So my last blog ended with this:
I NEED my baby here to hold and to watch. But the baby is safer in my tummy. It is a very hard balance to strike.
Will I make it the next two weeks? Or will it come sooner? Will that be on his or here's own accord? Will it be a drama or will it be calm and relaxed? Or will it be because I cannot control my insane anxieties and I am causing my new baby to have a difficult start because I can't get a grip? Watch this space....
That afternoon I met a wonderful midwife who understood my anxieties. She listened to me when I spoke about my tears, from seeing the surgeon who delivered Harry. She helped me so much, by taking me to the operating theatre, to face my demons, and taking me on a short tour of the NNU so that I didn't feel so anxious if I had to make another visit there. It was not at all as I expected when I revisited the operating theatre. The room's proportions were not as I imagined and had a completely different feel this time. I felt calm and in control. The NNU wasn't as scary as I remembered, either, instead a friendly and special place.
That evening I was put on the monitor as I wasn't feeling baby's movements much and the kind midwife listened to my fears about the lack of movement and said a CTG trace should reassure me that everything was ok. Except, it didn't. I was seeing more and more of the decelerations that I spoke about it my last entry, and I was certain it wasn't the monitor picking up my heartbeat as it became more of a pattern. The trace started to normalise and the midwives were reassured. However as there was very little movement from the baby I was still panicked and asked them several times to take the print out to a doctor for a second opinion. Overnight things were varied, little movement and more decelerations, but periods of "normal" behaviour as well. It was when the morning came that it became clear that the doctors were not reassured by the traces and things did not seem normal. All this time, while I was pushing for a second opinion, I always felt like my anxieties were all based on paranoia, and suddenly they were justified and backed up by a doctor! I had only been awake for about half an hour when I was being told that I was going to be taken across to the labour ward. I wasn't allowed out of bed to freshen up, and suddenly midwives were collecting my belongings and taking me to the labour ward. I rang Harry's Dad and told him he needed to get here as things were happening. He had just finished a night shift and had barely had an hours sleep but came as quickly as he could. By the time he arrived, I had been gowned up and was signing the consent forms for surgery. I could hardly believe that I was going to be having my baby today, I was waiting for someone to change their mind. The day before, my consultant had seen how anxious I was that something wasn't right, and had promised to come in, on his day off, to check on me. It was when I was sat in theatre, on the edge of the operating table, having my spinal block cited, that in came my consultant. He looked confused and said "Niki, what is going on?" I felt like crying and hugging him all at once. He spoke to the consultant who was to perform the section and read up on my notes. They were going ahead with the delivery due to suspected ruptured membranes at 30 weeks, reduced fetal movements and a non-reassuring CTG trace. My consultant dismissed the other doctor and said he would perform the procedure, bless him! The neonatal doctors had been briefed as we would be having a premature baby, and suddenly I was lying on the table with Harry's dad by my side and things were underway. I still couldn't believe it was happening. It felt so so surreal.
The next thing I know, my consultant has his hands in my belly and says "who is this little person here then?" and pulls out a baby. A live baby! My goodness... He lifted the baby up and I saw a dear little scrunched up face, and he turns the baby to show Harry's Dad the sex.... A GIRL! A girl... oh my god, a girl, is all I could think. I turned to look at Harry's Dad, and he is as white as a sheet, and looks like he might pass out. A girl. My dreams had come true! She started to scream, and I burst into tears. That sound, that I had longed to hear for far too long. She was here, she was well. I couldn't believe it. We had a quick cuddle before the doctors took her away to the NNU to begin a course of IV antibiotics and undertake a few observations given her early arrival. She has also had her cord around her neck, twice, and had done a poo inside as well so it was really lucky that she was delivered when she was.
After we had been taken to our room, made some phone calls and texts and freshened up, we went and spent time with our baby, back in the NICU, a few bays away from where Harry had been. We enjoyed cuddles and kisses and special time with our new baby. It was heaven. A few family members came in to meet her and it was just as wonderful as we had hoped it to be.
We named her Florence, after my great-nanny Flo. A very special lady, so a special name for a special baby :)
Florence had low blood sugar, so they had fitted her with a tube through her nose to feed her, but had no problems breathing or controlling her temperature. She was doing so well.
That night I was asleep in bed, and woken by a doctor. "Our routine blood tests have shown that Florence is very seriously anaemic. On top of that, her jaundice levels have risen at an alarming rate. We have commenced triple phototherapy and wanted to let you know that it is looking increasingly likely that we will have to undertake an "exchange blood transfusion", where we basically give her all new blood. We wanted to let you know as this was very unexpected and we have no real cause to explain why this has happened. We are concerned about her and need to run tests on you and her Dad as we are currently unable to identify her blood group. Bearing in mind what happened to Harry we are starting to think that the two cases are possibly linked".
WHAT? I was in shock. What is happening? My beautiful girl? She is unwell? She wasn't! What is going on?
I called Harry's Dad and asked him to come and be with me as I was starting to panic. I can't do this a second time....
I went across to the NNU and saw my beautiful girl in an incubator with jaundice lamps and dear little sunglasses on to protect her amazing eyes. I felt so helpless. I was so scared. Her and Harry are linked?
The phototherapy went on for a few days, and the whole time I listened to doctors talk about all different blood conditions, and how Harry had been unable to clot his blood and was also born very anaemic, but not as anaemic as Florence. What did all of this mean? My head was in a spin. I wanted answers but no one seemed to be able to give me any. All I could think was that we were going to lose our beautiful girl. So many questions from friends and relatives about what was happening. How could I explain such a terrible piece of news when I was so afraid of the outcome and didn't fully understand what was happening. I thought we had been through enough as a family, and wondered why on earth we were being tested again!
Miraculously, Florence's haemoglobin (anaemia) levels picked up slightly, but were still about half what it should be, but her jaundice levels stabilised, and they were able to take her off the lights.
She was still subject to many tests, but she had begun breastfeeding well and soon the doctors were letting us home.
It is still unclear on what 100% caused all this, but the general idea is that we suffered a fetal maternal hemorrhage which basically means we had a cross placenta bleed. The tests showed my blood containing high fetal blood cells which could only really be explained by a bleed. The doctors talked about my blood attacking the pregnancy and was starting to reject it. Another reason to be pleased she was delivered when she was! What I struggled to get my head around was that they were saying that my pregnancy with William would have kick started this reaction, and when I was pregnant with Harry this would have been a secondary factor in why he was delivered so poorly (the primary factor being the vasa praevia). I couldn't get my head around why my body would reject a baby... why would it do that? The guilt begins... I need to speak to my counsellor about this guilt as it is something I am really struggling with. While it is not a conscious decision of mine, it is still my body that is causing harm to my children. My own body killed my baby. How do I live with that?
Here is some information about the condition they have spoke about for those who are interested:
It is not 100% diagnosed, as we don't fully meet all the criteria. We have the same blood groups, not different, and so did Harry. We are seeing a series of geneticists and haematologists to get to the bottom of it all.
On a much happier note, it is amazing to have our baby girl home with us. After two weeks of an absolute rollercoaster of emotions in the NNU, it has been an amazing week of having her home. She has completed our family and makes me feel so happy and proud. We feel so lucky to have her with us, when we were so close to losing another child.
I know that Harry has certainly been watching over us these past few weeks, and am so thankful to him for truly being my guardian angel, when I needed him the most.
I am feeling blessed. Thank you Harry xxx