So . . . .
Here's now the last 10 days have been.
I write this for anyone who might ever find themselves in a similar position - because I tell you what: I never had been before, and it was flippin' terrifying.
I had no idea what was going on, what any of it meant for me or for my baby, or what the future held.
And I wish I had known then what I do now.
On the day I turned 27 weeks, just after midday, I suddenly felt . . . DIFFERENT.
Only a woman who has been in labour before can ever know what being in labour feels like - and I FELT 100% AS IF I WAS.
- The contractions were stronger.
- The pain had spread right across and through my lower back, like a huge, dull ACHE.
- I felt as if I had flu - hot, cold, sweating, freezing.
- The weight and pressure pushing down on my pelvis, groin and thighs was so huge I could hardly walk at all.
- I felt as if my insides were being pushed out.
- I was breathless, having trouble speaking during contractions, and could move way from the pain.
In short - I was absolutely SURE this little bun was trying to get out of the oven.
So I called the maternity hospital, and they told me to come in straight away.
There followed lots of investigating of my Holiest of Holy's, blood pressure and pulse checked, blood test...the usual.
They checked my cervix and found it was as closed as bank on a bank holiday, which was very good news.
But then they did a swab to test for something called Foetal Fibronectin - a hormone that gives a very strong indication that your body might be in early labour, or about to go INTO labour.
I tested positive. OH. GREAT.
This gave me a 50% chance of going into pre-term labour within the next 48 hours, and potentially the next week.
At 27 weeks pregnant.
They told me I might have to stay in the hospital for at least the next 48 hours, and possibly for the next week, depending on how things went from here.
I was alone, my partner was in Scotland, I had no family to help, no hospital bag packed, no food with me, no way of getting home except for a bicycle (cycling 3 miles home after that news didn't seem suuuuuper sensible, even to me...!), I was in pain, my baby had a 75% chance of survival if she had come out, and even then her health problems could have been significant;
I MIGHT have cried at this point.
I was then told that they would have to give me some steroids, which help the baby's lungs develop a little faster, just in CASE she were to come out super early.
Sounded. sensible to me.
"It's one of the nastiest injections we give, to be honest with you. It can really sting - for quite a long time." said the Happy Nurse.
YAY. Awesome. Bring on the stingy steroids - I LOVE THIS!
To cheer me up, and because I hadn't eaten anything for about 8 hours and was about to have One Of The Nastiest Injections, I was offered a gourmet meal of....haemorrhoid and congealed, salty pig's vomit.
To be fair, it was free, and truly some of the best pig's vomit I've ever eaten.
Also, it's been 20 years since I had a cold tinned tomato, so it was a nice flashback to my student days.
The steroid injection went straight into my bony arse, and actually wasn't at ALL bad.
Then I had another little cry, because I'm SO BRAVE, and then.....I had to decide what to do.
They wanted me to stay.
I wanted to go home.
I wanted a comfy bed. And no strip-lightning. And a bath. And to just be away from here.
After much talk, and consulting about this and that, they decided that I was free to go, but if ANYTHING changed I had to come back.
This baby would need intensive life-support within minutes, if she came out.
I made it through the night, and then next day went back for the 2nd dose of steroids.
The other bum-cheek. Now both of them were stingy. Niiiiiiice.
Again, I was alone.
Again I felt scared, and now so, SO tired.
Again, they would have preferred that I stay in.
But again, I decided to go home again.
My partner was coming home late that night, I just wanted some SLEEP, rather than another 12 hours in a hospital bed with lights and noise and discomfort.
This little charade went on for the next week.
More pain, more appointments, more investigations, more No Clue At All What Is Causing This Or What Is Going To Happen.
The hospital staff were all fantastic. Absolutely, totally fantastic.
My baby was very sensible, and after a full week of me doing almost NOTHING at all, not being able to walk much, go anywhere, sleep or breathe...things gradually settled down.
The spoon continued, but slowly got less.
Every passing day, at this stage, makes a HUGE difference to a baby's life chances.
And with every passing day, as we crawled across the 28 week mark, I knew she was getting a little stronger, and a little bigger, and a little more likely to make it.
I also had loads and loads of messages from YOU LOT, telling me your stories of pre-term babies, some as early as 23 weeks (!!!!) and how they have gone on to be happy, healthy children -and in some cases adults now - despite such a vulnerable, danger start.
This helped me SO SO much, I really can't tell you, or thank you enough.
I had no idea about the prospects for a baby born so early, as all of my previous children were born at about 42 weeks, so well after full term.
I knew nothing at all about prems, what is involved, and how it all works.
But I know one thing; the next time I raise money for a charity, it's going to be for a neo-natal unit.
Having come so close to needing one (and we still might....we're not out of the scary woods yet by any means) I realised how incredibly important they are, and how many families lives they help.
Thanks for reading this long, long post, and for being there, in the Internet Ether, supporting me from afar.
I know you're there, and it helped me SO much this last couple of weeks.
On we go! Boombox Baby...you stay IN. You're not cooked yet.