To give you a little bit of background information, Jessica was my third pregnancy. We have a little boy, who is nearly two and was born at 38 weeks and we sadly lost a baby very early on in pregnancy last year.
With my son, I had 'braxton hicks' contractions from about 28 weeks. They were very painful and got very close together at around 30 weeks with just 6 minutes between them, however, they did trail off and I kept him in a bit longer! When I eventually did have him, it only took 40 minutes for me to dilate from 5-10cm and labour was a total of 1 hour and 20 minutes. It was a massive shock to everyone and I haemorrhaged straight away afterward - this spontaneously stopped so no medical intervention was needed.
With my second pregnancy (who we believe was a baby girl), I knew something was wrong and started feeling crampy, contraction-like pains so we went into hospital and had a scan. The scan showed everything to be fine, but sadly we lost her that night.
All this history made me slightly paranoid with this pregnancy. I had many reassurance scans at the beginning and only calmed down (all be it slightly) when I began to feel her move. I was only 13 weeks pregnant with her when I began to feel her move and I don't think she ever stopped wriggling! Every time we went to see the midwives they mentioned how 'active she was being'. She was keeping me up all night and kicking me quite hard during the day, but I didn't care as I knew this meant she was doing okay!
It was around 27 weeks when I had the first 'false alarm'. I lost a fair amount of blood and I started to have contractions. When I went into hospital, I had some observations done and then waited to see the doctor. Considering how fast my son came, I was starting to get a bit nervous when it had been an hour or so and my contractions were only a few minutes apart. Eventually, I actually managed to fall asleep, and by the time I woke up the contractions were much further apart and I was discharged.
When I woke up in the morning of Sunday 21st January, I was excited to do my last photoshoot in the afternoon before maternity leave. I had planned to have a shoot in the morning but that had been postponed for various reasons. My husband then reminded me of our rainbow pregnancy project, and that we had just two colours left and I hadn't done one for a while! We managed to convince our son to do about one picture before he got restless and wanted a nap. I then just about managed to get a few of just me and a few with my husband before I started feeling cramps. I then lost some blood and decided to call the midwife just in case. She told me she'd like me to come in as soon as I could get childcare for my son.
My husband pretty much took over trying to sort out my photoshoot for the afternoon (and has been a lifesaver, taking over most of my admin tasks since then) and I tried to stay calm and get through to my brother and his wife to see if they could look after our son. With the number of false alarms I'd already had, I wasn't actually sure weather or not this was it!
Being my totally crazy self and as it was the last one, I decided to have a go at doing the photoshoot. Of course, I did let them know what was going on and that I would have to leave for hospital at some point! It was probably the most fast paced photoshoot I've ever done but the little one was very cooperative (as she always is!) and it went really well!
Anyway, I was still having contractions and when I noticed I was loosing more blood I let them know I had to leave and rushed straight to the hospital. As has happened before, no one was sure if they were 'real' contractions and we waited for the doctor. It turned out, I was dilated, but without going into too much detail, they still weren't sure how for I was or if it was even labour. They decided to treat it as preterm labour and gave me a first steroid injection, which helps the baby's lungs develop enough for breathing.
I was whisked off to the delivery suit and put on a drip of '' to try and stop contractions and essentially labour. After a little while and still contracting, the paediatrics got set up and I was told the baby was going to come any time now and we were given some more information about what to expect when she arrived and that she would be taken to NICU almost immediately. They stopped the drip and we waited. My contractions slowed down and nothing happened. Slowly all the people that had come into the room left and they put me back on the drip
After some time and a lot of convincing, I agreed to take pethidine to get me to sleep. By morning, the contractions had started to trail off and so they decided to take me off the drip again to see if my body was settled now and if I could go home. The contractions started up again and within a few hours, I was told that I was ready to have the baby. They got everything ready again and to be honest I felt a bit more ready this time to. Again, nothing. Another false alarm.
It was completely heartbreaking. On the one hand, I wanted to keep her inside for as long as possible and get her to term so that she could be as healthy as possible. On the other, I couldn't help but get excited to meet my new baby and it was bitterly disappointing to believe that she was about to arrive and then not to have her in my arms.
They gave me the second steroid injection and we waited. After 30 hours in labour and at 8cm, the midwife called in a consultant and they decided to break my waters. It was complete agony but finally over. They placed my baby in my arms and she cried; this was a great sign as it meant her lungs were working. They weighed her and then suddenly she was taken away, as had been explained, to go to NICU.
Below are some pictures of Jessica in the incubator in the NICU. I will be writing a blog about our stay there shortly! Please feel free to share your own birth and/or NICU stories.