When I started writing this blog, I knew that this post was going to be the hardest to write: recalling the day my waters unexpectedly broke. Subconsciously I think I’ve been dreading it, knowing that I would have to detail the toughest day Pete and I have ever experienced. However, in order to fully share our story it is important that I revisit it, document it, and by doing so draw a line underneath it.
Picking up where I left off from my Readymade Mother’s Group post we had passed the 20 week milestone and knew we were expecting a baby girl. Pete was edging closer to racing in his last Ironman event, Ironman Melbourne on 23 March, 2014, and once that was done it was time to get the nursery ready.
We woke up on Saturday 22 March, full of nervous energy the day before Pete’s big race. I was ready to help Pete get his things together before we drove to the start line in Frankston to check all his race gear in. Little did we know our lives were about to take a completely different direction.
Shortly after waking up, at about 8am, I felt a sharp pain on the left side of my stomach – something wasn’t right. I went to the bathroom and lost a lot of fluid. I was 23 weeks and 2 days pregnant.
Pete was in the kitchen making me tea and toast while he got his nutrition ready for the race. Deep down I knew my waters had broken but was in denial about what was happening. This wasn’t how we were supposed to start our weekend…
I was registered at The Women’s at Sandringham hospital, so phoned them immediately and they called me in straight away. Once there the midwife examined me and informed us that it was highly likely my waters had broken, although I would need an ultrasound for final confirmation.
Our friend Andrew had come to the hospital and stayed with us, while we met the obstetrician, who confirmed the worst. Yes my waters had broken and it was more than likely I would go into labour in the next 48 hours. Physically I felt fine, nothing out of the ordinary except my waters breaking and my baby bump had shrunk.
Emotionally, I was scared, and could not believe this was happening to us. It felt like a bad dream. There were no warning signs, my scans were great and to that point I’d had a normal pregnancy. It brings tears to my eyes thinking back to that moment, such overwhelming fear and sadness, whilst trying our very best to stay positive. Having Andrew there was a blessing. In that moment of raw emotion when we were struggling to absorb everything we were being told, he was able to hear everything first hand and whilst he was emotionally invested, he was able to take it in more rationally, and tell our friends what was happening.
We had an ultrasound to see how Lily was doing. It was such a contrast to our 12 and 20 week scans – this time the tears of joy from those scans were replaced by tears of sadness. She was still OK, but there was no fluid around her.
After the scans and meetings with midwives, obstetricians and pediatricians throughout the day, we were informed that, given Lily was less than 24 weeks gestation, should she be born her chances of survival were very slim, even if we chose to resuscitate her. Should she survive there was a high possibility she would have one or more severe disabilities. The longer she could stay in the womb, the greater her chances would be of living a long and healthy life. We were faced with a choice no parents should have to make: do nothing and let our daughter pass away naturally, or proceed down a course of steroid injections and antibiotics to help her lungs develop and keep her in the womb as long as possible. Was I going to go into labour within 48 hours? Could I potentially go on bed rest and keep Lily inside for a while longer?
We believe there are two fundamental parental instincts: to always support and believe in your children; and to protect them from harm. We were informed that Lily was happy and pain free in the womb. Being positive and resilient people we chose to give Lily every possible chance of survival, so decided to proceed down the course of steroid injections, and hope that she stay put as long as possible.
Should she be born in the next 48 hours, we chose not put her through the invasive ordeal of trying to resuscitate her and instead let her pass away naturally. However, should we get to 24 weeks, we would re-evaluate, knowing that she would be that bit stronger, and the odds, although still heavily against her, would shift slightly in her favour. Each subsequent week she could spend inside the womb, the greater her chances of survival. Why had this happened to us? I shook with fear. How had such a healthy couple ended up in this situation? Had we done something wrong? Had we missed any warning signs? No. Nothing.
During the quiet periods between scans and meetings with doctors, Pete and I discussed his participation in the Ironman. We decided to keep the option of doing it open and during one of the quiet periods, he was able, with the help of Pat, to finish getting his race gear together and drop it all off at the start line in Frankston.
Once Pete was back at the hospital and we had established that Lily and I were both stable, we decided that he would race. His training and preparation for Ironman Melbourne had been a fantastic journey for both of us and one we wanted to see through to the end. Should anything happen to me or Lily during the race, our friends who were spectating and in close contact with me would instruct Pete to abandon the race, and he would immediately come to the hospital.
Saturday 22nd March was an incredibly draining day, and one that we wouldn’t wish anyone to go through, but thanks to our amazing friends, Pete was preparing to race Ironman, Lily was comfortable and I was going to do everything I could to keep her inside me as long as possible.