Birth Story: Suhir & Indie

Pregnancy & Birth

Suhir has bravely shared with us here, the birth story of her daughter Indie:

I was 31 years old when I had my first daughter, Ayla. I had endometriosis before I fell pregnant with her and was devastated at the thought of not being able to conceive. (Don’t we all do that at some point anyway? Some little demon at the back of your mind plants thoughts that now that you actually WANT to fall pregnant, you may not be able to), well that was me, it didn’t help that one Dr told me ‘with the state of your endometriosis, there’s very little chance of you falling pregnant’. So I had a laparoscopy to remove said lumps and nodes and basically have a clear out. And BAM within 2 months I was all knocked up. Yay.

Pregnancy was about as smooth as they come, it was pretty much textbook. And bless her heart she made childbirth so easy for me aswell.

I went to my Dr for a checkup at 39+ weeks and she said that my waters had broken and so admitted me to the hospital that morning at around 9am. I went from needing to be peeled off the ceiling with contractions (was fuming when they told me at this point I was only 4cm) to having a lovely epidural at around 2pm, then slept for 2 hours, woke up, was told I was good to go, and pushed her out in about 15 minutes. All pink and crying and healthy & with me only needing one stitch. I was pretty proud. Smug almost. I did it. My first photo with Ayla was a really nice one; I looked almost like nothing had happened, and I would happily show people and they would say how fab I looked and look how rosy her cheeks are and I would hope they didn’t think she looked like an old lady / gremlin as I did, but still that didn’t really matter because I did it. All the smugness.

My 2nd pregnancy. Ayla was 7 months old when I found out I was pregnant. It wasn’t planned so soon but we were happy. After the initial shock we were of the mindset of ‘ok let’s just knock a couple out and then by the time we are 40 we can dump them for a week with grandparents and go to Vegas and we will still be young/cool-ish’.

I joke, we were happy. Children are a blessing. We were excited to have two under two and to see them together and become the cutest and littlest of friends and have each other for life.

During my first trimester I bled about 4 times. Like dripping bright red rush to ER type of bleeding. Each time to be thankfully sent home reassured that my baby is ok and it’s just that my placenta is low. I didn’t really know what this meant. It’s only now that I realise if your placenta is in the wrong position it can cause all sorts of problems for baby. Makes sense.

I got to 14 weeks and was excited to have my ‘big’ scan. We weren’t really bothered about finding out what we were having, we didn’t know with Ayla and I was quite up for another surprise but my husband said he would like to know so this is what we talked about on the way to the Drs. This wasn’t what we talked about on the way home.

The scan showed that the baby had an omphalocele. In brief, all fetus’ abdominal organs grow outside of their stomach during the first trimester, but by week 12-13 they have all gone inside and so shouldn’t be visible on your 3 month scan. So if they can see it still outside where it shouldn’t be, it’s called an omphalocele or there is another version of it which is slightly different called Gastroschisis.

This is what Wikipedia has to say about it :-

‘An omphalocele is a rare abdominal wall defect in which the intestinesliver, and occasionally other organs remain outside of the abdomen in a sac because of a defect in the development of the muscles of the abdominal wall (exomphalos). Omphalocele occurs in 1/4,000 births and is associated with a high rate of mortality (25%) and severe malformations, such as cardiac anomalies (50%) and neural tube defect (40%). Approximately 15% of live-born infants with omphalocele have chromosomal abnormalities. About 30% of infants with an omphalocele have other congentital abnormalities.

Ok so not ideal, right?

I was a wreck. When you have had a very smooth pregnancy previously and then are faced with some of the above it’s pretty terrifying and came as a real shock. How arrogant of me to think that I might have another nice pregnancy like before? I had read a million times the words ‘no two pregnancies are the same’, who did I think I was, to believe these things wouldn’t happen to me?  I spent a long time trying to work out how many of my prenatal pills I missed, and was it because I kept going down the slide with Ayla, or not getting enough sleep, or carrying the shopping in from the car and holding Ayla at the same time so I didn’t have to keep going in and out, did I have too many coffees? I was sure I stuck to only a couple per day but maybe I should’ve only had one, what did I do?

So for the next 2 months we were scanned every single week, we had CVS testing done (which all came back clear), we had a full karyotype done (all normal) and after a lot of stress and tears and 2nd opinions at my 20 week scan the Fetal Medicine specialist Dr could no longer find it. He looked and he looked and he looked for about 40 minutes.  We shuffled the baby around for a look from a different angle and he took his glasses off and put them back on and leaned back and squinted but he couldn’t find it.  It had gone. By this time we knew we were having a girl because of all the testing, so I just thought the little mare had tucked it back in and was just being lazy & trying to keep me on my toes. I kept saying it. I was in disbelief. Omphaloceles are rare enough to come across and by this time I had done waaaay too much googling and my brain was swimming with theories and what-ifs, so when it disappears at 20 weeks everyone had an opinion about why it could have happened. I didn’t care, I was happy, it had GONE. I got home and started digging through Aylas old baby clothes, reminiscing how cute she looked in them and how fab I’m going to get to use them again. And SISTERHOOD! Oh my! I never had a sister myself but always wanted one so I was SO excited we were having a girl.

28 weeks and 5 days.

It’s Sunday. Ayla had her one year vaccines on Thursday & on Friday she woke up with a fever and wasn’t herself at all. Saturday she still wasn’t great and by Sunday although she was a lot better I decided not to go into work anyway. (Where I live the working week runs from Sun-Thurs & weekends are Friday & Saturday – I work weekday mornings & Ayla has a childminder).

For the past few days that previous week, I had what I thought might be some sort of infection downstairs. Basically lots of goop, more than usual, no blood but lots of goop. I had planned to go to the Doctor on that Sunday morning but I called and moved it to Monday instead, when I was sure Ayla would be feeling better.  (Turns out this ‘goop’ was my mucus plug).

We had a good morning and after her lunchtime nap I thought I’ll take her out in the afternoon, we had been cooped up for a few days so we went to the supermarket and did a bit of shopping and I let her run riot at the arcade. We did the shop, she ate 2 biscuits, we won a minion at the arcade and I had a smoothie.

I had been having Braxton Hicks most of the afternoon and I felt really heavy (like I needed the bathroom if you get my meaning) and puffed out. I called my husband (who works an hour’s drive away), I told him I was having Braxton Hicks all afternoon and I said to him ‘hey don’t be surprised if this one comes early, I feel like she could’ … He said ‘oh really?’ and we laughed and he told me to stop buying Ayla toys that she doesn’t play with (stupid bank sending him an sms when I use his card) and we said goodbye and I headed home.

I gave Ayla her dinner at around 5pm and then we went to the park and then we usually go for a long walk all around the neighborhood. She loves it because she has a bright pink car that she sits in, she sees a million dogs and cats and it’s good exercise for me.

I was exhausted. I just felt out of breath, I was really waddling, the Braxton Hicks were still hanging around, I felt super heavy and without going into too much detail felt a lot of pressure downstairs. I left a voicenote for my friend in London while I was walking and told her what was happening. Again I joked that if I go into labour I’ll let her know.

6:15pm I put Ayla in the bath. It was at this point that these pesky Braxton Hicks started to change a little bit and were getting a bit painful. Very quickly I found that I could barely stand up through them and so I sat on the floor next to the bath and googled “should Braxton Hicks be painful?’ I don’t even remember what came up but I instantly knew that google couldn’t help me. So I texted my Dr. It was a pretty calm message, nothing too dramatic. I also called my husband again and started by saying ‘I’m sure it’s nothing BUT…’ We agreed that if I feel I need to go to the hospital I will call him immediately and he will call our friends who live a couple of blocks away and they will be on standby just in case… I laughed that one off because I KNEW that wasn’t going to happen. Back to bathtime, they weren’t so painful anymore.

It was when I was giving Ayla her bottle before bed that things started to hurt again. I had to keep stopping and I got a bit teary and I called my husband again and he told me to start timing them and what did the Doctor say (she hadn’t replied yet) and should he leave work and so on. I started timing them. Now it’s 7pm. They went from every 3 minutes to every 5 minutes to every 8 minutes.  Phew that was a close one, stupid Braxton Hicks. So I called him back and said no don’t leave I’m sure it was nothing.  I went to the local shop down the street because they didn’t have the milk I wanted in the supermarket this afternoon and also the nice bread. I used my husband’s card so he got an sms from his bank (again, the bain of my life). He called me straight away with lots of swearing about what the hell was I doing and to go home, his timing wasn’t good because these Braxton Hicks started coming back thick and fast and I felt a bit teary again so I drove home somehow and told him I’m going to get in the shower just in case someone needs to have a look at me (I want to be fresh, ok?) He told me I was ridiculous and said he was going to leave work and would be home in around an hour and a half.

I showered and they hadn’t gone. So I called our friends sheepishly and said do you guys mind running me up to the hospital? And about a million sorrys. I was kind of embarrassed at this point! But I was in pain, it wasn’t unbearable and I did not think for a second that I was in labour but they did hurt and I started to think I don’t remember any Braxton Hicks feeling like this.

I reached the hospital at 8:40pm. The car ride wasn’t fun. Things really heated up and I started to think I was in some kind of trouble. I could barely speak, and they were every 3 minutes on the nose.

I called the maternity ward from the car and told them I was coming and they were very cool and just said ok see you soon, once you get here we will inform your doctor.  Ok cool.  Husband is on the way, I’m on my way to the hospital – what a fuss about nothing! Still feeling mildly embarrassed – I was sure at this point that despite the pain, maybe baby was in an awkward position and causing trouble and they would check me and send me home. I’m 28 weeks and 5 days, of course I’m not in labour.

As we pulled up at the hospital my Doctor called me, she asked where I was and I told her that the maternity ward had said that I needed to go to reception to register (by now I’m in tears and she can definitely hear the fear in my voice), she told me not to be so ridiculous, that she was on her way and that I should go straight to maternity.

I went upstairs. I got to maternity and they took me to a room.

The nurses were sweet but way too calm for my level of pain. Things then went from 0 – 100 very quickly and by now I know these pains are not normal and I realised that this could very likely be the real deal. I’m scared. My baby should NOT be coming now!  Is she going to be ok?  How can she be ok?  Why is this happening?  Where is my doctor?  Where is my husband?  Where is the anaesthetist?  Can I have something for the pain?! I kept asking where the anaesthetist was and could they get him down here. They kept replying that I wasn’t in labour that someone would be in to check me and then I would most likely be sent home with antibiotics to stop the labour (I still don’t know what that means).  Someone kept trying to stick the mask on my face for gas and air, which makes me feel sick and I kept pushing it away. I asked for some painkillers so someone else came to put the line in which was a disaster – she said ‘oh no I’ve hit something, I’m so sorry!’  so they removed it and I had blood dripping everywhere, all over my face because I had my hand on my head – the next thing I heard was another nurse whispering ‘she’s got blood coming out of her ear’ – a bit more panic until they realised it was from my arm.  By now I’m pretty freaked out, shouting and swearing (all the good words) – still no painkillers, but all the gas and air I want apparently, no doctor and no husband.  My friend who was with me was sent off to another floor to find the guy with the drugs (imagine, she was as freaked out as me). I kept telling them this was my second baby, I know what’s happening, I’ve had a baby I’ve had a baby, this is my second. I felt like she was right THERE. And obviously THE PAIN.

Someone gave me pethidine. I didn’t have it with my last birth. My doctor told me not to have it because it makes people feel drowsy and isn’t that great as painkillers go. She was right. It did nothing but make me feel NUTS. Horrible kind of nuts. Like when you’re at a festival and things go a bit wrong?  But also you’re having a baby. Kind of like that.

I don’t know who’s smart idea it was to give me that stuff but I really wished they hadn’t.  Probably the same smart person who told me the baby was breach. Great. I can’t believe this is happening. And possibly the same smart person who turned off the machine that was measuring the baby’s heart rate so suddenly I couldn’t hear it and lost my shit altogether until they turned it back on.

This was all in the space of 20 minutes. At 9pm my doctor arrived and started whipping things into shape. She sent a few people out, ‘WHY HAS SHE GOT BLOOD ON HER EAR?’ ‘GET THE ANAESTHETIST RIGHT NOW’ ‘WHY IS SHE PREPPED FOR A C-SECTION? – SHE’S NOT HAVING ONE’ – Unbeknown to me by this point I had been prepped for a C-section.  I’m not sure why, maybe because my baby was pre-term and breach, I have no idea.  Someone told me I had asked for one, but seeing as they had ignored me up until this point I can’t see why they would have listened to that request! Anyway thank God my Doctor knows me better, she knows there is no way I would want a C-Section, unless it was absolutely necessary. She did a scan, saw the baby’s position and whatever else she needed to see and said ok you need to start pushing – right now. I was terrified. My baby shouldn’t be coming. Is she going to be ok?  She’s too small. She shouldn’t be coming. What if I hurt her as I push her out? She’s coming backwards, what if her legs get caught? Where’s my husband? Where are the drugs. Why is this happening. Where are the drugs. She shouldn’t be coming.

My husband arrived at around 9:10pm – Bless his heart I will never forget his face when he walked into the room.  He rushed in rolling his sleeves up (like he’s going to do it himself!) and looked at me with his eyes as wide as saucers.  ‘WHERES THE F**KING ANAESTHETIST !?’  He said I looked feral. I mean there was probably no other way of putting it, and even then I think he was being nice. I’ve had a few operations with him by my side, including 1 double mastectomy, as well as 2 births and he is incredible. He is strong and supportive and calming and I don’t know how he deals with these things so well but he has a strength for both of us at times when I just don’t have it in me. He rushed back out. Apparently outside he ran into the anaesthetist who asked him ‘I’m here, I’m here, where’s my trolley?’

I don’t remember too much about what happened after that. My Doctor told me that I won’t be able to have an epidural because it was too late but that the anaesthetist would give me some sort of similar spinal injection instead, and that I would have to push immediately afterwards regardless. I was pretty upset. I was afraid. I just wanted my baby to be okay no matter what and I just couldn’t see how she could be. I had read stories about people having babies this early and it seemed like something that happened to other people and these teeny tiny little babies have to be in incubators with tubes coming out of everywhere and it just didn’t bear thinking about. I just wanted her to be okay. I was in complete disbelief.

The spinal didn’t work. They couldn’t wait, I was ordered to start pushing and I knew I had to help her get out because I started worrying about her getting stuck in the birth canal and not being able to breathe. Or something. All rational thoughts disappeared. Anything that I previously knew about childbirth and that made sense went out of the window.

My legs were numb but nothing else was. I highlighted this point to someone and then gripped onto my husband’s arm and pushed.

9:30pm. I had been in the hospital for less than an hour. Two pushes and she was out.  Little mama really was in a hurry.

She came backwards, still in her sack (which they had to burst immediately but I am told this is quite unusual in itself), she weighed 1.25kg (2.76lb) and measured 40cm long.  She was immediately put on my chest and all I kept saying was oh my gosh she’s so tiny she’s so tiny, is she ok, is she ok?

And then she was whisked off. I heard a little noise from her, like a kitten, and then the next time I saw her she was in NICU.

Not quite the birth story I had expected, or, if I’m honest, had hoped to tell. But she’s here, we couldn’t be happier to have her, and we couldn’t love her more. Although of course I wish I had been able to provide a better spot for her in the womb, but hey, she obviously knew what she was doing and if it was time to come out then so be it.

She is 7 weeks old now (just under 36 weeks corrected) and we picked her up from hospital yesterday.  She has done so well in the NICU I can’t really ask for more from her. She was on the ventilator for less than 24 hours and since has been breathing room air, her brain scans, eye and hearing tests have all come back normal, she was regulating her own body temperature within a couple of weeks and moved out of her incubator after a month.  She is taking milk well, is coping well with bottles and although in the first week lost around 20% of her body weight, she has put all of that back on and now weighs a hefty 2.375kg.  So really it’s just a case of fattening her up now.

Her name is Indie. I am in total awe of her. I don’t know where she gets her strength from. I love her so much it’s hard to explain it.  I feel like she is better than me at life already. I feel like she is too good to have been made by me. Does that make any sense? She has been beating all the odds since day one and continues to prove to everyone what incredible things she is capable of. I am stunned. And proud and afraid and hormonal. Haha. The hormones. Those suckers get blamed for a lot but I don’t even know why I’m crying half the time. Who cares. The tears dry up and then tomorrow is a new day. And although it has been the longest and most stressful 7 weeks of my life, and at 32 I have half a head of grey hair, I am grateful. I am grateful for the care that Indie has received, I am grateful to my husband who has been so solid for all of us and I am grateful for my baby girls. My beautiful babies, who before I even know it are going to be ganging up on me and taking over the show, but for now are cute and cuddly and still letting me smother them.

All birth stories are different and we want to empower and support all kinds of births. We all have individual reactions to reading birth stories; some make us happy, laugh, cry or feel sad. Here at The Merge Journal we hope to give the mother who writes her birth story a sense of empowerment. A time for reflection. We respect all the different types of individual birthing stories. 

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