My Pregnancy and Birth Story: The Final Chapter

Finding out I was pregnant…

I knew that Max would be trouble from the moment I found out I was pregnant. I mean, finding out you are pregnant at the start of a national pandemic is not ideal, but to then suffer bleeding and be told that you have had a miscarriage makes it even harder. “A miscarriage? But you have had a baby?” I hear you say… you are right! This was the exact moment I knew that he was going to be trouble from start to finish!

Not long after I found out I was pregnant, I started bleeding – I knew instantly what was happening having experienced two miscarriages before. I went to the hospital – alone because of Covid – where they confirmed that I was having a miscarriage. I returned home and we began the process of grieving our little baby that we never got to meet. BUT, a few weeks later I was still getting pregnancy symptoms – I was nauseous, and extremely tired all of the time, so Allen suggested going back to the hospital just to get checked over. Sat in the hospital room, getting a scan, never did I think that there would still be a little baby growing in my tummy! Yep, there he was – wriggling away! I still don’t have the answers, but they said it might have been twins and unfortunately one wasn’t viable.

I couldn’t believe it, I just kept asking if it was real and I wasn’t imagining it – you can imagine Allen’s face when I told him! We were both so confused, but so overjoyed that our little baby was actually okay! The day after we managed to book in a private scan just to double check as we couldn’t believe it. Unfortunately due to Covid I had to go to the scan alone, but sure enough on the screen was our baby wriggling around! I still couldn’t believe that this was actually happening.

When I went for the scan I was 10+3!

Processing the news…

We were still in a complete state of shock to even be told that we still had a little baby growing in my tummy! But equally absolutely over the moon. I promised myself in my head that no matter what I faced during this pregnancy I would definitely be making the most of it as this bundle of joy is definitely our last!

We broke the news to the girls that they were going to have a little brother or sister, and they were both absolutely buzzing! Straight away Mia was adamant that she was having a baby brother and wanted to call him Kristoff, Millie on the other hand wanted a baby sister and was going to call her “baby”. We were all absolutely buzzing and had the biggest smiles on our faces.

Proud big sister

Being pregnant during a pandemic

It was definitely never the plan to be pregnant during a worldwide pandemic. It was very tough, but luckily this wasn’t our first baby so although it wasn’t nice to have to go to every appointment alone, we sort of knew what to expect so just got on with it. Having said that though, I can’t even begin to imagine what first time mums and dads went through during their first pregnancy and birth of their first child – mums to be having to attend all appointments alone including antenatal appointments and scans, the type of appointments were you need a pillar of support with you whether they are to go well or not!

Having experienced two miscarriages before Mia, and also at the start of this pregnancy I have always been super anxious going for antenatal appointments and scans, so personally for me having to go there without Allen was really tough! Although most of my appointments were straight forward there were two times when I really needed Allen by my side. The first was finding out the sex of the baby, and the second was being sent for an emergency growth scan!

It’s a…

This was one of the appointments that I was even more gutted that Allen wasn’t allowed to. I was 17 weeks and it was our first scan after our private scan due to finding out late and delays due to Coronavirus. When I went for the scan, the Sonographer told me that she could tell me the sex if I wanted to find out. Finding out the sex of your baby by yourself is super hard! I asked the midwife to write it down but she told me that she wasn’t allowed due to “Covid”. Obviously we wanted to know, so I asked her to tell me. I rang Allen after my appointment to let him know I was finished so he could come to reception to pick me up, and I was just bursting to tell him the news!

Having two girls already, I think if we were told it was another girl Allen would pack his bags! All jokes aside, I nearly burst with excitement waiting for Allen to get to me. I got in the car with the biggest smile on my face and the first thing he said was “did you find out?”. OF COURSE I DID! I told him to guess, and he said a girl… and when I said no it took a while for it to click. Eventually he looked at me and said “are you joking?”. It took some convincing but eventually he believed me.

He had the biggest smile on his face. We took a drive along the coast and for a good 5 minutes he had all the windows down, beeping his horn, arm out the window shouting “I’M HAVING A BOY!’. We were both absolutely buzzing, a perfect little boy to complete our family!

How we announced it

Aches and pains…

At the early stages of my pregnancy I had severe sciatica, to the point where I couldn’t even get out of the bed. I remember one day not that far in to my pregnancy Allen was at the shop and I was on the sofa, I went to get up to go to the toilet, and physically couldn’t move. I had to ring Allen to ask how long he was going to be because I was literally stuck on the sofa with two toddlers running around. I spoke to the midwife about it and she said apart from physiotherapy there wasn’t a lot that they could do. I was in so much pain, I remember I was always sore in my back, legs and groin area – even getting up the stairs was a chore and was super painful! I was kindly gifted a support belt that helped to elliviate the pain

Thankfully, and strangely, towards the end of my pregnancy these got so much better. I think once he had moved around and completely moved position is massively helped! I could actually go to the toilet unaided and didn’t need any help off the sofa!

A bit of a scare…

Towards the end of my pregnancy, at one of my last antenatal appointments (34 weeks), again at the appointment by myself, and was sent for an emergency growth scan. I was told that after measuring the bump that he wasn’t growing how he should be and was measuring too small. All sorts were running through my head about the baby, and had to tell Allen via texts while we booked the scan in – it was so stressful!

We managed to get the scan booked in for the following day, and for the rest of the day and night I was in tears. I was so worried that something was wrong with our baby boy.

The day arrived, and I went to the appointment by myself – again – while Allen waited in the car. My anxiety was through the roof. Luckily I was seen within 5 minutes of getting there. The Sonographer did the scan and measured everything, and luckily I was told that everything was absolutely fine. She said that it was most likely due to the fact that he would have been lying in a funny position when they did the measurements at the doctors, and by looking at the scan he was going to be the biggest baby yet. I’d already had a 7lbs 10oz and an 8lbs 8oz baby! I really hoped that he wasn’t going to be much bigger than that!

Due date…

I genuinely thought, especially towards the end of my pregnancy that Max would make his appearance early, but he didn’t. I had twinges every day, but it got to his due date and there was still no sign of him! We had everything ready, all we needed was him to make his appearance. At my 39 week appointment, there was still no sign of him even though he was head down and engaged. I booked a follow up appointment with my midwife for my due date to have my sweep. I prayed that he would be here before then though!

The 40 week mark arrived, and he still hadn’t made his appearance. It was just like any other normal day. We woke up at about 7am and got Mia her breakfast and got her ready for nursery. My appointment was 9:45, so we dropped her off at nursery and headed straight to the appointment.

It was just like any other normal appointment, had my urine checked and blood pressure done and everything was fine. Then it was time for the part I was dreading – the sweep itself. Although I know they are to help bring on labour I just have always dreaded having them! Anyway, the sweep was done and she confirmed that I was 3cm dilated, but could stretch it to 4. She told me that everyone she had ever given a sweep to had gone in to labour the same day, I told her that knowing how Max had been throughout my pregnancy I doubted it.

But as soon as I left the clinic at about 10:30, I started having contractions. Not strong enough to make me stop what I was doing, but enough to know that something was definitely happening. They were 10 minutes apart, so I just went home and carried on as normal. I remember doing the dishes and making lunch. Obviously Allen knew that I had been having them all day, so when Mia finished nursery we dropped them off at his Dad’s just in case something happened over night!

All systems go…

I remember I was watching Hollyoaks and they suddenly started to get more intense, and closer together. This was around 6:30pm, and they were 7 minutes apart. I rang the hospital just to let them know that something was happening, and they told me to ring back when they started getting closer together. We made sure that everything was in the car in the meantime.

At around 7:30 they again were closer and more intense, this time there was only 5 minutes apart. I rang the hospital again, and the midwife said to wait again until they were closer together, but if I got the sudden urge to push to ring an ambulance. Obviously this is something that we wanted to avoid, so we made the decision to slowly make our way to the hospital. The hospital is only about a 5 minute drive from our house, and there’s a McDonalds on the way. We knew that once we were in the hospital we wouldn’t be leaving without Max, and knew that once we were in our room we couldn’t leave and the hospital canteen and shop was shut, so we went to McDonalds to get one last meal in us before all hell broke loose!

As we were sat eating our food in the McDonalds car park (8:15pm), all of a sudden my contractions were 3 minutes apart, so we went straight to the hospital. I was examined when we got there and they said I was 4cm dilated. This is where my memory gets a little bit hazy.

I keep remember saying to the midwifes that he had to be born that day as I didn’t want his birthday to be the 13th as I’m superstitious that way, and they told me that he would definitely be born that day! They checked Max’s heart rate, and every time I was having a contraction it was dropping, so they left me on the monitor to check that he wasn’t distressed, but they did say that they weren’t too concerned. I remember they checked my blood pressure and they said it was high, and asked me if I had been diagnosed with pre-eclampsia during my pregnancy. I was shocked as no I hadn’t and even that day my blood pressure had been fine, so on top of worrying about Max, I now also had that in the back of my mind too – when I checked the clock that was about 10:30pm. I stayed calm, and I remember the midwife and student midwife both saying how calm I was and had I been this calm with the girls – to which I replied yes! I did make a comment about how I would more than likely cry when Max was born, as I cried at just about everything!

The next thing I remember, I was talking away to Allen and I had the sudden urge to push! The midwives were lovely and just told me to listen to my body… 8 minutes later and our gorgeous baby boy was born, on his due date! Did you know only 2% of babies are born on their due date?! The midwifes asked how big we thought he was and we both said about 8lbs 10… they agreed. Only to see the surprise on his face when in fact he weighed a whopping 10lbs 1.5oz! He was in that much of a rush to make his appearance that when he was born his face was congested and he looked purple – he was absolutely fine, just a funny colour but that wore off after a day or two.

Max Patrick Keith O’Connell

Mad panic…

This is where my memory gets even more hazy so I only have my notes to go off! While the midwives were writing up my notes and getting everything ready I could feel that I was losing blood so I asked Allen to check and he was worried about how much blood I had actually lost so he buzzed for the midwife. She came in to check and agreed it seemed like a lot and I was also passing clots. She changed the pads and the bedding and took the old stuff away to weigh the blood loss. She came back and advised that I would be being observed closely to see if the bleeding stopped. To start with I was placed on a Syntocinon infusion through an IV drip.

At 1:25am I was checked and was still losing blood and clots, and again at 02:20am. I was advised then that they would be giving me an ultrasound to look in my womb to see if they could see anything going on. On the scan they could see that there was something in there, so the Senior Doctor had to remove them. TMI warning – she had to put her hand inside my womb via the down below area and removed a large clot. At this point I was also given a catheter as I couldn’t get up to go the toilet, and they also thought it would help to slow the bleeding. I was also given an injection which was also to help slow the bleeding. The whole team on duty that night were worried about me, and at one point I had about 6 people in the room with us to plan the care I needed. It was so overwhelming, and actually writing this and remembering everything that happened has been emotional!

At 3:45am, eventually the bleeding slowed, but at this point my blood loss was 1.5litres, and they advised that they would need to give me a blood transfusion to replace the blood that I lost. This was luckily done in the room I was in and I wasn’t moved from Max or Allen. Allen was absolutely amazing through the whole ordeal, he didn’t leave my side, stayed calm, and was always checking if I was okay or needed anything, and just holding my hand when I needed it. I’ll be honest if he wasn’t there to keep me calm, I would have been an absolute mess!

After the infusion I was super tired so they advised that I rest, but so much had happened I genuinely couldn’t relax. I did get some sleep though, although not much as I think I was getting my observations taken every 30 minutes. By about 7:30, I started to feel more human, and had tea and toast – the first thing since the McDonalds the night before! My midday we were transferred to the antenatal ward to complete our care and my observations there.

As I felt better, I discussed the possibility of being discharged – I didn’t understand the severity of what I’d just been through. My blood pressure and heart rate was still super high, so the medical team advised against me going home that day. I was administered iron tablets and blood thinner – the blood thinner was to take for SIX WEEKS, and it was a needle which I absolutely hated. We stayed in again that night for observations, as my blood pressure and heart rate was still high. We also asked for Max’s breathing to be monitored as it didn’t look right, however the midwife reviewed him and was happy with him – you wouldn’t think we had already had two babies!

The following day, my observations seemed back to normal, and all of Max’s checks were done and were absolutely fine so we were discharged home at midday! We went straight to introduce Max to his big sisters, and they absolutely adored him. Because of what we had just been through and both of us having no sleep, the girls stayed at Allens dad’s that night but were coming home in the morning to start our journey as a family of 5. I felt completely fine, but less than 24 hours we entered a whole new nightmare.

Proud big sisters

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