Two and a half years ago…

I was reading Natasha’s birth story of Noah and it took me back to two and a half years to the birth of my little girl.  I wrote her birth story down when she was six months old and I thought I would share it with my fellow bloggers.  I have edited it slighty at the end so it would be more appropriate for the present day. 

So here it is…

I’m a planner and a bit of a dreamer so when I found out in June 2008 that I was pregnant with a much anticipated little girl I was in my element because I knew I could plan as well as day dream about how wonderful it would be to bring her home and experience being a mommy for the second time. Our first born was 6 years old and he was also excited that he was going to be a big brother. I felt very blessed!  I spent the next couple of months planning the nursery, getting excited and I read all I could about newborns and breastfeeding.  Even though this was my second pregnancy I was young and naïve when I had my son and everything was done on the fly.  This time I wanted it to be different and I had built up a perfect picture of how things would be ~ from the birth to breastfeeding to bringing her home and bonding with her.  Unfortunately most of the dreams I had for the first few weeks after the birth didn’t go as planned so I have decided to write about it in hopes that it will be therapeutic as I’m ready to let it go now. 

I’ll start at the end of my pregnancy.  I was due on the 23rd of January 2009 but we had planned that I would have a c section two weeks before her due date as it’s most gynae’s standard practice to do this.  The date was set for the 12th of January.  I was hoping to push the Caesar out by a week as it was the same week my son started Grade 1 but by the end of the pregnancy I was honestly sick and tired and couldn’t imagine waiting another week for her to arrive.  I didn’t realise how sick I actually was.  I had high blood pressure and I was swelling up like a mini whale but because my gynae wasn’t concerned I thought nothing of it even though I was really battling.  I wasn’t getting more than 2 hours sleep a night, at the end I had put on 4 kilograms in two days from water retention, my feet didn’t fit into any of my shoes and I wasn’t feeling myself at all.  I am normally a very social person but the thought of seeing people made me feel ill, I just felt drained and very tired.  Looking back now and knowing what I know now I realise I was feeling this way because my blood pressure was too high and I had classic symptoms of pre-eclampsia. 

I made it to the 12th and we booked into the hospital bright and early.  I was scheduled to be 4th on the list for ceasars that day but they bumped me up when the nurse took my blood pressure and realised it was too high.  It was averaging between 160 to 180.  My beautiful baby girl was born at 7:30 and I was in “mommy” heaven.  She latched so easily and I was elated that I was finally going to get the breastfeeding thing right.  I had hoped and prayed that it would happen so easily.  I fell in love with her straight away and we bonded immediately.  The next two days in the hospital I was healing nicely and I was ready to take my gorgeous newborn home.  I was discharged on the Wednesday morning.

That evening the chest pains and throwing up started.  I put it down to nerves and tried to carry on as normal.  I was still battling to sleep at night and I had this horrible gut feeling that something was wrong.  It was a surreal feeling that just didn’t go away.  By Friday the severe chest pains and throwing up were in full force so I decided to call my gynae and see if I could get an urgent appointment but I was told that he was leaving at 11 that day and that I should go to the Casualty ward which I did.

They ran an ECG which came back normal but my blood tests came back abnormal.  They couldn’t say why it was abnormal but it pointed to a possible pulmonary aneurism which they said was fatal.  I was petrified that I wasn’t going to see my children grow up.  I couldn’t bear to face them at the hospital while I was waiting to get tested so I asked my husband to take them home and I said I would phone him once I got the results.  This is the afternoon that Zoe had her first feed from a bottle.  While my husband was feeding her at home my test for the aneurism started.  To test for it they had to insert a needle into my hand and insert dye which would travel up to my heart where they would be able to pick up if there was a clot.  The nurse didn’t insert the needle correctly and once the dye was inserted my veins burst.  I honestly thought I was having a stroke or a heart attack.  It was extremely painful and at this stage I was in a terrible frame of mind.  They had to do it again and thankfully the second time it worked.  It took about an hour for the results to come through and it came back negative.  I was so relieved and all I wanted to do was get home to my little family.  I literally ran out of the hospital that day, sat on the pavement, had a good cry and then called my husband to come pick me up.

That weekend things didn’t get better.  I was still suffering from acute chest pains, throwing up and insomnia but I was enjoying my little girl so much I kept telling myself that it was normal to feel sick because I just had a major op.  Little did I know what I was in store for on the Monday night.  We had climbed into bed at about 10 pm and I was battling to fall asleep again and my chest was extremely sore.  I was breastfeeding on and off every 2 or 3 hours and when I breastfeed I had her in the bed with me.  The last feed was at about 2 am and I put her back into the crib next to my bed.  I remember the last time I looked at the clock it was just before 4 am and I still wasn’t asleep.  That is when it started.  My hand started flinching uncontrollably and I started having my first convulsion.  I don’t remember anything of the convulsion other than waking up and my husband was looking over me holding my hand and telling me I just had a fit.  I wasn’t able to talk and my face felt numb.  He looked horrified and he kept asking me to say my name or try and touch my nose with my finger.  I couldn’t.  He told me just to hang in there and that a paramedic would be there any second.  By the time the paramedics arrived (my husband said it took them about 20 minutes from the initial call) I was getting feeling back into my face and I could start talking even though it was very painful as I had bit my tongue black and blue and it was bleeding.  I asked them if I could go to the loo and they let me.  That is when the second convulsion started and I fell back into the shower and fractured my skull.  The paramedics put me on a stretcher and I was taken in the ambulance to the closest hospital.  My one and only memory of leaving the house was being carried out through the lounge and seeing my six year old son holding his baby sister on the couch and trying to feed her formula out of a bottle.  He was such a brave little boy and I’m so very proud of him today.

I don’t recall much of the ambulance trip but I remember feeling cold, isolated from my body and I was very scared that I was going to die that morning.  I was taken into casualty again and that is when the third convulsion started.  The doctors sedated me straight away.  The next couple of days in hospital consisted of all sorts of tests.  They did blood tests, ECG’s, MRI’s and Cat Scans but other than the hematoma (bleeding on the brain) and the fracture, both caused by the fall in the shower everything came back normal.  I wasn’t overly worried because the only thing on my mind was my baby girl and that I wasn’t there to look after her, it broke my heart. I was missing her terribly and because I was in the neuro ward the hospital staff would not let her in. I was in hospital for a very long 4 days which seemed like a mini eternity. 

It was in the hospital that the nurses mentioned eclampsia to me as I showed all the classic signs of it.  The high blood pressure, swelling before the birth, chest pains, throwing up and convulsions after the birth are all common symptoms of Eclampsia.

That Friday when I was released the neuro surgeon put me on epilepsy medication which meant I had to stop breastfeeding straight away.  I was devastated when I heard this because I was planning to exclusively breastfeed her until I had to go back to work.  A lot of people don’t understand why I got so upset about this but when you plan and look forward to something for so many months and then someone tells you that you can’t do it anymore due to circumstances out of your control it’s so frustrating!  I decided to take the medication. I was petrified if I didn’t I would have another convulsion. It took many weeks to heal physically and emotionally.

I didn’t have any more convulsions.  It’s been 2 and a half years since it happened so in my heart of hearts I believe I didn’t develop epilepsy over night.  It was eclampsia as the nurses suspected.  I weaned myself off the epilepsy medication after 6 weeks of leaving the hospital.  I’ve now fully recovered besides for a lump on my skull which is now a bittersweet memory for me of my first two “rollercoaster” weeks with my newborn baby girl.  We called her Zoe Hope and she has definitely given me the hope that I will be around to see both of my much adored children grow up.    

Here’s my little madam taken at 6 months old.  Can you see she had two different eye colours?

Thanks for reading it.


17 thoughts on “Two and a half years ago…

  1. Wow. Wow. Wow.
    What a scary story – so glad you are okay now and that you are around to share it with us! I can only imagine how disappointed you must have been when you had your heart set on breastfeeding Zoe! Well done on being so strong for your children … the part where you mentioned your little boy on the couch giving Zoe a bottle literally made my eyes go into auto-cry mode! Heartbreaking!
    Thanks again for sharing xxx

  2. Oh gosh – such a scary story. A friend of mine also developed that after twins born at 38 weeks – my gynea took one listen and saId – t”hat doctor was pushing his luck. I would have never let jou swell so much” . With the Princess she thought I had pre-eclampsia – had all the symptoms but my blood pressure stayed low. She went so far to get me a blood pressure monitor and taught me how to read the urine dipsticks – I had to text my results every morning – if I did not by 9 she would text me to ask if I was ok. This through her December holiday. She came into the hosoital one morning with me when I was 36 weeks (just after Christmas) to do a stress test. Turned out my kidneys were buggered. But the point – she was careful because she was on the lookout for pre eclampsia. I love her for that care.

    I would really have been upset with my gynea.

    Just so glad all is well now!

    1. I was very upset with my gynae. I sent him an email saying that I was going to dispute the payment for the c-section because of negligence and needless to say I received a credit note for it.

  3. Wow. Thanks for sharing your story. i am so glad you are ok. The part about your son trying to give his little sister a bottle made me want to cry it was so sweet. I really wish that Doctors would pay more attention to the symptoms of eclampsia and to educate more women. I was lucky as my Mom had suffered from it and was in a coma for two weeks and she lost the baby. Hers kicked in at twenty weeks apparently if your mother had problems it is more likely you will. I was carefully monitored from 20 weeks and when I did start swelling and the high blood pressure kicked in I was lucky to be at 39 weeks and they did a c-sec at 40 weeks on the dot. My point is if you had known you could have saved yourself a lot of pain. This effects more women then we think.

  4. that’s very scary… and educational. I think we forget how hectic having kids is because it’s all hospital-ish and sterile and official-seeming (well for an outsider like me anyway).

    I’m so glad that you are ok and the kids too!

  5. Fee, what a gripping story. I am so glad that you are still with us and we can share in such good friendship. You are remarkable and I can see where Zoe hope is coming from.

  6. Thanks so much for sharing that, Fiona. What a scary thing to happen. I am so glad that you are okay! Big hug!

    p.s. She has such gorgeous eyes!

  7. Omiword Fiona, i just read this and am awed by your courage, strength and tenacity. Its amazing how strong our will to live is when we have little ones to think of. What a scary story but with a wonderful ending!

  8. Fiona! What a story! I cannot imagine having to deal with all that AND a new-born! You brave, brave woman!
    It’s tough when we make all these plans and then life happens. I guess what makes us survivors is that we walk through it in spite of everything!

  9. Oh my goodness, this scares the living heebeejeebies out of me! I am bad luck and accident prone, and when there is something to go wrong, it will happen to me. This makes me scared of having children one day.

    Luckily you got through this hellish ordeal and you have two healthy, beautiful children!

  10. This is such a scary story. I first had to Google what eclampsia is *sheepish* So glad you’re okay and you must be super proud of your little boy. What a grown up thing to do!

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