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The Story of Baby Smudge

My story starts a lot earlier then the loss I went through this year. Back on 19 July 2018, I received my first ever-positive pregnancy test. This came as complete shock to me; we were not trying for a baby at this point but we were over the moon. We were so excited that we were extending our family and having a baby! The excitement was short-lived; a week later at around 9pm, I had excruciating pains and started bleeding, in the night I tried to sleep but the pain was so bad I was sweating, and my heart rate was elevated. I thought I was having a miscarriage and did not really know what to do.

The next morning, I got myself an appointment with the GP who gave me a long history lesson about how “us women these days know we are pregnant too soon and we should ideally wait until we are at least 8 weeks pregnant before testing”. I should have been 6 weeks pregnant and I pushed the GP to get me a scan at the hospital, he said it was likely to be a miscarriage and really there was nothing they would be able to see on a scan. The pain was still really bad and so I went to A&E where they ran various tests and checked my HCG level which came back as 2,500 and so they scanned me.

As soon as the scan commenced, I could tell something wasn’t right. The consultant looked at me and said he is sorry but there is nothing in my uterus but he can see something in my left fallopian tube. He thought I had an ectopic pregnancy and because I am already showing signs of a small rupture, I should have surgery first thing the next morning. I ended up having a laparoscopic surgery removing my left tube. It took me a while to recover from this and I was told we should wait 3 cycles before trying again. I wanted to try again straight away but my husband felt we should give my body some time to heal both emotionally and physically.

In the meantime, we went on holidays and tried to find ourselves again and enjoy life. In April 2019, we were ready to try again and to our surprise, we were pregnant again straight away. I was told if I were to get pregnant, again we needed to have early scans and so at around 4.5 weeks pregnant we went for a scan but they could not find anything in my uterus. They took my blood to measure my HCG levels and they looked as though they were rising really well. It got to 2,500 and I went for another scan, again they could not find anything. I was getting really worried but the consultant said at this stage it is very possible that the foetus is buried deep inside my womb and the ultrasound cannot pick it up. I kept being monitored and scanned and this continued for another week and finally, when my HCG was over 8,500 they found the baby. It was not in my uterus.

The doctor scanning me could not actually work out where the baby was. She kept telling me it was in my left tube, getting really frustrated that these doctors never read notes; I kept explaining I have no left tube! In the end she explained it was inside my uterus but by the stump of my left tube, which I know understand to be called an interstitial ectopic. The doctor explained that surgery here would be very difficult and it may end up in a hysterectomy as the uterus is such a vascular muscle and so the best cause of action is to have a methotrexate injection. I had the injection and waited to pass my baby, three days went by, and I felt no different. I went for my check-up and felt normal. A few hours later, I collapsed. I was home alone and had to call my in-laws as they lived nearby. I had to crawl to open the door for them. They took one look at me and took me to hospital.

They monitored me, gave me a cannula just in case and I waited over 2 hours. At this point, my husband had arrived from work to the hospital and from the look on his face; I knew I did not look good. I kept fainting every time I tried to get up. In the end, the consultant came over and scanned me and her eyeballs literally came out of their socket. She shook her head and said this was bad I had ruptured and all she could see on the scan is blood clots; she was so shocked at how all my observations were normal, blood pressure, pulse and temperature. I refused to be operated on as I was told that it could end up with having a hysterectomy. The consultant was confused and explained that the pregnancy was in the stump of my left tube and not inside my uterus, also called an ipsilateral ectopic pregnancy. There is a 0.4% chance of any ectopic pregnancy occurring here.

She reassured me she would not be doing a hysterectomy on me and even changed the paperwork so that I gave her no consent to do this unless my life was on the line. I was rushed to theatre (apparently there was an argument over the theatre space as there was a critical old man who also needed operating on and this delayed my operation by an hour). At this point I was sweating, my blood pressure finally dropped and I kept coming in and out of consciousness. My husband to this day says he has never seen anyone in this state and that he was worried for my life and thought he would lose me. The operation started at 8pm and lasted until 1am. The consultant explained it was hard to stop the bleeding and in the end I lost 3 litres of blood, had to have a blood transfusion and be kept sedated in ICU overnight, she went on to explain it was touch and go for a while. I was grateful to be alive and for some reason I recovered from this a lot quicker than the first ectopic. Perhaps because I knew what to expect.

We were told to wait 6 months before trying again and so in January 2020 we started trying again. This time it took a little longer to conceive. We got pregnant in May 2020; I built a rapport with the consultant who saved my life and I rang her and she did my early pregnancy scan and there was my baby with a heartbeat in the right place! I was 6 weeks pregnant at the time and the ultrasound photo looked like a little smudge. We lovingly named our baby Smudge.

I thought we did it; we were finally going to have our rainbow baby. At the back of mind I was filled with anxiety, I kept hoping and praying that after all this I hope we get to the finish line and have a healthy baby. At 8 weeks pregnant, I started spotting and I panicked, thought this was a miscarriage. I went to EPU for a scan and my little one was perfectly fine. They could not see where the bleeding was coming from. At my dating scan, they thought I had a little less fluid then I should and the scan was difficult to perform. I was still bleeding at this point and was concerned.

At 13 weeks, I felt a gush as I was lying in bed. I ran to the toilet and there was a small puddle of brown blood. I went back to hospital for another scan, the scan showed baby was fine and I got confirmation there was enough fluid as well. The bleeding appeared to be caused by my cervix but it was long and closed at this point so I was told there was nothing to worry about. After that, there was no bleeding. I started to relax and tried to enjoy my pregnancy. I had a follow up scan at 16 weeks and I got the most amazing clear scan photos. At around 18 weeks, I started to feel my little one inside making tiny movements. The first time I felt him kick was the best day of my life. I never thought I would be in that position. At my 20-week scan, he was head down and would not move no matter what I did and so I was told to come back in for another scan as not all the measurements were taken. That evening, I made my announcement to all our family and friends that I was expecting and baby was due in February 2021.

On 11 October 2020, my husband and I were sat in the lounge and suddenly I felt him moving and I put my hand to my stomach and could feel him on the outside for the first time. I got my husband to put his hand there and he could feel him move too. We were in awe of him and feeling him move. It was such a nice memory we will cherish forever. On 12 October 2020, I went for my follow up 20-week scan. I was 21 + 4 weeks here and this time, he was laying on his side and we managed to get most of his measurements and confirmations that he was a healthy baby. The only thing we didn’t get to see was his lips as he wouldn’t move his hand from his face. He looked adorable though and I couldn’t believe that in the space of 9 days how much he had grown. We got our photo of our baby and confirmation that our baby is a boy.

My husband was desperate to know the sex of our baby but I already knew, I knew from my 6 week scan (mother’s instinct) so I was not at all shocked by this. I was told to wait in the waiting room whilst she updated my notes and I could go home. A few minutes later she came back and said she needed to scan me again as she forgot to check my placenta. So my husband and I went back inside and she checked the placenta and the sonographer went silent and said she needed a second opinion. I knew this was never good news. I lay on the bed trying to keep positive and calm and she came back and said I am sorry but your cervix is open and it looks like your membranes are bulging. I remember reading about this and asked if I could get a cerclage.

She said she was just the lady who carries out the scans but sent me to the maternity assessment unit and said I would need to be assessed by a consultant. My husband and I went up to the assessment unit and the consultant scanned me and confirmed my cervix was indeed open and my membranes were bulging and explained that in order to qualify for a cerclage I would need to have various tests. I will need to show via blood tests that I do not have an infection as no one knew how long my cervix had been open for and that can cause infections and the second test I had to be COVID19 negative. I waited for these results, the longest two hours of my life. I was worried I was going to end up in labour.

Further consultant came to see me (finally) and said my infection rate was borderline and so I had been approved to have an emergency cerclage. I had an epidural and the consultant started the operation to stitch my cervix but after about 10 minutes of trying, she said it was not possible as my cervix had gone behind the membranes and if she clipped the membranes then my waters would break and I would go into labour. They inserted a pessary to try to prevent me going into labour and gave me progesterone and I was taken back to the labour and delivery room. My husband and I had meetings with various NICU consultants who said if I could make it to 22 weeks; they would give me steroids to bring on baby’s lungs and would have a bed ready for Smudge.

I just needed to wait until Thursday (it was Monday). This was possible, so I thought. I spent the night at the hospital the next day my husband bought me clothes and my laptop so I could continue to work (keep myself preoccupied). The day went by fast. I was cleared by labour and delivery to go down to the maternity ward as they thought labour was not imminent. Literally as soon as I went downstairs to the maternity unit and I started cramping (which I know now to be contractions). They kept coming and going. I called my mum and went on FaceTime with my mum, sister and brother in law (who is a doctor) and they all confirmed my worst fears, I was in labour.

I went back up to labour and delivery and my contractions were getting stronger and closer together. This was Tuesday evening at about 6pm. My husband, mum and sister were all allowed to be with me. They carried out an ultrasound and saw Smudge was fine, wriggling on his side. I asked the midwife how is the baby going to come if he is on his side. She explained that’s why your contractions are happening they will move him eventually. Over 6 hours of contractions later, I was told my bladder looked very full in the ultrasound and I should try to go for a wee. I could not go I sat on the toilet for ages.

Suddenly something popped and the wee came out. My waters had gone, the midwife confirmed Smudge was on his way out. I could not believe it 1 day short from the day they could have used medical means to help him. I gave birth to Smudge (born breach in his sac) at 12.06am on Wednesday 14 October 2020. Unfortunately, he was not born alive the placenta came out at the same time and as he was born breach his little body could not cope with it. He weighed a good 440g and was 28cm long. He looked perfect. The hospital was fantastic and allowed my dad and brother in law and family to come up and say their goodbyes to him. My husband and I were transferred to a suite where we spent the night with him. We got a memory box from 4Louis and that as we walked out of the hospital that was all we had left of him. I did not want to leave him but I knew he would always be with me in my heart and we would always have a bond for as long as I live.

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