I asked the doctor if I could head home first to get my stuff as I didn't have anything with me. Firstly I needed my steroid shot to help develop baby's lungs as I wasn't "full term" yet. Full term is classed as 37 weeks or more, and I was only 36+2.
I rang mum and told her what was going on while they prepped me for my shot. The doctor told me I wasn't allowed to drive once having the shot, so Judy had to drive me and my car home. I waited outside mum's house till she got home from work and then we sat down and had some lunch and just kinda took in the news.
I was told it could take a few days from induction until I had the baby, but anything was possible. I had to go back to the hospital and have a "tape" inserted to help soften my cervix (this happens before the gel, as it is slower and takes longer). The tape would be in for 24 hours, then if needed, the gel would go on, and we'd go from there. While at mums, I had a quick shower and packed the clothes I had with me and some of my baby stuff. I then got my dad to take me back to the hospital (Mum came with me) and we sat in the waiting room while they tried to find a bed to put me in.
An hour later I was getting annoyed that they'd made me RUSH back to the hospital to induce me, but I was still sitting in a waiting room because they had no beds for me. Eventually one of the nurses came to see me and told me there were no beds, but they would look after me in the spare bed in the ANDAS clinic. Basically it's not a bed you can be admitted in, but it's a temporary bed while they wait for a bed to clear for you. So we're sitting there and a Hot Young Doctor came over and told me he had to put a cannula in my hand to draw blood and to be used for my IV as well. I asked if it would hurt. "Of course not!" he said with an unsure look on his face. He got started and I could tell instantly that he didn't do this very often. He kept going backwards and forwards before even putting a needle in. Then when he did, I started screaming. It hurt so much and I was trying my hardest not to thrash about on the bed. Mum was holding my hand and just said "sorry hun, but it's only going to get worse before it gets better..." She had no idea how right she actually was.
He gets the cannula in and I'm still in a lot of pain and can't move my hand. He draws a few vials of blood then tells me he's going to have to remove the cannula as it's not sitting properly.
Mum and I are just sitting there waiting for this "tape" to be put in. The nurse explained it to me a bit like a small frozen tampon that they insert into my vagina to help soften the cervix. Next the mean doctor came back and said she was just going to check if I was dilated. Surprise surprise, I wasn't. Of course I wasn't, I'm not due for four more weeks, baby wants to stay put! (by the by, having your cervix checked isn't very comfortable. This one wasn't painful, but the next two times they check my cervix, it will be..)
I tell mum to leave, this is going to be a long process and there's no point hanging around while I WAIT for something to happen. I'd call her at the first sign of things getting serious. Which probably wouldn't be for a day or two. So she leaves, then about half an hour later the doctor comes back. I'm hoping they have a room for me, or some kind of news. Yup, they had news, but not news I wanted to hear.
Through my pregnancy, I was set on birthing at Redcliffe Hospital. My team of midwives were at Redcliffe and I did NOT want to go anywhere else. My parents lived barely 2ks from the hospital, so it was easy for them (and my friends) as well. So the doctor tells me there are no special care nursery beds for my baby if I deliver tomorrow. Which means, there are no beds for me, and it would not be safe to deliver my baby while there are no beds for her. Okay, so I'm thinking they're going to send me home for a few days until a bed opens up? Nope, not so lucky. "We're going to have to transfer you to Caboolture hospital, as they have a few spare beds for you.." I started crying again. I didn't want to go to Caboolture, that was too far away! Why did they have to send me there? Why?? I told the doctor to do everything in her power to NOT make me go there. To find an alternative. But she couldn't. So they set me up to transfer. I asked the doctor if I had to ring mum and dad to come collect me to take me to Caboolture. Nope, not allowed to. Since I have the cannula in my arm, I have to be transported by ambulance. Great. What a farce.
I'm sent down (with all my bags) to the ambulance transfer section to wait for an ambulance to take me to Caboolture. SIGH! I'm exhausted and I haven't even STARTED having this baby yet.
So, I get to Caboolture and they go through the whole rigmarole again. Check my cervix (PAIN OH MY GOD PAIN!), check my bloods, pee in a cup, put the monitor on the baby. Then the doctor tells me my cervix is at 0 (duh) and it's time to put the tape in. So, just like a frozen tampon insertion right? WRONG!!! This goes BEHIND YOUR CERVIX! So they had to push through my cervix, and oh my god did I scream in pain. "Just relax for me Erin, drop your bottom, relax relax relax" "LET ME SHOVE TWO FINGERS BEHIND YOUR CERVIX THEN TELL YOU TO RELAX WOMAN!!" Yeah, I was a little stressed. They FINALLY got the tape in, then sent me back to my room. On my own. (YAY!) I rang mum and updated her. By this time it was nearly 9pm, I was exhausted, and I needed sleep.
Reckon I could sleep? No, of course not. A nurse came in every couple of hours to take my blood pressure and give me blood pressure medication to take. By 7am, I'd given up on sleeping, and waited for Brekky. A nurse came in to tell me I was needed back in the birthing suite to check my cervix and see how I was going. I just needed to use the loo first. Sitting on the loo, I looked at the white wall next to me, and noticed all these little black dots. I did the whole "try to catch them" thing, before realising the spots were in my eyes. Then I noticed the headache. Only mild, but it was there. I grabbed my phone and water bottle and went to the birthing suite.
The tape was removed (most awkward feeling ever), and my cervix was checked again. (WHEN WILL THE PAIN STOP!?!) Still at 0. The doctor thought it best to use the Gel. Firstly though, pee in this cup, gimme your blood, and lets get some observations. They took my blood pressure. High. They checked my protein in my urine. Very high. They asked me "Headaches? Spots?" I answered yes and yes. They checked my reflexes. I was hype-reflexive. They waited to get my bloods back. My platelets had dropped further. All this didn't make a lot of sense to me, and there was a lot of hushed tones, and then they all left. "Must be going to get the gel then..." I thought. WRONG!
Another doctor comes in and sits down on the bed and grabs my hand. Uh oh. Whats going on? She explains what was happening. All my symptoms lead them to the conclusion that I have pre-eclampsia. This wasn't shocking to me because thats what I was told I had all along. Then she explained that no, I haven't had it all along, I was borderline, which is why they've been keeping a close eye on me, but now that I'm diagnosed as ACTUALLY having it, that makes it a lot more serious. This is what my mum had always told me about. High blood pressure, protein in your urine, excessive swelling = pre-eclampsia. So I ask the doctor what happens now.
"Well, now, we have no other option but to give you a c-section." A WHAT!?!?! No way! That wasn't in my plan!! Natural birth, no drugs! That was my plan!! NO chop chop! NO! I started crying. "When, when??" "Today. We'll have to contact the theatre team to see when they can fit you in, but it will be today." About ten different thoughts went through my head. I have to call mum. I have to call D, I have to get my stuff here. It was only 9am!
I'm going to be a Mum. Today.
So, I calmed myself down and then the doctor came back in. "We're just setting up now, so you'll be going in about 9:45 for a 10am procedure... The nurses are on their way to get you ready..." What!? ONE HOUR??? I was going to be a mum in ONE HOUR?? I wasn't ready, I WASN'T READY! I rang mum and just lost it. She had to call my sister to come from the airport to pick her up and bring her to the hospital. It was going to take them an hour to get there. They might have JUST made it in time if my sister sped (which she did).
Over the next 40 minutes my blood pressure just kept going up and up. They were getting me ready. I was hyperventilating. They were trying to calm me down. Where was mum? Was she going to make it in time?
They wheeled me into the small room before the operating room, and got me ready for the epidural. Another thing that wasn't going to plan. I did NOT want an epidural. But I had no choice now. It took them two tries to get the epidural in. I couldn't stop shaking. I wasn't cold, but my anxiety was very high. Where was mum? No one could tell me.. As they're wheeling me into the operating room, they tell me Mum had made it and was just getting ready to come in. At that point, I calmed down. She came in and sat next to me and held my hand (both of them were restricted behind these metal bars) and tried to soothe me. Mum told me later that I was so swollen she couldn't even recognise me. That kinda scared me.
I was waiting to for something to happen. I could feel the pressure of them doing something but didn't know what was going on. I caught a glimpse in the overhead light, and saw them cutting into me. I quickly asked the anesthesiologist to lift the curtain higher as I could see what was going on and it was going to make me sick. I can't ever get that vision out of my head. A few minutes later, I hear "oops!" and the nurse who was telling me what was going on just disappeared from next to me. I started to panic again. She came back quickly "Not to worry, they just dropped one of the instruments..." Phew. But still.
All the nurses and doctors in the room were told that I didn't know the sex of the baby, and no one was allowed to say anything until I got to see the baby. So I'm waiting.. Waiting.. Then it happened... "Congratulations Erin!" And then up over the curtain I saw this little red bloody ball presented to me quickly before being pulled away. "That's my baby!" I yelled... "Wait! Is it a boy or a girl? I couldn't see!" Then Mum tells me.. "It's a girl Erin, you have a daughter!" And then I lost it... A girl. I had a baby girl!! 10.47am on Wednesday the 23rd of November, I had a baby girl!
I heard her little cry, then mum went over to give her a cuddle and bring her to me. I was shaking so much, crying so much, and I couldn't move. But I got to see her, and she was just perfect. She was my little girl!!
They took her away to clean her up and take her measurements. They stitched and stapled me up, and wheeled me back to the CCU (Critical Care Unit), and they took my baby girl off to the Special Care Nursery.
After they got me set up in CCU, they brought her up to me, and I got to hold my baby girl for the first time.. I couldn't stop crying. This was her, this was my little Poppy. I'd carried her for 8 months, and now I was holding her. It was completely surreal to me. (Honestly, it still is!)
Over the next 24 hours, I was kept in CCU and only got to see Poppy 2 more times. Because she was early and I'd had a c-section, my milk hadn't come through yet, so she was put on a feeding tube to let her get some food until I could produce milk.
The next day I was admitted back to the ward, and they started to get me walking around. I had to do a bit of physio and lung capacity work as well, to make sure I didn't deteriorate. I was doing pretty well! I was given a breast pump and a nurse came to help me try to express milk. I was playing with my boobs every few hours hoping to produce milk faster. It took three days for milk to finally come through. And the first drop of milk made me cry. Like I was finally able to do it. I could finally feed my little girl.
On the Friday, a nurse came to see me and told me that they had run out of room for me at Caboolture and they needed the beds for more patients that were coming in, and they were transferring me back to Redcliffe. As happy as I was to be going "home", I was really pissed off that I was being mucked around again. I couldn't just stay in one place!
They finally get their arses into gear and get me moving about 4pm and I'm transported in an ambulance back to Redcliffe. When I get there, they tell me they don't have any beds ready for me!! Seriously? What the hell is going on here?? I was asked to sit in the parents room next to the SCN and wait till they had a room for me. Finally by about 8pm, they had organised a room. A ROOM ALL TO MYSELF! It was the least they could do after stuffing me around for so long!
By Friday night, I was producing more milk, and was getting enough out in the pump to give her a full feed. They took her feeding tube out, but left her in the SCN for further observations.
The next day, she came into the ward with me and we were practicing for heading home. Feeding, sleeping, changing etc. I was supposed to go home on the Sunday, but Poppy had lost more weight, so they made me stay until she gained weight. We had a marathon all night feeding session and by the morning, she'd put on 20grams. But 20grams was enough to go home!!
I waited for them to discharge me and I couldn't get out of there fast enough (and they couldn't fill my bed fast enough either!) I hadn't even left the ward and someone else was already in my bed. Fast turn around there!
So, now, we were home. It was the day before my 28th birthday, and I had a 5 day old little baby girl in my arms.
It was hard. It was traumatic. But it was worth it. It was worth it so much.