Previa Woes

In honour of International Caesarean Awareness Month (and the fact that I bloody love a birth story!) I thought I’d share the General’s bump to baby story.

When we realised that the Lord was allergic to sleep we decided to just crack on with number two.  We marked the calendar, did the dance and luckily for us the stick turned pink (so to speak)!

I’ll always remember Mr. British Maple’s first response to the joyous news:

“Is it wrong that this makes me feel more tired than happy?!”

Before anyone else was told I was straight on the email to the Community Midwives of Toronto to snag myself a birthing angel, having had a pretty mixed experience with OB/GYNs with the Lord’s ordeal (another story for another day!)

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The beautiful Elena with a chunky General

As luck would have it, I was awarded the AMAZING Elena.  Not only was she the epitome of zen, she didn’t bat an eyelid at my previous high blood pressure and happily let the Lord fiddle with anything and everything in her room.  Instead, she undertook a little research project and found a study in the U.S. around gestational blood pressure issues and together, we kept that bugger in check throughout my whole pregnancy!

Skip forward to the much anticipated 12-week scan.  In an ideal world, this is the tick in the box that lets excited parents spread their news.  For me, as an already  busy mum with a ‘that’s more than a big sandwich‘ belly already, it was just a slightly more exciting appointment to drag the Lord to.

My ultrasound technician was a cocky, young guy who’s bedside manner was pretty much non-existent.  He ignored my ‘charming’ banter and audibly scoffed when he noticed where my placenta was.  At the time, I had no idea what the implications of a low-lying placenta were, so when he told me (so matter-of-factly) I just shoved that nugget of information into my mind and went on my merry way.

It was the wonderful Elena who fully explained my situation; I had complete placenta previa.  In one fell swoop my dreams of a natural, peaceful birth at the new Toronto Birth Centre were dashed and I could see my chances of me staying with the midwives slipping away.  But yet again, Elena reassured me and honoured our partnership by keeping me as a patient, even though she could’ve shipped me off to the high risk OB/GYNs at St. Mike’s.

As a self-confessed reassurance seeker my first port of call was Google.  I usually search away until I find the answer I want but in this case, I didn’t find it.  The statistics were more than a little scary, particularly because I still had the Lord to care for so bed rest was not an option.

Some Placenta Previa Statistics:

  • It effects 1 in 200 women (15% of which will remain complete until full term)
  • Only 1 in 10 women will reach full term without bleeding
  • On average, the start of bleeding is 32 weeks
  • The foetal mortality rate is around 10%, although 6 out of 10 infants end up passing away due to premature birth.
  • 67% of pregnancies that involve placenta previa will result in a premature delivery.
  • Having placenta previa will triple the risks of a neonatal death occurring.

Information adapted from The Health Research Funding

The weeks passed by and the Lord and I went about our lives as though nothing was wrong, after all, there was little I could do to mitigate the risks.  As we reached week 32 without drama I finally started to relax.  The General was a healthy size, my blood pressure was behaving and we had sorted out all the logistics of D-Day (or C-Day as we called it).

But then thoughts of the dreaded c-section started to creep in.  How would I feel during the procedure (I didn’t think of it as giving birth)?  How would the recovery be?  Would it affect my breastfeeding?  Would I have any complications?

C-Day was scheduled 16 days before my due date ( I didn’t want to chance my luck any longer than was necessary!) and miraculously I made it without any bleeding, the babe was a very healthy size (as you could tell!) and my blood pressure was behaving.

I was joined in the operating room by the obstetrician, Elena, Mr. British Maple and around ten students!  Everything went smoothly (even with an anterior placenta!) but I’d like to send a friendly reminder to any students in the medical profession…this may be a procedure you’ve done dozens of times but for your patients, it is likely their first.  Please don’t discuss me like I’m not there, don’t use jargon I don’t understand and for the love of anything cosmically powerful, please don’t talk about ‘potential hysterectomy’ as if it were the removal of a skin tag!  Cue Elena with some carefully selected words of advice for the students!!

I was back in my recovery room within an hour, with a bouncing baby General weighing in at a hefty 7lb 14oz.  Apart from tingling legs and a desperate need for a cup of tea, I felt remarkably well.  My labour and delivery nurses had me walking the ward after four hours and, although it was uncomfortable, I was once again amazed at the resilience of the human body.

Jump forward a couple of weeks and life was pretty much back to normal, with the exception of having wonderful people like my mum and mother-in-law around to do all the heavy lifting.

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When I first found out about the C-section, I was gutted.  But as soon as they handed me that screaming bundle of loveliness I didn’t care.  Whether you are lucky enough to experience a natural birth or have to find another way to have your baby, just feel lucky that you HAVE your baby.  In the following weeks, the hows don’t matter, at least you shouldn’t let them matter.  All that counts is that you have made a wonderful new person.

I know my situation wasn’t a typical one, but someone has to be that small percentage.  So if you have been diagnosed with placenta previa, or have to have a caesarean, please don’t panic.  The human body is a phenomenal thing and you are always stronger than you think.

Should you want more information, please don’t hesitate to contact me at thebritishmaple@gmail.com

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