by Sarah Brennan
I’ve an inclination I may be pregnant. At home later, I quickly take a test and a few minutes later my fears come true, it’s positive. I’m in a state of stunned silence, panic, but Mark remains relatively calm for me. We go out for dinner but I can’t talk, can’t even think. It’s too hard to hope that maybe this time it’s going to be okay.
We manage to book a private scan before our holiday in Egypt and we see a small, reasonably well formed sac, but it looks empty.
We explain this is pregnancy number 11 and the consultant is tactful, but it’s too early for him to reassure us that everything will be okay this time. We head abroad full of hope and fear and, I spend the week curled up in the shade trying not to be sick. Is this a good or a bad sign?
We have another early scan in Bridgend Hospital’s EPAU. We arrive early and go through the paperwork. We explain our history, 10 pregnancies, none past 12 weeks, including one evac procedure, one ectopic, one managed in hospital and the rest miscarried at home. The fear starts to kick in as we go in for the scan and we, along with the sonographer who has scanned me before in the past, are in floods of tears when we see a nicely formed sac and a heartbeat. Woohoo – we're pregnant!
After that everything's a whirl. At another early scan we hear a strong heartbeat and see our baby forming; lovely little arms and legs. It feels so surreal.
Our 12-week-scan at Llandough Hospital and we break down in tears again, when the sonographer says everything is going well. I’m given a due date, November 17th 2014, and we choose to have the baby in Bridgend as it’s closer to home. We're duly transferred. Little do we know what’s to come.
Another uneventful few weeks, baby is growing well and, our 20-week-scan appointment comes through. It’s at that scan the sonographer notices something and calls in a colleague. They start to scan again, reassuring us the baby is fine, it’s just there appears to be a band or second pocket of amniotic fluid low down in the cervix area. Naturally we’re concerned, so she says we should pop and see the midwife. She also confirms that we’re having a girl!
The midwife doesn’t seem concerned as the baby is unaffected, so we’re sent home until our 28-week-scan at the end of August. Mark is a rock, from helping me get my shoes on and off, to sorting the nursery.
Week 28, and we’ve booked time off work to get all the appointments arranged, a glucose test first to check for diabetes. Later that day I get a call to say I have gestational diabetes and I’ve been moved from my original consultant to a combined diabetic and midwife led clinic. I break down in tears and hand the phone to Mark, I just can’t deal with this on top of everything we’ve already had to endure.
Our first appointment with the new consultant and they seem concerned with the diabetes and, nothing else but we must respect that they’re caring for us and worrying about the effect of the diabetes on the baby. We’re booked in for another scan and another appointment to see the consultant. And so it begins…
At 10.30pm I’m in bed dreaming that my waters have broken and, when I wake up, they really have. We call the hospital and, by the time we get there, little contractions start and I panic but, I’m hooked up to machines and the baby is okay, thank God.
By 4am we’re on our way home. They’re insistent my waters haven’t gone and I’m just having Braxton Hicks but, by 8am I’m leaking loads and we go back to hospital. Still convinced it’s okay, they book us in for a scan. Sleep evades us and I’ve no clue how we’re still going.
At the scan we clearly see a separate sac in the amniotic fluid that the baby can’t push into. She’s kicking into it, but not through it as the consistency is completely different to the rest of the fluid. We go home, heads full of questions.
We’re back at hospital for the consultant appointment but, she’s away again so, we’re booked in for another scan on the Friday with a follow up at the day assessment unit. More questions than answers and, the fear is creeping back in. We head home to rest, we’re shattered.
We head in for the scan and the sonographer notices the band inside the sac has gone and measures the fluid. She finds nothing alarming so, we head to day assessment where it’s manic, the poor staff are rushed off their feet. I tell Sarah, the midwife, about losing loads of waters overnight. I actually have to break off our chat to go and change as more waters go.
They pop me back on the monitors and the baby seems okay, moving around, but I’m not comfortable that no clear trace of the baby can be found, so they call the consultant down from the labour ward.
I go into another room for examination and I can see immediately things aren’t right. They confirm my waters have gone and, I’ll need to take steroids to mature the baby’s lungs and antibiotics in case of infection. They check my diabetes because steroids have the potential to send blood sugar levels high. They also check to make sure I’m not going to go into labour imminently. The only problem is that they don’t have a specialist unit in Bridgend to deal with a 29 week old baby, so I’m being transferred to Singleton Hospital in Swansea.
This is part I of Sarah's diary, read part 2 here
Several studies have shown that the womb may not work as well in older women. This may be because the muscle produces less energy so that contractions are less effective, so labour isn't triggered in the same way as in younger women.
We are trying to find out if a simple procedure before conception could help prevent miscarriage. If so, this could be an easy way to encourage healthy pregnancy.
Tommy’s are helping to train the carers of the future, so that we can continue giving women the best pregnancy care possible.
We want to understand the different ways that women and their partners cope with miscarriage, so that we can better train doctors, nurses and midwives to provide the emotional support that is so important following loss.
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