Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Smiley's Story Part 1: Born too soon

A few of you have asked about Smiley and it's taken me a while to get started on her story: until recently I used to physically shake when talking about what happened. So if you don't already think that I'm a true drama queen, you probably will after reading this. I will try and tone down the details, but really everything was just sooo dramatic. And I swear it's all true.

It all began in October 1996 when RH and I both had great jobs, a wonderful little girl, and another baby on the way.
We has just moved into a beautiful old redbrick house near the City Centre. It needed a a lot of TLC, but we were young, we had plenty of time, didn't we? Well, we got our answer just three days later when our whole world began to change.

I was having lunch out with a friend from the office when I began to feel that something was not quite right. Very quickly I was bundled into a taxi and packed off to the Maternity Hospital, briefcase in hand. There I was marched past the snaking lines of bottom-shuffling women, who I don't think were too impressed, and straight in to see the doctor. After a couple of tests, I was told that I was losing my waters and was likely to go into labour within 24 hours. I was 24 weeks pregnant.

I remember crying and friends visiting and then....nothing. I did not go into labour and it was like the hospital did not know what to do with me. I was parked in the prenatal ward and left to wait.
I watched other women come and go. For some everything went well and their babies were delivered safely. Other times I saw weeping families and did not dare ask why. Some women who were there when I arrived were still there when I left: some spent most of their pregnancy walking the hospital corridors. I made one very good friend who arrived on the ward during my second week there and we are still in touch today.

Meantime my hormones were in overdrive. I did weird things - I normally read uplifting books, but while waiting on the birth of this baby, I read Trainspotting, why?? For some strange reason the hospital catering staff only served tea, but there were two coffee machines. One dark morning, both were not working, and I went back to bed, pulled the curtains and refused to come out, until someone got me a mug of coffee.
I missed Angel horribly, and very quickly decided that one hour a day visiting was not enough - so I negotiated day release! I only lived a 5 minute drive from the hospital so they agreed that I could go home in the afternoons once the baby seemed to be okay. Just in case you were wondering: I was a public patient and all the care up until I went into labour was fine: I was regularly checked, I was given the most disgusting injections ever to mature the baby's lungs, and the staff were supportive and helpful.

On the second Friday there were signs that things were starting to happen and an infection was mentioned. For whatever reason, I don't remember being given any medication for this. Soon after I started to feel mild pains - and so did my friend - and she kept my sanity intact as we struggled through the weekend together. On Saturday I asked to be checked again, but was told that I was not in labour, same on Sunday, same on Monday. The SHO (Senior House Officer) checked me on Monday morning and said again that nothing was happening. Pains continued and sleep became a distant memory. By Monday night I was miserably tired and almost felt abandoned when my friend was wheeled down to the labour ward by the SHO. So some pethidine was prescribed, and it made me feel a lot calmer. I just lay and listened to music with my eyes closed - Oasis I think. Of course the staff assumed I was sleeping. But the pains continued to get stronger and about 3am I called for help. I was checked and suddenly people started running around, finally they were admitting that I was in labour. As he pushed me down to the labour ward I remember asking the SHO what my chances of a live baby were, "about 30/70", he replied. I was now 26 weeks pregnant (27 by the hospital's dates).

RH was called and I was hooked up to various monitors. Initially everything seemed to be going well, then things started to go wrong, you could see the worried faces, but as there is no agreement over what happened, all I can say is that the consultant was called in the middle of the night, no caesarean
was performed, and the SHO apologised to me for "what I put you through." Actually, physically I recovered pretty quickly and shortly after the birth I trotted off to have a shower (the benefits of no epidural).

By the time Smiley was born, there was a whole team of people in the room waiting to work on her (I'll never be embarrassed about anything ever again!) The shocking thing was the silence, there was no new born cry, my baby was just whisked away.
"Is it alive?" I asked... and it seemed a long time before I got an answer.

Part 2 Failure to Thrive is here: http://www.lookingforbluesky.com/2010/05/smileys-story-part-2-failure-to-thrive.html

Part 3 Living in the Hospital is here:
http://www.lookingforbluesky.com/2012/03/smileys-story-part-3-living-in-hospital.html


39 comments:

  1. More!!!!
    I felt like I was there with you (I was in hospital for 2wks before Bob was born).
    I'm sure you feel drained after writing that, but thanks for sharing...really moving story.
    XXX

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow what a story! I was in Unit 3 in Holles street for a month before Conor was born at 35weeks and every day seemed like a month! Can't wait to read the next part!! xxx

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow! I'm hooked! Can't wait till the next installment. xx

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks so much for your comments xxx Hope you didn't notice the crap proofreading (I am getting sooo old) - the year was 1996 NOT 2006.

    ReplyDelete
  5. That was so well written and it must have been difficult for you to relive it. I remember the emergency c section with Liam, and people whizzing around and serious faces and no one communicating (well it was in Denmark so I didn't understand anyway). The pic of Smiley, wow, she is so small and fragile xx

    ReplyDelete
  6. How scary is that! I had that team waiting for my third child while they all pretended to be calm and it is very scary. I understand that this is a really difficult post for you, take your time and I hope maybe it helps a little to get it out there:) Jen. xxx

    ReplyDelete
  7. So well written honey, I almost forgot that I know the answer to 'is she alive'?? I was thinking 'no - you can't stop there' What a strong little baby she was to have survived - wonder who she gets that from??!! xxx

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh, I can't wait to hear what happens next xxx

    ReplyDelete
  9. I hope writing this continues to help your recovery. I think people ( professionals) underplay the effect traumatic births/early delivery, even ones that don't go as you expect, have on families. Thank you for telling us. x

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wow! That was a compelling story! How traumatic it must have been to not hear the newborn baby cry that every woman waits for. I feel for you and what you had to go through. Hugs!

    ReplyDelete
  11. My little boy was born at 26 weeks with no warning. He did cry - like a kitten's tiny meow - but it was enough for me as I thought he was gone. He's now a thumping 3 year old but the memory of his birth is a fresh as yesterday and I still have a little weep every so often. I look forward to the rest...

    ReplyDelete
  12. Oh Blue Sky, what a moving account of Smileys arrival into this world. And fabulously written too.

    What a very worrying and difficult time...... and I can't wait to read the next installment! xx Jazzy

    ReplyDelete
  13. Such a gripping and compelling account of Smiley's dramatic entrance into the world, can't wait to hear the next part, I know the feeling of the team too waiting for baby to arrive and the heartstopping aftermath!

    ReplyDelete
  14. There is an award for you at mine. xx

    ReplyDelete
  15. @Irish Mammy I can't imagine how frightening it must have been in Denmark. Thanks to the pethidine I was quite calm at the time.

    @Chic Mama - I agree, the fear of something bad happening to your baby is worse than almost anything I have ever tried to deal with. Thanks so much for the award, I will go and collect it shortly.

    Thanks also to everyone else. It will probably take me a while to get the second installment down, but it's a story worth telling xxx

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thank you for sharing this. I will try to come back often. Barbara

    ReplyDelete
  17. Oh wow. I'm going to search out the rest of this story because I'm thinking she's still with you, but I don't know. There's no drama queen about this - it's a very dramatic story. Thanks for linking up today.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I'm going to straight over to part 2... x

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thanks for visiting, @TheRextras @LIAPF and @Maxabella, and glad you enjoyed the read :)

    ReplyDelete
  20. Wow, how very scary! Now, I need to find part two!

    ReplyDelete
  21. @The Henrys - thanks for commenting, and for anyone else who wants part 2, here is the link:

    http://looking4bluesky.blogspot.com/2010/05/smileys-story-part-2-failure-to-thrive.html

    I also plan to write a few more parts in the next few months, couldn't up until now as I needed access to her medical records to make sure I had my facts straight.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Oh wow what a story! I will check out part two for sure. Such a wonderful read though, thanks for sharing it with us. I keep meaning to write about my baby's birth but haven't got round to it yet.although mine is not eventful like yours was.
    I popped over from Blog Gems :)

    ReplyDelete
  23. I have never heard of anything like this before. I am off to keep reading to see what happened.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Wow, what a scary experience! I can relate a little but it wasn't nearly as early with my twins and they are our oldest so we didn't have another child at home at the time. Visiting from Blog Gems :).

    ReplyDelete
  25. Oh man, that's quite an event. I can't believe you left us dangling like that. Off to read part 2. Visiting from Blog Gems.

    ReplyDelete
  26. wow, that must have been quite a frightening day for you ..Eeek!
    You are one brave awesome Mum!
    Visiting from blog gems, I'll be back!
    Fi x

    ReplyDelete
  27. @Mummy Mishaps aka Jenny Paulin - thanks for dropping in and it would be great if you wrote your baby's birth story, I love reading them!

    @Becca - I didn't know this kind of thing could happen either:(

    @danette - Yes twins often seem to be early, glad it went ok for you

    @LIPF - thanks for reading again, I didn't mean for you too, I just had to read your entry x

    @fiona2107 - thanks for dropping in and I'm glad you liked it.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Wow what a story. I remember waiting for that 'is it alright?' answer too but I didn't have the worries complications you went through. The medical staff are so used to dealing with all these 'situations' but the mama could do with a little more TLC in my opinion.

    ReplyDelete
  29. @andmybaby - I know what you mean about the TLC! Thanks for dropping by and commenting x

    ReplyDelete
  30. Oh Blue Sky, what a story. I am having a quiet little tear here..... it is turning into an emotional day!
    I will also go looking for part two. x

    ReplyDelete
  31. thank you for sharing this - i can't begin to imagine what it felt like that day, but i do know that the events changed your life and that it will never be quite as you imagined it to be. i'm looking forward to reading more of your blog and sharing the showcase with you

    ReplyDelete
  32. How traumatic, that wait, wondering what will happen, and well done you for keeping your baby safe another couple of weeks.

    I know too that wait to find out if your baby is alive.

    Terrifying.

    ReplyDelete
  33. @Di - I think I might have to post up part 2 next week :)

    @ever hopeful mammy - it's great to be a partner with you in Love All Blogs x

    @Kylie - I'm sorry that you had the terror of not knowing whether or not your baby had made it x

    ReplyDelete
  34. How terrifying! I just don't know what else to say. It musthave taken you a lot of courage to write about. X x x

    ReplyDelete
  35. Going to read the next bit straight away....

    ReplyDelete
  36. @LittleMamma - Actually I'm finding it therapeutic to write about it and also I really want to write about my daughter as she has no voice of her own x x x

    @Midlife Singlemum - Oh good :)

    ReplyDelete
  37. What a terrifying experience for you all, and how brave you are. Thanks so much for sharing you story with us.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Can't believe I hadn't read this before now... I'm gripped! off to read other parts now x

    ReplyDelete
  39. @Donna - I think stories such as this one need to be told x

    @Steph - thank you for reading now x

    ReplyDelete