After losing Quinn, I was so painfully desperate to be pregnant again. I wanted her back in my tummy, safe, at home, before everything went wrong. Nothing else in the world mattered to me. I longed to feel those reassuring kicks and ripples in my stomach. I didn’t care about anything else, I just had an overwhelming maternal need to be pregnant.
Three months later, I found out I was expecting again, due in October. My heart stopped and I went into sheer panic. My mind went into overdrive and I was convinced that something would go wrong. What was I doing?! I can’t go through this again! Terrified that something might happen, I kept it to myself.
I reached out to a community midwife and asked for an early reassurance scan, she tried to encourage me to speak to Gavin, my husband, but I refused. In fact, I didn’t let him know until I was almost 12 weeks pregnant. I was trying to protect him. I couldn’t bear to see him go through another loss. If he didn’t know it was one less person that could have been hurt again.
For the following months during my pregnancy, I very much kept a low profile. I spent days and days researching hospitals, trailing through articles of baby deaths and reports from the Care Quality Commission, on maternity services. After careful consideration, I finally decided to transfer to Royal Stoke Hospital, I just couldn’t imagine walking through the doors of the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford again.
At my first appointment, I met with my consultant and we devised a plan. I wanted to eliminate as much risk as possible, and so opted for an elective caesarean section. I requested for this to be done at 38 weeks. He looked in his calendar and picked the first date available. “What about the 12th?” he said. Perfect! It was my mum’s birthday.
So, on Friday 12th October 2018 at 7am, we arrived promptly at hospital, having messaged both families to let them know we were on our way (we kept the date a secret as we wanted it to be a surprise), we made our way to the maternity unit.
On arrival, I was given a bed, they did a few checks and I signed to consent to the surgery. A midwife explained that I would be the first one to go to Theatre, however there was a lady pregnant with twins that was scheduled for later in the day. The surgeons usually get the complicated deliveries out of the way first, so the midwife said she would consult with the doctor as to whether I would still be first to go down. A few minutes later she came to tell us that my consultant wanted to deliver my baby first as he knew my history and knew that we must be anxious, so she escorted us to Theatre.
Gavin was kitted out in his scrubs and we made our way into theatre. I can’t really explain how strange it feels, just walking into an operating room. It was a completely different experience to what I had expected. So much calmer. More relaxed. We were introduced to the team (which to be honest, I think was a complete blur as my emotions were all over the place), I sat down on the bed, was hooked up to a blood pressure monitor and various other machines, then the anaesthetist proceeded to give me a spinal block. I swung my legs up onto the bed and lay down, they pinned my gown up and put up a screen from the bottom of my chest, whilst Gavin sat on a chair beside me.
I was nervous, but felt a calming relief that it was finally happening. Our baby girl was going to be born. I turned to Gavin talking to him to distract myself, he stood up and peeked over the cover and sat back down. His eyes widened. He asked “Are you ok?!”, I said “Yeah, fine why?”, “Nothing” he said. The anaesthetist popped over and asked how I was feeling and told me that they had already started. I couldn’t believe it. I honestly couldn’t feel a thing…Gavin of course saw everything. I’m surprised he didn’t end up on the floor!
After a short while the consultant announced that he was delivering her and eventually lifted her up. The next few seconds felt like hours, waiting to hear that cry. The cry that I never got to hear from our beautiful Quinn.
Finally, a loud cry! With a huge sigh of relief, I tried to hold back the tears and not be a blubbering mess mid-surgery. They lifted her over to me and put her on my chest. I was so shocked at the sheer size of her! At my last scan, a week prior, I was told that she would be between 6.5 and 7lbs but she weighed in at impressive 7lb 11oz.
Being stitched up seemed to fly by, I’m not sure if this was the fact that I was so captivated by my baby girl on my chest, but before I knew it, I had been transferred to another bed and was in recovery, where I spent around 45 minutes, until I could move both legs, before being taken onto the Ward.
I was wheeled onto the ward with Wren on my chest and Gavin following behind with our luggage. He set everything down in the room, then disappeared saying he had to leave to get something from the car. Minutes later he arrived back with my mum and dad in tow, all carrying mountains of gifts. We were all on cloud nine and were beaming from ear to ear. My mum was ecstatic that she was born on her birthday and said she was the best birthday present ever!
Gavin carefully lifted Wren off my chest and handed her to my mum and dad for a cuddle. I really cannot explain the true happiness and joy that filled the room in those moments. The midwife popped her head around the door and said she was coming to do some checks on Wren. She checked her over and noted that she was struggling a bit with her breathing, so wanted to do some further tests (this was picked up in theatre and in recovery, but they suspected that it was mucus on her chest, which is very common in caesarean born babies and usually clears after a feed, a cough and/or being sick). At this my parents left, not wanting to disturb the midwife during her checks and said they would return later on.
The midwife came back with an oxygen saturation monitor, which she placed on her foot. The reading came up at 52%. At this she ran outside to grab the paedetrician, who looked puzzled. “She doesn’t look like a baby with a 52% oxygen saturation.” They rushed to get another machine to double check the reading. It still read 52%. She explained that an oxygen saturation level should be over 95% and that hers was very low and they were taking her to the treatment room to give her more oxygen. Slowly the joyful haze started to fade and I was plummeting back down to earth.
After several minutes, they returned back to my room and said that they kept having to give her oxygen to keep her levels high so were transferring her to the Intensive Care Unit. A doctor from the unit came to explain what would happen next. She went through all the various options that they would try and said that worst case scenario they would have to put her on a ventilator (life support) to do the breathing for her, but that was very rare.
The midwife returned to clean me up and get me ready so that I could go to see her as soon as possible, but I just completely broke into pieces. My whole world had come crashing down. It was all happening again. I couldn’t do this AGAIN.