Kate’s world turned upside down when a routine scan at 28 weeks resulted in an emergency transfer to a high level maternity hospital.
This is Kate’s story:
Monday, 22 November was the day our lives were turned upside down when I had a growth check scan. Having had a small baby previously, I was expecting the same with this pregnancy. The scan showed that the baby was on the smaller side of the percentile graphs, but blood flow to the baby’s brain and heart was fine and the amniotic fluid was absolutely fine for my gestation. I was feeling kicks all the time and I didn’t ‘feel’ any different to my first pregnancy. But that night at 7:30pm, my phone rang. It was the Mount Gambier Hospital maternity ward on-call doctor and my life changed forever.
Facing the unknown
For the entire phone call the only words I really heard were: 1 – you need to get to the hospital as quick as you can for monitoring; 2 – pack a bag in case you need to be flown to Adelaide; and 3 – there’s something not right. To say I panicked is an understatement. I was a mess – absolutely hysterical. My mind was racing as to what could possibly be wrong. I was worried about our other son and panicking about my work commitments.
At the hospital, monitoring showed that baby’s heart rate trace wasn’t great, and my bloody pressure was through the roof. Our doctor said, “We’re not happy with the blood flow through the umbilical cord. There’s too much pressure on the cord, and your placenta has broken down. I am in touch with a doctor up at Flinders Medical Centre and awaiting instructions on if we send you to Adelaide tonight or in the morning.” As we waited for the call, the baby’s heart rate was all over the place and eventually that’s what made the decision. The baby was going to be safer on the outside.
Transferring to Adelaide
The RFDS flew me to Flinders Medical Centre at around 4am. The following hours were such a blur for me. I was running off adrenaline and had so many emotions running through me. I saw eight different doctors, midwives, nurses, surgeons and anaesthetist, all of whom said my placenta had given up, baby’s heart rate trace was concerning, my blood pressure was high and, because of all of this, it’s safer for my baby to be born so they could care for him. As much as I appreciated the honesty and promptness of the staff, I was so scared and felt that my body had completely betrayed me.
The seriousness of the situation hit me when I was told that the surgeries for that day had been moved around so I was the first cab off the rank. I asked the midwife looking after me at the time to call my husband as he wasn’t going to make it in time to be at the birth. My heart literally broke into a million pieces. I was doing this alone and there wasn’t anything anyone could do about it. While the anaesthetics were being put into my spine, what song just happened to come next on the playlist in the OR? The song I walked down the aisle to at my wedding. The poor staff in the theatre watched me lose it and cry, looking aimlessly around the room, just wanting my husband.
Welcoming baby Cooper
When my baby was born – another little boy – I got to see him quickly before he went to the NICU. My husband arrived a few hours after Cooper was born and we named him together. It was a beautiful moment.
The days and weeks since having Cooper have all flowed into one, if I’m being honest. We’ve had to juggle our business, our other son and having myself and Cooper in Adelaide. It’s been tough. There’s been lots of tears, lots of calls, lots of FaceTimes and lots of travelling. The staff in the NICU are second to none. Their knowledge and abilities are incredible. I never thought I’d be so happy to be told that our baby boy is ‘boring’ but in the NICU this is a good thing. We’ve had our up and down days and our lives haven’t been easy on this journey so far. But you’ve just got to take the cards you’ve been dealt and make the most of it.
We still have a long road ahead of us. My advice, especially for parents from the country that go through this journey, is to be kind to yourselves – no emotion is unwarranted. Do something that will make you feel good about yourself, talk to people or even jot things down, and celebrate the milestones your little ones meet. This journey is only a small fraction of the lifetime you’ll get together as a family. Always look forward as there is light at the end of the tunnel.
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