Having had my unborn son, diagnosed with a serious birth defect, I was naturally, distraught. The dreams I’d had of taking my little bundle of joy home with me, nurturing and caring for him from birth, within a few hours, had been shattered. What could I do though? Should I sit for hours and cry over something that hadn’t happened yet? Should I scream at the world for the injustice it did, in taking my dream away from me? I could have. But I didn’t. I took a deep breath and waddled on.
The week after the diagnosis, saw me back in the hospital waiting room. Today I would be having the fluid that had made me so huge, drained away from the amniotic sack that my little cherub was bobbing around in.
After what seemed like hours, I was called into the ultrasound room. I settled myself on the bed and was swiftly joined by a pediatrician, ultrasound technician, obstetrician and a couple of nurses. The low-down was this – the obstetrician would be sticking a huge bloody needle, in through the top of my belly and down into the amniotic fluid sack (being careful not to stab the baby with it in the process I might add), he’d then suck away an awful lot of the fluid – some of which would be sent off to the lab for tests and I’d then go into another room so that I could be monitored for contractions. You see, with Amniocentesis, there was a risk that it might trigger labour, resulting in either a miscarriage, or a seriously premature baby. Needless to say, the whole thing horrified me!
So, there I was, flat on my back, staring up at Big Bro on the screen, who was happily floating around without a care in the world. I kept my eyes on that little person and tried desperately not to think about what was going to happen. Then the first jab of pain – the anaesthetic injection, to numb the area where the mother of all needles would be going. Then the needle itself. Excuse me for swearing, but fuck me it was huge! “Don’t worry”, the obstetrician said to me, “You really won’t feel much at all, just a sharp scratch.” Riiiiight. Yeah I believed him…like crap I did.
In went the needle, just a sharp scratch, just a sharp scratch and really, it was just a sharp scratch. Great! Not so bad after all! Then, “This may feel slightly uncomfortable.” You can say that again! I can only describe it as what a really thick-skinned balloon would feel like, if it was trying to be popped by a blunt object.
Jab. Nothing. Jab jab. Still nothing. Jab jab jab POP! There it was on the screen, this long, sharp, thin white thing, inside my womb and Big Bro? He was staring right at it! At this point I turned my eyes away. I couldn’t watch. Somehow knowing that I had a metal object sticking out of my body and that my unborn child was staring at it quizzically, only made it hurt more. I hoped that if I looked away, somehow I would be able to ignore its presence and eventually not feel it.
I lay there for a whole hour as they drained bottle after bottle of fluid out of me. The nurse who was collecting the fluid, I remember had great difficulty in swapping over the bottles. They reminded me of the old glass cola bottles, except they were filled with a urine like substance. Nice!
And then it was over. The needle was withdrawn, a plaster was popped on my tummy and I was told to stand up very slowly. I was flabbergasted! When I entered the room, I could barely stand up straight and my back groaned with every step I took. Now? Now I felt light, weightless! I felt as if I could get up on my tippy toes and put on a performance of swan lake – still with a baby inside of me! Two and a half litres of fluid, the nurse informed me, had been taken away. All fluid that my body didn’t want or need.
On the bed in the recovery room, with the heartbeat of my baby, reverberating off the walls, I took a moment to contemplate what the future would hold for us. I had no way of imagining the stress, trials and obstacles that would be put in our way and if I had, I probably would have kept my legs crossed and refused to let him be born into such suffering. What I did know though, was that already, my little guy was a fighter and that even though having what seemed like, half my body weight, drained away through a tiny little hole in my belly, it would give me a bit more time to appreciate his tiny, growing self, for a few more weeks and to prepare for the rocky road ahead.
Next week, I’ll be writing about my birth story and how it all went so, so wrong.
Have you experienced anything like this? Even if you haven’t, let me know your thoughts and thank you for reading.