
So it was organised the hospital would pay for a taxi to transport me to the next hospital. The poor taxi driver was very nervous I might give birth! I arrived and was admitted and sent to a bed to finally get some rest. It was now about 11pm.
At around 1am a doctor came in and woke me up. He was very unhappy and said nothing was wrong with me and I was wasting everyone’s time. Lucky for me a kind nurse was on duty and she told me not to listen and that she was very worried about me.
The next morning a locum doctor came to see me and he was very concerned that I had pre-eclampsia. He asked the nurses to do a trace and monitor the baby. The other doctor said that he couldn’t find any traces of protein so it wasn’t pre-eclampsia he suspected gall stones. So for two days these two doctors argued. It was a week end, a Saturday, so I couldn’t have the scan until the Tuesday.
If they had checked my previous notes it would have been shown that I had previously shown traces of protein in Broken Hill but due to having IV fluids it had been flushed through.
During the trace they would have trouble picking up the babies heart beat. It would be there one minute then drop out the next. I was told it was the baby moving, but I had never felt him move.
On the Sunday night a friend came to visit. By now I was a big swollen mess, I could barely walk to the toilet. I was having a lot of trouble breathing and just felt horrible. The main doctor came in again and started lecturing me on how all the tests were showing nothing wrong when my friend interrupted him and said “Jess does not look like this, she can barely even breathe, something is so wrong with her.”
The nurse working that night checked my blood pressure. It was high. Very high. She called in the locum doctor who told the other doctor he was taking over now. I was given two lots of blood pressure medications, oxygen and a one way ticket to Adelaide with the Royal Flying Doctors. The Dr said to me that he was fairly certain that my baby would be born early as I was so sick and that it wouldn’t surprise him if I delivered my baby that week.
So in the early hours of Monday morning, around 1am with a tiny bag containing basic toiletries and one pair of pyjamas, I was taken by ambulance to the airport and then flown to Adealide. I was sent to the Flinders Medical Centre (FMC). At that stage I hadn’t never even heard of this hospital and didn’t even know where it was.
When I arrived the staff were brilliant. They did all the tests possible and it came back showing a positive result to protein in my urine. It was then we had to make a plan, would the baby need to be born or would I need to remain in hospital under bed rest.
On the Monday I had an ultrasound on the baby and as it was a public holiday had to wait until Tuesday to find the results. That night the nurse ordered a trace and again during it the baby’s heart beat dropped off. I explained what had been said at the last hospital, that it was just the baby moving. She said to me “no your baby hasn’t moved, that’s his heart”. I was left on a trace permanently after that.
The head obstetrician came to see me the next morning. He was very concerned by the trace and the fact that the ultrasound showed the baby and placenta had stopped growing. He wanted the baby born today. I immediately started tying to ring Jeff, who was at work four and half hours away. Of course he wasn’t answering. I rang his Dad who worked at the same place but was at home. His Dad ended up getting some one to go find Jeff and tell him he needed to get to Adelaide now. His boss wasn’t going to let him leave and he ended up walking out, not knowing if he would have a job to return to.
I was transferred to a birthing suite and a section had been scheduled for 6pm that night. So Jeff had time to arrive. I had called a friend who lived nearby and my mum who lived about an hour and a half away to come be with me while Jeff travelled up, as I was feeling anxious.
Due to my high blood pressure, all my veins started collapsing. The doctor trying to get my IV lines in for the surgery couldn’t do it, she tried 6 times in different places before a nurse intervened and stopped her. The anaesthetist came and ended up putting them in my elbows. Which doesn’t sound bad, but this meant that even if I was able to, I wouldn’t be able to hold my baby.
I was put on magnesium via the IV to relax my muscles and stop me from having a seizure after the baby had been born. This feels really hot under your skin and just makes you feel dopey in general.
The NICU (neonatal intensive care) team then came in to see how I was going and explain where the baby would go after being born. This was the day I met one of the most amazing people you could know, Dr Simon James. He was eating a cake and teasing me that I couldn’t. He told me he had a prem baby himself who was now a grown adult, currently drinking beer in Germany.
As we were talking the heart rate monitor for the baby started going down, it got to around 40BPM and then they decided my section was happening now. It was an emergency. I didn’t even have time to call Jeff. We were rushed straight into a theatre and my mum came with me while my friend called Jeff who was already on his way but would miss the birth.
They had wanted to put me under a GA for the surgery but at this stage they really weren’t sure if Patrick or even myself were going to make it through the surgery. There was no way I could be put to sleep.
At 1:30pm weighing 1.100kg or 2pd7Ibs Patrick Scott came into the world. Crying, it was faint, but he was crying…..
To be continued….