Walking into the lecture theatre for the first day of term for my second year of university was the most nerve-wracking experience. I knew at some point I needed to tell people that I was pregnant. I was nervous enough about becoming a first time parent at 19 without people judging me.
As time went on and my bump began to show, people always stared. I knew exactly what they were thinking. They did not even need to say anything.
I made the decision to go and speak to the lecturers and get support around assignments and exams. Surely they could not judge me right? That’s what you would like to think but I could not have been more wrong. They suggested over and over again that it would probably be best if I deferred a year. They even started to put doubts in my mind about my own capabilities. With the lack of support, I am not surprised with the high amount of university drop outs.
Being the stubborn person I am, I decided I was not going to defer. There was no chance that anyone was going to talk me out of dropping out and I became more determined than ever. Everything I now did from this point onwards was for my baby. We shortly found out we were having a healthy baby boy and we could not have been happier.
Pregnancy was normal at first, just the usual morning (or should I say all day) sickness and fatigue. Having my friends was the best part of university. If I ever missed a day, they would all send me their lecture notes. They all soon became my biggest supporters. If anything, it brought us all closer together.
At 27 weeks pregnant, my body started changing. I didn’t feel as healthy as I felt at the beginning and I knew something wasn’t right. Over and over again, the midwife would send me straight to the hospital with high blood pressure and protein in my urine. From this point onwards, I really struggled. I knew that I needed to keep attending university as much as possible as I had some important deadlines and exams coming up.
At 33 weeks pregnant, I developed intense headaches. I could not even sit in a room with the light on. I knew I had no choice but to go to the hospital. The midwife took my blood pressure twice and told me that the blood pressure monitors must be playing up as my blood pressure could not be that high. The protein in my urine now went from +1 to +2. Yet, the doctor still sent me home to ‘relax’. I could not relax, what didn’t they get about that. I spent almost every day in and out of the hospital worrying friends and family. I was even given an emergency scan as my little boy was weighing much less than they would have liked. Is this not enough signs? Clearly not, as they sent me home once again a few hours later.
Finally, at 37 weeks pregnant, the doctor diagnosed me with pre-eclampsia and dangerously high blood pressure. For me this was far too late. I was screaming I was in too much pain. They made the decision to induce me. I did not expect that. Looks like I’m having my baby. When my waters finally broke the following morning, I now had a bigger problem on my hands. My fiancé. He decided to pass out on me as he has a fear of pain and even passes out at the dentist. Great, it is just what I needed.
I remember bleeding on the way to the delivery suite. The worst thoughts were going through my mind. But I knew that I needed to be strong for my baby and that I was soon going to have him tight in my arms. Our babies heart beat kept dropping and the doctors and midwives were preparing us for the worst as he was really struggling with the contractions from inside my tummy. The contractions were agonising. That bad, I needed a catheter as I could not even get up to go to the toilet. I was only 2cm dilated… How could this be?
I was shouting at the doctors “I NEED A POOP” but they did not believe me as they said it was impossible to be having that sensation so soon as I was only 2cm dilated. They told me that I could potentially still be in labour for another 18 hours so I need to try and stay as calm as possible. My heart literally sank in that moment. Most of the pain was down my back as he was back to back. Ouch! But I stood my ground and asked them to check and I felt the sudden urge to push. Guess what! I was right. I was now fully dilated and it took a whole two pushes to push my tiny little Joshua James Munroe out.
The midwife placed Joshua onto my chest and all the pain just disappeared. He was everything and more. We could not stop staring at him, he was absolutely gorgeous. The relief in the midwives and doctor’s eyes was so noticeable. Tears strolled down myself, Joshua’s daddy and my mum’s eyes. All I wanted to do was hold my little boy and never let him go from that day onwards.
The midwife carried out all her observations and weighed Joshua. He was 4Ibs 1oz. He was a dot. But the most gorgeous dot that I had ever seen. The midwife told us that Joshua had low blood sugars and low temperature and he needed support from the neo-natal unit. He needed to be placed in a hot cot attached to a drip. Joshua was that tiny, the neo-natal unit provided premature knitted clothing for him to wear. Every parent’s worst nightmare knowing your child is not well. It broke my heart leaving Joshua in the neo-natal unit.
Walking into my new hospital room on the post-delivery ward was devastating. I thought that once I was on this ward, everything would be fine and I would have my little boy right by my side. Instead, I was in an empty room on a separate department from my new born. It broke my heart watching all the other newly mum’s nursing their baby. The hospital did try which I am grateful for. They requested that I was put in a separate room. It didn’t take away the pain though walking past the other mum’s every day and watching them take their babies home just hours after giving birth. I spent a few of my hospital days completing assignments and handing them in online.
We spent Christmas and new year in the special care unit. They even gave Joshua his own Christmas stocking full of toys. Joshua thrived in special care and was allowed home with us 11 days later. We were thrilled and to top it all off, I even achieved a 2:1 for my second year of university.
If pregnancy has taught me anything, it is to believe in yourself. After all, you know your body more than anyone. Trust your instincts.
All my love,