When we found out we were pregnant with our second child, we were so excited, even more so as it was our first pregnancy living on St Mary’s, and I was so excited to have a home birth on the island. However, as most of us know, pregnancies and birth plans rarely go exactly how we envisioned, and this was the case for us.
I was diagnosed with something called a succenturiate lobe at my 20-week scan. It was an extra small placenta attached to my placenta. Unfortunately, it caused several bleeds throughout my pregnancy, and I was no longer able to have a birth at home or even on St Mary’s as I was classed as high risk.
I got my head around the fact the birth I had wanted wouldn’t be happening, but I found the positives and hoped to at least have a water birth at Treliske’s birth centre.
At 30 weeks, I had a massive bleed with lots of blood clots and was flown off the island. I remember lying in bed, strapped to monitors, and a group of doctors came to see me and told me I was not allowed to travel back home until I had our baby. They planned to induce me at 37 weeks. That meant I had seven weeks on the mainland (at least!).
Thankfully, my in-laws had moved from Manchester to Cornwall that same week, and our 3-year-old son and I moved in with them. My husband Scott travelled over every weekend to see us, but it was a tough time for all of us. However, we were so grateful to have somewhere to live during this time.
Roll on two years, and we were pregnant with our third baby, another sister for our son and a baby sister for our daughter. This time, I was getting the home birth I wanted; I was determined it was going to happen. Then I was told I had gestational diabetes, which came as a huge shock, so once again, I was not allowed to have our baby on St Mary’s and would have to be on the mainland from 37 weeks.
We had to plan ahead as my in-laws no longer lived in Cornwall, and we had no family or friends nearby.
We booked a holiday cottage in St Ives as it’s our favourite place other than Scilly, and luckily, it was out of season, so it was much more affordable. We booked it for two weeks and hoped we wouldn’t need it the whole time, but it was better to have it longer than we might need.
However, once again, things didn’t go as planned. At 36 weeks, I was flown off with an infection and a baby with a first heart rate. My husband and two children got a helicopter off the island later that day and booked into a hotel near the hospital. I was discharged the next day, and our mainland stay started earlier than planned. We had to book a hotel until our original holiday house was ready. This was now costing us way more than we anticipated!
We moved into our holiday accommodation and took our children to the cinema (a real novelty), but whilst watching the film, I realised how unwell I felt. After leaving the film, I could barely walk to our parked car, and my husband drove me straight to the hospital.
That evening, I was told my baby had to be delivered ASAP. I was having contractions, so they just had to break my waters for me. I was told I had sepsis, and I was very unwell. I was attached to IV fluids and IV antibiotics and realised I was going to be giving birth to our daughter on my own as our friend who was going to stay with our children wasn’t due for another couple of days.
The doctors and midwives were phenomenal; it was one of my favourite births. Phoning my husband early the following day to let him know our daughter had arrived safely was one of my happiest and most emotional moments.
Naively, I thought we would be out of the hospital later that day as the baby passed all her diabetes tests, but I completely forgot I had an infection. It turned out I had listeria, which can be really dangerous, so they had to treat our newborn as if she had meningitis. She was taken for a lumbar puncture and then taken to a ward to have IV antibiotics, and I never felt so lost and lonely in my life. My husband wasn’t allowed to visit due to Covid restrictions, and they didn’t want anyone by the baby as she could potentially be very unwell.
We ended up in hospital for over two weeks. This meant another holiday home had to be rented, and the cost of our mainland birth had doubled from what we had initially planned.
Of course, the main thing is we both left the hospital healthy, and we could finally start our life as a family of five after being apart for so long. Watching our two older children finally meet their baby sister was beyond special.
Having The Island Haven would have completely changed our experience; it would have helped ease the financial burden significantly, but more than that, it would have taken away so much stress and pressure. When you’re told your newborn and wife are extremely unwell, and you have to then search for new accommodation for you and your children, it’s a lot to handle when your primary focus should be your family.
The Island Haven is very much needed and will benefit so many people.