I have always heard of other women being “in tune” with their bodies, and I never knew what this meant until I experienced this first hand, the day before my first born baby was to be welcomed into this world.
I had naively envisioned going into labour from all the experiences I heard, as a process including an out of this world pain, followed by asking for an epidural before pushing, and then finally welcoming a beautiful full term baby girl into this world. I imagined this with a simple ending of having her placed onto my chest and hearing her little cry for the first time, like what we see in the movies!
I pictured crying with joy, kissing the love of my life, and saying we did it, she is so perfect! Right before taking her home and living happily ever after. But that didn’t happen, instead on the 11th of March 2018, I just felt something was wrong; my baby wasn’t moving much so i kept telling myself “you’re fine! the baby is fine! your placenta is just exterior, if you drink some cold water, and lay down she will move” Well, as it turned out, she didn’t.
I called my midwife who told me to go up to the local hospital just to get checked out. When we arrived we waited, and waited, for seven hours, only to be told everything was fine before we were sent home. I went off to bed and then I awoke suddenly at 1am on the 12th of March bleeding. With a heavy heart, feeling sick to my stomach, I knew something wasn’t right, and I screamed out to my partner Mitch and we raced to the hospital.
I sat in silence in the car, staring blankly at the road ahead wishing, hoping, and praying my baby would be okay. When we got to the hospital I hurried up to maternity, my legs went weak and I felt as though I was about to black out – unbeknown to me I was borderline having a seizure due to very high blood pressure. The hospital told me I needed to be transferred to a bigger hospital because they couldn’t accommodate a baby before 32 weeks and I was only 30 weeks pregnant. The ambulance arrived and off we went. The 30 minute travel went smoothly and finally the nurse took me in to the birthing suite. I went to the toilet and as I stood up I started haemorrhaging, there was blood everywhere, it looked like something out of the movies. I froze in complete shock, I looked at the ambulance officer for help, and calmly said “I’m bleeding”. He ran out of the room and started yelling for help, the next thing I know I have a room full of people, the nurse from my local hospital was meant to finish and go home, instead she stayed with me holding my hand and not letting it go, brushing my hair back off my face, she knew I was so terrified and alone. Finally, Mitch and my Mum were able to come into the room and be with me. My Mum is a woman who always holds her character in strength which means she is very good at hiding her emotions, but I could tell she was very worried, even through her fake little smile, I just knew. Within the next hour I lost a large amount of blood and was told the situation was becoming critical and I needed an emergency caesarean to save our lives!
It felt like one of those medical shows you watch, you know these things can happen, but they dont happen to you. At 8:41am our beautiful little miracle was born. I anxiously waited to hear any sign of life, the first thing I said was “why isn’t she crying?” Little did we know, our tiny little 3 pound 1 ounce beautiful baby was born not breathing. I watched from the operating table as the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit doctors and nurses worked on her tiny lifeless body, they had to resuscitate and stabilise her by intubating her, finally after what felt like a life time, they allowed my partner over to quickly cut the cord before having to rush her to NICU.
I had hundreds of thoughts racing through my mind. Was she ok? What colour was her hair? Would her name suit her? I asked if I could see her but they told me I wasn’t allowed to as she had to have a few procedures done and no one was allowed in the room. I patiently waited for six hours before I finally got to lay my eyes on my perfect little angel, and a further seven days before I got my first hold.
That was the start of a huge roller coaster of emotions for us, not just me but my partner too. I found the hardest part of our journey was leaving the hospital without my baby, five days after she was born I was discharged, during my five day stay I got sick so wasn’t allowed in to see my baby come discharge day, that absolutely broke me, I sat outside NICU while my partner went in to spend some time with our baby and I cried hysterically. I kept thinking what did I do so wrong that I had to face this? It took me a while to adjust, while being away from the hospital until I completely recovered I received a phone call from the hospital saying Piper had a temperature and they were starting her on a course of antibiotics, I felt useless. Did I cause this? Was my baby going to be ok? I couldn’t just rush up to the hospital and sit with her so I had to wait and see if things changed. She got over it and recovered as if nothing had happened. Due to all of the circumstances I went into a depression. My friend lost her premature baby to sids and I had this stupid mentality that if I didn’t bond with my baby nothing would happen to her and she wouldn’t be taken away. I was scared to visit her in case I had a virus and didn’t know it. I lost friends because I shut down and didn’t let anyone in and the thing that hurts me the most is my partner suffered in silence, putting on a tough and brave exterior even though he was hurting too. I jokingly asked him when we could have number two and he cried and said he doesn’t know if he could go through that again. I felt awful, while I was busy feeling sorry for myself I should have been there for him – he was hurting too, how selfish could I be.
Becoming a first time mum to a premature baby is the toughest challenge I’ve faced to date. The only thing we were told was to expect set backs – I never knew the set backs were for all of us. My first menstrual cycle I had after having Piper made me completely break down. Mitch found me on the shower floor crying in hysterics because I had flash backs of what happened to me and I was terrified of bleeding out. If it wasn’t for the support of Mitch, our families and our closest friends, I really don’t think I could have gotten through it.
Written by Amanda Foley
Proud mother of her sweet baby Piper
I also wanted to share a piece of information that Amanda shared with me after this blog. After Piper was born, she joined a mothers group organised by the midwives at the hospital. The mothers all had the opportunity to share their birth stories except for Amanda. The midwives did not want to create fear based on her experience with the birth of Piper. After hearing this information, I was in complete disbelief that they would do such a thing to a mother. A warrior who had just beat all odds with her baby girl and repaid by being excluded and left voiceless.
SHAME ON THEM. You are a the true definition of a strong mother Amanda, this blog is such a reflection of that. Don’t ever let somebody strip that from you.
Thank you for sharing your story with us all xx