So it was Easter 2009 that I found out I was pregnant, we had been trying through IVF for about 3 months so we were over the moon when we found out. The first grandchild on both sides and both sides were just so happy and excited for us. I had shocking morning sickness, it started at about week 6 and stopped at about week 30. I was really sick having days off work and on really strong anti-nausea drugs. I had gestational diabetes which was controlled with diet and exercise, I didn't have a problem with controlling it. So a relatively 'normal' pregnancy. Having said that though, I very quickly learnt that there is no such thing as 'normal' and 'pregnancy'!
It came time to have my 36 week ultra sound, which was ordered because they wanted to check how big the baby was given that I had GD. Hindsight is an amazing thing, its really funny how clearly things stick out in your head. The night before the ultra sound I remember saying to my husband 'L' that I was nervous about going because I was worried that there might have been something wrong with the baby. He assured me that I had nothing to be worried about, we'd had a normal pregnancy, we'd had no reason to suspect anything so i put it out of my head and concentrated on how exciting it was going to be seeing the baby again. I went by myself to the ultrasound, L had to work and as much as he wanted to see the baby, we were going to be getting a DVD of it so he could see it later. If we only knew!
The ultrasonographer Dr A was such a nice man, we'd gotten along really well at the 12 week scan. He was asking me all sorts of questions about L, where was he, could he come home, how far away did he work. I thought it was strange, but just polite conversation. Then he held my hand. His words were, I've got some bad news. I remember it all so clearly. He told me that the baby's brain hadn't grown properly. I was in shock, I don't think I understood it all really. He went on to say that there was water where the baby's brain should be. I though, oh well, they will just give it an operation. I think I might have even asked if they could. I remember asking about the baby's the baby would live and its life span and I remember asking how bad the damage was. The I remember being taken into another room with a box of tissues and trying desperately to ring L. He wasn't answering. I rang my dad and then my mum. Sobbing. Dr A didn't want me to drive home, he wanted me to stay, but I just wanted to run. If I wasn't 36 weeks pregnant and totally incapable of running, I might have! I couldn't stay, I had to get home. I got to the car and L rang. I told him over the phone, and we agreed to meet at home.
I was numb by the time I got home. L had to finish up a job before he could get home so in that little bit of time I had googled water on the brain and found out about hydrocephaly. By the time L got home, I'd printed some pages off and had a little bit more information on the condition. We rang L's parents and they had said that L was suspected of having hydrocephaly when he was a little boy. For the next couple of days we just walked around in a daze. We had read that most kids who get hyrdocephaly can get a shunt to drain the fluid and they end up as 'normal' kids. We were quietly confident that considering L had it and he was OK, that the baby was going to be OK. We'd been back to the obstetrician and he'd said that we would be able to birth as per plan and it would be post-birth that the baby would need the most care. We lulled ourselves into a false sense of everything is going to be OK.
We had another appointment with Dr A for another scan. It was then that he reiterated that no the baby is not OK. The diagnosis was no hydrocephaly, but hydranencephaly. It might not breath at birth, if it does breath it might not suckle, its chances are grim. Worst case scenario is that the baby doesn't live, best case scenario is that the baby is severely handicapped. We were told that if they had have picked up the lack of brain growth earlier that they would have recommended an abortion. L and I were now shocked, shattered and confused. One doc telling us everything will be OK, they other saying no, they baby might not live.
Thursday 26th November 2009 we had an appointment with the obstetrician, he had expected that we had seen a paediatrician by the time we'd seen him last (one week prior). We hadn't. The OB gave us the phone number of another pead (Dr L), we got an appointment with him for 6pm. He was just fantastic with us. He weighed up what both the other dr's said and gave it to us straight. We were very grateful for having seen him. We were to ring back the OB in the morning to get the name of another OB that worked at Jesse Mac so we could birth there instead of our hospital in order to get the facilities that the bigger hospital offered. That didn't happen!
At about 1:00am on Friday 27th November my waters broke. L and I had to pack a bag and get to the hospital. We rushed up to the birthing suites and explained our situation to the midwives and nurses on duty. It wasn't long before the OB arrived Dr B. The next few hours are a bit of a blur to me. I remember being hooked up to the machine to keep an eye on the contractions. I remember having to tell the doctors 3 times that we didn't want the baby on life support and that we didn't want to put a feeding tube in if it didn't suckle. 3 times. It was torture. We know that it is for legal reasons that they have to ask it, but it was torture. I remember L at my side, crying, scared. What was going to happen? How were our lives going to change? It wasn't long before they decided I should go down to theatre. I got changed and remember ringing my mum and sister, telling them to come to the hospital. I remember them putting the catheter in. I remember the freaky man who wheeled me down to theatre, I remember them putting the spinal tap in cause it hurt and I remember the same freaky man being the one to shave me! I remember thinking there are about 20 people in the room and all of them can see all of me! There were 2 or 3 OB's, 2 anesthetists, a whole paediatric team in preparation of the baby being sick (probably 5 or 6) a midwife and a few nurses. I remember L coming back into the room after I was prepped and I remember them starting to cut. Next I remember hearing a cry. What a sweet sound that was, what an amazing noise and just tears and tears of joy. I kept saying out loud, please keep crying, please keep crying, breath, please just breath. Looking at L and seeing him sobbing. We thought the medical staff knew we didn't know the sex of the baby so they dropped the curtain and showed us the baby, they were just about to take it away and they realised we didn't know! Dr B moved his fingers to show us our little girl. We were asked her name. At 6:48am on Friday 27th November 2009 Holly Grace was born.