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  • Motherhood Melbourne

Karlie's motherhood story – I was told that I might die giving birth

September 2nd 2016 – a day I will never EVER forget. Not just because it was the day my son was born, but because it was the day I was told that I "may not make it" while giving birth to him.



But let's go back a little bit.


After 15 months of 'trying' (including 1 miscarriage), we finally made another tiny human; a sibling for our first beautiful baby – Harper, who was born in 2013.


My pregnancy with Harper was pretty standard; morning sickness day and night up to about 12 weeks then I was good as gold for the rest of her pregnancy. I went into labour on her due day and even though I had an emergency C-section it all went well. Harper was a healthy 9 pounds 1 ounce and we were great. She was a dream baby – slept well, ate well, happy and bubbly little thing.


My pregnancy with Bodhi? Could not have been more different. I was horrendously sick for the entire 8 months that I cooked him.


It was horrific. I stopped living. I stopped working. I barely ate. I barely left my house/bed/couch.


All day I would cry, pray that I would just feel better, and the daily throwing up… makes me shudder to just reflect on it. I was a fucking mess. So much so that I never ever want to go through pregnancy ever again. This went on for 8 months straight until one day, I was lying in bed, throwing up, unable to even keep water down, couldn't sleep and could barely move. Paul had only just got to work and I made the call – I couldn't do this anymore.


I called Paul at work and told him he had to come and get me and take me to hospital as I needed help – looking back I really should have told him I needed to go to hospital way sooner than what I did, but at the time I just assumed I was having a horrible pregnancy and that it was 'normal' and it would all end soon so just keep going, you'll be right, toughen up.

How wrong I was.


I arrived at Kyneton Hospital and they hooked me up to a drip as I was severely dehydrated and weak. I was having weird contractions and had no life left in me. They sent in a new Doctor who just started that day and he was lovely; very kind, very attentive and I remember thinking how glad I was that he was my doctor that day. I was closely monitored and they asked me questions about my pregnancy and how I was feeling etc. Then there was this question, "have you been itchy?" – my reply, "Oh my God, yes. I have been itching all over this whole week like I'm on fire. I've never been so itchy in my life."


That's when shit went down.


Since I was always going to have the baby at Bendigo Base Hospital, they decided I needed to go straight there and get assessed as they had all the emergency type procedures and facilities there if things needed to happen quickly. I was very happy to do this. So they popped me in an ambulance and whisked me to Bendigo.


I arrived in Bendigo, exhausted and defeated.


I was put into a room to be assessed and I had blood tests taken and a foetal monitor put on to make sure the baby was OK. He was. I wasn't. I spent the night in the hospital to get some rest and had some more blood tests taken. The next morning arrived…

I can't remember what time it was or anything, but I remember waking up to a whole bunch of doctors in my room, with different devices and machines and all kind of, rushing around. It was very strange to me.




Side note – I need to stop here and let you know that whilst I'm writing this my body is shaking as I reflect on my horrible experience, but I'll push through because I want to share it with you.


More blood tests, more blood tests and more blood tests.


"We think you might have Hepatitis B. Have you been in contact with anyone really sick recently?"




"We are really confused at what's going on with you."




"Your liver enzymes are alarmingly high. Like off the charts high."




"We think you have liver disease."




"We need to do another blood test to make sure these results are right because your liver enzymes are through the roof high."



Bodhi and Harper

More doctors, more questions and more confusion.


Then one doctor, a woman (I wish I could remember her name), came in and said, "I think we need to get him out now. We think you have something called HELLP Syndrome which is an advanced form of pre-eclampsia and we need to get him out right now. Your liver and kidneys have completely shut down."


I was in shock at this because I actually thought I was feeling a little bit better, but my organs were failing one by one.


"OK lets do it, that's fine."


So I'm getting all prepared to go into surgery for another C-section under General Anaesthetic (GA). Little fact – both my children were born via C-section under GA – neither myself nor Paul, witnessed our kid's births.


Then another doctor comes in and gives and drops this bomb on me – "I just need you to know that there is a chance you may not make it through this". My entire body froze. I couldn't blink, I couldn't think, I was frozen. Actually I think I said, "OK".

Then I looked at Paul and I burst into tears.


"Call Mum. Tell her to get here right now and bring Harper".


The doctor said some other things but I don't remember them, all I remember thinking was, I could die today!


The maternity nurse came in and she looked at me, saw my tears and asked if I was OK, and I told her what the doctor told me, she couldn't believe he said that to me and just hugged me.


They then wanted to send me down to have a liver ultrasound to see what kind of shape it was in pre-surgery. So I was wheelchaired down, still exhausted and barely able to keep my eyes open. I sat down the the waiting room for what felt like hours (but I think it was maybe 20 minutes), and a man came back to get me and said, "we don't have time, we're doing it now".



I went up to the operating theatre where Paul and the doctors met me and they prepared me for surgery. The Doctor who was doing the operation told me I was going to be OK – and I felt so relieved to hear this. He was calm, confident, reassuring me I was going to be OK. Paul wasn't allowed in so he kissed me goodbye and I went in.


Right before they put me to sleep I remember feeling – CALM. The thought went through my head that "this could be it", but I was amazingly calm. I felt OK.


Next minute, I'm awake and shaking like leaf because I don't come out of GA's very well – I literally convulse and I can't control it. They ask me if I'm cold, and why am I shaking, ha! It's just how my body responds to being put under, but I can't tell them this because I'm so drugged up and out of it.


Anyway, I did it. I gave birth to Bodhi James Gleeson who was born at a healthy 3kg and 48cm at 35 weeks gestation and he was A-OK. He was in the Special Care Unit as it's protocol for premature births and he was put into a humidicrib. What a trooper this baby was.


Me? Not so well. I spent a good couple of days in Intensive Care and was being watched and monitored and cared for every minute I was in there.

I don't think I saw Bodhi until he was 2 or 3 days old. I can't remember. But all that mattered was that he was OK and I made it through and I was going to be OK too. Thank God.


For the next week I stayed on the ward and was monitored intensively. Each day I felt better and better – sore, but better. Bodhi was still in Special Care where he ended up staying for 2 weeks as he was tube fed and he wasn't allowed to leave hospital until he could take a bottle (I didn't breastfeed Bodhi at all) without us needing to tip the rest of it down his tube. I was staying in a hotel on the hospital grounds while Paul stayed home to look after Harper. I wasn't going home without my baby.


Even though it was hard being away from Harper for so long, I knew I had to stay there with Bodhi until he was able to come home. Every couple of hours I was pull myself up the little hill to the hospital (keep in mind I was recovering from a C-section and near death experience – I was determined to be with him as much as I could so getting up that small hill that seemed like a mountain at the time), wasn't going to stop me. I fed Bodhi his bottles every 2-3 hours and cuddled him, bathed him, was with him. Paul would visit me every day or 2 with and without Harper and help me with the hill and looking after Bodhi, getting his own bonding time in too.


Then finally we got to go home.


After all of this I have a bit a new perspective on life now where my motto is "don't sweat the small stuff" and "live every day like it's your last" – so cliche I know, but I don't care.


Bodhi is now 17 months old and he's an absolutely firecracker of a kid. He's happy. He's demanding. He's hilarious. He's perfect. We all are.



I grew up in Kyneton and come from a very large family. I left the area for 10 years and travelled around, living in the USA, Melbourne, Perth, Bendigo and then back to Kyneton to start a family and build a home. I found my passion for web design in 2013 on maternity leave with my first born and have never looked back. I’m a sports loving girl from the country but there’s a big chunk of me that loves the city, which I return to on a weekly basis at this point. I absolutely crave alone time, the ocean and solo road trips. I guess you could say I’m an inner-loner but LOVE being in a crowd and meeting new people.


Hood: Kyneton


Children: Two – Harper and Bodhi


Motherhood in 5 words: eye-opening, challenging, beautiful, maturing, fun.


Fav family-friendly place: Werribee Open Range Zoo


Coffee order: Coffee? Gross. Never drank a cup in my whole life! I’ll have a hot chocolate though please.


Biz: Techno Bird

Digital Marketing specialising in website design, online stores, SEO and digital set ups for new businesses.




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The information in this story is a unique and personal reflection of the writer's experience. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.



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