I would like to share with you the story so far and will try to keep it is as short as I possibly can and spare the minute details.
When I went for umrah in June this year (True Love : Part 1 : Unworthy Me), among the many other things I prayed for, I prayed to God every single day asking him to grant me with a 'zuriat' if it will bring me closer to His Love and if I am ready for motherhood. To be honest, before I went for umrah, even though I have been married for 2 years I felt I was never ready to become a mother as it entails so much responsibility and I was very career minded, among the many other reasons I made for myself. That Wednesday night, exactly 8 weeks after I came back from my umrah trip, I found out I was pregnant. Both my husband and I were overwhelmed with contentment. God answered our prayers. Syukur. :) We were nervous of what's coming but at the same time extremely excited. The next day it was confirmed by the doctor that I was already 6 weeks pregnant.
During the whole of my first trimester, my morning sickness was really bad. And no, it wasn't only in the mornings, it drags through the whole day. There were times that I vomitted at least 3 times a day. There were days I had to work from home as I couldn't get up at all. However, I was told that it is very normal for pregnant ladies especially in the first trimester. I lost a few kgs due to the vomitting and became really skinny and at one point I had to be admitted to a hospital and be fed by drips as I couldn't eat or drink anything for a few weeks. It was something new to me as I have always been a workaholic, have lots of energy and never had trouble eating. However, I always comforted myself, because in the end it will all be worth it and I will forget all that has happened once my baby is born and get the chance to hold my baby for the first time, God-willing. The sickness died down slowly when I entered my fourth month and I was happy that I could eat like I usually did before I got pregnant. I am a really big-eater :)
Then 8 weeks ago, on the Friday night of 26th of October 2012 (at 16 weeks), I 'peed' in my pants. Well, I thought I peed. My husband and I even laughed at the situation because we thought it was one of those funny moments you always read about, that pregnant ladies having problems controlling their bladder, was happening to me. I felt tired the next day and I rested at home with my husband the whole day. I did not visit any of my relatives at all even though it was Eid al-Adha. That weekend I had urgent work to be settled at the office, so I came in the office to work on both Saturday and Sunday from morning till nighttime. It was nothing unusual and I had all the energy at that time.
On that fateful Tuesday morning the 30th of October 2012, my husband and I were very excited to go for our monthly appointment with our gynae to see our baby. Especially since the last time we went for the ultrasound the previous month, our baby actually summersaulted, waved to the camera and happily swam in the water sac. The baby was so hyperactive even the gynae was surprised. The baby's movements were something we couldn't get out of our minds although it didn't cross our minds to record our baby's movements that day. We were also extra excited that Tuesday because we were told that we might be able to see the gender of our baby since our baby had reached four months. While the ultrasound was being done, we waited excitedly and impatiently for the baby to move about to reveal the gender. Surprisingly, our baby was very still. The baby wasn't moving at all which was very peculiar, unlike the last scan, and we couldn't see him clearly. Still, we thought the baby was just sleeping.
However, our doctor seemed worried. I didn't understand why. After a long while, the first question she asked me was "Did you bleed?" I was taken aback and felt that the question was ridiculous. "Of course not", I answered, cheerfully and happily. I thought to myself, my pregnancy so far was perfectly normal, Alhamdulillah, so why would I bleed? She then asked me whether I leaked any fluid. Then I recalled what happened the Friday before and informed her. She asked me why I didn't go to the emergency of the hospital straight away when it happened. I explained to her that all of the doctors we had seen only warned us to go to the hospital straight away if there was any bleeding but did not mention anything about any leaking. This is because it does not usually happen.
Being first-time parents, we weren't aware of what the leaking meant. Even though I knew that normally, the water would break before labour, it never occurred to me that what had happened on that Friday was actually the amniotic fluid leaking. We really thought it was 'pee'. The doctor had a very worried look on her face, but she told us to come the next day as she wanted to do some tests. She explained that at the moment, the amniotic fluid is almost non-existent in the water sac but she's unable to confirm what has happened until she can do some tests. At the end of the consultation, she told me not to worry just yet.
After the check-up, I went straight to the office. My principal partner was very surprised that I came into the office after I had the chance to tell him what happened and told me to leave the office straight away as I should be resting at home with my husband. I went home after a few hours as I tried to finish up some work and answer calls from clients. I had work to be settled but at the same time I was losing my focus. I guess at that time, I really didn't understand or was in denial of what was happening. I refused to believe my situation was anything bad. Even though I was emotionally vulnerable, I tried my best to be positive amidst the mixture of emotions. I just drank lots of water as advised by the doctor to see whether the fluids would return before seeing her the next day. I remember my cousin also had low amniotic fluid throughout her pregnancy so I tried my very best to remain positive.
My husband and I started to google up some information on the situation. I remember one of the first things I googled was "water broke at 16 weeks". That night I told my parents of what might have happened and broke down when doing so but my dad reminded me to "just have faith and take one step at a time". At that time, nothing was confirmed yet.
The next day, my husband and I went for our scheduled follow-up appointment. My dad was there too. I was extremely nervous but tried my best not to show it. After the ultrasound, my usually very excited, cheerful and friendly gynae had the most serious face which I've never seen before. I tried to contain my emotions. Whatever she was about to tell me could not have been anything good.
She begun by saying "It is not easy for me to break the news to you". She confirmed that there was no amniotic fluid in the sac at all. She told me that it could be because of my leak on Friday BUT it could also be because the baby's kidney and bladder were not fully developed which would mean that the baby is abnormally formed. She was uncertain because without the fluid it was very hard to see with the normal ultrasound machine.
In an instant, from a perfectly normal and smooth pregnancy, it turned out to be a complicated and high-risk pregnancy. She was going to refer me to a super specialist because this was beyond her area of expertise. The conclusion that I gathered was that when the amniotic fluid is so low at a very early stage in the pregnancy, the outcome is usually not good for both the baby and mother. However, she told me to seek as many second opinions as I could, because normally in rare situations like these, the baby's outlook is not very good and there was little hope for the baby to survive. Apart from that, there are a lot of risks involved to both mother and child so the situation might lead the doctors to normally suggest 'termination' (God forbid! Nauzubillah). Hearing that word alone brought me to tears that was so hard for me to fight. It was heart breaking, I couldn't control my tears from falling.
My dad immediately secured an appointment for me to see another doctor right away. I later learned that the Professor is a very experienced perinatologist/feto-maternal medicine specialist which means that he specializes in assessment & management of high-risk pregnancies, assessment of fetal growth & well being, maintenance of fetal health and the diagnosis of fetal illnesses & abnormalities. Both of my parents, husband and I went from one hospital to the other immediately. For me, it was the longest ride ever. Upon meeting the Professor, he advised me to be warded instantly as most mothers go into labour within 72 hours of their water sac breaking. I was also told that the longer I carry the baby inside me with the water sac still broken, the higher the risk of infection which could be fatal to me, so they needed me to be warded so that they could monitor me for that infection (sepsis/septicemia) and any other signs of giving birth.
Reflecting back, it was already a miracle that I didn't go into labour by then. However, even though my family told me to follow the Prof's advice, it was all just too much for me to take in at once and I refused to be warded straightaway. I was too heart broken because just a few days before, everything was going so well and all I expected to see when I went to visit the gynae was the gender of my baby. All of a sudden, my world came crashing down. Only God knows how I felt. God knows best.
After a calm and quiet night at home with my family and some of my closest friends visiting, I was persuaded to be warded the next day, on the 1st of November 2012, which was my birthday. Alhamdulilllah, I received my first bit of good news when a detailed scan of our baby showed that the baby does have functioning kidneys and bladder, so there was nothing wrong with the baby. The lack of fluids must have been caused by what is called Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes (PPROM), a condition whereby the membrane rupture occurs before 37 weeks of pregnancy i.e. : water broke early (pecah air ketuban). In my case, extremely early. PPROM at 16 weeks. The doctors aren't able to say what caused it.
Once I was warded, I knew and finally realized that my situation was very critical and that any help would be beyond the realms of medicine and man as the doctors could not do anything except to wait and observe my condition. They told me I can only pray that the membranes of the sac re-seals itself as medically there was nothing the doctors and the current technology could do to seal it back. Only God knows what is actually happening in a female's womb (Surah Ar-Rad:8). I knew that only the Almighty God could help and that was when I decided to share my story and ask for prayers from my family, friends and people who know me. There and then on my birthday we decided to name our baby Jibrael so that we could talk to our child, even without knowing the gender of the baby. After all, angels are genderless :)
I have been confined to strict bedrest as I am still leaking and any movements I make will accelerate the leaking of the amniotic fluid. So far my Amniotic Fluid Index (AFI) has always been between 1-4 only (the normal amount is between 10-15). Being confined to strict bedrest is a bit of a challenge and a huge adjustment as I am a very 'hyperactive' person. I am always out and about working or meeting people and don't usually like to rest or stay at home (tak boleh duduk diam).
The doctors and the nurses have been constantly monitoring me for any other signs of labour or the infection which would be fatal to me. And of course, they are monitoring the growth and well-being of Jibrael, although from the very beginning, they are mostly concerned about my health first and foremost. Formally, I was admitted for 'threatened miscarriage' since my admission was when I was only at my 16th week. I only realized this fact a few weeks after I was admitted. This is because, the doctors say that in Malaysia they will only consider the baby viable to be saved ie have a chance of survival after 26 weeks, and at least after the baby has weighed 500 grams (I was told that in the UK or US viability is earlier, at 22 weeks). Harsh, but anything less they consider as abortion or miscarriage. So at the earlier stages as much as I only want to save Jibrael, the team of doctors were mainly concerned about my health.
Jibrael and I have both been struggling every day to make sure that Jibrael survives this. Every day is another battle for us. Every day is another struggle. Jibrael has been very strong, because once the water sac breaks, the body will try and push the baby out. It breaks my heart every time I see how hard it is for Jibrael to be in a fluidless sac through the detailed scan as it is very cramped and hard to move in there. So for Jibrael to make it this far, shows how much strength this little fighting miracle baby of mine has :) I am proud that my little angel is fighting hard. I am thankful for all the prayers that I have received so far. All Praises to the Almighty Creator for granting Jibrael the strength to stay put and hold on this long. After all, all might and strength comes from Him alone.
Fast forward to today, after 56 days of the water sac rupturing and 50 days of being in the hospital there has simply been too much that has happened to me every single day. We don't know what is going to happen next. Everything is unpredictable and uncertain. I wish I could have documented everything that has happened daily but it has been really tough. I feel that it has been ages since I was first admitted as too many things have happened but at the same time I couldn't believe it has already been 50 days. God is Great. Allahuakbar.
One of the things some people said to me even when it was only my first week in the hospital, "You must be really bored being alone in the hospital for so long". My answer has always been the same, "I have never been bored". If you are fighting for your child's life every single day, with uncontrollable and unexpected things keep on happening physically and emotionally how can you ever be bored? Plus, being alone most of the time especially, your mind doesn't stop thinking and your emotions doesn't stop feeling and you feel all kinds of things. I never stopped praying. My first 30 days especially, I couldn't even rest. Even at night. But then again, I myself would not have understood what I've been through so far if I myself didn't actually go through it.
It has truly been a roller-coaster journey full of topsy-turvy ups and downs. It hasn't been easy. I thought the hardest thing would be being forced to be on bedrest and being separated from my husband but I've experienced unexpected contractions, bleeding, vomiting and medically unexplainable pain among other things. I have been on drips so many times and blood is taken from me at least twice a week that at one point all my veins were swollen and clogged and the doctors ran out of veins to inject. I even passed out in the washroom once and was unconscious till the next day due to a severe reaction to a painkiller usually used during childbirth (pethidine) because my body couldn't take it and I couldn't remember what happened the whole day. I only got to know how worried everyone was once my husband told me what had happened when I was conscious the next day and was stable. My face was pale and colourless, they said. They had to put me on drips and force oxygen into me. I know I have to stay strong for Jibrael and that is what I have been trying to do since day one but it is sometimes easier said than done when physically there are times that my body couldn't play its part. Moreover, I am only human.
As much as I always try to be positive, there is always a fear of uncertainty creeping on my mind about what is going to happen the next hour, sometimes even the next minute. Sometimes I fear going to the washroom because I do not know what is going to happen to me or Jibrael. At times, I try to hide that I am in pain or if I see any unusual things happening because of the fear of what the doctors are going to say when I tell them. It can be terrifying not knowing what certain things mean. I have to constantly remind myself that the Creator knows best and plans for the best for us. It is a constant struggle for me to remain positive every day.
I am blessed to have received plenty of help and support from my wonderful family and relatives. My life support system. It goes without saying but Jibrael and I couldn't have gone through this without my husband Abdullah Khubayb aka @kneok doing this together with us. But, of course. :) My mother has pushed herself beyond her limits to take care of me at the hospital. If it wasn't for my dad, I would not have been here in the first place as he was the one who secured that first appointment with the perinatolagist on my birthday. My parents in law have also visited me almost every day and have given me a lot of spiritual support too. My family has been my pillar and strength since forever but it is even more evident during this trying time. Friends have also helped a lot in so many different ways. Blessed to have true friends who really care in times of need and hardship. Also blessed to have received various valuable life lessons which I couldn't have learnt any other way through the experience so far and sometimes even from random concerned strangers.
I am also grateful for the team of specialists, doctors and nurses caring for me as they are highly skilled, but most importantly they are good people and very supportive. In fact, even though my condition is actually negative in so many ways my feto-maternal specialist was the one who told me at the very beginning to just be positive as my feelings and emotions would affect my baby. He also reminded me to always take one step at a time so that I won't be overwhelmed. The team of specialists and doctors are all very helpful in helping me slowly digest what was happening to me as time goes by. I am blessed to be in a university or research based hospital.
Apart from all the support I have received, from the very beginning I knew I had to get myself educated regarding my situation so I have been reading articles given to me by my specialist on the possible risks and complications if the baby were to survive and at the same time googling on similar PPROM cases to mine. I found a website of 'PPROM support group' (http://www.inkan.se/pprom/) which is very helpful. I read almost all survival stories of those mothers whose water broke between 15-17 weeks. I also found a facebook page where both mothers whose babies survived PPROM and those who unfortunately lost theirs in their struggle shared their stories with the rest of us. Going through the pages reminds me again that there is hope, as PPROM cases are very individualistic in nature, miracles do happen and most importantly, I am Jibrael's main advocate. I am the closest to Jibrael and only I can defend Jibrael's rights to live as long as possible, God-willing.
Every day that Jibrael's heart is beating strong inside me has been a miracle, with God's Will and Grace. Jibrael is very strong surviving and even growing til today. Tomorrow Jibrael will turn 24 weeks young. I have been looking forward to every Friday :) Hearing the baby's heartbeat is undoubtedly my daily highlight since Day 1. And since the 18th week, Jibrael has been actively moving about and treating me as a punching bag. Jibrael's movements has sometimes woken me up from sleep because I can feel it really strong even though Jibrael can't move full force like other babies with normal amount of amniotic fluid in the sac. The movements can also be very ticklish at certain parts and sometimes even made me laugh to myself in the middle of the night. I was quite embarrassed when different patients next to my bed could hear that I was laughing alone all by myself. But it is uncontrollable because my body is the sensitive and ticklish type. With minimal fluids inside the sac, I have been able to feel Jibrael's active and slightest movements even more and earlier than most other moms. It is one of the most wonderful feelings ever to know that your child is inside you and feel your baby moving actively inside you. Sometimes I just cry at how beautiful the feeling is. All Praises to the Creator for creating us human beings in such a beautiful way. Amazing. MasyaAllah.
Thank you for all your tremendous support and prayers which I have received from family, friends and instagram, twitter and facebook friends. Reading your well-wishes and messages have really helped me in many ways to get through this tough ordeal so far. It has given me further emotional and moral support to face this challenge. Only God can reward your kindness and generosity for your support and prayers. I pray that God will reward you abundantly in this temporary world and the Afterlife.
I keep holding on to this promise. May He determine what is best for us as Jibrael's life and my death has been preordained. It's been really tough when clinically and medically the situation is very negative but I have to try my best to stay positive to keep up J's spirits. We sometimes take life for granted when it is actually not easy to live. Many more out there struggling and fighting for life. Let us all be thankful every single day for the best gift that our Creator has blessed us with : This life to prepare us for the Eternal Life. This temporary world that we are living in is just one big test. Tests will keep on coming in different forms to different people at different times, harships or ease.
To all the ladies who are reading this blogpost of mine, mothers, mommy-to-bes and those who are trying to have a child, I know it is only the beginning for me. I am still taking baby steps towards motherhood. Only God knows the struggles that you have to go through and the sacrifices that you have to make while trying to get pregnant, being pregnant and raising your child. Being in the O&G ward, I have seen different mothers from different walks of life with different struggles, pains and problems. Initially, I even felt like I was watching a live reality tv show! It is amazing to see what mothers are willing to do for their child. I salute all of you. :)
If you have read this post, would appreciate it you could leave your thoughts, comments, prayers or anything at all below.
Or maybe share with me your own experiences or any similar stories you've heard as I am such a newbie especially to motherhood :)
I have been updating and micro-blogging whenever I am able to at Instagram (http://www.instagram.com/rnadiasabrina) and twitter (@rnadiasabrina). Here are some notes of what I've shared during my stay at the hospital :
|Jibrael's story on my Birthday|
|First blood pressure reading taken immediately on 1st November 1984 when I was admitted. 1.11.84 is my birth date. What a coincidence. Took it as a sign that I was meant to be there at that moment and time. God's timing is always the best :) 1.1.12|
|Our prayers for Jibrael|
|Day 5 |