**The day I became a NICU mum – its 2 years on and I’m now making sense of it all- lets go back and I’ll tell you how it happened**
Its my second day of labour after being induced due to gestational diabetes. The contractions are coming thick and fast… the midwife cranks up the syntocin.
I wish I could burst that drip because this pain is excruciating.
I’ve been reluctant to take any pain relief as I was told it slows down the labour.
Only gas and air is keeping me going and even that i’ve chucked it somewhere. It was making me feel spaced out. I want to be alert for this experience. The birth of my first child.
Its 8.00am and the midwives have had handover. My midwife for the day comes in to introduce herself…Shes nice, calm and on it. I can tell she knows what she’s doing and I feel safe.
Little did I know this baby was about to push her to her limits.
The CTG (cardiotocography- machine that measures baby’s heart rate and contractions ) starts beeping …I look over and see her heart rate has dropped . Its in the 50s . The midwife calmly gets me to change my position- it picks back up. Few seconds later it dips again into the 40s.
She pulls the emergency alarm and I kid you not in 5 seconds the room is filled with about 10 people. The consultant comes to me and reassuringly tells me shes here to help.
She checks me – “you are 7cm, almost there but not yet time to push”. – I’m in agony!
I have the urge to push, despite me being 7cm dilated .
All this while I’m just pooing… like its just flowing. (I regret having that chilli stew my mother -inlaw gave me) I’m slightly embarassed but that’s the least of my worries now… . ‘ I need to pussh!! ‘ … ” I’m pushing I’m pushing” .
The baby heartrate monitor is going off like crazy.
my baby is in distress and she needs to come out now!
The breakes of the bed unlock “Zainab, we have take you to theatres to get your baby out.” –I’m going to have a C-section!
The last thing I hear going into the theatre room is my mum’s shaky voice telling me everything is going to be ok. This may be the last time I hear her voice.
Next thing, im on the theatre bed . I’m fully dilated and the consultant says its too late for a c-section- she can feel baby’s head!
My husband is next to me in scrubs, looking bewildered. (And also like an extra on Grey’s anatomy.)
I’m getting poked left right and centre with needles- they’re trying to get a line in for fluids.
I’m scared, I’m exhausted, I’m disorientated. I have to push this baby out.
The head comes out .
That’s all thats out for a while. I’m pushing and pushing with all the energy I have. Inbetween contractions I tilt my head back and close my eyes.
Babe , babe! – wake up !– my husband is checking that im still alive- i feel dead. This whole thing feels like an outer body experience.
I look at him and he is crying. He is actually crying. This is the first time I’ve ever seen him cry. That’s when it dawned on me that this is real. This is happening even though I wish it were a dream.
5 minutes have gone past and shes still stuck – her left shoulder wedged behind my pubic bone , shoulder dystocia they call it.- The other consultant takes over- whilst he is pulling another doctor is pushing down onto my stomache- I feel like meat at the halal butchers.
Eventually, he yanks my baby out!
Shes lifeless , no cry ,no sound , pale , floppy -like a rag doll. They put her on me for all of 2 seconds then whisk her away onto the resuscitairre to work on her.
I’m bleeding like crazy , my placenta is coming out in bits. “How is she ?, how is my baby?!.” That’s all I cared about. I haven’t had any pain killers, im past that now. I feel numb.
My husband, stands- looking on like a lost child… when he looks to his right he sees his wife heavily bleeding , half conscious on the theatre bed…
When he looks to his left he sees his newborn baby girl being resuscitated- both lives hanging in the balance.
How does one process this?
6 minutes…. 6minutes it took for her to take her first breath. As im writing this now im actually tearing up.
As a NICU nurse you know the consequences of these types of births so you can imagine the kind of things that were going on inside my head.
They take her away to the neonatal unit and im transferred to maternity intensive care . I lost 2.5 litres of blood.
Physically…I felt like I had been run over by a bus.. 5 times. Mentally… I was all over the place. Is my baby going to be ok?
Am I going to recover from this to be there for her?
An overwhelmingly sense of guilt overcomes me.
‘Why did I eat best mangal (turkish food) every other day ? Why was I eating past 10pm every night,why did I not take my insulin and metformin religiously… why didn’t I take my gestational diabetes seriously???’
If I had been more deciplined in what I ate maybe all of this would never have happened.
I blamed myself for eveyththing that I was experiencing with the birth of my daughter. I would cry myslef to sleep on the hospital bed whilst looking at phone pictures of my baby with wires and tubes coming out of her from all directions.
I couldn’t be with her until I got better. I needed to get better.
I got a few visitors that night- only family- as it was ICU the visiting policy was strict. One visit that struck a cord was that of my sister.
She walked in – upon seeing me, she looked taken aback. Concerned, scared even. As if she couldn’t come close to me.
I’m sure if said BOO!, she would’ve ran a mile or two.
Do I look that bad I thought to myself !?
A few weeks later she told me.
I looked as stiff as a board, red blood shot sunken eyes, my complexion had changed completely, probably from the blood loss and shock of it all- she said that night she went home and cried her eyes out. Seeing me , in the state that I was in- it moved her. A memory she will never forget.
I had a blood transfusion, pain releif and fluids…24hrs later I was well enough to be wheeled over to see my babygirl properly for the first time …
she was cold, attached to a cooling machine to protect her brain , leads attached to her head to monitor her brain activity, cannulas on her hands and feet for fluids.- she was so big she filled up majoriry of the cot.
I inspected her from head to toe- my beautiful girl . 4.05kg (8.8lb) she was.
shes sucking on her breathing tube (this girl is a foodie just like her mum)
Her left arm down and weak. The arm that sustsined the vigorous pull to save her life. Her super arm.
I made a silent promise to myslef that I will be the best NICU nurse I can be because this is it. I’m now seeing things from the other prespective. Im now ‘the NICU mum’ . What a scary and anxious place to be in.
I prayed and prayed and prayed so much ,willing for things to get better. And gradually it did- Alhamdulillah
A blood transfusion, 2 MRIs ,6 cannulas and whole bunch of other tests later, me and my little girl were ready to leave the hospital.
What had been a week in the hospital felt like a whole year. Walking outside felt like I was walking into a different world.
A world in which I didnt know what the future would entail. But by God’s grace I knew I’d be fine.
I left with a referral letter to the orthopaedic specialists and with the hope that my daughter would develop normally .
My husband was more worried about whether or not she’d be able to use her arm- I couldnt work out if he didn’t fully understand or if he was actually in denial.
I mean you can get a another arm but not another brain. Right?
He is the optimistic one -away with the fairies sometimes- whereas I… I deal with the reality of things, I see things for what they are. I don’t shy away from the truth. Sadly the truth can be a bitter pill to swallow at times.
What would those 6 minutes of no oxygen to the brain mean for my daughter? I didnt know neither did the doctors … I just had to wait to see how she developed. That was the scary part- FEAR – fear of the unknown.
** keep an eye out for my next 2 blog posts which will be the continuation of this post and my daughter’s development- comment and share – if you’ve had a traumatic birth story I’d like to hear it- Thank you so much for reading **