How it all began… mum’s words……

I found out I was pregnant on Thursday 22nd February 2007. I had gotten used to taking pregnancy tests with the results being negative that when I took this test I threw it onto the kitchen side and went and did some washing. When I finally glanced at the test result I nearly collapsed in shock. ‘Pregnant’ appeared in the window. I started screaming….Oh my god ! Im pregnant. I couldn’t believe it. We were in the middle of planning a wedding for October, now it would be something else happening in October. A little baby would be arriving. I quickly checked my pregnancy book and discovered that our little baby would be due on 29th October 2007

I couldn’t wait to tell Ali. He was on his way home from work. When his car pulled up outside I ran to the front door shaking. When he saw me and the state I was in he assumed that one of the cats had died ! I quickly told him that I was pregnant and he couldn’t believe it. We were both so happy and excited.

We couldn’t keep this news to ourselves. So instead of doing the usual and waiting until 12 weeks we phoned all our families to tell them the good news.

I had my last sip of champagne that night, opened the best bottle we had in, as I knew it would be a while until my next sip.

My pregnancy took the usual road, the first 3 months a mixture of sickness and tiredness and then once Id hit that 3 month mark I thought next stop would be 40 weeks with a bouncing baby……little did I realise.

Charlotte’s story begins on Friday 13th July 2007. Id never been superstitious and so much so hadn’t even realised that it was a Friday the 13th when I woke that day.

I awoke early in the morning to what I thought was ‘wind’ type pains. I was due to visit the midwife that morning as I had thought baby had been quiet for a few days. I decided to mention about the pains but she was not too concerned. Baby’s heartbeat was there so I left happy from the doctors surgery that morning.

As I travelled to work the pains continued and as I arrived I decided to go to the ‘office’ bed reserved for expectant mothers. I felt it very strange that the pains were coming every 5 minutes and looking back, I probably realised that my pregnancy was going to come to an end, way before it should have done. I was only 24 weeks pregnant.

I phoned my partner Ali at around 11 am that morning . He told me I had to call the midwife and tell her that these pains were now coming every 5 minutes. I was told straight away that I should go to Frimley Park Hospital so that I could be checked over. By this point I really could not drive and Liz, a work friend, drove me to the hospital with Ali meeting me there at around midday .

At this point, I remember saying to Ali, “don’t worry, its probably just wind”. Convinced really that that’s what it was, he said it had better not be wind as he had been in a right state leaving the office and we would need to think of something else to tell them if it was. Oh my, if only it had been wind, neither of us knew what was waiting for us over the course of the next three days, but thank god we didn’t.

We proceeded to the delivery suite and they asked for a sample of my urine as ‘that’s usually the problem’. Yep, nurse arrived back and said there was a urine infection. A doctor arrived and examined me to check whether I was dialated and that’s when I realised that maybe this wasn’t just wind. I was hooked up to a drip and given drugs to try and stop the pains that were obviously now Labour pains.

The labour pains did not stop, in fact they were getting worse. I was scared and so was Ali, but I still believed that I would be ok. It was decided that I needed to be transferred to another hospital. Frimley Park could not take a baby as young as ours. An hour or so later they had found a hospital. St Mary’s in Portsmouth. Not as bad as it could have been but still 60 miles away.

“An ambulance has been ordered for you and should be here in a few minutes” said the nurse. I was to be taken straight away all sirens blaring and blue lights flashing to St Mary’s. I remember thinking at the time that this was a bit over the top for little old me and I really didn’t want to make a fuss or be a problem to anybody.

I arrived at St Mary’s at 8.10pm on that Friday night. I remember seeing the smiling face of a midwife who was to be the midwife who would be there at the delivery of our baby. Her name was Sarah Sage. I was moved to a delivery room where Sarah started to take some details. I was constantly checking the clock trying to work out what time Ali would arrive. He was following in his own car with some of my personal things from home. All I wanted was for him to be there with me as I was so scared. However, Sarah kept me busy for the next hour. Ali arrived at 9pm. I was so relieved to see his face. He looked so scared about what was happening but I just wanted to be with him.

It finally dawned on me that this was serious. The dreams that I had had were fading and I thought I was losing our baby. How could this be happening to us. We were good people and I thought bad things didn’t happen to good people. We were so happy about this baby that the thought of losing her was just so terrible that I cannot find words to describe my feelings that first night.

The pains got more intense and the drugs they were giving me to stop the pains were not really working at this stage. Ali was timing the intervals between contractions and warning me when another pain was due. It was only afterwards that Ali said that he felt so useless and that all he could do was do a countdown to the next contraction. I really don’t think Ali understands just how much he really did for me.

A doctor came to see us at 5am to do an ultrasound scan. Baby was fine but the doctor asked me whether my waters had broken. I didn’t think they had but he advised us that there was very little amniotic fluid around the baby and that we would probably need to deliver her. At this point, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I couldn’t stop crying. Our dreams were shattered by his words. I couldn’t believe what was happening.

We had already named our baby Charlotte as we knew we were having a little girl. She was already our special little girl and now we had to deal with the thought that she would be taken from us.

We had various consultants from each shift explain that the baby may have a 10-20% chance of surviving the birth and then a 30% chance of surviving to be healthy. They were in reality giving us the worst case scenario but it was almost too much to take in and we both cried our eyes out.

We had a visit from Kevin from the Neonatal unit who again calmly explained the situation with a baby arriving at this gestation. I thanked him for coming and said that I really hoped that I wouldn’t see him again.

The next morning another doctor gave me an ultrasound, who announced that although there was not a lot of amniotic fluid that he didn’t think my waters had broken. We were elated, there was some hope. They continued to give me the drugs to stop the contractions and they appeared to be working. We were confident that things would be ok and I was being stabilised.

We were wrong, the contractions started again and after another ultrasound scan the doctor decided that in fact my waters had broken. I was hooked up to a drip as this baby needed to be delivered and they needed to speed up the labour. They were worried about the infection that I had and that my temperature was on the high side. I remember the drip going in at 7pm and the contractions being more frequent and more intense. The pain was really too much to bare. It was Saturday evening and I couldn’t believe that this had started on Friday morning.

At 12 Midnight the midwife in charge told us that was going to take the drip out and try and slow down and stop the labour pains as my temperature had stabilised. So, Ali and I spent another uncertain night not knowing what was going to happen to me or to our little girl. Another sleepless night went by in almost a haze.

The next morning the consultant told us that it was not unusual for babies to stay in their mother’s womb for weeks after the waters had broken. Our hearts lifted again, if they can control this infection then we could go weeks and all would be ok. I remember saying to Ali, well “I think I should have the next week off work for sure”.

I was back on the drugs to try and slow down the labour pains again but this time they didn’t work. The pains kept coming and now even stronger. I could see the fear on Ali’s face and although I was going through all this pain, I just kept feeling sorry for him. This wasn’t what Id planned for him.

It was Sunday morning, the15th July, and by lunchtime I realised that this baby was coming when about 8 doctors rushed in with about 5 standing around the special baby care unit. I realised that as soon as this baby was out she would be snatched away from us and taken to Intensive care, that’s of course if she survived the birth. She was breech and there were no guarantees. At 1pm I started to push. I thought the contractions were painful but this was far worse. I remember thinking at the time, god, if this is what it’s like to push with a very premature baby, then what is it like to push for a term baby. My mom’s words of “yes it hurts but it’s a pain you can bare” ran through my mind and I thought,” yeah right mom” !

1.31pm Sunday 15th July our baby came into the world. She was alive, Ali overheard one of them say she was ok. At this point, Ali said to the nurse that he started to feel tingly. He had never passed out in his life but I realised that the symptoms he was having that he could soon pass out. He lay down on the floor and the nurses and doctors had to step over him. I managed a little smile as I remember him saying that he had never passed out and certainly wouldn’t at the birth.

Next the Placenta did not come out. Sarah had tried but she could not get the Placenta out. I remember thinking, Oh no, what else can go wrong.

Then, our little miracle came back into the room. They had brought baby Charlotte in to see us. She had the cutest little bonnet on and she was wrapped up. She was beautiful and I couldn’t stop crying at our beautiful baby.

Not long after they took our little Charlotte back to NICU I went into septic shock. My body wouldn’t stop shaking. The next few hours were a blur of doctors, nurses, testing my blood, sticking drips in me, taking xrays etc.

Ali had to watch lots of nurses putting drips in both of my arms as my oxygen levels plummeted on the monitors, there was a problem with my breathing and it turned out to be a blockage in my lungs. I thought I was going to die and so did Ali but the Nurses hooked me up to oxygen.

Finally, after a few hours doctors took me to theatre to have the placenta removed. At last I remember thinking when the doctor confirmed he had managed to remove the Placenta. It was a feeling of relief, it was finally over, little did I realise that the story had just begun……CHARLOTTE’S STORY.