Ok, so this is my first post, and I must say I’m a little bit nervous! I mean, where do I possibly begin? My head has been swirling trying to figure out how to kick start this blog because there are so many possible beginnings to choose. Anyway, here goes.

It was Monday 30 January 2017 and life was just great. My husband David and I had just got married the summer before and had a fantastic honeymoon; we just had a really lovely Christmas and after three and a half years of trying to conceive I was finally pregnant! 23 weeks plus 1 days gestation to be exact.

We’ve always lived a happy life but this was a real special time.

We recently had our 20 week scan and all was perfect. The baby’s organs were all in good working order; he/she was positioned perfectly in the womb; the placenta was healthy; as were the umbilical cord and amniotic sack. As you can imagine, we were ecstatic! That said though, we are quite cautious people and apart from our immediate families we didn’t tell anyone that I was pregnant until after the 12 week scan. It’s also probably the case that we only allowed ourselves to fully believe that this dream was really coming true once the 20 week scan was out of the way. I mean anything going wrong after this point was out of the question, right?

The baby’s nursery furniture had been ordered and arrived three days before and was stacked up in boxes against the wall in our hallway. I also bought a cute little hat, some socks and a pack of scratch mits. Just a few things for a ridiculously laid back couple like us, but I was just getting started!

At work on the 30th January, I was (as usual) not feeling great but still with plenty of things to do. Me not feeling great wasn’t anything new during the pregnancy, or before it for that matter. I’m used to feeling under the weather at the best of times. I have various illnesses to contend with, but for the most part of my life I usually just get on with it. And that’s just what I did on that Monday; got on with it. To be honest though, it wasn’t one of my worst pregnancy days; I’d had far worse. During the first trimester of my pregnancy I experienced the common downers: feeling sick, chronic fatigue and so on; but with the exception of feeling sick, the other bits stuck around into my second trimester. Throw in a pinch of weight loss to add to the mix, a sprinkle of anaemia and a whole load of thyroid problems and that was pregnancy for me. I did not bloom! Once I was given the right cocktail of meds though I began to feel more myself.

It’s important to stress that these particular health issues did not play a part in Edie’s early arrival. Inside the womb she was thriving! Whatever I possessed, Edie took. She grew superbly, loving life in there, but growing a baby is hard and my body certainly paid the price.

So feeling a bit blah on the 30th, I remember having a conversation with two colleagues about how low down my tummy was. One girl said, “I can’t believe it Nic, it’s like you’re ready to drop. Carrying low like that means you’re having a boy”. Out pops her phone and she begins to show me pregnant pictures of her at a similar gestation. She showed me how high her belly was and pointed out that she didn’t need to wear a bra because her belly propped her boobs right up; something we giggled about. She had a daughter. , so she was convinced that there must have been a boy in my low down tum. I remember saying during that conversation that my stomach felt a little heavy and I jovially added (but meant it), “if I feel this way now, God only knows how uncomfortable I’ll feel at 40 weeks”! Something we all chuckled about. Little did I know!

Later that evening, around 5pm, there was just two of us left at work. I was tired and eager to get home. Dealing with a very difficult, detailed letter as well as being in the company of a very chatty girl, I excused myself as I desperately needed the toilet. Off I went. After I finished using the toilet I just so happened to look into the pan and there seemed to be a little bit of something in there. At first I didn’t know what it was and then wondered if it was blood. It wasn’t obvious. It wasn’t quite the colour you’d expect and it was a minuscule amount. So small that it could easily have been missed. About to ignore it and leave the cubicle I noticed another speck, only a tiny bit bigger this time. More obviously blood though.

Genuinely calm, I walk back to my desk saying nothing to my colleague. At the beginning of my pregnancy I was told by health care professionals, “Oh you know, you may find some spotting during pregnancy but don’t panic if you do, it could be a number of things”. So with that in mind I continued with the letter and previous conversation while sending Dave a quick email at the same time. To Dave I wrote; “Are you still at work?” Literally, within seconds he’s calling my mobile. “What’s the matter?” he asks. I explain. He’s really calm but said he had a feeling that something was up by the tone of my email. Dave wanted me to just pack up and go home and ring the hospital together but I really wanted to finish this letter that had been bugging me for days. And that’s what I did.

An hour later I’m at home calling the maternity assessment unit at the University Hospital Wales. A very nice lady at the other end of the line asks me to explain my situation and so I do. She asks me how far along in the pregnancy I am and I explain that I am 23 weeks. She asks, “have you experienced any other spotting during your pregnancy?” Me: “nope”. Her: “Was it like a bright redish kind of colour?” Me: “hmm no, not really, it was more of a brownish red”. Suddenly her tone changed and now it seemed like she was trying hard to maintain her upbeat manner, but the seriousness in her voice crept in. She said, “ok then lovely, come into the assessment unit and we’ll have a little look at you”. I put the phone down and told Dave with a perplexed look on my face that they wanted me to go to the hospital to be checked. He said, “well let’s not panic, it’s better to be safe than sorry” and I said, “oh absolutely, I’m fine, don’t worry about me”.

A little put out (we still hadn’t sorted out our tea plans and time was getting on by now) and still mostly convinced that all was well, I headed to the University Hospital Wales with my husband.

Ten minutes later we arrived at the assessment unit. They didn’t keep me waiting long at all and before I knew it I had provided a urine sample; a blood sample; and I was sat on the bed about to be examined. All I kept thinking was that I hadn’t shaved my legs in ages! How embarrassing! Anyway, in comes this nice doctor and my situation is explained to her by her colleague. And so she takes a look down there. Me, still convinced that this is a non issue, making small talk, looks at her as she comes away from me and begins to speak……

“Well everything looks normal down there” she said, “except for one thing ……….. you’re 2 cm dilated.”

And right there, in that instant, we entered the gates of hell. And we would be stuck there for a long time.

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