Blue light Surgery

Until this point I’d felt like I’d kept things together.  Even when we were being told she had such small odds of surviving pregnancy I felt like everything was going to be ok.  It was at this point that I started to have that knot you get at the bottom of your stomach.

There wasn’t any parent accommodation available at Southampton hospital so one the drive down we were desperately trying to find somewhere to stay.  Success with the premier inn.  Southampton is a really good hospital but so completely different to what we were used to.  We felt like a fish out of water.  They have a lot of older surgery babies in their ICU so we could hear babies crying which you didn’t get at the JR as they all tended to be ventilated.  Gwen seemed to have coped with the transport relatively well so after checking on her we left her for the night and went for a big glass of wine.

Day 25 –  Surgery day.  after having a day for them to get used to Gwen, run tests on her and make sure she was strong enough for the surgery.  So surgery day.  Thankfully all done on the ICU ward and nice and early in the morning.  When he came out to tell us that the surgery had gone well I’ve never been so relieved.  She was still paralysed from the surgery & they would keep her that way until she’d been transported home and she was on medication to ensure her blood pressure remained high enough after the ligation but she was ok.  She was a stubborn little madam even then as later that afternoon she was already trying to move despite the paralytics.  The JR didn’t have any empty beds in the ICU so we were in for another stay.

Day 26 – Helen and Claire arrived in the neonate ambulance to take us home.  I could have hugged them.  Funny how you start thinking of the JR as home.  Gwen’s oxygen requirement increased a bit when she was moved into the travel incubator but she seemed to settle a bit after a while. They said we could head off now and they would meet us at the hospital.  We headed back to the car to drive north leaving Gwen in their incredibly capable hands. Not long after they called to say they were waiting a bit longer before leaving as Gwendolyn’s blood pressure was a bit low so needed some more medication.  Around 1830 they left Southampton hospital.  It was getting to late evening so Jon and I picked some fish & chips (excellent chippy in Headington) & went to sit on the bench outside maternity.  Not long after my life went into slow motion.  Now there are 2 neonatal ambulances at the JR but when I saw one blue lighting up to the door I just knew it was Gwendolyn.  We headed over there & they were so so calm taking her out of the ambulance & shepherding us in.  On the journey back Gwendolyn’s blood pressure had crashed, her heart rate had increased tremendously & she had a temperature.  Rather than turn back to Southampton they’d spoken to the consultant at the JR, & they’d made the decision to bring her home & blue light her all the way. When we first went in we sat in the ICU waiting area while they assessed her but it was literally less than a minute before one of her doctors was coming out to get us so we could see her.  I then saw the most incredible people spring into action, all over this tiny little baby.  In my time in the RAF I’ve seen some incredible teamwork in some horrible situations but this was on a different scale.. Gwen had severe hypotension and they were trying to work out why with the medication she was on, whilst treating her for the signs of infection she was showing.  Her blood pressure was so low it couldn’t be read with a cuff, only with an arterial line. They talked us through it all and I think by then, knowing us, they knew understanding the medical side would help us process what was going on. It looked like it might be sepsis and they were having to place a new long line into her scalp. By the time we left that night her blood pressure was coming up again.  I think that night we went home for about 4 hours sleep and a shower & change of clothes. Just to try and prepare ourselves for what might happen the next day.

26 weeks – feels like labour

26 weeks.

26 weeks. Wahoo. Celebration time. Except I’m down on delivery suite so maybe less of a celebration. It does now mean that they can monitor the baby’s heartbeat on the electronic fetal monitor now. Last night the bleeding got so bad they moved me down to delivery suite, I did bargain for 5 minutes for a shower though before I got dressed. Jon came in later & has been trying to distract me all day with Netflix. Mc Dreamy came & did another scan late afternoon & everything still looks good. Thankfully the bleeding has pretty much stopped so I don’t have to be nil by mouth anymore & if I stay the same for the next few hours I can go back upstairs. Gail (best midwife in the world & hilarious) brought me some toast – wahoo – & she even took me off the monitor for a while so I could walk (read pace) around the room! Then shift change over happened…. New midwife (perfectly nice), new doctors (couldn’t tell you if they were nice as I never saw them) & I’m told that there’s a new decision – I can’t go back upstairs as they want to keep me down here & put me on observation ward. Harrumph. Apparently I will get dinner when I go round to observation ward.

Things did not get better overnight. Despite my fetal medicine specialist saying I could go up to my own room again if the 2200 CGI Doppler was good (it was) I wasn’t allowed. The night shift came on & decided I was nil by mouth again – they quite literally took the cheese sandwich out of my mouth. No food so next best thing – paracetamol – as my back was a bit sore from lying down most of the day for monitoring. Apparently me being uncomfortable meant I had to go back on the monitor according to the night shift. All night. Every time I tried to go to sleep or moved and it couldn’t read the heartbeat, the midwife would come back in and tighten up the straps. Anyone that knows me, knows I’m grumpy without food but having had about 5 hours sleep since Monday night, 2 pieces of toast and half a cheese sandwich (well maybe 4 mouthfuls before she grabbed it) I was as grouchy as they come! At 0635 they finally let me come off the machine, well I say that, but I think the death stare of a hungry tired woman convinced the midwife!! So I’m now off for a shower to try and feel half human again.

What followed that day was both scary & painful, and in my head hilariously funny. My shower hadn’t done anything to ease my back, which I thought was a result of being laid down in one position most of the day and all night, but as I sat in my room it got worse and worse. Yep you know what’s coming!!! I think subconsciously I did too as by 0730 I was encouraging Jon to drive in early. When he arrived he found me pacing the room to ease my back. Soon the backache was coming in strong waves rather than constant so the midwife went to get a doctor. 2cm dilated! Round to delivery we went and thank god it was Gail again. That day was one of the most surreal I’ve ever had. Like an out of body experience kind of day. I won’t share all the details with you but I did learn a few things:

  • I am hilarious on gas and air. Seriously. A comedy genius. I’m sure Jon agrees deep down…
  • I have public peeing issues. Yes I know a delivery room isn’t public but I couldn’t bring myself to pee lying down on a bed into a cardboard bowl. I mean where’s the dignity in that?!?!
  • You can get sick really really quick. Seriously. Mega quick.

So there I was, telling some amazing jokes in between contractions, Mc Dreamy has been and done another scan and baby’s not quite in the right position. So plan is they’re going to give it a bit more time to see if baby moves round as labour progresses, but I need to prepare myself for a c-section. I think at this point I even called McDreamy, McDreamy to his face or maybe even upgraded him to McSteamy… Needless to say I’d be mortified if I saw him now. Anyway, I digress.. mmm.. McSteamy..

So we have a chat with the neonate registrar about what they’re going to do with baby post delivery/ c-section, the anaesthetist about sticking a giant needle in my back (yep still wasn’t keen on that one) and the obstetrician. Then it literally was a case of everything changed in a second. One second I was happy and laughing and joking and the next I was shivering uncontrollably and felt… well I can’t really describe how I felt. I imagine it’s a bit like how men think they feel with man flu – but way worse. Maybe a combination of having man-flu and how I imagine anthrax poisoning feels. So we’ll call it manthrax for giggles. It was grown up teeth chattering, shivering and shaking uncontrollably and then it all starts getting a bit hazy. I vaguely remember blankets being piled on me, the doctor holding some big yellow bit of paper for me to sign and then the next thing I knew I was being wheeled into the operating room. Jon would tell me the next day that it was as if I went into shut down mode (that manthrax is bad). He said that in the short time it took to wheel me across the corridor into theatre my temperature jumped up 5°C. I remember the pain of contractions fighting the uncontrollable shivering, vomiting on someone’s shoes (very sorry whichever doctor/nurse that was), lots of people talking around me, feeling pretty naked, and hearing someone saying something about not being able to get a line into me as I was shutting down. Last thing I remember is the senior anaesthetist telling me it was too late for an epidural, they had to put me under a general right now. I don’t think I even had the nous to crack a joke.

I would know nothing until later that day when I woke up in a cloud of morphine. Poor Jon. He told me he found himself stood in a pair of scrubs alone in the delivery room having been told he couldn’t go in to watch as they thought I had sepsis. He told me afterwards that at that point he was now worried he was going to lose both of us.