Saturday, 25 January 2014

Dexter's Birth Story

Just a little warning that this is a long post.

It's taken me quite a while to feel ready to write about Dexter's birth story, mainly because I'm still coming to terms with what happened to me as he was born at 7 and a half months. For around a month after Dexter was born I still had nightmares about IV's and drips, and almost dying. 

I had quite a bad pregnancy all the way through, started with morning sickness before I found out I was pregnant, right from the first week! This continued on well into my second trimester and I was dizzy, sick and nauseous all the way up until around my 25th week of pregnancy. Amongst that I ended up with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and couldn't move my hands and wrists for a few weeks. You may have seen from previous pregnancy posts the rest of my symptoms, but right now I really can't be bothered typing them all up!

Then at 26 weeks I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I was quite lucky that throughout my pregnancy I maintained a low blood sugar level. I had to attend antenatal clinic at the local hospital for weekly check ups and fortnightly scans just to check how Dexter was growing, and that he shouldn't be growing too big. Okay, so I know I would be induced at 38 weeks when Dexter was full-term. 

During the 32nd week of pregnancy I had reduced movement and ended up being admitted into hospital just to have a check up and make sure everything was ok. My blood pressure was quite high on admittance, but they just put it down to being stressed at the time. The doppler was fine and Dexter was moving about and having a right time so they let me go home. 
Surely nothing else could go wrong right?
Well, I got pre-eclampsia. 

It was during my 33rd week when I attended for my regular check up and a scan the sonographer mentioned that he was the right size and most of his measurements were right for 33 weeks, but that his waist wasn't the size it should be, and not to worry as I would be seeing the consultant shortly. Ok, so I wasn't that worried at this point, I was told that sometimes GD babies could be born a little small rather than being born really huge. It was only when I went in to see the consultant and she had me laid on the bed straightaway to take my blood pressure that I began to panic. Apparently it was really high again, and there had been quite a bit of protein in my urine sample. This was the beginning of pre-eclampsia, although no one would actually tell me that was what was happening. Anyway I began tablets to lower my blood pressure and sent home with an appointment to go a few days later and have a check to see how I was doing. 

When I popped in again a few days later, my blood pressure was still high, not as much so the tablets were working. That was good. However, the urine sample I took in the morning showed more protein. The midwife, bless her, lost the sample when she went to send it off, so I had to do another one. And it was a good job I did, because between the few hours I'd done the sample, my levels had risen again. This wasn't good. I had a telephone call in the afternoon to pop in the next day to start on a course of two steroid injections, just to help Dexter's lungs develop quicker in case anything happened. This was when I knew he would be coming a lot sooner. 

I turned up to the labour ward the day after for my injections, when I was told that due to me being diagnosed with GD I would have to be monitored for 10 hours to make sure my blood levels were stable. Great stuff. So rather than me going home at around 11pm that night, they kept me in so I could have the second injection the following morning. But I didn't have an injection the following morning, I had it 12 hours after the original one. Okay, well maybe I just got the timings wrong? That must have been my fault. I was still having my bloods, blood pressure and urine monitored regularly, I just presumed this was part of the normal procedure. The morning after (Sunday 24th November) my blood sugar level was fine! I was overjoyed I'd be going home the same day. Woohoo. Apart from I had to wait until I'd had a meal, my lunch at 1pm, before I could have my last blood sugar levels checked at 2pm. So I waited, and waited, packed and ready to go home when my blood sugar was fine at 2pm. 

That's when I began to get seriously ill. 

I regularly suffer from migraines which start as a little headache so I didn't pay much attention to this symptoms of pre-eclampsia, which apparently is one of the main symptoms. At 2pm my arms began to swell and turn red, they were burning. A Doctor came to give me antihistamines as she just presumed I had an allergic reacting to something. They never went down, and just got worse. From the top of my arms, my neck and my forearms, they were bright red, swollen and burning. My head was banging and I couldn't focus properly. By around 4pm the heartburn I'd had for weeks began to turn into a stabbing pain and I couldn't breath with it. I called my midwife, told her things weren't right and this wasn't an allergic reaction because I knew what my reactions were like. She took my bloods, blood pressure and urine sample again. The results weren't good. 
My midwife called the registrar again, who then in turned called the on call consultant. And that is when I found out at 6:20 pm that I would be taken to labour ward. Ok I presumed at 34 weeks I would just be induced. That's when they told me they were taking me for an emergency caesarean section that evening. I called my mum and dad in a panic to come straight to the hospital straightaway, my mum was to be my birth partner as at this point my husband was still in Germany! My dad called him and he managed to get a flight back the next morning to come home. 

So I collected my stuff and headed off to the labour ward. Even though I didn't feel ill at this point they made me get in a wheelchair, I honestly didn't feel unwell at all. I was taken to labour ward, given my suite and told to put a gown on. I honestly thought the two worst experiences would be being catheterised and having my spinal. But actually, they weren't half as bad as I imagined. So I was told I would be stabilised as my stats were dropping rapidly and my temperature was rising. I was put on several IV drips, three in one hand and two on the other. At this point I was really struggling to breath and had to have oxygen. That's when I knew things weren't going well. 
I haven't shown anyone these photos before, at this point I was actually on my death bed but I didn't realise it at the time. 
I was taken down to theatre for my caesarean. There was a large team in there. I remember them asking me what music I wanted. I was too doped up to give a straight answer but remember laughing and asking for Christmas music. Everyone joked it was too early, but now I know I'll always play Christmas music on 24th November. 

I was hooked up to all the machine again. I had that many IV lines that I couldn't move my arms too much as the lines weren't long enough to let me move. I was still on oxygen at this point. Then I had the spinal. I sat up on the edge of the bed being supported by my two midwives. I didn't feel any pain at all and it didn't bother me, until I started to feel really dizzy and sick. That's when my stats fell really low and needed to be stabilised before they could proceed. Around 5 mins after that they began the caesarean. I was totally out of it at this point but remember saying to mum 'have I had a baby?!' when they pulled Dexter out and I heard him cry. 

And that's when I became a mum to Dexter Xiang Pan, at 11:46 pm. 
And it still hasn't really sunk in that during that evening, I almost died. 

They took him straight to SCBU where he did really well on his own, no incubator, no breathing or feeding equipment and was allowed home on my birthday a week later. It's taken me quite a while myself to get better from the caesarean, but I was lucky I didn't have any actual problems with my scar.

I'm sorry the post has been so long, but the moral of the story, and there is one, is please make sure you attend your antenatal check ups, and if anything, just one small thing, doesn't feel right to you.
 Make sure you sort it out and see someone about it
No matter how big or small the problem or question is


  1. Oh god michelle, I can't believe what you went through! I remember texting you the day you had Dexter, feeling really happy and overjoyed for you... I had no idea what a terrible ordeal you'd gone through! You're such a bloody strong woman. I'm so glad you're well again and that Dexter is such a healthy, handsome wee man xxx

  2. Wow!
    What an intense read! Glad you're well now!

  3. I had no idea the birth had got this bad! But you've shown how strong you are, and Dexter too!
    I had a bad birth, things went from being fine one minute to me nearly dying the next. Two years later, I still haven't come to terms with it. So don't feel like you have to rush yourself to feel ok. It takes time.
    I'm so glad you're both physically ok. Dex is gorgeous xxx

    1. I never knew being pregnant and giving birth was such an ordeal, I think more people should share their stories, good or bad, if they feel they can. It takes a lot of time to get over something so traumatic x

  4. You poor, poor thing! Such a strong person, well done you and huge congrats! xx

  5. It's so so important that people tell their pregnancy journeys like this, it reinforces to other women that they're not alone and that if there is an issue, no matter how big or small you need to get yourself looked at. I'm pleased you're recovering and found the strength to share something so personal xx

    1. I know it's a horrid story, but I wish more women gave their experiences as everyone thinks pregnancy is pretty simple for 9 months! x

  6. I can't imagine what you went through, it's amazing you have shared your story Michelle, you are so strong! Glad you and Dexter are OK, he's a gorgeous little baba you should be very proud!


  7. Oh goodness Michelle! Is no idea things were so awful for you! At least now you're healing and have Dexter safe and sound though xo

    1. He is, and we couldn't be more grateful :) x

  8. Wooow, thank you for sharing that! I had a good cry of happy tears at the end and I am SO glad that everything worked out for the best <3

    Charlotte - x

    1. Ah gosh! I never knew it had such an effect, but thank you so much x

  9. I just read this for the first time and I have tears in my eyes. I've only met you once, but I know that you're a strong and brave person.....thank you for sharing your story. If I'm lucky enough to have a family one day, I'm going to remember all your warnings. Big love to you and Dexter xx

    1. Thank you so much Ally, it really means the world to hear that x