Depression Teenage Pregnancy

Easter, loss and an overwhelming sense of fear – Sunday 8 April – 27 weeks and 1 day

Another day and Jay has still not gone into labour.  It is Easter Sunday.  She sends me a text to say that she is well and that, in fact, her contractions have largely subsided.  She really wants to come home and wonders if the doctors will allow it.  I don’t think that is a good idea.  I am convinced that Baby C has only made it this far because Jay has been forced to remain in bed.  I know she won’t have  the same resolve at home.

I make my way to the hospital.  As soon as I arrive, Jay says “Have you heard, Mum?”

“Have I heard what?”

“About that woman you saw in the NICU?  The Olympian?”

“Who?  Brooke Hanson?  What about her?”

“Mum, her baby died last Tuesday.”

I feel like someone has taken a club and just knocked all of the wind out of me.  I had read the newspaper story pinned up downstairs in the hospital lobby.  It had said that her baby had been born at 28 weeks in July last year.

“I-it died?”  My voice faltered.

“It was on the news.  Apparently her baby had a severe lung disease and a heart condition.”

I cannot believe it.  I had passed Ms Hanson on the way into the NICU this past Monday that we had our tour.  She was with a man whom I now know to be her husband.  I distinctly remember she was smiling (was that the smile of hope?).  I had seen the newspaper article in the lobby and had assumed that her baby was fine and that she was visiting now an ambassador or something for the NICU.  I had no idea her baby was still there.  I feel sick with sadness for her loss – a loss that occurred the day after I saw her.

The reality of the situation Jay is in has hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks.  I want to run out of the ward, and find somewhere quiet to let out the enormous scream welling up deep inside my belly.  I don’t leave Jay.  Dee arrives with her Easter eggs and we laugh and joke for the morning.  The nausea resides permanently in my stomach, though, all day.

Tee arrives before her shift in ED.  I tell her about Ms Hanson’s baby.  “It just goes to show that even at 28 weeks the baby is still very sick.” I say.

“Mum, don’t.”  Jay says, shaking her head.

“No, I’m not saying anything bad will happen, Jay. After all, Baby C is double the weight that Brooke’s baby was when he was born.  I’m just saying I think it is important we remember that at 28 weeks the baby still has a long way to go.”

Jay just shakes her head resolutely.  I know just the thought of it is too much to bear and I drop the subject.

Eventually, I make it home at around 4pm.  I have left the hospital earlier than usual and I know Jay isn’t happy about it.  I have to leave – I feel oppressed in the hospital, I need to get home.  I feel guilty for not being strong.

I walk indoors and Dee is in the garden, marking out the lines for the new beds.  He immediately sees I am upset.  “I’m so frightened.  Brooke Hanson’s news has really shaken me.” I say.

“So, what are you saying, it’s going to die?  You can’t think like that.”

“Dee I am not saying that, I just have this stuff inside, this fear, and I just need to let it out.”  I start getting anxious.

“No, Sarah, we just cannot think like this, we have to be positive.”

I glare at Dee.  I feel oppressed and frustrated.  God, men can be so obtuse at times.  I walk away to the bedroom, fall onto the bed and bury my head into the pillow.  I allow myself to let the tears flow.  My eyes sting and the tears are hot, but I don’t care.  I cry and cry.  I cry for the loss that may never occur, the loss of the normal joy of pregnancy my daughter is mean to have, the loss of the happy expectation a grandmother is meant to feel, the loss of my mom who should be here to support me whilst I am trying desperately to remain strong for my own daughter.  I just cry for all the loss I feel I have ever felt and will ever feel.

After 15 minutes, the tears stop coming.  I lie on my bed for a while.  I know I need to be strong for Jay, but I don’t want to be strong right now.  I keep thinking about Brooke and her loss.  It has really touched me in a way that I never thought a stranger’s loss would.  It is too close to home.  The reality is that pregnancies are meant to be nine months long, not 27 or 28 weeks long.  It takes that long to grow a healthy baby.

Eventually, I get up.  Dee is in the lounge watching TV.  I sit down next to him.  He has no idea that I have been crying.  I don’t care and I certainly don’t want to talk about it.

I look on the internet for more information on preemie babies.  I find a lovely site  It is packed with great advice and information.  I text the link to Jay.  We are going to need all the support we can get.

I decide that I need to do something constructive with the time I am with the Jay.  I think about knitting preemie baby beanies.  I look for some websites for knitting patterns.  There are a few around but it is ages since I have knitted and my skill level is basic at best.  I make a mental note to pop into a knitting place to get some needles and wool.   I find one close to the hospital.

JC wants to watch back-to-back movies.  It will make it a very late night, but it is school holidays and it is a ritual with him during the holidays.  Dee and I both agree to stay up.  I, for one, am far too tired to put up a fight.

After watching Real Steal with Hugh Jackman (gotta love Hugh!), Dee asks me if I am okay.  “Not really, no.   The Brooke Hanson thing has really shaken me, Dee.  It has made me realise just how serious this all is.  They fought for nine months to save her little boy and she still lost him.  Even if Jay makes it to 28 weeks, it is no guarantee.  I know we need to be positive, and take one day at a time, but I can’t help it, I am scared.”  Tears are streaming down my face and I am burying my head in his chest.  I can’t help the snot escaping from my nose.

Dee strokes my head.  “Let me tell you something.  We are a strong family that has always stuck together.  No matter what shit is thrown at this family, we will hit it head on and we WILL deal with it and make it through the other end.  We have no idea what is around the corner, but I do know that somehow, together, we will get through it.”

I am sobbing and nodding.  I am tired, afraid and worn down.  I am frightened for what might be and I am so guilty for allowing the weakness of doubt to enter my mind.  But I also know that fear is natural, and I know for myself that I have to allow this to surface so that I can wake up tomorrow, ready to face another day and to be there for Jay.

The time is 1am and JC has finally finished his movie marathon.  I am ready for bed.  I am emotionally and physically exhausted.  I have eaten way too much so I am feeling bloated to boot.  Bloody emotional eating!  As I fall asleep, I wonder if there is a support group at the NICU for the family of the parents of the preemie babies.  If not, I wonder if I might start one.  It would be good to connect with people who know what it is like to go through this emotional rollercoaster – and our preemie hasn’t even been born yet!

My eyes are swollen and heavy and it isn’t long before the sweetness of sleep overtakes my body.  I shall be ready to fight another day.

Teenage Pregnancy

Boredom and Colds – Saturday 7 April – 27 Weeks

27 weeks today!!  We have made it to 27 weeks.  Jay is such a clever little girl!  Sorry, such a clever young woman!

I wake up feeling heaps better and am eager to get to the hospital.  I get up, get showered, make sure JC has his breakfast and head off to the hospital.  It is the weekend and Dee will be at home all day meaning I don’t have to worry about leaving JC for extended periods of time.

I arrive at the hospital and Jay is in bed.  I have brought her clean clothes and underwear.  She is clearly pleased to see me.  Although she is having tightenings, there are no associated pains.  It definitely looks good for 27 weeks and 1 day.

It is a boring day really.  I am on my laptop and Jay is on her phone for most of the time I am there.  We talk a bit, play a bit, eat a lot.  This waiting game is taxing.  Jay does not understand why she cannot go home now.

“You know why, Jay.  You are a high risk pregnancy love.  They can’t risk sending you home.  You know it isn’t going to be long, it is just a matter of when.”

“Well, when is it going to be?  I’m tired of waiting.”  She sounds so fed up.

“I know love, but every day that passes that Baby C is in the womb, is a good day, it is better for him and also for you.”

“I know, but I am tired and bored.”

It is a less than ideal situation.

Dee arrives with JC.  The woman opposite Jay has a very skimpy nightie on and I see JC dart a look in her direction.  I place him in a chair with his back to her.  He immediately pulls out his iPod and starts reading his Naruto fan fiction.  I tell him to say hello to Jay.  “Hi Jay.”  That’s the social niceties over for him.

Dee chats to Jay.  She is pleased to see her dad.  “I haven’t had any sleep dad.  The babies are so noisy and the mums are just as noisy.”  She tells him of the one woman who was next to her who was admitted last night.  This woman was the same age as Jay but further along in her pregnancy.  The doctors had discovered a heart defect in her unborn baby and had informed the young woman that her baby would not survive.  They had taken her off for an emergency c-section.  It had upset Jay so much.  “I cannot even think of losing the baby.  I just can’t allow myself to think like that.”

Dee and I nod.  It is something none of us can think about.

Em phones, he isn’t feeling well.  Jay rightly advises him to stay at home to get better.  We talk about him being ill and the very real possibility of him not being allowed into the labour ward if he has even a cold.

“So, what if I go into labour tonight,” Jay snaps, “they’re not going to allow him in?”  She is irritated, petulant.  A sign that she is still a teenager, despite what is happening to her.

“What can I tell you Jay?  I want to shock you and say have him there, Jay, but then risk the baby dying.”  I am irritated too.  She just doesn’t get the seriousness of it.  Why would she, she is only 19.

She glares at me.  “Fine!”  She starts to shut down.  This is her way of letting me know she doesn’t want to talk about it any longer.

I sigh.  “Jay, the baby will have no immune system at all.  Even the common cold could kill it.  I am sure that if we let them know that Em was feeling a bit ick today, they will swab him and take his temperature.  If he is fine, they will let him in.”  She nods.  I want to shake her, to let her know that she cannot risk the baby even if Em misses the birth.

It is not my decision and I am angry at myself for feeling like this.  Jay just wants him to be there, I understand that.  I quickly calm down.  After all, she is settled at the moment and may not in fact go into labour tonight or even for the next week.  This spat is probably for nothing!

I leave for home early, Jay is fine and I think we need some space.  Only a week into this and we are both grumpy and tired.  I feel terrible for not being stronger, not being more in control. My eyes are scratchy on the way home, a sure sign of my tiredness.

Another day has passed and even though it is only a week in, I wonder how much longer we can all manage with the not knowing – the not knowing when he will be born and the not knowing how he will be when he is born.

Teenage Pregnancy

Even grandma needs a sick day – Friday 6 April – 26 weeks and 6 days

I wake up at 3am with searing pain in my chest.  I immediately know what it is and pray that I don’t have to be carted off to hospital.

I drag myself out of bed and take a Somac, two panadeine fortes and a gulp of Mylanta.  I return to bed and lie flat on my back.  The pain is excruciating.  I close my eyes and breathe slowly.

In … Out … In … Out … In … Out …

After a half an hour or so, the pain subsides to a mild burn and I am able to fall into a fitful sleep.

I wake up with the pain still there.

I roll over to see if a different position will help.  It doesn’t.  I get up and take the same medications again.  I lie back down.

I grab my phone and text Jay.  Good morning love, how are you this morning?

My phone buzzes almost immediately.  I’m alright.  I had some pains this morning.  What time are you coming in today?

I’ll be in a little later.  I had some of those gastric pains at 3am this morning and am still in a bit of pain.  I’ve just taken some more tablets so hopefully they will kick in soon.  I’ll try to be there between 11 and 12, earlier if the pain gets better.  It is 8am.

I get up and have a shower.  By the time I am done, I am not feeling at all well.  I tell Dee that I am feeling very nauseous and light headed.  I tend to react to medication in this manner.  I just need to lie down for a bit.

3 hours pass and I am still woman-down on the settee.  I have not moved.  I wake up.  Dee tells me that Tee has phoned and is with Jay and not to worry about coming in.  I couldn’t if I wanted to.  I feel just too ill.

I fall back into a deep sleep.  Another three hours pass.  My phone buzzes.  Hi Mum, how are you?  Tee and Em just got here.

I’m still feeling very sick and whoosy.  I hope I feel better soon.  I miss you.

This is ridiculous.  I read the side effects of Panadeine Forte to check I am not having some major reaction.  I read something that alarms me.  I text Jay.  Have just been reading the side effects of panadeine forte and it says “do not take panadeine forte if you are in labour, especially if the baby is premature.”

Jay: Are you serious?  Then why are they giving me panadeine forte?  I am having contractions.

Me: According to the pamphlet, it can cause drug withdrawal symptoms in the newborn baby.  Also, you shouldn’t use them whilst breastfeeding.

Jay: OMG then why on earth are they giving them to me!!  I mean they want to give them to me every time I have pains.  I understand that its not always labour, but if I was, then that’s not good at all.

 Me: I know, maybe speak to them about it.  I’m not sure what time I’m going to make it in.  I’m still so dizzy and feel very sick when I stand up.

Jay: Don’t worry about it, Mum, you just take care.

I fall back into another deep sleep.  Another three hours pass and I wake up feeling a lot better.  I am relieved I have an appointment at the specialist this week.  I phone Jay.

“How has your day been?  I’m sorry I couldn’t be with you today darling.”

“That’s okay Mum.   Tee and Em have been here, plus Grannie and Granddad came to see me.  Granddad bought me some pies.”  I laugh. Pies are Jay’s current craving.  “I had some contractions, but nothing major.  My mucous plug has come away though.”

“Really, what does that mean for you, love?  Did they say?”

“They said that basically it is the start of going into labour although I am not in labour yet.  I don’t think it will be much longer.”

“Well, just keep him in there until I can get in there okay?”

We laugh and sign off.  I am relieved that Baby C has decided not to make his appearance today.  I decide not to take panadeine forte until after the baby is born.

Another day has passed and I am glad, although I know that it is frustrating for Jay. I cannot wait to see her tomorrow.

Teenage Pregnancy

False alarm number 3 – Thursday 5 April – 26 weeks and 5 days

I am lying in bed when Jay gives me a call.  “How are you Mum?  What are you doing?”

“Just in bed angel.  I’m getting up now and will be over soon.”

I get out of bed and get into the shower.  My phone rings again.  I am alert, listening out for any sign that Jay might be going into labour.  I dash out of the shower and grab my phone.  It is Jay.  “Hello?”

“Mum, I’m having quite bad pain and contractions.  They are monitoring me but I might be going to the birthing suite.”  I’m back in the shower frantically trying to get my body washed whilst still on the phone.  “Mum, I think you better get here.”

“I’m on my way.”  I throw my phone on the counter and quickly finish up in the shower.  I rush to get dressed, make JC his breakfast, and head out the door.  I phone Dee from the car.  “Hi, can you phone your dad to get JC some lunch.  Jay is having bad contractions again.  I’m going to stay with her until we know what is happening.”  Dee agrees.

I rush into the hospital and get caught behind what feels like every geriatric person visiting the hospital that day.  I try to remain calm.  My phone buzzes.  It’s Tee.  Don’t worry, I am here.  Jay is calm.  Thank goodness.

I make it to the ward after what feels like an eon.  Jay is clearly in a lot of pain.  I make my way to her through the entourage of people around her and kiss her forehead.  “Are you very sore?” I ask.

She nods.  She is breathing through a contraction.  The midwife fills me in.  “Jay has been contracting all morning.  They are stronger but still irregular so we don’t think she is in full blown labour.  The doctor from the birthing suite is going to come over to examine her because they don’t want to move her back and forth too much.  We are giving her panadeine forte for the pain.”

I am relieved to hear that it isn’t full blown labour, but I don’t think Jay shares my sentiments.  She looks tired from being in pain all morning.

A lady by the name of Linda arrives.  She is meant to be giving Jay and Em a talk on special needs labour and babies, but Jay cannot concentrate due to being in so much pain.  Linda responds by just talking to Jay and Em about what to expect during the birth and by sending Em downstairs for a heat pack.  “Heat packs are wonderful at relaxing the uterus because it is such a big muscle.”  Who knew? Linda is upbeat, positive.  I like her a lot.

Em returns with the heat pack and Jay is relieved with the warmth.  Linda feels that Jay is threatening to go into full blown labour and walks off tell the doctors.

The obstetrician from the birthing suite arrives.  She examines Jay and indicates that she doesn’t think that Jay is in labour.  They check her cervix just to be sure – still 2cm.  They diagnose an irritable uterus.  Jay looks at me with confusion.  “I’m going to get you to take some diazepam.  It will make you very sleepy, but it also has the effect of relaxing your uterus, which is a smooth muscle.

They all leave and Jay turns to me with tears in her eyes.  “Does anyone know what is going on?  Why am I here?  I’m not going to have the baby now, it makes no sense to keep me here.”   She is tired and frustrated.  She looks so young to me now.

I stroke her hair.  Alex, the midwife returns to give Jay her diazepam.  She takes it, still in a lot of pain.  It doesn’t take long for the drug to do its thing.  Jay becomes very sleepy and slurs her words.  She makes Em and I laugh because she is saying she doesn’t want to sleep because she wants her lunch, but she cannot keep her eyes open.  Em orders her to sleep and I promise to make sure her lunch is waiting for her when she wakes up.

Jay falls asleep and I tell Em to take a break.  I am tired myself, so am happy to stay with Jay and put my head back for a bit.  He is relieved to be able to get outside.  I place my head on the bed next to Jay’s head.  It isn’t long before sleep takes me to dreamland.  I suddenly feel someone stroking my arm.  “Sarah?”  I wake up with a start.  It is Alex, the midwife.  “Here is another chair for you so you can lie down, and a blanket.”  Bless Alex and her good heart.  I lift my feet and cover my body and fall back to sleep.

Jay and I sleep for a good couple of hours.  The roller coaster is really taking its toll on us.  More Jay, of course, but I have to acknowledge that I am feeling stressed.  It constantly feels like we are waiting for an axe to fall.

Tee arrives back on the ward after her shift.  Jay is feeling a lot better.  The pains have subsided and she is in better spirits.  Tee takes her lunch to heat it up.  I say that I will stay until later tonight, to make sure Jay is settled and no longer in danger of going into labour.

At 8pm I decide to leave.  I am tired from such a threatening day.   Thankfully, the journey home is not too stressful.

I curl up on the sofa at home, exhausted.  “Curry for dinner tonight, love.”  My wonderful man has made dinner again.  I love him so much.

Another day has passed and Baby C is still in utero.  Despite the events, it has been a victorious day.



Teenage Pregnancy

An uneventful day YAY! – Wednesday 4 April – 26 weeks and 4 days

I wake up at a reasonable time today and am glad that Jay has made it through another night without giving birth.  I am tired though.  The stress of not knowing if I am going to get a phone call in the night is starting to take its toll.

I am grumpy and I have a headache to match my mood.  I decide not to rush out of bed.  Dave has told me that JC’s iPod is in his dressing gown pocket.  JC has to have a proper shower to get it back.  I sigh, I am really struggling with the knowledge of having to fight JC, despite years of experience.

I lean over and grab my phone.  I log onto Facebook.  26 weeks and 4 days.  Come on Baby C, you can make it to 27 weeks.  Within minutes I get a couple of “likes”.  The world is watching while we play out our preemie story.

I log onto Words with Friends.  Whoever thought up this app is making a mint.  I enter a couple of words and think I should get a shower.  My body does not agree.  I choose to watch a few You Tube videos.  I just love technology.

The bedroom door opens.  JC pads into the room wearing just his under-jocks.  Before he has even reached my bed, I tell him he has to shower.  He tries to tell me has had one.  We go through this many times, but today I am tired.

“JC, get in that shower now or I swear, you will not get your iPod for the rest of the day.”

I hear him swear under his breath as he storms out of the room.  I emerge out of bed and make my way to JC’s bathroom.  The shower is running.  I open it slightly. There is JC, sitting on the edge of the bath.

“Seriously, JC?  You have to get into the shower!”  I know that the sensory overload of a shower is too much for him, but the social dictates of not walking through life wreaking of BO is more important to me.  “Now, just get in the shower!”


I wait outside to check if he will actually do it.  I hear the shower door open and the sound of the water change.  Satisfied, I walk back to the bedroom and start my own shower.

I walk into the kitchen to find JC back in his under-jocks.  “Did you wash everywhere?”

“Yes!” he snaps.

I do a quick sniff and am satisfied some soap has managed to make its way onto his body.  “Your iPod is in Dad’s dressing gown.”

“I would never have looked there!”

I tidy up the kitchen, put a load on and try to make some sense of the study.  I have Avon stuff to deliver, but have no idea when I am going to find the time to do it.  I know I am going to have to give it up.

My phone buzzes.  What time are you coming?

I sigh.  I am tired today, and my back is killing me.  Soon.

I make JC his breakfast, put some food on the counter for him with strict instructions to eat it and head for my car.  I see the post has been delivered.  Tee has sent me a card.

Please do not worry, you will get through this, but know you are not alone, you have me and you are a great grandma that is doing wonderful things for the kids.” 

I smile and feel very blessed to know such a lovely person.  I thank the universe again for Jay having Tee as a mother-in-law.  I make my way to the hospital.

I try to phone Dee, but the blue tooth in my car isn’t working.  Try as I might with as many button pushing as I like, it won’t work.  Damn!

I get to the hospital to find Tee and Emmie with Em and Jay.  I wonder why Jay hurried me up since she is clearly being well entertained.  We all say hello, kiss and chat for a while.  I sit on the edge of the bed as my back is still aching, but my mood is definitely lifting.  Jay is looking well.  She is clearly glad to see me.

Eventually everyone leaves and it is just she and I.  “How was last night?”

“Okay.  Bec came to see me and another doctor too.  We agreed I am going to go for a vaginal birth.”

I shudder.  I want what is best for the baby, but also for Jay.  “Are you okay with that?”

“I am mum.  I don’t want a C-section if I don’t have to have one and if it doesn’t hurt the baby.”

I understand.

“Have you spoken to Em about Tee being at the birth?” This is something that has come up a couple of times.  Jay did not know if she wanted Tee at the birth as she is so private and felt it was really personal.  I understood.  I would not have wanted my mother-in-law in the room whilst I was giving birth.

“I tried mum, but he wants her there.  I have been thinking.  She is a nurse and there are going to be so many other people there, I don’t think I will mind.”  I sense that the very private Jay is starting to realize that it is okay to let people see our vulnerabilities.  I agree that it isn’t the end of the world and I like the idea of sharing the experience with someone who is going through the “same” thing.

We continue to talk about the baby and what will happen when he finally makes his appearance.  A few times during the day Jay has some tightenings, some with pain, but nothing really to comment about.  It seems Baby C has made it through another day.

I get home around 8pm.  I am tired and hungry.

“Hungry?” Dee offers.

I devour the dinner he has made.  I wonder what I would ever do without him.

It has been a long day, and I am exhausted.  JC wants me to wait up so he can watch yet another Harry Potter movie.  Dee needs to get to bed, he has a big day tomorrow.   I agree to wait up.

I wonder when Baby C will finally arrive.  Despite being so tired, I pray that he lasts at least until 28 weeks.

Eventually I get to bed.  It has been an uneventful day, yet I still feel so drained and the real journey hasn’t even begun.

Teenage Pregnancy

Tuesday 3 April – 26 weeks and 3 days

I wake up early and make my way to the hospital.  Dee’s dad agrees to give JC his lunch and Dee agrees to get home as early as he can so JC is not on his own for too long.

I am feeling very stressed at having to leave JC for extended periods of time, but I am also petrified that if I am not with Jay, I may miss the birth and it is so important for me to be there – probably mostly for me, but I am telling myself for Jay too.

Jay is still in the birthing suite, but they have told her that they are sending her back to the PN ward.  Em is still snoozing on the floor.  He looks freezing under the very thin blanket they have given him.  Jay is looking in a lot less pain but is worn from the anxiety of the “yes, you’re in labour, no you’re not” too-ing and fro-ing of the last few days.  So many people have prodded and pushed her.  She looks totally fed up.

“You are coping so well with this, Jay, you know that.”

“I just feel like no-one knows what is going on.  I keep worrying all the time.”

I understand.  It is frustrating me, so I cannot imagine what it must be like for her.

Eventually, Jay gets transferred back to the same ward she was on before.  No longer in the private room – damn!  “We can’t have you in the private room, we need to keep an eye on you.”  We reminisce over the wondrous, cavernous private room.

Em says that he needs to do a couple of things.  He leaves and I stay with Jay.  Tee and Emma arrive as well.  The four of us have a good chat and laugh and Jay appears to be feeling more relaxed.  Her tightenings seem to be easing off – still there, but not as intense.  We dare to dream that she might make it to 27 weeks and maybe even 28 weeks.  Come on Baby C, you can do it.

We talk girly talk – boobs and guys, you know what I mean.  Jay has always been private and is a bit embarrassed by this.  After Tee and Emma leave she admits she wouldn’t normally have spoken about the increasing size of her boobs to Tee.  She is Em’s mom after all.  I laugh, “This is how woman bond, Jay.  We speak about embarrassing things to each other and then we laugh about them.”

“It was kind of funny, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, yes it was.”

We bond more and more every day and I am so grateful that I decided to take this year off.  Who knew that I would be taking this journey with my beautiful daughter, but boy, am I glad that I am able to do it.

I leave the hospital feeling like the universe is working well.  Baby C has made it through another day and my baby girl is growing up.  She is handling the pain, the chaos and the lack of certainty so bloody well.  I am one proud mamma bear.









Another false alarm – Monday 2 April – 26 weeks and 2 days

At 5am, I make my way back to Jay’s room.  Em is still fast asleep on the floor.  I pull up a chair next to Jay’s bed, rest my head back and fall into a light sleep.  I am conscious of people coming and going, but am also tired so am able to doze.

Eventually, Jay wakes up when they come to do the obs on her.  Her pain has settled right down.

“We are going to just wait a couple more hours and then transfer you back to the ward,” the midwife says.

I am tired and feel dirty, so dive into the shower on offer in the room.  Jay is worried that I am going to get into trouble, but I figure it is worth the risk.  The warm shower feels really good.

The midwife comes into the room to hand over to the new midwife on this morning.  “This is Jay X.  She is 19, 26 weeks pregnant, came into the birthing suite last night with threatened premature labour, but all is settled down now, isn’t it Jay?”  Jay nods.  “We are just monitoring her for a couple of hours and then sending her back to the post natal ward.”

I excuse myself and go downstairs to get myself a coffee and something to eat.  By the time I get back upstairs, Jay has been moved to the post natal ward.  She is in a room by herself.  She is due to go to the ward next door, which is meant for the young pregnant women, but the ward she is on insists on having her back.  I feel that they really like her which is why they have given her a room by herself.  That’s my girl!

The room has a double bed in it with three couches.  We feel like we are in heaven.  Em jumps on the bed next to Jay and Tee, Emma and I make ourselves comfortable on the couches on offer.

Another doctor from the NICU arrives.  “Hi, I’m Tammy.  I believe that you may have some questions from what my colleague told you last night.”  I grunt in a way that I hope conveys that I thought the man was an idiot.

“Well, he just made us feel that there was no hope really.  That if the baby came now, we would be forced to make a decision of whether he lives or dies.” I say.

She looks at Jay.  “Let me tell you that at 26 weeks we would seriously question a decision of not resuscitating a baby and that many many 26 week old premmie babies are perfectly fine.  The problem with those statistics is that they don’t tell you how they are made up.  A large percentage of the 30% that don’t make it, may have been born in rural areas with no access to specialist units, or perhaps the mother has been ill, or perhaps the baby is below a good weight.   None of these apply to you.  Yes, things can go wrong, but honestly, you have as good a chance as anyone to having a good outcome.  You are in a fantastic hospital that has an award winning NICU.  I can’t make any guarantees, but can reassure you that all will be done for your baby.”

After a bit more of a discussion, Tammy leaves and we are relieved to have had such an encouraging discussion.  Jay’s face is reflecting hope for the first time since she was admitted on Friday.

My sister-in-law and niece arrive for a visit.  It is a bona fide party in this room.  We are all laughing and joking.  It feels like such a good relief after the pressure of the night before.

Suddenly, Jay starts to feel quite strong tightenings again and we call the midwife.  She performs a couple of timings.  Before we know it, Jay is in a wheel chair and being wheeled back to the birthing suite.  I cannot believe that this is happening again.  We all pile into the birthing suite – no point in stopping the party now, right?

Two obstetricians arrive at the bed, almost immediately after Jay has gotten in it.  They looked disgruntled.  “Can we have everyone leave the room please.”  Fair enough.  Everyone leaves except Em and I, Jay’s official birth partners.  “Why exactly have the PN ward sent you to us?” one of them says to Jay.  Jay looks at me as if to say How the hell should I know – Um, I’m having a baby?  I don’t like this obstetrician.  She is condescending and treating Jay like she has overreacted.  It is annoying me.

Jay responds.  “I have had some tightenings and the midwives are worried I am going into labour.”

“Yes, they tend to worry that premature labour mothers need to be here.”  I am liking this woman less and less.

The other obstetrician speaks. “Have you decided on a mode of delivery?”

“A c-section.”

“I would question this,” he says.  “A c-section now would mean you wouldn’t be able to have a vaginal delivery again.  Also it means that next time your placenta may not adhere to the uterine wall, and also it doubles the risk, which admittedly is small, of the fetus dying.”

“I just want what is best for the baby.  I don’t want any stress on the baby.” She is worried and looking at me.  I am confused.  Everyone (who I admit is not an obstetrician) I have spoken to have said to insist on a c-section, that it is less stress on the baby.

“You will not be in labour for long because it is premature and we would monitor the baby and any risk whatsoever to the baby would mean that we would do a c-section.  But it is best to try for a vaginal delivery.”

Jay agrees.  It is so hard to know what to do.

The doctors leave.  “I really don’t like her,” I say.  Everyone nods in agreement.  Tee and Emma return to the room.  We all agree that perhaps the PN ward was being a bit overly cautious.

The staff at the birthing suite decides to keep Jay overnight.  Em spends the night with Jay and I decide to go home to get some much-needed sleep.  I shower before bed, just in case I get the dreaded call.

Teenage Pregnancy

An April fool’s joke, not! – Sunday 1 April – 26 weeks and 1 day

Today is Sunday and I say a silent thank you to the universe for allowing Jay to make it through another night.  I have not slept at all well and am totally exhausted.  I know that too much chocolate just before bed is to blame for this.  I can’t help it, I am addicted to sugar.  I make a mental note to get back on track of losing weight.  Seriously, I do not want to be a big grand mamma!

I get to Jay around 11am and she announces that yet again, she has been told that the NICU doctors cannot make it to talk to her.  They will not allow her to go into the NICU nursery without the doctors having spoken to her and Em first.

I try to explain yet again just how busy they are.  It is falling on deaf ears and, frankly, I can’t blame her.  This whole preemie thing is consuming my every waking moment, so I can’t imagine what it must be doing for her.

The day takes much the format of yesterday.  We sit, we talk.  I want to ask some of the big things, but don’t think it is appropriate.  I notice a change in Jay.  She is more mature, more confident even, especially when the nurses come to chat to her.

I notice Jay is becoming more uncomfortable during the day.  We call the nurse a couple of times and they perform a “timing”.  They place their hand on her tummy, much in the way Spock performs a mind meld, feeling for any tightening of the tummy that they call, unsurprisingly, tightenings.  She has a couple, but nothing notable, they say..

“How will I know if I am in labour, Mum?”

“You will know, love, it’s unmistakable.”

“Actually,” the nurse says, “prem labours present in a different way.  We look for pain, yes, but also back ache and the need to go for a bowel movement.  You might not have as intense pain as you might have had if you had gone to term and it can happen very quickly.  You need to let us know if anything changes.”

Jay looks at me as if to say What the F—?

I smile and mouth you will know.

 4pm and I decide that it is time for me to leave.  Tee has text me to say that she is arriving later and I know that Em is on his way.

“I don’t want to be on my own.”  At times like this, I realize that my Jay is still only a child herself, despite maturity and appearances.

“You won’t be on your own for that long.”  I kiss her and say goodbye.

Dee has dinner waiting for me again.  Finally by 8pm Dee and I get a chance to watch some TV together.  I cuddle up to him.

“I don’t know what I would do without you, you know,” I say to him.

“We make a good team.  I make dinner and clean the house, you sit with our daughter and reassure her that all will be okay.  It’s good team work.”

I look down and notice my phone is ringing.  It is Jay.

“I’m okay mum.”  Okay, now I’m worried.  “Tee was here and I got a couple of really bad pains.  They did a timing and then checked my cervix.  Mum, I’m two centimeters dilated, so they are going to take me to the birthing suite.”

I’m up and out of the chair.  I look at Dee and tears spring to my eyes.  I can’t breathe.  “Okay, I need you right now.  I need you to tell me it is going to be okay.  I need you to calm me down so that by the time I reach Jay I am strong again.”

He runs over to me.  Holding me tightly, he tells me that all is going to be okay and that no matter what we will get through this.  He tells me to get on my way.  I throw some snacks in a bag and drive like the clappers to the hospital.

Jay is in the birthing suite.  It is a large room and there is soft music playing in the background.  Em is sitting with her.  I rush over to her and hug her.  “Are you okay?  What did they say?  What is happening?”  So many questions, but I can’t help myself.

“I’m okay, Mum.  I got these pains and then they found out I was 2 centimeters dilated.  Apparently my membranes are also bulging through.”  Baby C’s arrival is obviously imminent.

Tee and Emma arrive.  Emma is Em’s 16 year old sister.  She and Jay have bonded really well.  “How on earth did you make it here so quickly? I’ve just sent you a text to say drive carefully,” Tee says.  I smile.

“I had to get here quickly, I didn’t want to miss anything.”

I ask Jay if she wants me to change the music.  I like it, but I know it isn’t her taste.  She declines saying it is okay.

“The nurse gave me a preemie baby crash course.  She basically told me what is going to happen when he comes.  There are going to be a lot of doctors in the room taking care of Baby C and a lot of nurses there for me.”  I can see she is overwhelmed.

“I’ll be there for you love.”  I must seem feeble against an army of medical personnel.

We all talk for a bit amongst a constant stream of doctors coming into the room, each one adding more information.

“Have you thought of the mode of delivery?” the obstetrician asks.

“Yes, I would like a C-section because I think it will be better for the baby.”

“Well, let’s say we will try for a vaginal birth, but if anything is the least bit wrong with the baby, we will do a c-section.”

We discuss the consequences of a c-section and even though Jay is informed that because she is not yet far enough along to do an across cut, she will have what they call and up and down cut and will never be able to have a vaginal delivery for any other babies, she is adamant she wants a c-section.  I know I have influenced this decision, and I have been influenced by other people.  The OB agrees to do a c-section.

An IV is inserted into Jay’s hand and she is given antibiotics.  We are told that this is because the baby’s immune system is practically non-existent and the IV will boost his immune system through her blood.  She is also given a course of three tablets called nophetamine which may slow down the labour, although this is not guaranteed.

One of the NICU doctors comes to talk to us.  He starts off by announcing that one third of all 26 weekers dies and of those that survive 50% have severe developmental disabilities.  By the end of the 20 minute talk, we are all left feeling that if Baby C doesn’t die, then he will be severely disabled and that Jay and Em may be even called upon to decide whether or not to let the baby live or die.  The doctor leaves and Jay just burst into tears.  Em sits there totally dumb struck.  I rush to hug Jay and everyone reassures her.  Luckily the midwife is there.  She turns to Jay and reassures her that she has worked in the NICU and amazing miracles are performed every day by the staff that work there.

“One thing I know about preemies,” she says, “is that they are tough little fighters.”  Jay is not reassured.

We continue to talk, and even laugh throughout the night.  The five of us are tired, but we manage to keep our spirits up.  Jay’s pains and tightenings have largely subsided, but they decide to keep Jay in the birthing suite as she has fallen into a deep sleep after a temazepam to help her sleep.  Em falls asleep on a mattress on the floor and Tee and Emma decide to return home at 2am.

Feeling a bit weird sleeping in the room with Jay and Em, but not prepared to leave Jay, I try, unsuccessfully, to sleep on the chairs in the waiting room.

The whole thing feels so surreal.  I cannot believe that my baby girl may give birth to a 26 week old fetus.  I rehash the doctor’s talk in my mind and wonder if we are going to lose the baby.  I say a silent prayer.  Please don’t let Baby C die, but also don’t let him be terribly ill – yes, I want my cake and eat it.

I must have finally fallen asleep because before I know it, it is 5am.

Teenage Pregnancy

One uneventful day – Saturday 31 March – 26 weeks

Jay has made it to 26 weeks!  According to the internet research we have been doing, at least 70% of babies born at this gestation survive until term.  That has to be good doesn’t it – two thirds make it to go home?

I wake up early, get ready and let Dee know that I am off to the hospital.  I grab a quick slice of toast to put something in my tummy.

Jay is sitting up in bed when I arrive.

“Are you okay?”  She does not look comfortable.

“I’m getting a lot of pain today, Mum.  That and a fair few tightenings.”

“Just take it easy.  Lie back and relax.”

She lies back but it is obvious she is not comfortable.  The ward is busy and there are a lot of visitors all celebrating the three little lives that have made their appearance.

“I won’t be able to take mine home.”

I stroker her hair.  “I know love.  But we will come and visit him every day.”  Seriously, universe, this is the way it works?  Putting a 19 year old through this?

“What about bonding Mum?  Will he bond with me?”

“Of course he will angel.  He has heard your voice and he will hear it when you speak to him in the incubator.”

One of the midwives arrives.  “I’m sorry, Jay, the doctors from the NICU are so busy that they can’t make it today.  They will try to make it tomorrow.”

Jay is clearly upset.  “Mum, I need to know what to expect.  I want to see how small he will be.  Em and I need to see the unit.”

I try to explain that in a unit that can accommodate only 50 babies, they are heaving with 58 but that it will happen.

The midwife returns to give Jay her second steroid injection.  She looks panicked.  “It’s okay baby girl.  Deep breath and it will be all over.”

The midwife does a terrible job.  Jay cries out in pain and tightens her buttock.  I glare at the woman in a way that a mamma bear does. She inserts the viscous fluid really slowly and Jay starts to cry.  She digs her nails deep into my arm.  I glare at the midwife even more.  I hope she can feel the glare boring into her!

Later, Jay is calm, but bored and I notice her mood is indicative of the depression that has dogged her in the past.  “Do you want to play i-Spy?”

“No, mum, I don’t.  What are we going to spy? Curtains, beds?’  She is fed up.  “Can you please tidy up all this stuff?  I have way too much stuff!”  It is true, we have overcompensated for her incarceration.  I tidy up.

“Okay, you’re right.  I-spy is a bad idea, what do you want to do?”

“What can I do? I’m stuck here.”

Em eventually arrives and I feel it is my time to exit.  I need to get back to see Dee and JC.  Jay understands.  I kiss her softly on the cheek.  “I’m very proud of you Jay.  You are coping so very well and managing to keep Baby C in the place he needs to be.”

She smiles.  I cuddle her and leave.

After paying the $16 parking fee, the drive home is a quick one, thankfully.  Dee is happy to see me although I notice he is tired and has clearly been on the go all day.  Nevertheless, dinner is waiting for me.  Dee’s dad has brought us roast lamb and I realize just how hungry I am.

I relay the events of the day – quick story.

I wonder if I am going to receive a phone call in the night to say that Jay has gone into labour.  I think about the babies and wonder what Baby C will look like.  I wonder if it is okay to hope that he will survive and be absolutely normal.  As I drift off to a fitful sleep, I just wonder and wonder at all the what-ifs of this unfolding drama.

Teenage Pregnancy

Admission to hospital – Friday 30 March – 26 weeks and 6 days

Today is the ultrasound and clinic appointment.  I am praying that it is good news. Jay doesn’t seem worried, although I decide to pack a bag just in case she has to go into hospital.  Jay refuses to let me bring it into the car.

We enter the ultrasound reception at the hospital.  Jay walks up and says “Jay X for an ultrasound please.”  So confident – it still amazes me.  We are asked to wait for while.

They are clearly busy.  We wait for a good 40 minutes.  “Why are they not calling us.  Why do we have to wait so long?”  Jay is clearly anxious.  I pull out my phone and we look at some funny stuff and laugh.  Anything to release the tension.

“Jay X?”  We jump up and follow the woman through to the ultrasound.  She introduces herself and explains that this is a uterine ultrasound and not one to look at the baby.  We acknowledge our understanding.

She then changes her mind and says “Actually, let’s just take a look at the baby.  Just hop up on the bed.”  Jay “hops” up and before we know it, we are looking at Baby C on the screen.  “Oh what a beautiful profile he has,” she says.  “Oh, and look, there’s no mistaking he’s a boy.  We’ll print a photo of that.”  I look at Jay and smile.  This woman is very upbeat!

“Right, now we are going to check your cervix.  Your cervix has been shortening, right?”   Jay runs through the last few weeks again.  “Okay, just inserting the wand.”  Immediately I know it is not good news.  “Um, I just need to call a doctor.  I’m just going to leave the wand in there, okay.”  And she rushes out of the room.  I can see the funneling is much worse.  I instinctively stroke Jay’s arm.

The doctor arrives.  It is the one we saw last week.  He takes one look and says, “Right, she needs to be admitted.  Is she under a specialist?”

I nod, “She is seeing Bec.”

“In clinic D?”  I nod again.  “When are you seeing her next?”

“We are due to see her this morning.”

“Right, I will walk round there and give Bec the run down.  You just wait in the waiting room and she will call you.  Her cervix is now very short.”

Jay looks at me.  I know this is not good news.  I wonder if she is going to be admitted.

We walk around to the clinic and sit down.  Zed and her mom are there.  Over the last couple of clinic visits, we have bumped into Zed and her mom.  Zed is 16 and expecting a baby.  She has bright blue hair and a lot of facial piercings.  She looks very young to be having a baby, but this experience has taught me to never judge.  “We keep bumping into each other, don’t we?  No baby, yet?”  Zed shakes her head, but she seems to be in pain.

“She is starting with labour,” her mum says.  “We went to the birthing suite, but they said it is too early, to go home and take panadol.  But the YWC wants to see us.”  It didn’t seem right that a young girl who is clearly in pain is made to wait in this hot, stuffy waiting room.  Zed breathes as much as she can.

“Jay may have to be admitted.  Her cervix has shortened even more.”  There is kind of an awkward pause.  “Have you guys got the nursery ready?”

Zed shakes her head.  “Not exactly, he’s not having one.”  Zed’s mom hesitates.

“I can’t really say here in the waiting room…”  I immediately know what is happening.

“Oh, I understand,” I say.  Zed’s mom nods.  Jay looks at me confused.  I shake my head motioning I’ll tell her later.

We wait for what seems ages.  Zed is clearly in pain.  Finally, she is called in and we are left in the waiting room.  Jay asks what has happened with Zed.

“She is giving up the baby for adoption, Jay.”

Jay looks at me and instinctively cradles her tummy.  “Oh, Mum, what a generous thing to do.”  I am blown away by how Jay sees this as an incredibly selfless act.  No judgement, just a wonderful gift for some childless couple. I nod.  Yes, it is indeed a generous thing to do.

Laura comes over to us.  “We have heard the news.”

“Do you think she will be admitted?”  I ask.

“I’ve spoken to Bec, and no, she thinks she will send her home.”  I am amazed by this.  Surely if they think that Jay is going to be giving birth at any moment, they should admit her.  I excuse myself and call Tee.  She is a nurse, has been through this and I need some clarification.

“Am I being unreasonable here, expecting her to be admitted?”

“Absolutely not,”  Tee confirms.  “Sarah, if they think she is going to give birth, why would they consider sending her home.  It makes no sense.”  I feel relieved that I am not being an overly anxious mother.

“Jay?” Bec is calling us into her office.  We walk in, sit and she places her hand on Jay’s knee.  “Okay, we have had a look at the ultrasound and your cervix is now 3mm and the funnelling is worse.  It does mean that rather than going full term, you will be lucky to get to 28 weeks.  I certainly don’t think you will make 30.”

“I want her admitted.”  I blurt out.  “I know the outcome for the baby is probably not any better, but Jay needs peace of mind.”  I am hyperventilating slightly.  I feel very much the anxious overly-protective mamma bear right now.  I’m also frightened to take her home in case I don’t know what to do if she does go into labour.

“Is that how you feel, Jay?” Bec asks.

Jay’s eyes are tear filled.  “I just want to do what is best for the baby.”  My heart is breaking into more pieces.  Why is this happening?

Bec is wonderful.  “Right, this is what we are going to do.  Jay, you are going to go to the Pregnancy Assessment Unit where you will be given one of two steroid injections.  This is so that we can speed up the baby’s lung development should he come early.  I am in the meantime going to arrange for a bed for you on the ward.”  I feel a total sense of relief and fear at the same time.  Steroid injections?  Does this mean that they think it could be early, like today or tomorrow early?

Bec leaves the room and Jay looks at me.  Big tears roll down her cheek.  I put my hand on my shoulder and look her squarely in the eyes.  “It will be okay.  No matter what happens, no matter what happens, it will be okay.  We will get through this.”  Jay nods, shaking slightly.

We walk up to the PAU, and I text Dee and Tee to let them know what is going on.  Jay phones Em.  They place us in one of the bays.  It all seems so surreal.  There is a woman there who is 32 weeks and is going in for an emergency c-section.

One of the midwives comes over and motions for us to follow her so Jay can receive her first steroid.  Jay lies down on the bed.  The midwife explains that the injection is rather painful.  “Small scratch,” she says as she inserts the needle into Jay’s right buttock.

“Ouch, ouch, ouch,”  Jay starts to cry.

“I know baby girl, nearly done.”  I say.  It is a large amount that is being injected slowly.

“Mum, it hurts,” she cries out.  I feel helpless.  I stroke her hair and then it’s done.

We make our way back to the bay when another midwife informs us that a bed is ready for her.

We get Jay settled into her bed.  Em has arrived as has Tee.  I phone Dee and ask him to get his dad to collect JC from school.  Jay is informed that she is not allowed to leave her bed except to go to the toilet and to have a shower.  She is told that the neonatal doctors will come and speak to her and that she and Em will be given a tour of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  Is this really happening?

I Google 26 week old fetuses and get Jay to have a look at a picture.  She doesn’t want to look, but I say it is important.  Again, tears spring forth.  I cuddle her, feeling awful for making her face reality.

Tee and Em have arrived.  Tee bought Jay some clothes, underwear and some puzzle books.  I am so grateful.  I tell Jay that I will bring more clothes for her tomorrow.

Finally, Jay is settled.  The plethora of medical professionals have receded and we can just relax.  There are three other women in the ward, each with their own babies.  I realize we are in the post natal ward.  I question the sensitivity of this decision, but realize beds are few and far between in the hospital at the moment.

After dinner, I decide to make my way home.  I am exhausted.  Em remains with Jay.  I kiss her goodbye and promise that I will be with her in the morning.

On the way home, I pray she doesn’t go into labour.