‘At my 12-week scan I was told that I had a cyst on my left ovary, which was approximately the size of a grapefruit. I was not in pain; until the scan I was unaware that it was there.
By 16 weeks I was in pain so I rang maternity who told me to go to A & E where I was admitted for investigation. I suspected that things were not very straightforward when the doctor who scanned me paged not one but two people to give second and third opinions.
They decided that the pain must be from the cyst. The radiologist was lovely to me, and once he had finished recording what he needed to record, he sat me up and turned the screen round so that I could watch the baby dance for a few minutes, which really cheered me up.
After a few days in hospital I was feeling much better so my consultant decided to send me home advising me to return if the pain returned, at which point she would operate and remove the cyst. She promised that she would try to save the ovary.
I remember feeling relieved that they were not going to operate at that moment, and that every week that went by my baby would get bigger and stronger.
The following day my consultant rang me at home. She told me that the cyst had been analyzed, and was fluid filled, so how did I feel about having it drained?
I was greatly relieved that something could be done. I was booked in for the following week. My maternity consultant handed me over to a consultant radiologist to drain the cyst. He advised me that he was going to use a very small amount of anaesthetic – so small that the procedure might hurt! He used the finest needle he had got and it took about 40 minutes to drain it off. There was about 650 ml of ‘gunk’.
Once he had finished I asked if the baby was ok, ‘Was the baby moving?’ I wailed. ‘Oh yes,’ he smiled ‘it was lovely to see, I don’t often get to see a baby.’ I was kept in hospital overnight and as I felt well I was able to go home the following day. I had a couple of weeks off work.
We joked that I was the only pregnant lady to grow into maternity clothes and then revert to ‘normal’ clothes before having their baby. I had some check-ups a few weeks later and the cyst was growing, but had not got to the size it was previously.
The scan that I remember going for was when I was 27 weeks pregnant. At this point the baby was said to be too small, and I had very low amniotic fluid. As both of these could mean that my placenta was breaking down I was given steroid injections in case the baby needed to be delivered, and booked in for the baby’s heartbeat to be monitored two or three times a week.
It was drummed into me that I must feel the baby move 10 times, if not I was to go straight to the hospital. From then on I was at the hospital every two to three days. I had a doppler scan every week to check the blood flow from the placenta, and a growth scan every fortnight. This enabled them to keep a close eye on the cyst, which steadily and slowly grew. Sometimes I had a bit of pain from it, but not much.
The ovary seemed to move around a lot – some weeks it would be under my rib cage, others at the side of the baby. I think it was when it moved that I got pain. The baby did grow, slowly, but remained in a breach position. The doctors said my baby was unlikely to turn because I had very little fluid and a big cyst.
The midwives were lovely to me. Very supportive, always ready to talk if I needed to, always very considerate and kind if I was upset. Once or twice I went in extra times and they were very patient and kind with me. Eventually it all got to me and I got quite upset, but the midwives kept reassuring me that their goal was for me to walk out of the hospital with a happy healthy baby.
Because of these factors the consultant decided to perform a c-section at 37 weeks. I was absolutely terrified. It felt very ‘wrong’ to me as I desperately wanted a natural birth. I had come to terms with the fact that a section for me was going to be safer, because I had got the cyst which may get in the way during a natural birth.
Because the baby was not growing very much I wanted them to leave me a couple more weeks to give the baby some more growing time. One of the doctors was lovely telling me that she understood they were asking me to go against my natural nurturing instincts. By 37 weeks she explained that baby was fully developed and they could bring the baby on better outside the womb than in.
As I am one of Jehovah’s Witnesses the c-section was to be a bloodless procedure, a fact which the hospital had been aware of all along and the consultant very supportive about. I was booked in for the section and taken down.
At 2.37 pm my husband Paul and I were presented with our baby daughter, Fleur Grace. She weighed 5lb 9oz, which was slightly more than they had anticipated from the scans. The midwife handed her to Paul whilst the consultant investigated the cyst. All of a sudden she popped her head over the screen and said that she was terribly sorry but the ovary was too damaged she needed to remove it. At that point she could have told me she was flying to the moon – all I could do was stare at our baby.
Sadly Fleur didn’t cope very well. She was very cold so they put her in a gel bed to keep her warm. When I tried to breast feed she was not interested. The midwife told us that they needed to get some milk in to her to keep her blood sugar level even.
One part of me desperately wanted to breastfeed, but if she wouldn’t do it and needed feeding, then a bottle it was to be. Initially she refused a bottle. Eventually she accepted one, but was then sick. Then her breathing started to deteriorate. They called a paedatrician who examined her and said she was ok, but if it got any worse to call her back.
Her breathing did get worse, so they called a paedatrician who came at about 11 pm and said that she needed to be admitted to Special Care. In special care, Fleur was put in an incubator to help her to breathe.
Obviously this was very upsetting for Paul and I. The special care midwives asked me if I wanted to breastfeed, I told them that I had tried but that she was not interested, and they said not to worry, and to start expressing my milk.
I was moved to a room on my own so that I did not have to be around babies, and given a breast pump. All the midwives gave me lots of encouragement and I started to express my milk for Fleur.
Fleur had a problem called ‘TTN’ which apparently is relatively common amongst caesarians but Fleur had it badly. However, she slowly improved. They began to feed her through a tube, then a few days later I was able to change her nappy for the first time, I was delighted.
One of the nurses asked me how I was getting on with expressing my milk. ‘I don’t know,’ I said. A few minutes later she came over to me laughing, and said that I had nothing to worry about – I had expressed so much milk that Fleur had got her own shelf in the freezer!
A few days later the nurses asked if I wanted a go at feeding her myself. It was lovely, as if she knew I was Mummy and what she had to do. She latched on and guzzled!
This made me feel so much better – I felt as though I was fulfilling my natural nurturing instinct. A week after Fleur had been born, she was well enough to go back to the ward with me. I was delighted. All of the midwives were excellent.
We stayed in hospital for a couple more days, with me caring for Fleur then we left with a happy healthy baby.
Four weeks later Fleur had an appointment for a hip scan. Standard procedure for breach babies to check for ‘clicky hip’. I was just beginning to get a bit of confidence, she could breathe, we were looking after her, she was putting on weight. After her scan we were referred to Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry, the following day. In Coventry we were told that Fleur’s left hip was ‘clicky’ – an underdeveloped hip socket. On a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being normal and 5 being dislocated, Fleur was a 4.
They put her into a Pavlic Harness. It looked medieval, but the consultant assured me that they had a very good success rate with it, and with Fleur being 3 weeks early then her bones were 3 weeks softer than if she had been full-term. She was to stay in the harness all the time and we were to return each week for a scan for her hip to be checked and for the harness to be checked and adjusted for growth.
Paul and I were very upset. Clicky hip in itself is not life-threatening and is curable, but our beautiful baby was strapped up: no more babygros. We had to carry her across our hip, getting into the habit of keeping her legs apart. We told immediate friends and family and the following day we had a stream of visitors and telephone calls of support.
Fleur had 3 pinafores in her wardrobe; within a week, she had got a cupboard full. A few of my friends got together and drew up a rota to take Fleur and I to the hospital each week. This was no mean feat as it was about an hour’s trip in each direction. I felt very alone and abandoned; although everybody was loving and reassuring, within a few days Fleur was very upset.
We struggled to wind her, I had days of her crying solidly. Nappies were a nightmare fiddling around the harness. I was terrified of knocking it. I had thought that changing a nappy in an incubator around the wires was my piece-de-resistance, but this was more complicated!
One of my friends found a website where we learnt that clicky hip is more common in girls, your first baby, the left hip, breach babies, and squashed babies. Fleur was all of those. She was squashed because I had so little amniotic fluid and…a big ovarian cyst.
The following week I spoke to the consultant and the physiotherapist who told me that she probably had felt uncomfortable for a few days, just as we would if we were forced into a set position and unable to move. We got used to handling her in the harness and the only thing I couldn’t do was bath her. My poor little girl had to have a strip wash.
The hardest thing was winding her, and I am sure that we nursed her much more than we would have done otherwise. Fleur’s hip improved and stayed normal very quickly – possibly because we were referred so quickly. We then started to wean her out of the harness an hour a day for the first week, and I had to learn how to take the harness off and put it on again. She could have a bath now – but I was too nervous to bath her out of the harness as she was very wobbly.
The following week she was out of the harness for two hours a day, then four hours and so on. This was a very difficult stage as every day I would have to wake her up to either put her in the harness or take her out of it. I was really worried that the harness would hamper her development, but they assured me it wouldn’t. As soon as she was out of it she was wriggling around, kicking and playing, so it didn’t!
By the end of the year she was out of the harness full time. We still had to carry her across our hip keeping her legs apart and did not dress her in trousers, tights or baby gros – nothing that might pull her legs together.
We still go for check-ups, every few weeks at first, now every few months. When Fleur was 9 months old the consultant said we could put her in trousers as long as they were baggy. Now when I put her to bed she is all snuggled up in a babygro – she looks like a ‘proper baby’.
I still breastfeed morning and evening, something else I didn’t think I would manage.
Was it all because of the cyst? Who knows. Some of these things might have happened anyway.
I seemed to have a lot of things happen to me that were a little out of the ordinary, things could have been worse, much worse, but it all seemed never-ending.
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