I woke up with a feeling of I-cannot-be-bothered to go to work. I was 34+1 weeks pregnant, and although the pregnancy was textbook perfect, I just felt tired that day and did not feel like seeing any patients. I was on a fantastic rotation at a medical practice attached to the private hospital. I had a few patients booked in for the day and I knew at least one of them would be a pain. But I loved being a doctor in a chilled environment with amazing supervisors. This is the rotation I had been most looking forward to.
My DH kissed me goodbye at 740am. He was off to have an amazing day on oncology ward and was savouring his last few days on a very cruisy rotation. He told me to suck it up and go to work and I would feel better once I was there. I couldnt have any sick leave because we had timed the pregnancy perfectly to finish with internship. I had to work until 38+6 weeks to be eligible for maternity leave so I did indeed "suck it up" and put on one of my favourite flattering dresses.
I sighed as I looked at where we were currently living - a granny flat with our furniture all piled up in the corner. Just a few days before, we had moved from a rental property into our own house which we were renovating and hopefully would be done before Christmas. The granny flat was old and smelly, and I couldn't wait to move into the big house which we had painstakingly considered the fine details of the renovation.
I put the leashes on my two cavoodles, who were very ready to go to doggy daycare. Doggy daycare is on the way to work and I loved sending my dogs there because they come back so happy.
We made it around the corner when I crashed.
An elderly couple were on their way to cardiac rehab and were picking up a friend who also was going to cardiac rehab. They were slowing down and speeding up, clearly trying to locate the house they were after. We started speeding up again (we were going about 40km/h) when one of the dogs whined and I quickly looked back to check she wasnt caught up on her lead. When I looked back at the road, the car in front had stopped abruptly. It was too late but I slammed on the breaks as I rear ended them. My breath caught and the airbags went off. Smoke started to surround us. I removed my seatbelt.
I attempted to open the door but it was caught. I had to forcefully kick it open. As I stepped out of the car, I realised I had intense abdominal pain. I pulled up my dress, right there in the middle of the road, to check if I was bleeding. I wasn't.
The driver had gotten out of the car. I said "please call an ambulance, I'm pregnant". He ignored me and called out to a bystander and said "did you witness that? She hit me!" They started talking but I did not hear what they were saying. I thought, "I need my husband here".
I kneeled down onto the pathway as the pain took my breath away. "Please baby boy be okay, please baby be okay" is what I repeated to myself. A lady who was walking on the other side of the road eventually came over and I said to her "please call an ambulance, I'm 34 weeks pregnant". Thankfully she listened to me and called them. She also retrieved my phone from the car. DH was on his way.
That's when I remembered the dogs in the back. I opened the back door and they were sitting quietly, both shaking vigorously. My heart broke. Someone offered to hold them for me.
The ambos came and assessed me to be stable - yes I had pain (which they gave me panadol and the green whistle) and was nauseous, but I was stable with a little hypertension. They painfully did not have a doppler and I had no idea for half an hour how my baby was doing. We were delayed to get going to the hospital as there was another emergency somewhere else and for some reason we were unable to get going. This was the most painful half an hour of my life, while the paramedic tried to make small talk with me, and all I could think was "shut up because my baby could be dead right now".
Casey arrived and when I saw his face full of fear and worry, I felt a wave of guilt. He took the dogs to doggy daycare and we planned to meet at the hospital - me via ambulance.
When we finally got to the hospital I was wheeled through ED and I avoided all eye contact with the doctors I knew. We went straight up to the obstetric ward where they finally put the CTG on. He was alive.
DH arrived and my heart burst seeing his concern. All I felt was guilt.
My midwife came and asked me if I had pain and that's when I realised that I was contracting. The obs reg came around and said "lets watch and wait, you're anxious and your baby is too. We are concerned about placental abruption". The consultant came around and agreed. So just like that, I calmed down and the CTG improved for about an hour. They gave me a steroid and prepared for a c section "just in case".
The sonographer came around and happily declared "I don't see any obvious placental abruption here! You do have a nice muscle haematoma here though". I was again put at ease. DH and I talked about what we would do when we got out of hospital that day.
And then I started to have late decels for about 40 minutes.
The consultant came in and looked at the CTG and said "cat 1 c section, let's go". I cried again wondering what the hell I had done.
I felt like I had failed as a mother, and he wasn't even born yet.
A flurry of people came in and just like that I was getting a spinal and they started the operation. The obstetrician (who DH knows well) asked me "do you feel this?" and I knew he was pinching my skin hard with forceps. I pretended I was somewhere else while looking at DH's face and wondering what he was thinking about.
Baby boy was born flat with apgars of 1, 6 and 7. He was immediately taken away, and DH went with him even though I could see he was so torn about leaving me.
I was left with a room full of people but felt so alone. I felt empty.
The weeks after have been the hardest of my life. My son has moderate HIE and we don't know what his future will hold.
I am trying to heal and deal with my guilt. I'm not quite there yet.
S is a junior resident in Queensland, Australia. Her son is 16 days old today.