pregnancy week by week

Thursday, 06 November 2008



Some readers may find descriptions graphic.

On Monday we went to Tygerberg hospital to go for the scan and to make our final decision. It was as we feared and they found another problem on top of all the other things that were suspected. The results of the scan were as follows:

The baby's head was lemon shaped and a cause for concern.
The spine could not properly be assessed as the baby was lying inside my pelvis.
The baby had bilateral club feet.
The bladder was not properly formed.
There was urine leaking into the bowel.
The bowel showed signs of obstruction and was causing swelling of the abdomen.
The baby was unable to move the wrists or hands.

We didn't have any indication that there was a problem with the hands at all until Monday. Finding another problem over and above those things that were suspected confirmed for us that letting the baby go was the right thing to do. They could not tell us whether or not the problems with the bladder/bowel could be fixed until after the baby was born. The club feet were operable, but no guarantees about the child's capabilities or quality of life. There is no cure for the problems with the wrists and hands. The geneticist at Tygerberg said she has never in her 30 year career seen a combination of these symptoms and it is a unique case. We knew then that it was time to let the baby go and scheduled an appointment with my gynae to discuss termination. He made an appointment for us the very same afternoon.

We went to see my gynae and advised him that we decided to terminate the pregnancy. He didn't have to say so, but you could tell that he agreed with our decision. He immediately prescribed medication to start inducing labour (Cytotec).

I was admitted into hospital Tuesday at 17:00 with cramps. The pain was minimal (similar to period pains, just right through to the back) and I could cope. A gel was inserted to soften my cervix and to prepare for the next day. I managed to sleep well with the assistance of a sleeping tablets and no painkillers.

The next morning the doctor came to see me and injected another gel straight into my uterus. Within a few minutes the nurse decided to call Rudi back to the hospital as I started having contractions and she thought I needed his support. The doctor said he will be back around 10:00 to monitor my progress and insert more gel into my uterus. I was given an injection for pain which made me very drowsy. Around 10:00 the doctor had not come yet and the pain killer had started to wear off. At around 10:30 the nurse decided to give me another pain killer despite the fact that the doctor had not yet come around. The doctor did come around 11:00 and saw how much pain I was in. I was screaming like someone who was having their fingernails pulled off. He decided that I could have an epidural as the process was iniated successfully, after which he would insert more gel into my uterus. The contractions were about two minutes apart and excruciating. In between contractions I was dozing off due to the painkiller. It was such an odd feeling - excruciating pain one minute, falling asleep the next, only to be rudely awakened by another contraction.

He attempted to give me the epidural in two different places, but from what I could tell he could not find 'resistance' against the needle (He said this to the nurse). To my surprise the epidural did not hurt, it just felt very strange to have something wriggling around in my spine. They asked me to lie down and after about 10 minutes the contractions had gotten worse and it became evident that the epidural had not worked. My doctor immediately arranged for me to be rushed to theater for an evacuation and scrape. By this time the contractions were so bad I was screaming for them to make it stop and to please help me. I'm surprised I didn't swear. I thought I'd be inventing new swear words with the level of pain I was experiencing. Poor Rudi looked like a deer caught in the headlights. He didn't know what to do. I felt bad that he felt so helpless and tried my best between contractions (if I was not dozing off) to assure him there was nothing he could do but be with me.

I think I might have been scaring the other patients with my screaming as the nurse kept on saying "OK Mrs. {insert surname here} every time I started having a contraction and screaming my head off. I remember the theater nurse telling me it was around 13:10. The anaesthetist asked me a few quick questions and told me to expect a burning feeling in my arm, which I did not feel.

Then they woke me up and it was all over. It was almost 14:00.

My Evil Mother and grandmother had been called and went to see the baby as Rudi and I decided not to, but we wanted someone to go and look. (I will discuss in another post what My Evil Mother did that makes me want to wring her neck) I asked My Evil Mother to take a few photos with my phone in case I decided later that I wanted to see the baby. The biggest shock for us was that we had a little boy, not a little girl as we were told, hence me not referring to the baby's sex earlier in the post. We were kind of stuck for a boy's name so we are not sure whether it will be Sebastian or James.

Last night I felt good physically and didn't require any painkillers. This morning I feel a bit like I've been through the wars. It hurts everywhere they stuck a needle in me and my girlie bits are sore too. Luckily the bleeding has subsided.

Emotionally I think I am still in shock. I don't think it has really hit me yet. I cried a little after I came out of theater, but I think it will sink in later (probably when I least expect it).

The geneticist at Tygerberg wanted to look at the foetus, out of professional curiosity I guess. She told us they will not be able to tell us the likelihood of future birth defects without performing a post mortem on the baby. We enquired about it today and the post mortem will set us back approximately another R3000.00 (it could be more). After much deliberation we decided not to have a post mortem done. It will not change what happened and will most likely not prevent anything specific in the future. The initial report (from Tygerberg on Monday) said that the likelihood of re-occurrence or future birth defects may be as high as 25%, but they did not comment on the cause. 25% is pretty high considering there was only a 2% chance that something would have been wrong with this baby. The fact that the geneticist said it was a unique case gives us some hope that it might just have been bad luck.

So when we do try again we will be taking a risk and we will need to pray that we have a healthy baby.

I'm booked off till next Friday and will try to update my blog as often as I can.


Jetsetter said...


I am really really sorry to hear what you went through, it sounded horrible.
I thought you must have had to have the baby. I hope that you are feeling better now, and take the time to grieve and heal.
The baby seemed to have too many defects and you did make the right decision, James/Sebastian, is better now and at peace.
25% possibility of defect is high, but that is still a 75% possibility that your next baby will be healthy and fine.
If you try again, save up so that you can have some extra scans done earlier. It is devastating to have such bad news and for your little boy to have been so badly formed.
I am hoping that it was a unique case and next time you will have the healthy little girl you wanted.
I do not think a post mortem would have helped you either. Better to let your little boy rest in peace.

Whatever your mother did is obviously inappropriate and very insensitive.

Rest now and recover, the worst of the ordeal is over. Take the time to cry and do not feel about it, you have the right to grieve.

All my love

Jetsetter (your babycenter friend)

Jetsetter said...

Do not feel bad about crying is what I meant to write.

Marleen Swart said...

I am sorry to read what you had to go through. I hope that you take the time to grieve and God will get you through this.