Edie’s Birth Story

It’s been several months since I last blogged but I’ve had the rather time consuming matter of the second and third trimester of a pregnancy after loss, a birth and seven months bringing up a baby to keep me busy!

Even though I’ve only recently finished my maternity leave, I wouldn’t say I have had more time on my hands, just different type of time.  I have been meaning to continue blogging where I left off but as more and more time passed it just got harder to start.  It has infact taken me exactly 51 days to complete this blog post!

However here I am blogging again finally and when trying to decide what to blog about, I thought the birth of our daughter Edie is a perfect place to start.

This was my second birth experience and I was determined to have a positive experience and outcome.  I didn’t want the fact that our firstborn died during early labour make me fear it.  We were offered an elective c-section and induction but I was so determined to see what happened naturally.  Obviously if there had been signs of any issues we were willing to consider these options.

Towards the latter part of my third trimester my appointments, checks and monitoring really increased. At 30 weeks I had to go to hospital for monitoring as I thought my waters might have broken.  They confirmed they hadn’t but during this visit they decided to test me for Group B Strep which is normally done at around 36 weeks.  I came back positive which meant I would need antibiotics through a drip several times during my labour to protect my baby.  It also meant that I would probably not be able to experience early labour at home which disappointed me but I knew the drugs were important.

I had chosen to start my maternity leave a month before my due date because I knew this was going to be an intense period with appointments and just trying to get through it.  I’m so glad I did because I went into labour three weeks early at 37 weeks gestation.  It was a Saturday and my husband and I had attended the hospital for a scheduled monitoring appointment in the morning.

Following this we went out for lunch and decided to enjoy the sunshine and went for a little walk afterwards.  I remember saying to Rik that it felt like the baby was quite low and getting several braxton hicks during the walk.  I placed his hand on my stomach during one to show him how hard it was.  As we were getting back to the car I remember feeling a slight gush and went to the cafe toilet.  I came out and told him we would have to return to the hospital as I am sure it was some amniotic fluid.

We returned and I got monitored again although they felt it wasn’t amniotic fluid.  During the monitoring slight contractions were showing up and the midwife asked if I could feel them.  For about 5/10 minutes we thought this was it and I was having our baby, but then they petered out.  However the midwife wasn’t 100% satisfied with the report so I was monitored again.  This time less contractions showed up and 40 minutes later I was going home.

I joked with her how I was going to a friends for Chinese that evening and she said I should avoid it if I was going into labour!  I was shattered when I got home and all I wanted to do was take a nap but there wasn’t enough time so I didn’t.  Something I would later regret!

Whilst I was sitting in the packed Chinese waiting for our order under a loud TV, I remember thinking I shouldn’t be here, and I was right.  I kept thinking it would be okay if I went into labour as one of my friends was a midwife.  We joked how it could be anytime.  I went home and started getting ready for bed when I had my mucous plug show.  I texted my midwife friend a picture, believe it or not, and she said it was a good sign.

With my previous birth, the plug had appeared a week before going into labour so I wasn’t panicked.  I had literally just got settled in bed, when I felt the need to go to the toilet.  I sat up in bed and felt a gush.  Not loads but enough to think something was happening.  It kept coming so I texted my midwife friend back again saying “Phoning hospital as just had some water come out x”.   I remember my body started shaking uncontrollably as I went into panic mode.

A phone call to the hospital later and I was getting dressed still in shock.  Unfortunately I hadn’t quite finished packing my hospital bag but fortunately I had made a list on my phone of what I had still needed to pack so as I read out each item Rik went looking for them.

We drove to the hospital and it all felt like a dream.  I remember questioning whether we should bring in the bags because I kept doubting that I was in labour and that I would need all the baby items this time.  There was always a little niggle at the back of my mind whether it would end in devastation again.

We got shown into a room to have a scan to check on our baby.  Unfortunately this was the same room we had been told there was no heartbeat last time but somehow we were strong and coped.  The on call obstetrician confirmed my waters had broken and gave me until 6am the next morning for my contractions to be fully established.  They gave me my first drip of antibiotics.  We were then moved into our own room which we would occupy for the rest of our stay.

We decided not to tell family that we were in hospital and wait until the morning.  By the time we went to sleep it was 4am and I knew I had to be woken at 6am for my next dose of antibiotics.  It’s very hard to sleep when you know you are going to have your baby in the next 24 hrs!  It was lovely having Rik there to keep me company and support me.

In the morning I was examined and found to be 3cm dilated so I didn’t require to be induced.  This was good news but because my contractions had not established fully I was told I would require some syntocinon to speed things up because I needed to have the baby 24 hours from when my waters broke to reduce infection.  This meant a water birth was not an option which upset me.  I had hoped to have a water birth with Freddie but chose to have an epidural in the end so to then be told I couldn’t have one was disappointing.  I was therefore determined to ensure that I was happy with the rest of how things went.  This included wearing some special pieces of jewellery including a necklace I had made with Freddie’s footprints on.  I wanted it close to hand to rub if things got tough and I needed extra encouragement.

After breakfast the overnight on call obstetrician was just about to finish her shift but before doing so introduced the team of midwives and the next on call obstetrician assigned to me and assured me that they had all read my birth plan and care plan.  This was about 8am and by now I was starting to feel regular twinges so they moved me to a delivery room.

I had requested the delivery room we had with Freddie if it was available and fortunately for us it was.  It had been redecorated since 2013 and had a brighter feel with blossom on the wall and new beds which changed into tiered seating.  I remember thinking it was a beautiful sunny day and we had the windows open.  I asked the midwife if we could have the battery operated flickering candles I’d seen in the room during a tour of the ward and some meditation music I’d got with me.  To make me more comfortable I’d also asked for the wireless monitoring system so I wasn’t tied to a machine.  I was quite comfortable swaying from side to side on my Swiss ball.

It was at this point once he knew I was settled that my husband took the opportunity to phone our family to let them know what was happening.  It was a Sunday so a few of them were about to go to church.  My mother said she would pray for me.  My sister said she’d seen a robin in her garden and believed it was a sign from Freddie.  I took delight in telling her that yesterday when we were returning to the ward we had seen a robin just sitting on a fence in the hospital car park and had taken it as a sign from Freddie that he was present and that everything was going to be okay.

Rik then thought he would pop home to pick up a few things we’d forgotten and have a quick shower.  I didn’t know how long I was going to be in labour for and wanted him to be as fresh as he could be after two hours sleep!  Whilst he was away I just relaxed really.  The only thing that was a bit stressful was when I went to the toilet and got in a bit of a pickle as I had to take the antibiotic drip stand with me and keep the monitoring belts in place which I failed at.  I remember thinking that the midwife must have been wondering was going on as the traces disappeared on her machine back in the labour room.

Rik returned around 10am and decided to sit behind me on the tiered bed whilst I sat on the Swiss ball so he could massage my back.  He remained there for the rest of my labour and was an amazing support physically and emotionally.  I was breathing through my contractions well and they were coming at a rate of about three every ten minutes.  As they got stronger and stronger I needed to push harder against Rik’s hands and breath deeper.  The midwife kept saying the baby is very happy as her heart rate was stable.

Prior to giving birth Rik and I had spent one night a week listening to a hypnobirthing CD and as the contractions seemed to roll into each other I found myself going back to one of the exercises and imagining being stood by a waterfall with Rik by my side holding hands.  At this point I still hadn’t had any pain relief and after two strong surges I remember thinking I don’t know how long I can take this.

I had heard you can feel the baby shifting down and I certainly did.  At first I thought I had imagined it and just ignored it but a few contractions on and I pushed a bit and felt the baby move further down.  I didn’t tell anyone as I didn’t realise how ready my body was.

It was at this point I said to Rik that I felt nauseous, I then started to weep and as a second midwife went to get tissues I had one or two really strong surges where I was lifting myself off the ball back against Rik’s hands.  It was now when I needed that extra support and I rubbed Freddie’s necklace knowing that I could endure anything in his memory.  Rik whispered in my ear “it won’t be long now Nic” as he just knew I was ready.  The next contraction I was up on my feet which took the midwife in the room and the second one returning with tissues a bit by surprise.

I was encouraged to turn around and lean over the bed as they quickly pulled down my bottoms.  I heard one midwife quickly opening a welcome pack whilst the other told me to do what felt natural.  This is when my inner cave woman came out as I let my body naturally birth Edie.  It felt so euphoric and I remember listening to myself thinking is that me making those noises.  A minute later and Edie Pierrine Bromley was born in the Blossom Room at the PEH, Guernsey at 12.20pm weighing 6lb7oz.

I went to grab Edie and there was that moment before she cried where there was silence from her and I panicked and said she wasn’t breathing but to our relief she did.  Having asked for delayed cord clamping, I was encouraged to lie down as she was passed to me.  It was a funny moment as I felt the cord tugging but we realised we didn’t have much cord to work with.  Lying there with her in my arms I didn’t cry, I just looked at her, looked at Rik and back to her and said “Hello I’m your mummy”.

Two minutes later and Rik cut the cord and then I had further skin to skin with her.  Eight minutes later and I had to stand up again as a strong surge came on to birth the placenta.  I looked down as it was caught in a container and noticed what a mess I had made.  On inspection I required some stitching and I think enduring this was the hardest part of the whole thing!  The midwife said just concentrate on your new baby which I did but I was very relieved when they had finished.

A midwife encouraged me to try breastfeeding Edie and she fortunately latched on straight away.  It was wonderful to know that forty minutes after giving birth she was feeding from me.  We were then left for around an hour to have some quality time together.  It was during this hour that Rik stood opposite me in the room and rang my mother and said “I’m looking at your daughter and your granddaughter”.  I can’t even begin to imagine the relief and excitement that she must have been feeling.

I know only too well that pregnancies and births don’t go according to plan but on that day I had no doubt and that Edie was here to stay.  It was an agreement I had with Edie when we first both looked into each other’s eyes and remains a very strong agreement today.

A few weeks after giving birth to Edie, a friend asked me how my birth was and I could honestly say I really enjoyed it.  I know that not everyone can say this but I felt empowered by how I coped and we both worked together to bring her earthside.  It really is amazing how your body knows what to do and by trusting it, birth can be a calm, relaxed and enjoyable experience.  I am very lucky to have experienced giving birth to two beautiful children.

Our eyes meet for the first time

The first tr(Y)mester of a pregnancy after loss

Baby B 12 weeks 4 days

It’s only 12 weeks/3 months but the first trimester of a pregnancy after loss is exhausting and here is why mine was:

The first week or so is spent with you daring to believe the pregnancy test result, or in our case ‘tests’. You carry on daily life a bit numb and then you’ll be sat at your desk at work and WHAM a wave of reality hits you. You might be pregnant again! You go through all the emotions from shock, disbelief, nerves and terror to over the moon. Hopes and fears all mixed in to one. Hopes that the baby is healthy, I have a healthy pregnancy, we are looked after properly, the baby is born crying and we get to keep this one. Fears that my second baby will die like my first, that I will miss any important signs, that family will overwhelm us, that work will stress me out, that we can’t enjoy this pregnancy and that I won’t have a natural unmedicated birth like I really want.

Having been pregnant before I knew that the first thing I had to do was arrange an appointment with my doctor and a blood test. I went to my appointment and it was such a relief to tell someone, well anyone our news. Saying it out loud to someone in a healthcare profession made it feel more real. It didn’t take long for me to break down into tears on my doctor though. Not surprising really seeming everything that was going around my head. I couldn’t help but think that I’d done this before and it didn’t end well and what would make this pregnancy any different. One of the first things I noticed was how much extra attention, care and support we were already being given.

Next was to pay a visit to my gynaecologist. I had a meeting set up already because it would have been eights months after trying for a baby at this point and we were due to discuss the next steps. When we told our gynaecologist that we thought we were pregnant, it was so lovely to see his surprise. He couldn’t call our pregnancy viable at this stage as a heartbeat hadn’t been seen as it was only 5/6 weeks gestation but seeing what we could on the screen was amazing. We couldn’t help but feel blessed.

Our gynaecologist commented how his job can be very hard sometimes but finding out our news had made his week which was lovely to hear. However I came away not satisfied and thinking what we had found out at the appointment wasn’t enough for me. I needed to have firm confirmation that our baby was alive. Despite not having another scan for a further two weeks we had decided to share our news with close family so they could understand what we were going through. My sister and I had a joint birthday celebration with family coming up and my husband and I thought this was the perfect opportunity to share the news.

The two week wait between the scan and birthday celebration was so difficult. I had this big secret and was trying to cope with all the emotions it was bringing. I managed to lose half a stone in weight in those two weeks which I put down to the stress and worry plus starting to feel a little nauseous. I was very nervous the day of the family gathering but it felt more real than when I was building up the courage to tell them with our last pregnancy.

I decided to reveal the news to my sister first in a birthday card from her nephew angel Freddie. It said he thanked her for being a great auntie to him but now it was time for her to be auntie to his little sister or brother too. She read the card and I can’t repeat the words she said but she was in shock and unbelievably excited. My mother and step father were close by and couldn’t understand what was going on. My sister handed my mother the card to read and they gave each other a massive hug. We were delighted to see their excitement and didn’t want to put a damper on things but we were also trying to be realistic and kept saying it was early days and we were waiting to see the heartbeat. I then texted, Skyped, phoned and told other family members and work colleagues. It was such a relief and felt more real as we shared the news with other people.

At my next scan we got the news we had been waiting for and saw a strong heartbeat. It was reassuring to finally know that there was a baby growing inside of me, albeit a very small one that doesn’t resemble anything like a baby at this stage, but it was ALIVE! We were still a bit in shock I think but believe it or not I still wasn’t 100% satisfied though and couldn’t work out exactly why I wasn’t bouncing off the walls with excitement. I talked about it with my husband Rik and we came to the conclusion that it still felt unreal to me and that I was waiting for the bad news. It’s so hard once you’ve been ‘the one’, to think that this time everything might work out okay.

We were just starting to believe it all and beginning to enjoy it when at 10 weeks I had a bleed at work. I had not really bled that much during my last pregnancy so immediately thought something must be wrong and that I was losing the baby. I phoned my husband and told him to meet me at A&E and somehow managed to drive myself to the hospital whilst repeatedly telling my baby to stay with us. We had an hour’s wait in A&E to be seen which was so hard.

Whilst sat in reception I kept popping to the toilet to see if I had bled anymore. I hadn’t so this gave me the tiniest bit of hope. However, my brain had already started processing the fact that this wasn’t going to be good news and thoughts of how to tell my family we had lost the baby and having to start trying again went through my head.

My husband and I had mentally prepared ourselves for the worst during that wait. I was seen by a doctor who said my stomach felt normal and that we would have to wait a further half an hour to be seen by a gynaecologist. I lay there on that bed and just tried to relax but it was so hard. They eventually scanned me and for a minute or so I couldn’t see our baby move and even said out loud “There’s nothing there” but we were reassured with a visible heartbeat. They put it down to just one of those pregnancy bleeds possibly caused by a burst blood vessel.

We went home that day mentally exhausted and trying to take it all in that our baby was still alive and okay. This really made us take things a bit slower and appreciate our baby still being with us. We had moments where we were scared to plan but then determined to keep going as before.

The next week my mind was fortunately pre-occupied as Guernsey Sands (Stillbirth & Neonatal Death), the charity I am a committee member for, were to donate a cuddle cot to the hospital. I knew it was going to be a hard week visiting the ward but it didn’t even cross my mind that the press call might take place in the very delivery room I birthed Freddie in. It was the first time I had set foot in that room since being wheeled out that night having given Freddie my first and last kiss. Ideally I would have wanted to be with my husband the first time I revisited the room but the other committee members were there with me.

The room had been redecorated and the layout changed and it was a nice bright day compared to the dark night when I’d been in the room last. I coped though and had the courage to get through that day, partly due to knowing I was carrying Freddie’s sibling. I went home that night and told my husband how I was worried that the new vision I had of the room would somehow wipe the memory of the special day we met our son. I managed to reassure myself that my brain would be able to separate the two.

The next week was well and truly needed as we had our 12 week scan at what we thought was 11 weeks and 4 days gestation. We were so scared but also looking forward to it and hoping that it would give us some much needed reassurance. The two days before the scan I had to take off work. I was just not feeling right. Emotional, tired, weepy and fuzzy headed. We had a lovely sonographer who really took his time and understood our concerns and worry. At the scan we got the reassurance we needed. A moving baby with everything looking as normal as possible. It was amazing to see our beautiful baby with its cute nose, just like Freddie’s. It even had its thumb in its mouth which was adorable and we joked was just like me. The baby looked softer than Freddie and both Rik and I thought it was a girl. We were also informed that the pregnancy was further along and our baby was measuring 12 weeks and 4 days gestation instead!

We were so proud to finally share our exciting and scary news with everyone. We decided to announce our pregnancy in a video which respected and included Freddie but was all about his little brother or sister. We wanted to show how we were just as excited about this pregnancy as with Freddie’s. We then posted some scan pictures to show how beautiful our baby was, how proud we were and how already loved our second baby was.

The truth of trying to conceive after loss

Is it positive?

It’s been eight months since my last post on Freddie’s First Birthday Memorial Event and a lot has happened in this short time. The biggest most exciting and scary thing is what I will be blogging about in the future, but first I must explain a few things in this blog post.

In April 2014, my husband and I decided that we would like to start trying for a sibling to our son Freddie who was stillborn in August 2013. We weren’t 100% sure how long it would take or how we were going to cope when/if we got a positive pregnancy result, but we knew that however much we were still grieving for our son, this would never change. We could be grieving all our life so there was no point waiting for it to be okay one day.

The fact that we were both ready was the most important thing. If I am being honest I would have starting trying again the day I walked out the hospital with a memory box in my arms instead of my son, but I respected my husband’s need to wait and in hindsight realise that I had needed time to grieve my loss and make memories for my darling Freddie.

We were aware that we conceived Freddie the first month we tried but knew that it may not happen this quickly again. As each month passed and another negative pregnancy test result was thrown in the bathroom bin, I started to wonder if we were doing the right thing. I’m not talking about where ‘it’ goes but were our bodies telling us we weren’t ready.

In August, the month of Freddie’s anniversary, we prayed that he would show us a sign and we would be honoured with news of his sibling but what we experienced was confusion and worry. At the time I was expecting my period I started bleeding but it felt different to normal and lasted two weeks. By this point I was a bit concerned about what was happening and got checked out, but the bleeding had stopped. I was obviously worried that this was very out of my normal routine (I’ve been tracking my cycle for years) and a part of me thought that either I had experienced a very early miscarriage or that maybe it was my body remembering a year ago when my cycle returned after Freddie’s birth. We will never know but we picked ourselves up and said we would keep trying.

However the next month Rik was diagnosed with a hip/groin hernia and needed an operation to sort it out. This put a hold on our plans for about a month and a half whilst he recovered. My biggest concern was obviously making sure my husband was resting and recovering well but I would be lying if I said that a part of me wasn’t counting down the time thinking it was a lost opportunity. I appreciate that might sound harsh but it’s the truth. We turned our baby making down a gear for the first month or two after his recuperation but it was spirit lifting to know that again we may have a chance.

As the end of the year approached I couldn’t help but count down the months left that we had to conceive in 2014. I know this probably wasn’t helping our situation but I couldn’t help it. I appreciate some people try for years and some can’t conceive naturally at all and don’t want to sound like I don’t, but when you have been so close, so very very close to bringing up a baby and then get it taken away from you, each month feels like a year.

With a new year I decided to have a different approach. I was in the mind frame that I was leaving the baggage from 2014 behind and starting again. In my mind I had a whole 12 months to get pregnant after all! I was determined to just relax about it all. I went through the things we bought in preparation for Freddie and decided to sell a few bits that I didn’t feel we needed to keep.

I also started being more open about that fact that we had been trying. I talked to my mother and told her how hard the months trying had been and she finally opened up about how she had been worried that losing Freddie had put us off trying again. I told her about how frustrating it had been hearing comments from people that we should just ‘get on with it’ when we were but didn’t feel it was anyone’s business.

I hoped that the more I opened up and was honest with myself and others, the less stress I was putting on myself. Rik supported me with whatever I wanted to do and whenever I wanted to do it. We had just wanted some time to ourselves to try and see what happened but were now both ready to gain support and advice. We also decided that we would do Dry January when you abstain from drinking alcohol for the month of January. We do it every year but I had heard some people say that they decided to not drink any alcohol and then fell pregnant so thought it could help. I had been receiving monthly reflexology treatments too up to the end of 2014 which I thought would help me relax.

The end of January and Dry January was nearing and we decided to plan a fun night out at the end of it to enjoy some good food and wine. I took a pregnancy test a few days before my cycle was due to start and it was negative. I then had some spotting over the next few days and thought it was my cycle starting, however it didn’t feel quite like normal so I took another test on the morning of our planned meal. I was now a few days late and it was negative again. So we went out and I enjoyed letting my hair down and enjoyed several glasses of wine. We had a great night.

Over the next day or so I was waiting for my cycle to really get going but it had stopped. I didn’t think I needed to take another test but as each day passed I became more confused. I hated my cycle for teasing me this way and playing with my mind. Just when I was getting used to it being another unsuccessful month, this happens and I am back to thinking ‘what if?’.

So we had some cheap pregnancy test strips in the cupboard and I did a test with one of these. Rik wasn’t home from work yet and as I looked at it, the more I could see a faint second line. It was really faint though so when Rik got home he honestly thought it was negative but I had read somewhere that even if it is faint, it could be a positive. I kept staring at it and tried to convince myself that I was just seeing things so as to not get my hopes up. I had even read that if you take a picture of a test and make it black or white or negative that it is easier to gauge so I tried everything.

Now even more confused I dug out a digital pregnancy test that I was saving for this type of situation and did the necessary. I placed the test on a bookshelf dedicated to Freddie and in front of his picture and in my mind thought he is now in charge of our fate. I kept myself busy for those pain stacking few minutes and as I glanced at the test, the result popped up in front of my eyes ‘Pregnant 1-2 weeks’. I couldn’t believe it. No really I couldn’t. I knew what I was seeing and what it meant but my head was still in ‘i’m not pregnant this month’ mode.

Instead of the shocked, joyful and exciting feelings Freddie’s result brought, this one was met with shock but also with numbness and disbelief. I told Rik the news and I think he just carried on as normal like I had just told him I was going out to the shops or something. It took a while to sink in but over the next few hours the numbness slowly disappeared and the true reality of the situation hit us…WE WERE EXPECTING ANOTHER BABY!

With this came many happy feelings but also many fears as you can imagine. We were delighted as this was the first day of our lives as parents of two children, but this was also the first day of nine months, and more, of worry and so many questions including…

If we allow ourselves to be happy and hope, are we setting ourselves up to have our hearts broken again?