Today I had my post-natal discussion at the hospital. I wasn’t particularly apprehensive until I got to the hospital and walked through the doors into Maternity. Of course there were pregnant women and babies strolling around, and it was difficult to find a place to look where the view didn’t make me feel queasy. Worse than the waiting area was the trip through antenatal and scanning. I had spent many hours in the antenatal area for clinic to see the consultant, but the last time I was there I was pushed along in a wheelchair just after discovering that my baby had died. Veering round the corners, without wheels this time, left my legs feeling pretty tremulous, as I remembered rather too acutely, my last visit.
It’s difficult to know where to start with all the medical details, or whether to include them at all. I’ll try to give enough information and if anyone would like to know more about the medical side of things, please ask, and I’ll try my best to answer.
So, it turns out that I’m rather unique. It’s very rare for the membranes to rupture when a woman does not have a short or typically incompetent cervix. However, this is what has happened to me, twice. It seems that infection has managed to creep through the barrier to my uterus, causing a slow infection, which has then weakened the membranes, causing them to rupture dramatically. It is important to be clear that in this case, when we say ‘infection’ it is a sort of bacteria that is present on our bodies anyway, but that should not have been able to infiltrate the cervix. So, this is why no infection was picked up at any point, because it is not a bacteria that would be detected by normal swabs or tests. The ‘funnelling’ I mentioned previously was actually a possible cause that was mentioned, but apparently does not apply to me.
I asked the consultant about the way the situation was handled, in that I was not examined, and that I was probably in labour, and that perhaps Freddie could have been born alive. To this the consultant agreed that he could have been born alive, but that it was very difficult to detect whether labour was in progress or not, and that at that stage, the course of action is that women are not examined, to avoid causing further problems, as it is quite invasive. She also said that group B Strep was present, and that if Freddie had been born alive, the chances of him surviving would have been very minimal, and the likelihood of massive brain damage would have been very strong. As well as this, the possibility of needing a caesarean to deliver Freddie would have been quite likely, and this too, would have been very difficult and would likely have resulted in various problems, for both the baby and me.
So, what happens next time? The basic idea will be that my cervix will be stitched at the top, and also at the bottom, but in different ways. Hopefully, this will prevent infection from entering, and it will also prevent my cervix from causing problems, if it is that that has been the case and it has not previously been identified as a cause.
I feel that the conversation was conducive, and I am hopeful that the next time, things will be ok. It’s difficult to understand such a protracted, complicated series of events, with no medical knowledge, particularly when everything to do with having babies and womens’ bodies seems to be so unpredictable . There seem to be no definite answers, no explicit paths, no concrete results. It’s very difficult to comprehend exactly what happened, when you have a consultant talking at length about ‘flora’ and ‘strains’ and ‘strep’ and all the different types of stitches; just when you’ve grasped the intricacies of the situation you’ve forgotten what she said at the beginning. But, I think I’ve got most of the important stuff down. The really important thing is that whatever they do next time, it works.
I did some maths the other day (those of you know me will understand the gravity of the previous statement – I cried when I looked at the online maths test I had to do to complete my PGCE…) – I have spent 11 months out of the last 18 being pregnant. If it takes me 5 months to get pregnant (which is how long it took the last time) again, and then I deliver at 38-40 weeks, I will have spent 28 months, trying to have one baby, by which time I will be nearly 28 years old. Sometimes I think it must sound crass to talk about the production of another baby just after the loss of one, but I know that only when I have a baby, who lives to see the world as a person should, will I begin to feel ok. Freddie and our baby girl will always exist as the older brother and sister of whoever comes next, and there are no words to explain how tragic it is that we have had to lose those two babies in order to successfully produce children. But to have children is what we want – in fact it’s more than a want – it is an inborn need, as if my arms are lacking something that belongs there, as if our home wants for the one thing to make it seem true, as if our time is not filled by the correct activities, and it is what will finally make everything we’ve been through worth it.