Sunday, 28 March 2010

Two weeks old and we have a little piglet!

Saturday night was my first night back home, and my first night far away from Sophie. It was really awful not being able to just go downstairs to see her whenever I wanted to, but at the same time was lovely to have a night in my own bed for the first time in over a week!

Sophie aged 2 weeks, with the lovely Jane in the background - the first nurse who looked after her

There was a missed call on both our mobiles on Sunday morning, and we found out the number was the hospital but it didn't accept incoming calls! We were panicking in case sometime was wrong with Sophie. Eventually we managed to get hold of the number for the neonatal unit, after ringing the maternity ward and various other numbers that we had, and it turned out it was just Moira, the nurse who was looking after Sophie that day, wondering if we were going in with some more milk, as she was being a wee piglet! What a relief.

Alan has been on paternity leave last week and this week, so we have gone up to the hospital every day this week. We've had to go to see the midwife every morning on the way there and seem to have got into a little routine of seeing the midwife late morning, buying some lunch somewhere on the way up and having it in the hospital canteen before going in to spend the afternoon with Sophie. She has had loads of visitors and is turning into a very popular - and very spoilt! - little baby!

Sophie is getting better every day and we can already see a difference in the way she looks. We were told that during the first ten days or so, her skin would mature to the same stage as a full term baby and become much less red, and we saw that happen this week. She seems to be filling out a bit already as well.

On Monday I got to change my first nappy! I was quite scared in case I hurt Sophie but the nurse helped me and showed me what to do. I couldn't believe the power in those tiny legs - she was able to push me off when I was trying to take her dirty nappy off! It's not easy trying to change a tiny nappy through two holes in an incubator, but I will no doubt get the hang of it soon enough.

Young Miss Baxter decided half way through the week that this breathing lark is just too much hard work and had fun winding mummy and the nurses up by constantly dropping her heartrate and setting her alarms off. Eventually they decided to put her back on the ventilator for a while, as she is still very little and her lungs are really immature so she just needs that little bit of help for a few days. She has done well to be on the CPAP for so long at her age.

Sophie's feeds increased to 2.5ml every hour on Wednesday which is a lot more than the 0.5 every three hours that she started out on just a week ago. She opened her eyes for the first time (that we had seen, anyway!) on Tuesday and looked sooo cute keeking at us!

She is also off all the antibiotics that she has been on, and generally doing really well. The nurse showed me how to wrap my hands round her to make her feel as if she is still in the womb - it makes them feel secure. Sophie loved it and so did I - it was the closest thing I've had to a cuddle. She has started reaching her hands out to touch us when we stroke her, and she also grips our fingers - she has such a tight grip! I feel much more like her mummy now that we are having a bit more contact with her and I've changed a nappy and been allowed to feed her through the feeding tube.

Sophie's monitor with the alarms she loves to set off!

All the nurses keep telling us how feisty Sophie is, and how she knows how to tell them if she doesn't like something! I saw her kicking a nurse when she didn't want her nappy changed at the beginning of the week, and when the nurse moved Sophie's leg onto her blanket, Sophie pushed her off with her foot and put her leg right back where she wanted it!

Granny and Grandpa ordered Sophie's pram this week and it arrived on Wednesday - much quicker than expected! It somehow makes it all seem so much more real having a pram sitting in the living room! We will need to learn how to put it up and down and find out all the things it does - plenty of time for that though. We just can't wait to have Sophie home to put in it now.

It's getting harder and harder to leave Sophie, the more time we spend with her :(

I'm recovering well from the c-section although still feeling really tired and the painkillers and blood pressure tablets are making me feel quite horrible. I've worked out that's what is making me fall asleep half way home from the hospital every night!

Daddy giving a feed

Sunday, 21 March 2010

One week old (or 28 weeks!)

Well, that's young Miss Baxter's first week in, and she is doing really well.

When she was born, she weighed 1lb 13.8oz and was 13 inches long. She breathed on her own for the first 30 minutes before getting tired, and she was then put on the ventilator for a while just to give her a bit of help.

A slightly jaundiced Sophie under the UV lamp, day 2

I was finally allowed to see her on the Monday lunchtime, when she was around 21 hours old. I'd been given a hideous bed bath just before that (the most humiliating thing I've ever experienced!) and had to get myself out of bed and into a wheelchair, which was not fun at all, and very painful! Alan wheeled me to see Sophie, and I couldn't believe how tiny she was. She was very red and thin, and when the nurse told me to touch her, I was scared to! I touched her with one finger very quickly and came straight back out of the incubator again. She just looked so tiny and fragile. I only lasted about 5 minutes before starting to feel faint and dizzy, as I was due painkillers and it's so hot in the neonatal unit.

In the afternoon, Sophie's grandparents came to visit. My mum and dad brought a lovely rabbit for her, and Alan's dad brought me a cuddly cat in case I was missing Jessicat :) They all fell instantly in love with their tiny granddaughter.

Later that day I was moved back up to a side ward and the next day I was up for a shower and spent longer with Sophie.

Sophie was slightly jaundiced early in the week and had to go under a UV light. She looked so cute in her little mask! She had lots of visitors in her first week, and got so many pink and fluffy presents! She has been getting so many lovely pink outfits - even the ones for tiny or premature babies are too big for her!

Just a few of Sophie's gifts!

I have been learning how to express milk for her and on Tuesday night she started out on 0.5ml of breastmilk every three hours. She gets it through a tiny syringe into a feeding tube and is tolerating it well. I have to wake up every three hours in the night and take the milk out to the midwives when I'm done. On the Wednesday morning at 5.30, one of the midwives suggested I might like to take the milk down to her myself, so she took me down to the neonatal unit in the wheelchair! I got to stroke Sophie and talk to her and I spent about half an hour with her. The nurse looking after her told me that she was already beginning to respond differently to me to how she responds to the nurses! She must know I'm her mummy already :)

By the end of her 1st week, Sophie's skin was already maturing

Sophie's daddy has of course been coming in all day every day and we've been spending time with Sophie as well as getting lots of visitors. Alan and I are allowed in the neonatal unit between 9am and 10.30pm but we have to also work around visiting time in the unit (3-7.30pm and visiting time on the ward (2.30-4pm and 7-8pm). Young Sophie needs a secretary, as we have four visitor passes per day for her and so many people wanting to come and see her! My room is absolutely full of flowers, balloons and pink gifts, and Sophie already has a much better wardrobe than I have.

Snug as a bug in a rug

I am still getting monitored for my blood pressure etc and was allowed out of hospital on Saturday (6 days after having Sophie). It was touch and go as to whether they were going to let me out, as my temperature was slightly up when it came time to go! They did let me but I have to get checked by the midwives in Berwick every day. When I saw the midwife on Saturday night on the way home, she nearly sent me back to Edinburgh as my bp was higher than she would have liked but luckily she put it down to a long stressful day!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

27 weeks and the dramatic arrival of baby Sophie Mary Anne!

What a whirlwind of events have happened since I last updated this blog.

At 26 weeks and 5 days I was admitted to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, having been sent to an appointment there for monitoring. It's never a good sign when you are asked to fill in a menu card shortly after arriving! They decided that they would probably need to keep me in until Baby B was born, which really scared me. At least I was put into a side ward after spending the day being monitored in a ward along with someone who had already had her baby by c-section the previous day and someone else who was in for monitoring.

Once I was settled in the side ward and Alan had fixed up the phone/TV/internet package things started to become more bearable! Alan stayed with me all day and I had lots of blood tests, urine tests, blood pressure monitoring, time on the CTG machine to monitor the baby's heartbeat and movement and a scan which showed that the baby was still doing ok.

That evening we were given a tour of the neonatal unit and the chance to speak to a paediatric doctor to discuss what would happen when the baby arrived.

The next day was just more of the same and during the night on the Saturday night, I woke up feeling really ill. I had the worst - and weirdest - headache that I have ever had in my painful when I was lying down that I just could not bear to lie down at all....and my fingers were so swollen that I could not bend them. The thing that had actually woken me in the first place was baby B going absolutely nuts leaping around in my stomach - my whole stomach was jumping from the outside ...typical that it was the first time it was really doing that properly when Alan was not there to feel it! At least I knew baby B was still doing ok though. A midwife came in at 6am to take blood (lovely start to the day!) and found that there was not a single place left in either arm where she could take it as I was so mutilated! She got a doctor to come and put one of those hideous things in my hand so they could take blood that way :( Then the dreaded blood pressure check and it was through the roof...I had about 4 doctors in trying to work out how to get it back down again and they gave me some different medication.

I felt much better after that and went in the shower, only to feel as if I was about to faint. I have never had such a fast shower in my life! When they came back to check my blood pressure again, it had dropped worryingly low, which was why I almost fainted, and this was the start of things going very wrong.

I was put on the CTG monitor again for an hour, and was then told that I was being sent for a scan. I didn't have time to get Alan up to the hospital for the scan, and ended up sitting in the waiting room on my own along with loads of couples who were there for scans. I have never felt so alone or so scared in my life. While I was sitting there waiting I started to get really weird flashing lights in front of my eyes, which is another of the symptoms I'd been told to look out for, and the headache was getting worse and worse. Alan was later told that I was just an hour away from organ failure...

The woman who did the scan was so horrible, using lots of medical terms that I did not understand at all. She then said to me "Of course, you know from Friday's scan that the baby is not doing at all well"! I went straight back to the ward and burst into tears on the poor doctor and midwife but they were really lovely with me. The doctor explained that she had decided to do an emergency c-section that afternoon because things had started to become dangerous for me and for the baby.

I phoned Alan and 7 minutes later he came flying into the room! I was feeling really ill by this point and was just lying on the bed feeling horrible! By all accounts I didn't look all that great either! The anaethetist came to talk to me about whether I wanted a spinal or general anaesthetic (I decided on a spinal so I'd be awake for the birth and Alan would be able to be there) and then I was given a lovely stylish gown to change into and eventually was taken along to the operating theatre. I was absolutely terrified when I was getting the spinal but once it was over, I was fine. I just kept saying to Alan "I'm going to be a mummy TODAY!"

There were soooo many people in the room, including quite a big team of paediatricians ready to whisk the baby away as soon as it was born. There was a very strange moment when I was lying on the operating table and they went round everyone in the room introducing themselves! The spinal felt really weird and I was convinced my legs were in the air but Alan assured me they were flat on the table. Alan was allowed to sit up beside me and he held my hand all the way through. The doctor told us when she was about to lift the baby out, which was about five minutes after they started, and we heard crying, which was amazing because we'd been told not to expect to hear the baby cry at that gestation. We both had tears in our eyes!

The doctors were trying to get Alan's attention to go and see the sex of the baby but they didn't manage to get him quickly enough so they told us it was a girl, and took her straight away to the incubator. She was born at 14.44. We decided to name her Sophie Mary Anne - the middle names are after her two grannies. It was the most amazing feeling in the world when she was born, and knowing she was ok after all the stress and worry. It was so difficult not seeing her though.

By 15.15 I was in the high dependancy ward with a lovely midwife called Betty looking after me for the whole afternoon. Alan started making the phonecalls to let people know that Sophie had arrived, and after about two hours he was allowed to go and see her. He took a photo of her to bring back to show me.

First photo of Sophie, 2 hours old

Daddy's first gift to Sophie was a beautiful pink rocking horse, and he also brought in a pink teddy bear from her granddad, so even though my baby wasn't with me that first night, there were still signs around my bed that I'd had a baby girl. It was so hard not even getting to meet her that night, especially when they brought a woman into the ward with her baby who had just arrived at full term, and her husband who was very loud and jokey.

Sophie's first gifts

Sophie was born on Mother's Day, which was very strange, as her daddy was also born on Mother's Day. Her birth was a very happy occasion but also sad, as Alan's mum is not here to see her granddaughter, and we miss her very much - but we still feel she is very much around to watch over her beautiful granddaughter and we are sure she had a hand in Sophie's safe arrival.

Monday, 8 March 2010

26 weeks...the mother of all weeks!

Firstly I would just like to apologise for the lateness of this post - but what a scary week this has been. We went to the midwife on Tuesday morning for my 25 week check, and my blood pressure was very high. All the other tests she did were fine but she was concerned about my blood pressure. She asked me to lie down in a dark room for half an hour and she checked it again and it was still high so she phoned the Borders General, where I will be giving birth, and they suggested that I go home for the rest of the day and have complete rest, then get it checked again in the morning.

I followed her orders, and on Wednesday morning it was still very high, so BGH said I should go up there for monitoring and that I should take an overnight bag just in case. I have a terrible fear of hospitals, so this did not go down well!

Off we went to the hospital, and I was put onto a monitor that measured my blood pressure every 5 minutes. I also had to have a blood test (another huge fear of mine!) - little did I know, this would be the first of many blood tests this week! The monitoring showed that my blood pressure was still very high but my blood tests came back normal. The doctor had a chat with us and decided to send me home, as she said it would be less stressful for me than having to stay in overnight. I definitely agreed with her on that one!

I had to see my own midwife at Berwick on Friday again for a blood pressure and urine check. She was meant to come out to the house, but there was a breakdown in communication somwhere between BGH and Berwick, and when nobody had turned up by early afternoon, I phoned and was asked to go in, as she didn't know she was supposed to come out! When she did my blood pressure it was still very high and by this time there was a trace of protein in my urine sample which is never a good sign. She felt and measured my stomach and listened to the heartbeat, and everything was absolutely fine there. Once again I was packed off to BGH because of my blood pressure but this time they said I wouldn't need an overnight bag...famous last words! I did get myself worked up into quite a state before leaving the maternity unit - just a fear of what was going on, what was going to happen when I got to BGH etc. The two midwives, Rixt and Lesley, were absolutely lovely and reassuring and provided me with tissues and hugs! My mum and dad had to take me up to BGH as Alan was at work.

On arrival at BGH I was put into a delivery room in the labour suite - eek! I was surprised at how lovely and calm it was in there, after weeks of tip-toeing past, pretending it did not exist! I saw a lovely midwife who hooked me up to a CTG monitor to listen to Baby B's heartbeat and I had a wee gadget to press every time I felt movement. The heartbeat was very regular and well within the rates that are normal for this stage and there was plenty movement. I had yet more blood tests and another urine sample, and this time the blood tests came back with "some markers" in them...we still don't know what this meant....and the urine sample had slightly more protein. As for the dreaded blood pressure - still high! By this point with the blood pressure and the trace of protein in the urine sample, they were starting to look at the possibility of pre-eclampsia.

While we waited to see the doctor we were allowed away for something to eat, then eventually about 8.30 a doctor came round and did all sorts of tests on me for my reflexes etc. She seemed happy with everything then a registrar came round and said they were admitting me!! I had absolutely nothing with me and was so stressed out at the thought of having to stay in hospital. Luckily I have a good friend who lives nearby and she went to the 24 hour Asda and bought me everything I'd need for overnight! There was nothing she didn't think of :)

I was admitted onto ward 17 where there was already one other person. More on her in a minute! Another two midwives came to see me and checked my blood pressure again and explained that there are actually things they can do for pre-eclampsia which was a relief, because from everything I'd read, I thought that the only possible option was delivery of the baby. I was told that I would be woken at 2am and 6am to have my blood pressure checked and was then left alone for the time being. After Alan left I felt sooo lonely and miserable!

I got pretty much no sleep that night, due to the strange environment, worry, noise, lights, blood pressure monitoring and most of all, Huffy Pufferson in the next bed! She spent all night sighing, huffing and puffing, wandering around, burping, sighing, rumbling around in the bed...and did I mention sighing? This was still going on in the morning when Alan came in so at least he could see what I had been bleating on about!

First thing in the morning they were back wanting to do more blood tests and blood pressure monitoring - great things to do together on a person who is scared of blood tests! We had a long hang on waiting for seeing the consultant and when he came round he really scared me. He felt my stomach and asked how far along I was, and when I said 26 weeks he looked worried and said the baby should be higher up for 26 weeks.

He whipped me off to do a quick scan, and told me that the baby was measuring 25 weeks instead of 26, that there was less amniotic fluid than there should be and less blood flow going to the baby than there should be. Of course all this really worried me but he wasn't really up for answering any questions and we got no information out of him. When we got home, my head was just buzzing with questions and I was still scared the next day so we decided to go up to the midwife at Berwick for a chat about all the questions we had. She answered the best she could but then said maybe we should go back up to BGH for a chat with some of the staff up there, and my blood pressure was still high so she wanted me to be monitored up there.

By the time we got up there and had been seen - more blood tests, more monitoring on the CTG for the baby's heartbeat and more blood pressure checks, it was all just starting to get too much for me and I ended up having a good howl in the toilets. I was just at the point where I was thinking I just could not take any more of this. I was also told they were keeping me in again and I really do have such a fear of staying in hospital. At least this time I'd taken a bag with me so I did have everything I'd need for an overnight stay. The midwives were so understanding and said I could have a side room this time if it made it easier for me, but as it happened there was no one else due on the ward that night so they said I could just stay there and they'd move me if anyone came in during the night.

They started me on blood pressure tablets on Sunday night and by bedtime my bp had gone down quite a bit but on Monday morning it was higher than ever, so they decided to double the dose. They also put me on a low daily dose of aspirin. I had a scan on Monday morning to check for the amniotic fluid and blood flow to the placenta and although it was very slightly reduced, the consultant (a much nicer one this time!) said that although the baby was slightly small, it wasn't absolutely tiny, but was what they'd expect for the size of a baby with a mum who had pre-eclampsia. The baby is currently weighing 1lb9oz.

The same friend who sorted me out with things for an overnight stay on Friday night came to sit with me all morning on Monday and went to the scan with me, as Alan was not able to be there till lunchtime. I was so glad she was there, as she was so supportive and asked loads of questions I'd not have thought to ask! She was also the one who noticed that the scanner machine actually shows the weight of the baby - the consultant said he'd been using that machine for a whole year and had never noticed that it told the weight!

The outcome of the scan was that the consultant will have to scan me every 1-2 days and he will need to make a decision when the time comes that the baby is safer and better out than in. He said it will definitely not make it to full term, and he would like to get me to 30 weeks if possible. That really scared me so much and once again I burst into tears when I came out of the scan. It was just such a shock after having such an easy pregnancy up till a week ago. The baby could come any time from now - I just so hope he or she hangs on in there for another few weeks.

They also decided to give me steroid injections into my hip, which hurt like crazy (and I can still hardly walk today!) - these are to help mature the baby's lungs ready for early delivery. Apparently they do make a huge difference. If the baby comes before 32 weeks I will have to be transferred to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary or Newcastle as they are more specialised for very premature babies. It just depends where there is a cot free. We would much rather have Edinburgh because it would be nice to be on familiar ground at a time like this, plus we have a friend who's a nurse in ERI who has said we can stay with her rather than trailing up and down every day for weeks and weeks. That's a big weight off our minds.

We were back up at BGH yesterday for another scan and more blood pressure checks and the good news is that my blood pressure had gone down dramatically, plus the scan showed no change at all since the day before which is a good thing. They gave me my second (and hopefully final) steroid injection which hurt more than the previous day's one! I am very glad that the sorer one was the second one, because I'd have been more worried about getting the second one had the first one hurt like that! They decided that I could wait 48 hours for my next check so we are back up there tomorrow. Fingers crossed things are still ticking along just the same. Every day that passes now is a bonus.

Today we went into my office to sort out my maternity leave etc and I'm now finished at work - I have holidays to take first then officially start maternity leave on 15th April. I did a short handover with a colleague so now I don't need to worry about any outstanding work that I might have sitting in my tray. It's nice to have one less thing to worry about.

I have also been advised to pack a hospital bag to put in the car for every time I go to an appointment, just in case they decided that the time has come to deliver the baby. The midwife said it doesn't necessarily mean that they think the baby is going to come immediately, but she said from a practical level it's good to have another thing ticked off my list and something else that I don't need to worry about. It felt all wrong being in Boots buying everything I needed when I should be doing that for another couple of months at least - it should be an exciting time but it just feels so sad and scary.

Alan has been absolutely amazing and I don't know what I'd do without him. He has managed to get this week as holidays and is looking after me so well. I am not allowed to lift a finger!

We are back up at BGH tomorrow and I will try my best to update again on Sunday as usual.