Within what felt like seconds I was in the birthing suite with Daniel at my side. It was confirmed that Triplet A’s membranes had in fact ruptured and she had started to move down. The plan was to keep her in there for as long as possible, to stop me going into labour, to put a hold on it. They pumped me with drugs to hold off the contractions, drugs to ease the pain, to stop me from pushing. But my daughter had other ideas.
Its funny during your life you have moments of epiphany’s, you feel like you understand certain aspects of life, you have a grip, a sense of control over things. That is until you begin childbirth. You can try and try and try to get control of the situation, to prevent, to understand. But suddenly you are at the mercy of nature, of these very primal instincts, and you realise you really have no control over anything at all. That in a second your entire life can change in any situation.
She kept getting lower and lower. And lower and lower. And despite all the drugs my contractions kept getting stronger and stronger.
At about 3am they sent in a doctor from the neonatal unit to ask us what we wanted to do. They don’t normally resuscitate 22-week babies but they do 23 weeks. Seeing as she was one day shy of 23 weeks and they were a bit iffy on the actual correct age (because of the triplets) they decided to consult with us. Her outlook was bleak. There was an extremely high chance she would come out dead due to the trauma of the birth. But there have been 22 weekers around the world who have survived, but it’s a one in a million chance.
When the hospital thinks you are going to have a premature baby they give you a dose of steroids, which help the babies lungs develop rapidly so they can survive out of the womb. And of course we hadn’t had any because we were trying to prevent the entire birth. So her outlook looked even bleaker. Daniel and I made a plan. We would continue trying to hold off this birth for as long as possible. We would ask for the steroids. We would ask the neonatologist to be brutally honest with us. If she came out and there was no chance for her-please let us hold her. But if, if there is hope please go ahead. Maybe we might have a miracle.
You’re probably thinking what a naïve decision. You are right. We were naïve. These were our first children. We really had no idea. But hindsight is a funny thing isn’t it?
They needed permission from the head of the neonatology department about wether they would give us the steroids. Wether we could make that plan. We would have to wait until 8:30 that morning, when the head doctors would arrive. Minutes felt like hours as we waited for the answers.
In the meantime she kept getting lower and lower and my contractions kept getting stronger and stronger. They decided to roll in the big guns with my pain medication and started injecting me with morphine.
All night we heard the animalistic sounds from women all around us in labour, the midwife’s coaching them, then the claps, and the celebrations once the baby was born. Exactly how I always imagined my birthing story would be.
8:30am came and we were given the green light. I was given my first dose of steroids with the hope I could get in the second dose 12 hours later.
But despite all the medication, all the pain relief, all the control we were trying to grip with- I changed. My pain changed. I turned into a caged animal. I started making the exact sounds as all the women around me. Daniel turned white. The midwife turned white called for help and started prepping for the birth. The obstetrician came in and confirmed she could feel my daughters head. It was on. Suddenly the room was filled with nurses and doctors from the neonatology department. They stood with this huge baby resuscitation unit blinking at us. Its warm, its bright, and it constantly alarms and beeps. I tried not to look at it. I didn’t want to start freaking out. Right before we started pushing my beautiful midwife came over to me and whispered that I don’t have to go through with this. I can just ask to hold my baby. I guess she knew how bleak it really all was. I didn’t.
Giving birth to a baby no matter what size is difficult with no urge to push. The obstetrician was FIRM. If I wanted to give my daughter a chance at life I had to push like my life depended on it (or her life) So I did. Just like the women around me I pushed, I grunted, I swore. Just like the women around me I was coached, yelled at, told I CAN do it. However once she came out there were no claps, there was no celebration. There was an eerie silence as the neonatology team took over and assessed our daughter. The head doctor gave us a thumbs up. She came out fighting for her life. They were going to take her on. Within a second my daughter was whisked away to the Neonatology intensive care unit. There was no holding my baby, no staring at her beautiful face. Instead there was a very strong fear that suddenly gripped my heart that tightened around my throat that made me feel like I couldn’t even breathe. I was choking from the inside. Would she even make it?
On the 13th August 2016 at 12:30pm Olive Louise McPherson entered our lives. Her gestational age was 22 weeks and 6 days. She weighed a tiny 400gms. She was the smallest size baby this NICU had ever taken on. Triplet B and C remained safe in my tummy (for now)