I lived both my pregnancies on a knife edge. My sister in law, who had done the whole breeding thing before me had had 1 perfect pregnancy and daughter, she then suffered 2 miscarriages. When she was pregnant with her second child (post 12 weeks), we all breathed a sigh of relief. Until we got the call at 38weeks to say not that she had delivered a healthy boy/girl, but that her unborn child, a boy as it turned out, had died. Anyone who’s been there knows what follows, the questions, the dysfunction. The need to be pregnant again. She then (3months later) became pregnant again, and, at 37 weeks her third child, a son, was delivered by elective c-section. Perfect and healthy.
And so then myself and husband decided for a family! So clearly we knew the risks. I had an early miscarriage, which was rubbish, but, in comparison to that, nothing major. I then fell pregnant again. Due to our family background I lived the entire pregnancy on a knife edge, monitoring movements, going to the doctors to listen to the heartbeat. I only once felt a big enough change to go to the Day Assessment Unit. Whereupon Junior had a disco and I felt silly. Reassured though! And the midwife was incredibly understanding and never once told me I was being silly.
Due to my own body developing pre-eclampsia I ended up (after failed induction) with a caesarean, but my baby girl was perfect.
Pregnancy number 2. Who has time to worry so much when running around after a toddler? And yet there’s always time to monitor movements. Baby #2 was a squirmer, never head down, swimming all over the place, and VERY active! I had opted for an elective c-section – and was booked in for 39weeks. At my last midwife appointment I commented that I thought the baby must be tied in knots as it moved so much. She asked if I was genuinely concerned (she was an awesome midwife, and really went on your gut). I talked myself out of worrying. Her last words to me (which I thanked her for when she did my post labor visit), were, ‘well good luck, and remember, any change in movements call us.’
Then at 38+2 baby took a while to get going in the morning. But then had a proper disco so I was reassured. That night baby (was sure it was a boy!) did a big turn and I slept really well. I woke at 4am with light movement – very unusual.
At breakfast (husband was off work as it was Good Friday, thank goodness), baby wasn’t moving. Baby ALWAYS moved at breakfast. Tried coffee (3 times), iced water, bath, prodding and eating. And then I sat on the sofa, wept and said he’d gone. Husband phoned hospital and we were told to get straight there. It was about 10am. Still no movement.
Pretty hideous drive later we went straight to labor ward (bank holiday so Day Assessment closed). We got a very experienced midwife (always a concern), and my husband explained our family experience. I was put on a monitor and there was a heartbeat. I was genuinely shocked. And wept again.
I was left on the monitor and within 5minutes we were getting some pretty fruity decelerations, with no accelerations and no movements indicating baby was not happy. I was asked if I could be in labor (I was sure I wasn’t). Then I was asked if I had my bag (although packed from 24weeks I hadn’t). Then I remember 5 midwives getting me ready for surgery.
They delayed about two hours (due to my darned breakfast!), monitoring the whole time. And then it was go.
All we wanted was baby out, no matter what. We knew in all likelihood there was a trip to SCUBU coming on. And then the surgeon said ‘oh my goodness, everyone, you must look at this’. Another doctor mouthed reassuring things to husband who, in turn reassured me. Baby had cord around the neck twice and five times around the upper body (like a satchel, apparently)… not an entirely usual sight we were told. She (as it turned out) responded within a minute, and suckled straight away. She is now nearly 2, her oxygen levels were ‘tip top’ and she is absolutely 100%healthy.
After she was born I don’t think it all really hit me until I was home, and it still takes some processing, but I’m nearly there.
I genuinely believe that my awareness that my sister in law waited for about a day before going to hospital, and the loss of my nephew, meant I got to hospital in time to have a healthy daughter. The human condition means we go down the ‘what if’s’ route, and I don’t know how long I would have had. The midwife I had told me that we were very lucky. And I feel it.
To stress, I knew ALL the risks, and was so aware, and in 2 pregnancies I only twice felt the need to go to hospital. This isn’t about creating panic at all, it’s only about awareness. In your gut I think you know when something isn’t quite right.
I don’t want people to have to bury their nephew to know how important movement, kicks, and patterns are. And this is why count the Kicks is SUCH an important campaign: If in doubt go to hospital. At worst you are reassured, and best your baby saved.
I also have a bit of a personal gripe regarding home Doppler’s: they don’t show decelerations. If you are worried you need a full trace, not just confirmation of a heartbeat.
Wishing you all every success in your campaign. You all deserve it and will save lives. I tell everyone who I know that is pregnant to watch movements. I never want a phone call like that one ever again.