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I waited 7 days to hold her

At 31 weeks, Aime was diagnosed with preeclampsia and after days of uncertainty and dangerously high blood pressure, was given a Caesarean. Her daughter Lilah was born with a collapsed lung which required a tube under her armpit into her lungs. They were finally able to hold Lilah after 7 days. Aime shares her struggles with having a traumatic birth and concern for her baby’s start to life.

Here is Amie’s story:

“My birth story started a good week before she was born. I was 31 weeks pregnant and starting to really swell and just so happened to have a midwife appointment that Thursday so of course I asked if it was normal and she said I was fine it’s just pregnancy swelling… fast forward to Saturday and by this point I was so swollen my eyelids looked like I had been stung by bees. I didn’t recognise myself and I felt “off” but figured it was just a pregnancy thing.

My partner Matt went and bought me a blow up pool we thought maybe it was just the heat and if I cooled down it would go down. By Monday I was feeling awful. I was still unrecognisably swollen. I could no longer fit into my shoes and ankles? — wouldn’t be able to tell you what mine looked like anymore! I was at my in-laws house and they had a blood pressure machine and we thought hey, let’s just check… it was sort of high but I still wasn’t stressed. The next day we were at the in-laws again and thought maybe I’ll just check my blood pressure again and thank god I did, because this is where it began.

Little Lilah

I called the midwifes and said what was going on, she was calm with me and made it seem like I was totally fine but just to come in and get checked out. So I took myself to the hospital because I figured it was nothing.
They hooked me up to the heart monitor machine to check on Lilah and tested my blood pressure, put a cannula in and took blood works. My blood pressure was high so they gave me some tablets to try and bring it down. Half an hour later they checked again and realised it wasn’t coming down so they gave me another tablet.

When they came to check the second time and my blood pressure wasn’t coming down they sent a doctor in who sat down and made me realise how serious it was. She said “I’m going to give you a steroid injection incase we need to deliver bub”. This is when I broke down. It hit me like a ton of bricks. She also said that the oral medication wasn’t working so they needed to give me a liquid version into the cannula. I was beside myself and praying Matt arrived soon because I couldn’t handle this alone.

The doctor overdosed me on the medication she administered and if you ever want to know what it feels like for your blood pressure to drop, imagine feeling like the whole world around you is fading away as you feel your heart panicking and gasping for air. They raced me to the maternity birthing suits put me on ventilation and dosed me with another drug to boost my blood pressure back up. It was a whirlwind.

Matt arrived just after this and as soon as he walked in the door I sobbed. I barely got a wink of sleep that night because they had to test my blood pressure every half an hour and continue to administer blood pressure tablets.

Wednesday rolled around and by this point it was diagnosed that I had preeclampsia, Lilah seemed like she was fine but they wanted to do a ultrasound just to check everything was okay. It was this ultrasound that showed us Lilah was smaller then she should be because she was no longer getting the nutrients she needed from the placenta, she was in the 8th percentile. I was still being checked every half hour to an hour at this point and the leading doctor came to see us. He said that at this point they would like to do their best to get me to 37 weeks but it would be a day by day case and they will continue to monitor me, but they wanted to give another steroid injection just in case.

Then came Thursday I was 31+ 6 and still being pocked and prodded for more blood, having my arm squeezed off by the blood pressure apparatus and having all vitals checked routinely. I was feeling really tired in the afternoon and needed to have a nap, when I woke up I had an excruciating headache and before I knew it I was having my blood pressure taken and being told “I know it’s hard but I’m going to press this button on the wall and a lot of people are going to come into the room but your okay don’t worry” ahhh the med call! Something I would know all to well by the end of my hospital stay. It really is impossible to stay calm when you have a room full of doctors and nurses come running into your room!

My blood pressure was really high at this point, the doctor came to see us and told us what we had been dreading. My kidney function was decreasing, they couldn’t control my blood pressure and Lilah wasn’t growing the way she should inside me it was better for us both if delivered. He wasn’t sure if I’d be getting a C section that night or the next morning but that it was coming sooner then we hoped. By 10 pm I had someone come for me to sign for the C section.. it was happening tonight!

I don’t remember a word they told me just that I was petrified. They wheeled me in and asked me to sit still. I’m not sure how you sit still when your whole body is shaking with fear and you are getting a needle into your spine but we got there and I was laying on the table. A C section feels like your whole insides are being pulled through a washing machine, it doesn’t hurt but it’s the most uncomfortable thing I have ever experienced.

Mother Amy with new baby delivered via Caesarean and Dad by her side.
Lilah arrives via Caesarean

At 11pm weighing 3 pound 7, Matt finally said “ she’s crying she’s crying” and rushed over to where they would wrap her up and brought her to me. He was crying “she’s so perfect” but I couldn’t see her because I still couldn’t move as they stitched me up. Knowing she was breathing was enough.

Lilah’s start to life was hard, she had a pneumothorax which required a tube under her armpit into her lungs which was so painful they had to use morphine. We waited 7 days in the NICU to hold her in our arms and that first hold was like magic. I struggled in the beginning with her start to life. I often felt like how is she possibly my baby this small little thing in a see through box.

We spent 6 weeks in hospital all together mostly growing and learning to feed. We met some really amazing people during our stay- other parents with stories of there own. They really do help get you through the tough moments.

Mother and premature baby in NICU ward doing kangaroo care with father watching
Making the most of Kangaroo Care

I was still suffering from pre eclampsia symptoms for the next 6 weeks. My blood pressure was out of control, I had multiple med calls and if I’m honest I was genuinely scared I was going to die the first few days after she was born but we all made it out alive and I couldn’t love anyone more then I love this little fighter who grows more and more cheeky every day!”

Lilah

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Rebecca Strahan

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