the fam

the fam

Thursday, 8 September 2011

A Birth Story: The Baby Sunroof

I've thought long and hard about this post - I wasn't sure whether I should share my experience but I decided that it may give someone hope if they are going through something similar and that would be a good thing. (I should warn you now that there are going to be some quite graphic images, so if you're a little squeamish, do not read on!)

I finally got together with the love of my life in my late 20s but after spending several years building up our business, my thirties crept up on me very quickly. Before I knew it I was 35 and although we'd spoken often about having children, the time just never seemed right. All of a sudden, we realised it was now or never. Luckily, I conceived fairly quickly and we found out I was expecting our first baby in July 2006. So far so problems and the first few weeks of pregnancy were a breeze. The only slight worry was my size - I had to start wearing maternity clothes at 8 weeks because of the size of my bump. Had I got my dates wrong? How many babies were in there exactly??

At 12 weeks we went along to our first scan. We were excited but nervous at the same time...Was the baby OK? What if it was twins or more?! What came next was a shock but extra babies weren't the problem. The sonographer had found a 'mass' blood ran cold. What kind of a mass?? Thankfully our baby was fine but the 'mass' turned out to be a very large fibroid. I hadn't even known it was there and once I'd spoken to my consultant, he was amazed I even got pregnant in the first place.  For that I was extremely grateful as I've since found out how much trouble even very small fibroids can cause...many can't conceive if they're present in the womb.
safe and snug
As the pregnancy progressed, I grew rapidly but in my first-time-mummy mode, I didn't think about the fibroid too much. I knew it was there but I was in no pain and I was sure it wouldn't cause any problems. After having a tour of our local midwife-led unit, I was excited that maybe I could have a water birth - something I'd always quite fancied and the birthing pool was wonderful! Tra la la I went in my ignorance until a meeting with the consultant changed everything.

Apparently I was a bit of a medical consultant had only ever seen a fibroid this large once before in the whole of his long career as a surgeon. With the pregnancy hormones raging the fibroid grew and grew - no one was quite sure just how big it would get. The consultant explained that where the fibroid was sitting was my biggest problem, not just the size. If it had been above the baby, then maybe I would have had more choices, but the fibroid was low down and had basically blocked all available exits...the water birth was out. So was a 'natural birth' of any kind.Ok, I thought, so I have to prepare myself for a caesarean...I can handle that. The consultant shook his head...a normal caesarean was out of the question too as there was no way to reach the baby. I could feel tears beginning to prick at my on earth was this baby coming out?? I looked over at Steve - he looked as confused as me. The consultant said that the only option was for a 'classical' caesarean - a very rare and risky procedure that involves a midline longitudinal incision which allows a larger space to deliver the baby. Basically I was going to be cut open straight down from just below my ribs to about 2" below my belly button...I was terrified.

The fibroid carried on growing until it was bigger than the baby - I looked enormous and I was extremely uncomfortable. At 32 weeks I was measuring 48 weeks pregnant - I was the same shape as Mr Greedy!! The fibroid was now measuring 17cm x 15cm
Luckily, apart from now being the size of a small planet, there were no other problems in the pregnancy. The tricky part was still to come and noone knew exactly how it would all pan out as the procedure was so rare.
As my due date approached (8th March 2007) dreadful thoughts started to plague me day and night. I prayed that I wouldn't go into labour early as the thought of an emergency c-section of this kind would be very dangerous. I tried to stay calm for both our sakes but I was gripped with fear. I couldn't wait for this all to be over.
Mr Greedy
My consultant booked me in for the afternoon of February 28th as he was also concerned about premature labour but had to leave it as near as possible to the due date to give baby every chance. I remember travelling to the hospital that morning...a 40 minute drive and I hardly uttered a word. I watched the red arrows fly overhead, I watched sparrows in the hedges as we hit a traffic jam, I listened hard to the radio...anything to take my mind off the inevitable.

The preparation for theatre began including lots of form filling. At this point, my one happy thought was that at least Steve could be in the room with me and we could both see our baby being born. I was under the impression that a spinal was still possible. Then the anaesthetist came out of theatre looking very concerned. He explained to us both that he was very unhappy to perform a spinal and my only option was to be put under general anaesthetic. I burst into tears...half an hour before surgery and every birthing option had been crushed. I was shaking as we walked through to theatre. Steve kissed me goodbye and went to wait on the ward. Just then, something very odd happened.... I felt completely calm. I thought I'd been given a sedative but apparently not. I think my body had just accepted that this was what was happening and was just 'getting on with it' Once all of the canulas had been inserted (3 in one hand, 2 in the other and a morphine drip in my arm), I was put under.

I came round in the recovery ward with a mask over my face and a blood pressure monitor squeezing my arm at regular intervals. I was quite spaced out on enormous doses of morphine and my first words were 'do we have a baby?' Steve showed me a little white bundle - he looked like he was holding a bag of fish & chips! Our beautiful baby boy was here - 7lb 12oz of perfection. We were both OK and the relief was immense.
Huge relief...
Recovery was incredibly hard - the pain was intense and I couldn't leave the house for 6 weeks, but our little Alfie Luca was totally worth it.
Alfie Luca
A few years later and the conversation turned to siblings. Could I really put myself through all that again? It took me a long time to come to a decision. Then in September 2010, we discovered that I was pregnant again. We were overjoyed but obviously the fear was still there for me - after having spoken to the consultant before even trying for another baby, I was fully aware that I would have to go through the same procedure. But I didn't want Alfie to be an only child and so at 12 weeks, we found out that Alfie would be joined by a baby brother.This time, the pregnancy was much harder. I grew to enormous proportions again but this time my ankles were permanently swollen, I could hardly walk with the weight and pain in my pelvis, I had horrendous heartburn and sleep was out of the question!
Getting ready for an awards ceremony in London - 20 weeks
There were lots more tears and lots more tests this time around including a very unpleasant 45 minute MRI scan- so claustrophobic, hot and noisy but necessary to find out if I had a condition called Placenta Accreta where the placenta becomes embedded in previous scar tissue thus making it extremely difficult to remove without massive blood loss. Thankfully, I got the all clear but the MRI showed just how shockingly big the fibroid had become. I was around 24 weeks at this point and the fibroid was much bigger than the baby.
There was also a tearful visit to a new anaesthetist who desperately wanted to keep me awake during this next operation. However, once she had explained that the spinal may not work because of how high up the surgeon had to begin cutting and there was a possibility of discomfort (how do you define 'discomfort'??), I started to feel very uneasy. She also said that if anything went wrong, I would have to have a general anaesthetic anyway and I definitely couldn't put myself through that kind of terror. I wanted it all done quickly and safely under general anaesthetic again.
32 week bump

Measuring 48 weeks pregnant!
This time I was booked in for the 'classic' c-section just 4 days before my due date (6th June 2011) As the date got closer, I prayed once again that labour wouldn't start. I arrived at the hospital very early on June 2nd and baby no.2 was delivered safely at 9.46am weighing 9lb 1oz. Our beautiful second son, Charlie Noah was finally here and this time I couldn't describe the relief of waking up and seeing my was all over.
The second op somehow seemed much better, even though I had dreaded going through it all again, I wasn't in as much pain. Apparently, the anaesthetist had used a new method of pain relief - by using ultrasound to detect the nerve endings in my abdomen, painkiller was then injected into them.
recovery room...lots of morphine

Charlie Noah
I needed help once I returned home as I wasn't able to lift anything (including baby!) and my stitches took a long time to heal. Steve had to inject anti-bloodclotting drugs into my stomach once a day for the first week which was very painful but he did a better job than the nurse!
Our gorgeous baby boy is now 3 months old and thriving. My stitches have healed but I have a long recovery ahead of me. I'm trying to stay as active as I can and the fibroid is beginning to shrink.
The Baby Sunroof
The full horror!
There's no chance of the fibroid being removed without a full hysterectomy so I will just have to live with it. I look back at the photos and think about what I went through to get here but my little boys are my everything and I would do it all again for them.
On the road to recovery
Our 4 year old loves looking at Mummy's 'snitches' and hearing about how he and his baby brother came out of the Baby Sunroof. I feel incredibly lucky to have my sons


  1. How brave are you and wot a lovely story! Your boys look totally worth it :o) xXx

  2. Your boys are gorgeous and such lovely namres too. Your story is so positive despite how much you've been through to get to this point. Thank you so much for sharing x

  3. What a moving post, thank you for sharing it. We had to go through IVF to end up with baby Jura but that was nothing compared to what you have been through. Wonderful that you now have two gorgeous boys & I hope your recovery continues. I am amazed at how perky you have been on Twitter after going through all that. You rock! :0)

  4. I had no idea you had been through so much, you are so brave and so lucky to have your beautiful boys. I wish you well on your continued recovery xxx

  5. What an incredibly moving post. I had my son by CS 6 years ago & was told I had a fibroid at the time. I had internal investigations last year & was told it had gone. There's always hope. x

  6. wow heidi, what a lot you & steve have been through! your boys are very handsome. loving the sweet photo of them together.
    wishing you a lovely weekend love ginny xxx

  7. wow! i had a c-section with my first (a 'normal one') and was lucky enough to manage it myself second time round as i prefered not do have surgery again. You are very brave but them those gorgeous boys must be worth it. take care of yourself, i hope you have them running round after you long after your healed. x

  8. thank you for sharing your story, you are very brave. I am so pleased that you got through it and have two amazing little boys. Here's to healing xx

  9. Thanks so much for all your wonderful comments. It's been a bit of a rough ride but the boys make it all worthwhile. I can live with the fibroid and the scar...nothing else matters when I look at their smiley little faces xx

  10. Heidi - such a moving lovely post. Your boys are going to be ( am sure they are) so proud of their mummy. xxx Gabs

    1. Thanks Gabs. I didn't see these comments before. The boys are happy and healthy and the scars are healing xxx

  11. oh Heidi - you poor thing. Thanks for sharing your story! All my best wishes for you and I hope you will be better and better and better!

    1. Thanks Heidi - I really appreciate all these lovely comments xxx

  12. Hi Heidi, I have just finished reading and I put my hands up to you! You did amazingly well and your boys must all be so proud. xx

    1. Thank you so much. It was tough going but the boys are happy and healthy and that's all that matters xx

  13. Amazing story, glad you and your little family are well.

    I have the upmost respect for what you have been through, I couldn't face going through pregnancy a second time, even though I had a natural birth, because my son weighed 9lbs 7ozs.
    A decision I now regret at 47.

    D xxx

    1. Thanks Dawn. It took me a couple of years to decide to through all that again..think it still probably would have been the same with a natural birth! Pregnancy takes such a toll on your body but obviously I am glad I went ahead. Hope you and your son are well xx

  14. An amazing story, thanks for sharing!

  15. Wow that is an epic birth story!! You were so brave to face all that for a second time,when you knew the risks. I cannot elevate size of your 'bump'. Your boys are gorgeous and you are a wonderful mummy. Thanks so much for linking up to Flashback Friday x x

  16. Thanks so much for your comment Jenny - I'm sorry I missed this before! It is such a relief not to have to face all that again. Charlie turned 2 last month...the time has flown!!
    Heidi x

  17. Thank you so much for your story. I'm expecting my first son and was told I have to have the same delivery. I pray daily all will be well. Hearing your story I will keep dear to my heart.


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