I’ve had a very interesting week. It all began with a chopper ride to Mackay last Wednesday, just before all of the terrible weather that tore up and down QLD started. I’m going to give you a bit of a blow-by-blow, but just be warned there are some squicky details about poo & mucus in here. Also, if you’re confused when I start talking about Ivan, that’s what we’re naming our little dude. It seems right to start referring to him by name everywhere now, since we all do in conversation at home!
Day One: Last Wednesday, 23/1/13 I woke up not feeling very well at all. My lower back & abdomen was cramping like crazy, and I just felt off. I went to the toilet, had a lovely bout of diarrhoea, and a rather large blob of mucusy-looking stuff in my undies. I decided to call in sick to work, and headed over to my Mum’s house for breakfast. I had another bout of diarrhoea over there, and felt so nauseous that I didn’t really eat much. At my midwife appointment the day before I’d had a high blood pressure reading, and the midwife had told me to come back & get checked out if I didn’t feel well, so I headed up to Clermont hospital.
I get up to the hospital & describe how I’m feeling, and the nurse tells me that she suspects I’ve lost my mucus plug, and they’re going to check me out in case I’m going into early labour. She takes my blood pressure – it is 142/103, which is high enough for me to be pre-eclamptic, and from here everyone starts panicking. The midwife & Dr are called, and I do a urine test, which shows that the protein levels in my urine are elevated. I text message Shannon from the toilet telling him to come to the hospital because they are talking about transporting me to Mackay. I’m given a pill to bring my blood pressure back down, Shannon arrives at the hospital, and I get put on the CTG monitor to check Ivan’s heartbeart & make sure I’m not having contractions. The Dr tells us that I’m definitely going to be transferred to Mackay, and Shannon goes to get the labour & baby bags that I only just packed the night before.
The nurse & midwife start preparing me to travel, putting a giant cannula in the back of my left hand, and another one in the underside of my right elbow. Everyone is rushing around, talking about pre-eclampsia, and the possibility of me needing an emergency c-section by the end of the day. They take some a few vials of blood, and I start to get really hot & faint. A wet towel on my head calms things back down a bit, and the midwife tells me that Ivan’s heartbeat & activity levels are great, and I’m not having real contractions which is a good sign. Somewhere in the midst of all this, my Mum arrives at the hospital.
Things start to calm down a little while we wait for news on how I’m going to be transported. The midwife stays with us, taking my blood pressure readings every fifteen minutes or so. My blood pressure is still high, but coming back down slowly. Next thing I know the paramedics are here for me, telling us the chopper is already on the ground, waiting for me! I panic because Shannon hasn’t gotten back yet, and everyone else panics because nobody was told the chopper was already here and the proper transportation paperwork isn’t done yet! Shannon gets back while they’re sorting out the paperwork & getting me set up on a drip for travel, and we figure out that he can’t come in the chopper with me. Shannon & Mum help the paramedics load me onto a stretcher to get put into an ambulance to take me to the chopper (phew, what a mouth full!). Once I’m in the ambulance Shannon gets into the car, and starts heading for Mackay. The paramedic explains to me that I may still be going into early labour, and that once I get to Mackay they might start me on steroid injections to help Ivan’s lungs mature. She also talks to me about pre-eclampsia, and tells me that if my blood pressure doesn’t come down I will probably need an emergency c-section, if not tonight, in the next few days.
The ambulance ride to the airport is bumpy, and quite uncomfortable. My back is still cramping like hell, and sitting half-propped-up on the stretcher I can feel all the bumps in the road in my back. Luckily the airport is only around the corner. Once we’re there I’m very quickly loaded into the chopper, and it gets into the air quite quickly. The chopper is actually more comfortable to ride in than the ambulance. The whole chopper ride is pretty cool, although it’s really freaky when the pilot dips to one side – I’m lying sideways in the chopper, and when he dips I can see out the window of the chopper straight over the top of my feet. My blood pressure is still being taken every fifteen minutes or so, and about two hours later I’m landing in Mackay.
Once we’re there I’m rushed into the labour ward, give another urine sample and get put back on the CTG monitor but it takes a long time for anyone to see me – one of the nurses tells me later that there were three emergency c-sections in a row that day, plus a few other ladies going into labour early. My blood pressure has come down, but is still at the high end of normal & the pains in my back are the worst that I have ever felt. When Shannon makes it to Mackay I really don’t know anything more than when we left, and I’m really scared. The Dr who comes to examine me is quite young & very nice, and she tells me that I’ll be staying overnight for monitoring. I tell her about the pain in my back, and she is a bit worried so she decides to give me an internal examination. She tells me that I’m maybe 1-2cm dilated, but my cervix is still very thick, but my pain is so bad that she gets another Dr to give her a second opinion. The second Dr does the internal and tells me the same thing, but says that Ivan’s head is pretty much engaged, and the severe back pain is probably because he is posterior (lying with his spine against my spine).
Finally, I get admitted to the ward – even though I’m actually in a room in the Children’s Ward because the Maternity Ward is so busy that it’s overflowing into the surrounding wards. I’m given some medication for the pain, and I try to relax. Shannon stays at the ward with me, and tries to distract me from the pain by finding funny stories & things on his phone. He stays as quiet & discreet as possible, hoping that the staff won’t kick him out when visiting hours are over if they don’t notice him. I snap some pictures of my belly in the mirror, just in case I don’t have it for much longer. About 9pm (an hour after visiting hours finish, zing) I get up to go to the toilet, and there is another big glob of mucus in my undies, only this time it’s bloody. Shannon convinces me to call the nurse. The nurse gets me a pad, and hooks me up to the CTG monitor again. I’m still not having contractions though, so once they take me off the CTG Shannon has to go. I try to get some sleep.
Day Two: I’m wide awake from about six o’clock in the morning. I didn’t sleep much more than an hour at a time during the night. Maternity wards aren’t very relaxing places to sleep. You have babies crying all night (funny that), you get woken up every hour or so for blood pressure checks, and then another lady went into active labour just before midnight. Her labour screams were the most terrifying thing that I have ever heard. I was in my room alone until about 2:30 in the morning, when they brought another woman into my room after a very rough labour. She was hysterical, and when they asked if she wanted to hold her baby she just kept screaming, “No, I don’t want it,” over and over. By morning the feeling still hadn’t come back to her legs after the epidural, and she was in hysterics again because she couldn’t get up to look after her baby, and breastfeeding wasn’t working. I felt so sorry for her. The whole time I just wanted to go & help her!
When Shannon gets back to the hospital the next morning he is absolutely soaked, and his boots are covered in mud because he had to come through the torrential rain & winds, and sunk into a garden up to the tops of his boots on the way. He brings me potato scallops & a coffee from the shop nearby, which is much more appetising than the cold hospital breakfast. My pain levels are much better this morning, and nothing has really happened during the night. Shannon tries to entertain me, while keeping quiet for the sake of my room-mate until the Dr comes around. The Dr says that although it looks like I could still have early pre-eclampsia symptoms, since my blood pressure has come down there is no need for immediate action & I can be discharged, but I need to stay in Mackay for regular blood pressure checks, and there is still the possibility that I’ll need a c-section within a few days. Also, they are still worried about the possibility of early labour. I get my giant cannulas taken out & have one last CTG scan before they send me off – Ivan’s heartbeat is incredible, but still no contractions.
The hospital social worker organises for us to stay at the Red Cross Rooms until the 28/1, and so we pack up & head off. We go for a brief trip to the shops to pick up umbrellas & a cardigan for me, since we didn’t think to bring anything for the terrible weather that suddenly cropped up. We spend the rest of the day catching up on rest, and then order pizza for dinner. My back pain still comes & goes.
Day Three: The pain in my lower back & abdomen has been coming in a fairly set rhythm for most of the night, and it continues into the morning. I feel better with the room as dark & cold as possible, and I spend most of the morning curled up on the bed trying to relax as the pain comes & goes, while Shannon keeps an eye on me and keeps talking to take my mind off things. I get up & have a warm shower, but it doesn’t ease the pain off. I try walking around, and that makes the pain less intense, so we decide to go & get some lunch and walk around at the shopping centre.
After we’ve walked around for a bit we go into BCF. We’re in there for about half-an-hour, then I feel really funny downstairs, and suddenly my undies are soaked, my pants are wet, and my legs are wet almost to my knees. I freak out thinking I’ve broken my waters, and try to quietly alert Shannon to the situation. The lovely BCF staff let me use their staff toilet to get cleaned up & we start heading back to the hospital, while I call the Labour Ward on the way.
When get to the Labour Ward the pains in my back & abdomen stop, which is pretty irritating. They put me back on the CTG monitor, and we see that Ivan’s heart beat is still awesome, but I don’t appear to be having any contractions. The midwife does a speculum examination (a bit like a pap smear), and says that I don’t appear to have actually broken my waters either. She runs a few more tests, and it turns out that I have a urinary tract infection, which she tells us could actually be causing a lot of my symptoms – an untreated UTI can mimic pre-eclampsia symptoms & lead to pre-term labour. I’m examined by the Dr on duty as well, who assures me that I haven’t broken my waters & prescribes some antibiotics for the UTI. She also tells me to come straight back if anything like that happens again, because if my waters actually break it will probably feel very similar to what I described!
Almost as soon as we leave the hospital my rhythmic back & abdomen pain starts again – we’re literally still in the car on the way back to Red Cross when they start – and I get quite upset. Shannon spends most of the afternoon consoling me because I’m in such serious pain, I’m so uncomfortable, I’m so frustrated that I have no idea what my body is doing, and I just want my dang baby already!
Day Four: My pain has eased off again overnight, and in the morning just feel tired, frustrated & vaguely unwell. We have to go to the hospital in the morning for my blood pressure check. Shannon & I both look forward to the checks though, because they always hook me up to the CTG & it’s really nice to hear Ivan’s heartbeat. It’s also pretty hilarious, because he hates the CTG sensors that they have to put on my belly. As soon as they go on, he starts trying to kick them – he always finds them pretty quickly, and he kicks them accurately right up until the nurses take them off. My blood pressure is back to normal again, still no contractions, and the protein levels in my urine are almost back to normal.
Since I’m feeling a bit better, we go & do a little bit of sight-seeing – the worst of the weather in Mackay has passed, and it’s now just terribly warm & humid. Shannon takes me for a walk in the shopping centre because I feel like walking, and it’s the only place cool enough for me to walk! We also get a call from my Mum & Dad saying that they’re going to come up to visit, probably tomorrow.
Later on Mum & Dad decide to come up that night – they bring us my laptop, our cameras, and some more reading material, which really lifts our spirits! When I was first airlifted we didn’t bring much with us to entertain ourselves, partly because everything happened so fast, and partly because we assumed we wouldn’t be there very long until we had a baby to occupy ourselves. We didn’t have a lot of money either, so we were going a bit stir-crazy at that point, sitting in the Red Cross Rooms reading the same books & refreshing Facebook on our phones, haha. Mum & Dad also brought our shampoo & conditioner up (it was sorely needed).
When Mum & Dad arrive they take us out to Maccas for dinner, and I feel a whole lot better after seeing them (and with a belly full of fast food).
Day Five: Everything has calmed down a lot by this stage. I’m still getting a lot of pain in my back, but it feels more like nerve pain than cramps or contractions now. It also seems to get worse when I sit in certain positions, or if I’m forced to lay on my back for a long time (like for my CTG scans). However, Ivan feels like he’s moved a lot lower today. It’s really hard to walk & it feels like there is a lot of pressure on my pelvis. Mum & Dad take us out for a fancy breakfast, and then we all go for another shopping centre walk since I feel like walking again.
Everyone gets worried when I wander off on my own in Kmart without telling anyone, because I’m so obsessed with finding a big nightie or something to wear if I go into labour. Mum finds me a cool one with owls on it, which is now packed in my labour bag. We all head out to Slade Point to have lunch with my uncle, and then Mum & Dad head home. Shannon takes me back to the Red Cross & puts me to bed because I look so tired. Later, we watch The Dark Knight Rises on my laptop (I found it at Kmart for $12), and the rhythmic pains in my back & abdomen come back again. We make lots of jokes about what a good story it would make if a Batman movie sent me into labour.
Day Six: Nothing has really happened overnight, so we head out to try & find some breakfast. While we’re out we discover that all the Telstra services in Mackay are out – meaning no EFTPOS anywhere, and no working ATM’s. Shannon & I panic because we don’t have any cash on us, and we don’t have any food! We drive around for a bit trying to find somewhere where we can use a card, and I try to call my Mum. I can’t get her mobile, so I try the home phone, then Dad’s mobile, and then my brother’s mobile. I realise that Telstra must be out in Clermont too, because I can’t reach any of their phones, and I almost have a panic attack in the car. I’m totally convinced that I’ll go into labour today now, since I can’t reach my parents. Shannon gets me breathing deeply, and calm, and eventually we find a service station that does hot food which will accept EFTPOS because they have a system that stores the transactions for later.
After all that fun Shannon & I head into the hospital for another blood pressure check. While we’re there I have another CTG scan, and they run more urine & blood tests. We have to come back & pick up the results later, because the hospital can’t dial out with all the Telstra problems & when we try to call it says the lines are busy. All the tests come back normal though, and the conclusion is pretty much that the urinary tract infection must have been causing all of my pre-eclampsia symptoms, and if everything is still normal at my 36 week antenatal appointment on Wednesday, we can go home.
We go back to the Red Cross Rooms & start packing our things, because we still aren’t sure if we’ll be able to stay tomorrow night yet. We sit down to relax for a bit, and the next time I get up, I notice I’m sitting in a little bit of a puddle. My undies are soaked, so I change them and put on a pad. For the next two hours I have the disgusting feeling that I’m leaking, even when my bladder is empty, so Shannon convinces me to call the Labour Ward again. When I call, they ask me to come up & get checked out again. I get put back on the CTG monitor again, and they do another speculum examination. The Dr tells me again that my waters haven’t broken, but that she can see I have lost part of my mucus plug & the rest is starting to come away as well. I haven’t dilated any more in the week I’ve been here, but my cervix is apparently looking very thin now. I get sent home, but once again told to come straight back if the same thing happens again because next time it could be my waters breaking.
Day Seven: Shannon & I wake up early to check if we can stay at the Red Cross Rooms for another night, but they are fully booked out. So, we have breakfast & pack up all our things. The Red Cross ladies recommend a motel, so we head over there and luckily they can fit us for the night. I’m feeling quite good today, so we stash all our stuff at the motel & decide to have a day of sight-seeing.
Shannon takes me for a drive out to the Hay Point coal terminal public viewing area. It has a really pretty view, and we sit there for a while. Then, we get a call from the Red Cross ladies saying that they tried processing our paperwork for the subsidised accommodation at the Red Cross Rooms, and while my paperwork was fine, Shannon’s application was being denied because it wasn’t medically necessary for him to accompany me. Shannon calls Clermont Hospital to discuss it with them, but they won’t budge on the decision. Apparently, at 35/36 weeks pregnant I would have been completely fine to stay in Mackay (three hours from Clermont) alone, in the middle of all of the cyclonic weather, without a vehicle.
We’re pretty angry, but try not to let it ruin our day, and we head out to Sarina for a look around. It’s a pretty cute little town, and I really want to head back to take some proper photographs there, but I just couldn’t cope with the heat & humidity. We still stopped in at the information centre to grab some brochures for future trips though. Once we finished in Sarina we headed back to the Mackay information centre to grab some more brochures. When we got back to the motel room we both fell asleep for about three hours solid.
When we woke up Shannon took me to get some chips & gravy for dinner, and we spent the rest of the night watching crap TV in our motel room.
Day Eight: By Wednesday morning I was determined that if I wasn’t having my baby, I was going home. We went to the hospital early so that we could talk to the social worker about Shannon’s accomodation, so now we’ve got someone on the case. My antenatal appointment was quite uneventful – most of the usual tests had already been done in the last few days. The Dr did a quick ultrasound, just to be 100% sure that Ivan was head-down. He’s far enough down that it’s hard for them to feel where his head is now! She commented that he’s a big, healthy baby & his heart beat is good. Then she said that even though I was having some signs of approaching labour, in her opinion it was safe for me to go home to Clermont until 38 weeks. I could have cheered & kissed her!
Shannon had to go to an appointment for his sleep apnoea and then we were on the road! The trip home was more eventful than my antenatal appointment. Between Mackay & Nebo we drove right through a storm – we went from blue sky, to grey clouds, to rain so heavy you couldn’t see the car in front of you, back to blue sky in the space of about ten minutes! I made an interesting friend in the Nebo public toilets, and the road home was so bumpy that I think we just about bumped Ivan our into the world! My Mum made us lasagne for dinner, all of our animals were happy to be reunited with us, and now we begin the waiting game again.
TL/DR: I was airlifted out of Clermont hospital, and spent a week in Mackay being monitored because of an undiagnosed urinary tract infection, which I didn’t have any symptoms for! All is now good & well, and I’m home in Clermont with Ivan still on the inside. Now here’s some snaps from our journey: