It took a lot out of me to write and share this post, I’ve waited this long to share the second half of my story because I wanted to have an ending to it that was positive and I wasn’t quite sure if that was achievable. I’m glad to say that this does have a happy ending, along with my beautiful baby girl who I’m so grateful for every minute of the day. This post has been extremely emotional to write and many of the situations that I’ve touched on were both frightening and overwhelming for me to think back on. But posts like this genuinely help people. When I was pregnant I would Google this subject and find nothing. I felt so alone. Since posting the first half of my story I have had multiple pregnant women reaching out to me with the same diagnosis. These women have read my story and have the understanding of someone who has personally and physically gone through it themselves and I’m so proud that I can offer women that support. If you are reading this and have been diagnosed yourself please feel free to get in touch if you are struggling, it can feel like a very lonely place and although you have the support of loved ones they can’t begin to understand the impact that it has on you during your pregnancy. If you’re new to my blog then please feel free to read my first post and if you’re here just to just scroll through to read about my birth then that’s fine too!
MY FINAL TRIMESTER
The feeling of getting to my final trimester definitely gave me some confidence. The further along I got, the stronger my baby had grown and the nearer I was to meeting her. It was apparent that being a 5ft5 pregnant lady with a baby who clearly got the height gene from her 6ft7 Daddy was not simple and I was carrying a very big bump. At 30 weeks pregnant my baby was head down in the birthing position and it was putting a huge strain on my pelvis and my ribs. I was in so much pain walking and struggling the catch my breath so I had to spend another few hours on the Maternity Day Unit to be assessed. The baby was monitored and the Midwife got me to feel that her bottom was pushed right up into my ribcage which explained why I was finding it difficult to breathe. I was also diagnosed with Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction and was advised to take early Maternity leave as I worked on my feet and needed to rest as much as possible. Fortunately enough I only had 1 more week at work until I was starting my Maternity leave. I was so glad that I finished work when I did as I would have really struggled to be there for much longer.
Once my Maternity leave had begun we were sent for a growth scan to see how our baby was getting on, we were so excited as we hadn’t seen her on a scan in such a long time. Everything looked great and she was already weighing 4lb with 8 more weeks until she was due so we were expecting a big baby. After a good few weeks without any bleeding, I was feeling confident that it had hopefully stopped but with the run-up to the weekend of my Baby Shower I experienced some spotting and very light bleeding. At this point in my pregnancy I felt Evangeline moving so much and I knew that the bleeding wasn’t anything to worry about, I knew what signs to look out for if it was more serious. I was having fake contractions for a couple of hours every day and I was just praying that I would make it to my Baby Shower without having to go to the hospital. Fortunately enough the day of my Baby Shower came which was also my 23rd Birthday! I was so glad that I had arranged it for this day as it meant that I got to see all of my favourite people and I would have struggled to do much else on my birthday as it was towards the end of my pregnancy. I had the most beautiful day of celebrations with my family and friends and my god our girl was so spoilt with gifts!
A few days after my Baby Shower was the first meeting with my Health Visitor at home. Like most of the Medical Professionals I had met and spoken to during my pregnancy she didn’t have any knowledge on Cervical Ectropion so I had to explain everything to her myself. Although I knew the warning signs for anything serious she advised me that if I experienced any more bleeding I would need to go to the hospital to get everything checked. The next morning I woke up to a bleed and went straight to the hospital where the baby was monitored and they did an examination of my Cervix with a Speculum. After the examination, the Doctor told me that I would need to have steroid injections to mature my babies lungs as it was looking like she would arrive before 37 weeks. The pain from the injection was horrendous and after the first one, I had to return 24 hours later for the second dose. I was told that if any more bleeding occurred that I needed to come back to the hospital as soon as possible. Being told that my baby could arrive any time filled me with so much anxiety, I was struggling to be by myself as I was in constant panic something was going to happen. My biggest fear was having her too early and the possibility of her not surviving or being unwell. I was constantly being told by Midwives to try and stay as calm as possible and not to be under any stress but that was a lot harder than it seemed.
At 35 weeks we saw our Consultant at the hospital who told us that the baby was still head down in the birthing position and her head was engaged meaning she was in the right position when the time came for her to arrive. The Consultant discharged us after this appointment which was such a massive positive for us and meant that we had options when it came to Eve’s birth and where it was going to be. I was told that if any more bleeding occurred or anything worried me whatsoever to come straight to the hospital. The good news came right in time as Paul and I had just got the keys for our first home together! It was then a mad rush of packing and getting things sorted in our home, we had made a last-minute decision that we wanted to be in a house before she arrived so the time was now ticking after my steroid injections. I definitely would not recommend moving house when you’re heavily pregnant and in the middle of a heat wave but fortunately we had a lot of help from mine and Paul’s families. The long days on my feet did take its toll and my ankles started to swell up to twice their size so I had to rest my feet as much as possible.
After our first week in our new home I had to come to the Delivery Suite as I was experiencing severe pains and wondering whether I was in premature labour at 36 weeks. When I met the Midwife who was assessing me she looked through my notes and told me that she too had Cervical Ectropion. It was so helpful to speak to someone about it who understood and she made me feel so reassured as she had safely carried three babies and given birth to them all naturally. She told me how she had undergone the procedure that I was supposed to have before I found out about my pregnancy but unfortunately it hadn’t worked for her. The Doctor came to assess me and had to do a speculum examination to check that my Cervix wasn’t open and dilated. Fortunately this was a false alarm but when she removed the speculum it was covered in blood and the examination had really angered my Ectropion causing me to bleed quite heavily. I got home and within 30 minutes I was in extreme pain and couldn’t move, Paul literally had to carry me to bed and I was in tears. I hadn’t experienced these kind of pains for a good few months and knowing that I was only a few weeks from my due date I was frightened that it was going to affect my baby.
I had my appointment at the GP with my Midwife who measured my bump and discovered that it had grown considerably since she had last seen me. She sent off for us to have a growth scan to get a clear understanding of the babies size and we sat and wrote up my birth plan. I knew from my Sister having three children that a birth plan is not set in stone and there are loads of reasons why it could change but the hospital do prefer for you to have one just to give consent on certain pain relief options and to state any fears. Because I didn’t have to have Eve on the Delivery Suite anymore I decided that I would have her in the Birthing Center which is a Midwifery led ward at the hospital. I wanted to have a water birth (if there was a pool available when I came to the hospital) as I just thought I would probably feel the most comfortable in the water than on a bed with the whole world staring at me. I said that I would prefer to have only a few needles involved as they cause me a great deal of distress but also said that if I was struggling with the pain I was open to having an Epidural as I wouldn’t actually see the needle when it happened! I obviously kept an open mind when writing my plan but felt that little bit more confident about the entire labour side of things now this had been done. My Midwife booked me another appointment for 39 weeks and laughed when she did so as she said my baby would “definitely be here by the end of the week”.
The swelling on my ankles and feet was getting gradually worse and had now been this way for almost a month, I had mentioned it to all of the Midwives and Doctors I had seen and all of them told me it was normal but they honestly looked ridiculous. I would get to the end of the day and struggle to walk up the stairs to get to bed, it felt like I’d sprained both of my ankles and I was living a size 8 pair of sandals that literally only just fit my usual size 5 feet in. One night it had gotten so bad that we went up to the Delivery Suite to be assessed by a Doctor and tested for Pre-Eclampsia which thankfully came back as clear. A week had gone by since our Midwife appointment and still no baby. Paul and I were trying to keep positive and were excited to go for our growth scan to get any information that we could about how she was getting on. To our surprise the scan actually showed that she was measuring too small and there was some sort of misunderstanding when I was measured me the week before. We were told that we needed to stay in the Maternity Day Ward and wait to be assessed by a Doctor and that we would probably be making a plan with them for me to be induced as it was too late into my pregnancy to arrange a later scan. Unfortunately the Doctor was in emergency theatre and we had a 6 hour wait until we finally got to speak to her, she decided to send us home and to not do an induction as she didn’t want it to complicate anything and wanted my body to naturally go into labour. We were frustrated and exhausted, I felt like I kept coming to the hospital and not getting anywhere and I was at the point where I was refusing to go unless it was actual labour.
I got to 39 weeks and still no baby. I was awful to be around and felt like I was climbing the walls at home. Evangeline’s room was perfectly clean and tidy and I spent about 2-3 hours a day just sat on the carpet holding onto baby clothes like a woman possessed. The end of my pregnancy was in the middle of a horrendous heat wave and there was literally no air in the house, I struggled to dress myself and Paul had to help me in and out of the bath. I felt extremely bad about myself, at this point my stomach was covered in stretch marks due to a very active baby and I was just miserable. On Tuesday evening I felt a trickle (similar to when you come on your period) but when I went to the toilet to check it was clear fluid. I wasn’t sure if it was my waters but I had an appointment with my Midwife the next morning so waited until I saw her. She sent me straight up to the hospital where I had two swab assessments, one was to check if it was my waters and the other was to check for any infection. After a couple of hours I was sent home as my waters hadn’t gone, I was so frustrated could not stop crying, I was done with this pregnancy and desperate to meet my baby and know that she was safe.
MY BIRTH EXPERIENCE
And now for the story of my baby came into the world. I am going to warn you now that it is not beautiful and I have in no way written this to frighten Mums-to-be. I do think that it’s important to share your experiences and to celebrate how much your body physically and mentally can go through to bring you the greatest gift. My labour and birth were completely different from how I would have ever expected, especially after such an anxiety fueled pregnancy. When I look back on it now I am completely in awe at how much happened in a space of time and how nature just completely took over. I don’t think I realised just how much I loved my baby until I was there in the moment bringing her into the world. I’ll never stop being proud of myself for just how much I went through and it is the greatest achievement of my life so far.
It was Thursday evening and as usual, I was experiencing intense fake contractions. Paul was on his way to pick me up from my Mums house after his 13 hour shift and my pains weren’t seeming to calm down. I downloaded a contraction counting app on my phone and we sat watching Love Island whilst I tapped away on my phone through every pain. After 45 minutes a notification came up to say that I should ring the hospital due to the length and timing of my contractions. I called the Delivery Suite who told me it probably was the beginning of labour but as it was my first baby it could last quite a while. They advised me to take some Paracetamol and to try to get some sleep before it progressed. Just as I was about to go to bed I went to the toilet and there was blood on the pad I was wearing. I panicked and called them back and they advised me to stay awake and to get in the bath for as long as possible as a form of pain relief. Paul had to pretty much lift me into the bath and I sat there for nearly three hours watching Disney films on my laptop whilst Paul fell asleep on our landing, I ended up sending him to bed and setting an alarm for when Lilo and Stitch had finished! When he appeared again at 4am I’d had a show (loss of blood and mucus plug – eww) in the bath and my pains were getting stronger so I called my Mum to let her know and we drove to the hospital for me to be checked over.
When we arrived at the Delivery Suite I was taken into the room that my nephew Henry was born in, the familiarity of it calmed me a little bit as I knew that something amazing had happened in that room and felt like it was a good luck charm. The Midwife monitored the baby and checked to see if I was dilated and I was 2cms, I knew that this meant I couldn’t stay at the hospital as you have to be at least 4cms dilated for it to be “established labour” so I needed to go home until it had progressed. The Midwife gave me a sweep whilst I was there to hopefully speed things along and I was given some Codine and sent home to get some rest before things started to get more intense. Paul and I went back to my Mums house as it was nearer to the hospital and got straight into bed to try to get some sleep, I managed about three hours but couldn’t get comfortable after that with my contractions so I left him to sleep and went downstairs to get comfy on the sofa. At 11am I managed to eat some food and then woke up Paul so I could try to get back in bed as my pains were getting worse. I thought that I would have wanted someone with me but at the time I just wanted to be left alone to get through each contraction and to try to have little periods of sleep in between them. The Midwives had told me that my labour could last for days due to it being my first baby and to stay at home for as long as I possibly could until I couldn’t stand the pain. I managed 10 hours at home before I finally gave in and called the hospital to tell them I was coming back in, I needed some pain relief and was praying that things were moving in the right direction!
The drive to the Hospital was one of the WORST parts of my labour. When we had originally gone to the Delivery Suite at 4am there was not a car on the road and it was such a smooth journey, fast forward 11 hours and it was prime time for all of the children coming out of school and they were everywhere. The roads were filled with queues of traffic and the motion of the car made my contractions 100 times worse, I was sat in Paul’s passenger seat horrendously crying so much that I couldn’t speak and as we pulled up to the Hospital I felt like I was going to be sick. The only thing we had in the car was a carrier bag of rubbish for me to be sick into so there I was with my head in this bag trying my best to keep calm. Fortunately my Mum works at the Hospital so she was waiting for us at the car park with a wheelchair as I literally felt like I couldn’t walk at this point. My Mum wheeled me down the ramp of the car park and as she pulled the wheelchair she trapped the wheels on a grid and I nearly went flying out of the seat. (Just picture a heavily pregnant woman in a wheelchair screaming at their Mum.) We had an audience of people laughing and I was shocked that my waters didn’t burst at that exact moment. Mum then had to push me through a reception room full of pregnant women waiting for scans and I did not want to draw any attention to myself or the fact that I felt like I wanted to die so I hid my face in my hands and refused to look at anyone as she wheeled me through.
When we approached the Delivery Suite I was taken through to the Midwifery Led Birthing Center to a room with a birthing pool. It was lovely, like a fancy hotel room pretty much but one where you leave with a baby and not with the fancy little bottles of shampoo. I then met a student Midwife who was so lovely and she checked to see how I was getting on, I was only 3cms dilated and over 16 hours into labour with no pain relief whatsoever. They were trying to send me back home but there was no way that I could have gotten back in the car for another journey, I asked for some Gas and Air but they said they couldn’t give me any until I got to 4cms. Instead they gave me some more Codine that I threw up within 10 minutes of taking it, along with all of the food in my body. I was in agony and they agreed to give me some Diamorphine via an injection which had anti-sickness in to hopefully give me some relief. As they were trying to convince me to go back home a Doctor entered the room and the swabs that I had done on the Wednesday had come back from the lab and I had been diagnosed with Group A Strep. It was a good thing that I was already in labour at the Hospital as they were going to call me to bring me in as soon as possible to be induced. As soon as they told me I was so frightened as a Mother had died around 6 weeks earlier from the same infection in the hospital I was in so I started to panic and had no idea what was going to happen. There were so many risks and my birthing plan had literally been turned on its head. They removed me from the Birthing Center and took me straight to the Delivery Suite which had a higher level of care. The water birth with a lack of needles that I had imagined was completely not achievable, the next few hours involved cannulae’s, drips, needles and blood tests. I was strapped up to a monitor the entire time so they could check on how Eve was doing and she going absolutely mental and would not stop moving! We were told that she would have to be on medication as soon as she was born to get rid of the infection and we were just crossing our fingers that I would deliver her safely.
It was 24 hours into my labour and I had only just got to 4cms dilated, my Midwife made the decision that I would be left to be checked until midnight and then she would break my waters to try to hurry things along. Midnight came and my waters were broken, I then asked for an Epidural and met the Anaesthetist who spoke me through the procedure. At this point I had endured at least 10 needles and although I had a ridiculous amount of adrenaline in my body that was making me constantly shake I was desperate for some kind of relief from the constant pain. The epidural really did help and as soon as the pain had subsided my body started to realised that I was completely exhausted and I had no strength or energy whatsoever. Because the bottom half of my body had been numbed I was unable to walk so they had to give me a Catheter (very beautiful, very sexy piss bag) because I wouldn’t have been able to get up and use the toilet. Every time I was examined by the Midwives and the position of the bed was moved I had to be lifted by my Mum, Paul and the Midwife just to shuffle my body a few centimetres up or down the bed because I was incapable of moving.
I hadn’t eaten for over 16 hours and wasn’t allowed to in case I had to go into theatre. Every time I had a drink of anything I felt like I was going to be sick and at about 3 am I made the stupid decision of drinking a mouthful of a can of Coca-Cola. Whilst I sat upright throwing up fizzy sick I realised that my pride had disappeared at this point. It got 4am and I had started to feel the pain of my contractions again, the worst had happened and my Epidural was starting to wear off. There was no way to top it up or for me have another one so I asked for any other pain relief but I was told that nothing else would work after my Epidural! I was advised to try to rest as I continued to dilate to preserve my energy for when it was time to push but every time I started falling to sleep the babies heart rate would drop significantly. I had 5 people rush into the room to prep me for an emergency C-Section which scared me half to death as I really didn’t like the thought of being cut open to deliver her. They administered an anaesthetic into my spine through my epidural tube and I felt my body go numb but her heart rate then went back to normal. They decided that they would leave me and closely monitor the baby every 20 minutes and then make a decision if anything changed. At this point I was 8cm dilated so not enough to deliver the baby naturally so I was just praying that things would hurry along and we wouldn’t have to go into theatre.
After 35 hours and sheer exhaustion I was 10cm dilated and it was time to push my baby out. I really do not know how I found the energy, I was pushing for longer than I could hold my breath for but nothing was happening. I was fighting against my body to find any energy that I could and focus it all on delivering her safely. The Midwives told me I was doing incredibly well and the support of my Mum and Paul was so helpful but after 30 minutes of pushing the Doctor came back in and told me that I needed to stop. I had done everything in my power to try to deliver my baby with no help but unfortunately she had turned and we were back to back which meant that I needed to go into theatre straight away. At this point I felt so defeated and ashamed that I wasn’t able to deliver her myself. The Doctors explained that they needed to do an Assisted/Instrumental Delivery, something that I hadn’t even heard of. They needed to use Forceps or Vacuum Suction to turn my baby into the right position for me then to push her out and this needed to be done in theatre in case there was any kind of a struggle so they could perform a C-Section straight away. The entire concept of me going to Theatre was frightening enough and my anxiety was going through the roof. Within minutes I had forms to read and sign and the Doctor’s were reading me statistics of what could possibly go wrong, I was completely overwhelmed. I then had to make the awful decision of who would be going into Theatre with me as you can only have one of your birthing partners in there. Obviously I wanted Paul as it was the birth of his baby and he couldn’t miss it but being wheeled out of the room away from my Mum completely broke my heart and I was so scared.
To anyone who thinks that a Theatre delivery is an easy way out, I can assure you that it is not. Whether it’s planned or an emergency there is no way that you could not be anxious going into that environment. I was rolled into a bright white room full of a team of people waiting to deliver my baby, I remember the lights beaming down onto my face and not being able to move. Four people had to physically lift my body from my bed to the operating table where I led crying so much that I could feel my tears rolling down my ears and down my neck. I was told that Paul would be with me the entire time but it was at least 15 minutes before he stepped into Theatre in his scrubs. He seemed to stay so calm and brave but I’m not sure whether he just seemed that way because of the state that I was in. I was so grateful for him to be there with me and reassuring me that everything was going to be okay.
At 8.27am I saw my little girls face for the very first time. She was held up over the screen and it was so strange to finally see her. Seeing the love of my life look at his daughter for the first time was honestly magic, he went from being this big strong support system to a complete sobbing mess of unconditional love. Within seconds she was taken away and Paul went with her to cut her cord and then into a room to the side of me. I was led completely unable to move, forced to hear my babies screams and just wanting to hold onto her. I had always looked forward to seeing her for the first time and holding her on my chest but unfortunately that didn’t happen, we had no Skin To Skin contact due to me being in theatre and it’s something that still upsets me now. They wrapped her up and handed to her to Paul and he was showing me this tiny girl, I just kept asking if she was breathing and if she was okay. I couldn’t believe that she was finally here! The Doctor laid her in an incubator just a few metres away from me and all I could do was look at her. Around 45 minutes of her being born we were finally moved into recovery I got to hold her for the first time, I literally never wanted to let her go. Being reunited with my Mum was extremely emotional and seeing her and Paul with Evangeline was so rewarding, I had given them a Daughter and a Granddaughter and they were completely in love with her.
A massive positive was that my Cervical Ectropion in no way affected my ability to have a dilated Cervix and to have a natural birth which was my initial worry. 12 weeks after giving birth I had an appointment with the Nurse who had originally diagnosed my Ectropion over two years ago. She did a speculum examination to assess how it had been affected from my childbirth due to me not experiencing any irregular bleeding. The lack of extra hormones in my body during pregnancy and my natural childbirth had removed all of the excess cells in my Cervix and it was completely clear. It was gone, I couldn’t believe it! After so much of a struggle to now be told that I didn’t have to have to the procedure to remove the cells was a huge relief. The next steps for me were contraceptive options that had the least possible chance of my Ectropion coming back as unfortunately any extra hormones can create more irregular cells and start the entire cycle again. When you’ve had Cervical Ectropion before it can return so your options are very important and you are limited to the choices of contraception that released a small amount of hormones. I also had to factor in the fact that I’m breastfeeding so my options were pretty much narrowed down to an injection every 3 months or a Coil for 3-5 years.
Last week I had a Marina Coil fitted and although it was a little bit uncomfortable for a couple of days the procedure was very quick and nowhere near as daunting as I had expected it to be. There will be no more surprise miracle babies (at least for a few years)! This entire journey was worth every bit of panic, worry and the hundreds of tears that were cried. The biggest positive for me is my baby and she’s absolutely thriving and was not affected at all by my Ectropion throughout the pregnancy although it felt that way for a very long time. I thank god for my little girl every day, she has completely changed my life and I am overwhelmed with so much love. I would go through it all again for her. I feel grateful that my life with Cervical Ectropion is over for now and I finally had a happy ending to a very long and emotional journey. I’m feeling very positive about the future and looking forward to it with my family!