Every day someone asks me “how is Emily doing now?” And I answer “she is doing great thank you, just like a regular baby”…however still small for her actual age, but thats understandable!
Every day someone asks me “how are you?” And in the British way I answer “not bad thanks, how are you?” Because that is generally what they want to hear.
If someone asked me “how are you doing now, after every that happened?” the answer would be very different and not very British. In fact, probably more Scottish with the F word for commas.
Everyday it still hurts. I still think about the 15 weeks she spent in hospital and how that was hard for all of us. I think about not going to term with my baby and have flashbacks to the event itself. Fane and I still talk about it because everyday we still relive it all in our heads. And it still makes me feel sick and frightened because we easily could have lost her.
I still feel stabbing guilt for what it put Alex through and how much she had to grow up so quickly. That she had to spend her last long summer before starting school visiting the hospital most days. That she had to wait for the simplest request when I had to express, but she was also helpful and so understanding to the situation. That the first time she held her baby sister, she was covered in canulas and long lines.
I feel angry every day that I couldn’t be with Emily 24/7, that I couldn’t give her every feed and change every nappy and hold her hand everytime she was poked and prodded. I am still angry to this day that a nurse put her in her first set of clothes. I didn’t express it on the day as i was so grateful that she had just been transferred to Bedford, but I am still angry.
I am also angry that my maternity leave started 3 and a half months early. That plans were thrown out the window and that we took a massive financial hit when we needed funds to get to and from Cambridge (and hitchin for Fane). My actual maternity pay ends in a week when Emily is 9 months old, but only 5 and a half corrected. I am lucky enough to have a lot of holiday that I can take to make up for the first 15 weeks, but most people dont have that privelage.
I feel guilty everyday that Emily is doing fantastically, where as many other premature babies will feel the life long affect of coming too soon.
Being a mum of 2 and surrounded by other mums whether its in public places or on social media, I hear the phrase ‘breast is best’ ona daily basis.
I dont dispute that breastfeeding is the natural way that a mother should feed their baby and that most of the time breast milk is the most nutritious form of food. However, I am so painfully sick of the phrase and the negative stigma that it is gives bottle and formula feeding.
Not every mum is able to breast feed and I would be here all day listing reasons why it isn’t always possible, these are just a few – milk doesnt come in, latching issues, tongue tie and allergies.
Personally, with my first, I breast fed for a few weeks…and it made me sick. I couldnt keep up with her demands as I didn’t have the time or the stomach to eat much. For the same reason I couldn’t express long term. So after weeks of hints and tips and advice and pressure from all direction, I decided breast was not best for Alex and I. She thrived and put on more weight and was generally happier when we switched to bottle feeding and formula. We were all happier.
And then of course there is Emily. She wasnt breast fed or bottle fed for the first 15 weeks of her life. She was fed through an NG tube, and sometimes not fed at all and had a long line going through her veins giving her nutrition. I was extremely lucky that I was able to express a ridiculous amount of milk for Emily, but I met many mums who couldn’t. I have also met many mums whos children went home with an NG tube or even a PEG and some of them go months and even past their first birthday being fed through these means for medical reasons.
When it came to trying to breast feed Emily the pressure was too much, on me and her, it would just result in frustration. So we decided to go with the bottle so we could get her used to it and get her home as soon possible. And we decided that once the gallons of expressed milk we had frozen ran out that we would switch to formula. I expressed for nearly 4 months and it ruled my life, I was determined to enjoy every second of Emily being home with her family and not be attached to a machine for any of it.
The most important thing for Emily and for many other premature or sick children is being fed and gaining weight. And obviously the same goes for term and well babies, they need food whether it is from breast, bottle, tube or other means.
4 weeks ago we were discharged from the special care baby unit after 15 weeks of being between The Rosie in Cambridge and our home hospital in Bedford. For the last 4 weeks everyone has asked “is it nice having her home?”. The answer is of course Yes! It’s amazing having our baby home and being able to have some sense of normality.
But honestly, the last 4 weeks have been just as hard and as stressful as the 15 weeks previous and I feel completely out of my depth.
Emily is my second baby, so I know what it’s like to be home with a regular, healthy baby and can’t help but compare. I wasn’t neurotic with Alex at all; cleaning happened when it happened and visitors came whenever. When Alex had her first cold we were a bit worried because we could tell her throat was sore but a quick trip to the GP and some paracetamol it was all sorted…
This time I am cleaning as much as time will allow and washing my hands more than I did in NICU, visitors are most definitely limited (although people don’t really seem eager to come round), and they must wash and gel their hands before they even consider touching her. I want to physically punch every person who stops in the street or at school or the supermarket to say how cute she is as I’m petrified they’re going to touch her. We even bought disinfectant surface and air spray…something I would never even consider before!
She got a cold and I went to the GP and was immediately referred to the paediatrician at the hospital and their biggest concern was it turning into bronchiolitis, but they sent us home with an open access note. The following day we were back there with the same concerns and the doctor was a little concerned…but she is absolutely fine after about 4 days. I sense that every time Emily has even the slightest cold we are going to freak out and do the same thing all over again!
When in the hospital the nurses all said to try to avoid going out to crowded places for a while…how exactly can we do that with never ending follow up appointments? For at least a third of the days we have been home, we have been out for some kind of appointment and it will be like this until she is atleast 2. One of these appointments was in London and we had to get the train (luckily not the tube); not the place you want your preemie to be when they have been home only a week.
Just to reiterate, we are over the moon Emily is home and we love her so much, this post is just raise awareness that it’s not over once your discharged.
We have half a dozen appointments coming up and awaiting more…including an MRI, for which she will be under general anesthetic, and laser eye treatment for ROP, which will be this week. We have had to reschedule her immunisations twice too and one of the receptionists at the surgery wasn’t particularly understanding about the situation.
Emily is also on a number of vitamins and medicines. Trying to get more of these has been a nightmare; the GP has queried everything even though it’s all there on her hospital SEND! I don’t understand why it is so difficult and it makes me so frustrated, it’s like they have never dealt with a premature baby before.
I don’t know who to have confidence in anymore. The specialist nurses and doctors were amazing in the unit, and now communication has completely broken down.
This is our baby. Our baby who was only 1lb 2oz at birth and struggled to gain weight. Our baby with a virus that may affect her sight and hearing in the future. Our baby with and fragile immune system. Our baby who is lucky to have survived…and now I feel like we are on our own.
It wasn’t until I was 20 weeks that I started to be scared about my pregnancy. I had a scan in which Emily was coming up too small which wasn’t a massive concern; it was a blood test that resulted in us deciding to do the amnio. A week or so following I started bleeding and this lasted 2 and a half weeks before Emily was born at 24+5. This wasn’t necessarily connected to the amnio.
It isn’t until you’re in the situation that you start to consider the possibility that you might give birth early and that you’re baby might be sick. At no point do you consider how many families go through the same thing. This is a list of things that certainly blew my mind about having a premature baby.
1. Around 220 premature/sick babies are born everyday in the UK. Meaning they need specialist neonatal care and
2. There isn’t enough care to go around. Bedford is a special care baby unit, level 3, and The Rosie where Emily was born is a level 1. Most units are 3, many are 2, and few are 1. There are only 40 cots available in The Rosie…this level 3 unit covers all of the East of England. Bedford has only 12 cots…and they want to close this unit down!?
3. And then there is the transport for these sick babies. If Emily were born in Bedford she would have needed emergency transport. In the East of England, ANTS is the ambulance service which is provided by St.Johns. There are only 3 ambulances. 3. For the entire region. Emily used this transport three times and received a very cute bear as a momentum of this part of her journey.
4. And one of the weirdest things is that you cant actually stay with your baby and be the primary carer. Lots of people I spoke to just assumed that we could, but sadly not. We were lucky enough to be in The Rosie when Emily was born and even luckier that we were able to stay there for some of the time. The sick children’s trust are able to provide 8 rooms for the families of the sick babies in nicu…but like I said earlier, 40 cots. 8 rooms…40 cots. And few people there actually live in Cambridge. Most families that I met lived an hour or more away. The accommodation is provided on a priority basis and it was really helpful spending the first 5 weeks there, but it was heartbreaking to have to leave.
Bliss – One of the biggest barriers to families is a lack of overnight accommodation on or near the neonatal unit. As a result, parents across the country are having to cut their time with their baby short so they go home to sleep. More than a third of all units do not have dedicated accommodation for parents of critically ill babies who live many miles from home, and only five out of 29 neonatal intensive care units have enough accommodation to meet national standards.
This accommodation should not be a luxury, it is a nessicity! Believe me, I am not blaming the hospital or the NHS in any way.
5. Maternity leave is the next thing on my list. I spoke to HR a week after Emily was born and was advised that my maternity leave started the day after she was born and would be the same length. This is government policy, not my work. My statutory pay is 9 months, the first 3 and a half of which was spent in the hospital. In order to have more time at home properly bonding with Emily I am using holiday; not all mums have that privelage. you may have seen the recent campaign about this online and on TV.
I will add one last thing that I was surprised at during this whole experience – the overwhelming support of every single person in my life. Family, close friends, old friends and new friends….and even complete strangers. Everyday they offered kind and encouraging words. So this is my advice for anyone going through this right now – even though having a premature or sick baby in nicu can become an extremely lonely and isolating, talk. Talk to anyone and everyone. Still try to see your friends and family outside of the hospital, chat to the nurses, go to any groups they have available and definitely talk to other parents on the unit. It doesn’t need to be lonely.
After nearly 3 and half months in hospital, Emily has come home and in many ways it’s quite similar to bringing Alex home and in others it is very different. Obviously the first thing is how unbelievably over the moon we are, and relieved!
However the worries are building up; she’s freezing in 21 degrees cause nicu was constantly around 26 and 5/6 if her feeds have medicine in them which requires careful measuring. We also have 5 drawers of frozen breast milk which is being defrosted for use and is taking strategic planning. We also have endless follow up appointments in Bedford and possibly 2 specialist hospitals about conditions that she has.
The first night was surreal…until it just turned into a normal night with a baby! She didn’t want her feed at 2am like she did in nicu, she wanted it at midnight, then wouldn’t go to sleep, then I stayed awake with her sleeping on me till 6am. Believe me…this is in no way a complaint!! It is 100% a relief…my baby is home. The dirty nappies, sleepless nights and relentless sterilising is all part of everything I have been looking forward to. We are also realising that definitely is nocturnal and much prefers sleeping on us than in any kind of crib – standard baby stuff!
As I write this I realise that all of these thoughts and feelings are exactly that of a new parent to a well baby; no matter the situation you will always worry about your little one and if you are doing it right! I am trying my best to treat Emily like a normal newborn because I feel that is best for my sanity, but I will always know that she isn’t, she is my miracle baby who kicked nicu’s ass.
Before I sign off for the night, I must add that Fane is having his paternity leave now and he is the most doting daddy any tiny baby could hope for. ❤❤❤
I wish I was able to write blogs weekly, but as you can imagine, the last few months have been a crazy busy and a complete roller coaster of emotions. But as of today, baby Emily is 101 days old, a week before her due date, which in itself is extremely bizarre.
I thought it was time to update you about Emily’s status and tell you about our experience of having a premature baby. Some of you reading this may have recently had a premature baby of your own and I hope that in ways you can find comfort in what I write. I spent many hours googling every single word a doctor said and every thought I had and blogs written by other parents of preemies were often the most helpful.
Life in Nicu
We were lucky enough to spend the first 5 weeks in accommodation at the hospital meaning that we could spend as much time with Emily as we wanted, and my older girl Alex could stay with us. This was still hard because occupying a 4 year old in a hospital is a challenge in itself. But eventually they said we had to stay at home because there were sicker babies on the units and another family needed the room. Going back and forth from Bedford to Addenbrookes, and Hitchin for Fane to go to work, was a tough routine to get into, but we got there in the end after much expense and begging lifts were I could to save Fane the odd trip. It did mean that sometimes I had to just stay at home, which honestly was needed! Just to rest and do what I would be doing had I still been pregnant and preparing things for our babies arrival home. It took a lot of planning for each day; what to take to eat, who was taking Alex, what to do with Alex if she had to come with us, when we would squeeze in a food shop and doing the laundry!
I have spent each day going into hospital and watching Emily day after day grow bigger and stronger, but not without her going through a lot. There were countless blood tests, medications, infection scares, blood transfusions and feeds through a tube; it took time to get used to looking after my baby through an incubator. Every day I was getting more desperate for her to be transferred to Bedford, particularly as Alex was about to start school.
The day finally came when Emily was 9 weeks old. She had nothing going on except her oxygen and she was on full feeds and we transferred to Bedford. It was the first time she was in an open cot and in clothes! We were so unbelievably happy to have her closer to home and have both my girls in the same town. And a short time after, Alex started school which was another wonderful day in our lives. Things were definitely looking up.
Life was starting to feel normal again and to add to the happiness, I was able to witness one of best and closest friends tie the knot!
We were told from the start that things can change very quickly for premature babies and they were not wrong. The week progressed and Emily was showing signs of an infection, so they put a cannula back in and started treating her with antibiotics whilst they did tests, including a lumbar puncture. It felt like everything was spiraling out of control again; there had been infection scares before but always negative results. This time felt different. This time I had a horrible feeling. Her tummy was distended and she wasn’t enjoying her feeds, having just started the odd bottle.
Back to whence we came
On Friday the 16th of September, as I attended my friends little ones first birthday, I got a call from the hospital informing me that they had stopped her feeds and had spoken to Addenbrooke’s, they had put her on more specific antibiotics for something called NEC (Necrotizing enterocolitis). This condition was always expected somewhere along the way but we thought we had passed the time frame. Fear struck into our hearts, if the worst was going on it meant surgery, which is why we were transferred back to Addenbrooke’s that weekend.
It almost felt like going home. All the nurses and doctors were sad to Emily back, but were welcoming all the same. They commented on how big she had got and how good she looked, minus the distended tummy. She was immediately looked at by the surgical team and given yet another blood transfusion. Knowing that she would be off feeds for a while they had to put a long line in again, which took days to find a suitable vein and eventually in went in her head.
Watching Emily feel starving for over 2 weeks (10 days nil by mouth and another week getting back up to full feeds) was the most painful of this entire experience. No baby should have to endure such things and no parent should have to watch. It was horrible. Alongside getting bounced between rooms due to a deep clean of the unit! Eventually her tummy returned to normal, she was happy having milk again and her long line wasn’t in for long.
The exhaustion and expense was worse this time; having to drop Alex at school and go on a 2 hour bus journey and sometimes have to get a bus back too, it was tough, but she was obviously in the right place and I was happier her being there and sometimes just not being able to see her at all. Part of me didn’t want to even come back to Bedford hospital but we knew it would happen. She got off her oxygen and started having more regular bottle feeds so it was inevitable.
Last Saturday, Fane and I got to the hospital and were surprised with the news that Bedford had a bed and a transfer was going to happen that day. We didn’t even know they had been in contact. So here we are again, home but not home. This time it is a lot more frustrating and this was again something we were told from the start. We don’t know why she can’t just come home! So for the last week we have gone in each day and watched very little happen. She is off oxygen still, not even got her monitors on and having mainly bottle feeds. She isn’t gaining as much weight as they want, but I honestly think this will improve when she is home and not spending as much time crying which for a tiny baby is masses of exercise. The medicines she is on are going continue at home and we know we are going to go back very regularly for tests as she has a couple of ongoing conditions; so why is she still there? I am sitting at home, knowing my baby girl who is now capable of screaming the place down, is in a room by herself and I am just imagining her being ignored. Which probably isn’t true! The nurses are loving and caring, but not as much as me and her daddy.
We can only find comfort in knowing that it will be soon, very soon. And we just have to hope that we are prepared!
And to sign off, here are some adorable recent photos of Emily being a real baby…
Emily is 10 days old. In some ways it has gone very fast and in others it has gone slow. It feels like months ago that I was first admitted to Addenbrookes but it was less than 2 weeks. Time passes by very strangely when you live in a hospital.
Emily is doing pretty well, considering she is still minus 14 weeks. But emotions are running in all different directions and swing from one second to the next. Here are some of the things I am feeling.
I’ve lost a few things by having Emily so early. I lost a third trimester, the excitement of feeling her move around and kick and knowing that she can hear me 24/7 and being comforted by the warmth of my womb and the sound of my heart beating. A bond only other mums would understand. But Fane has lost that excitement too. He was starting to talk to her and feel her kick too. But now she in a perspex box, in pain with canulas and lines and a feeding tube…I can put my hands in and touch her and help her by feeding and cleaning her and comforting her in any way I can. She needs to know I’m still here, she needs to still feel my warmth and hear my voice, even it isn’t 24/7.
I’ve lost 15 valuable weeks of maternity leave…they will be spent in hospital rather than at home bonding like a normal mother and child. So I will take advantage of all the bonding that I can whilst I am here even if that is just singing lullabies through the perspex.
I’ve lost the excitement of nesting…buying everything, building furniture, getting all her clothes ready, making sure the car seat fits…it all feels rushed now we have had to buy what is needed and don’t know when we can sort out everything else as we can only take every day as it comes.
I have lost time with Alex…the only thing I imagine being more difficult than being a mum in nicu is being a mum in nicu with another child at home that you feel you have abandoned. Which brings me to my next point…
I am feeling constantly torn between my two babies. Alex can’t be with us 24/7 and even when she is here she gets bored quite easily. She loves her sister and just wants her to come home as much as we do and trying her best to understand. In the mean time I have to split my time in some way that Alex doesn’t feel abandoned and that I don’t feel like I’m leaving Emily too much. And what makes it that little bit harder is that Fane isn’t going through the same thing so I feel even more guilty that I make him leave Emily at times even though he wants to only be by her side…and I completely understand that! It just makes my emotions go absolutely mental and I don’t know what the right thing to do is.
I don’t want Alex to feel that I don’t love her and I don’t want her to resent Emily for me having to be at the hospital so much. All I can do is make sure Alex is involved; let her bond with Emily, let her help where she can, let her speak and sing to her…I can’t just tell her to sit in the corner and be quiet…she would hate hate me. I refuse to let that happen.
Every parent just wants to make their sick child better. I know Emily isn’t sick as such, but she isn’t ready to be out! She’s so small and has to work so hard just to breath and there is nothing I can do to make her feel better.
Everyone is telling me that I still have an important job and that is to ensure I’m producing milk for her and I know how important that is, but I need to see a tangible difference before I feel that is any use.
Sad…but not really
It’s an odd feeling…I’m distraught that my baby is in an incubator and is having to have so much help to kept alive and that I cant feel her inside me anymore. And it makes me so sad, for the reasons above in particular. But at the same time I’m not sad because I know she did the right thing coming when she did. My womb was not a happy place and she was surrounded by infected fluid. She was clever and used her initiative and escaped! I guess the only way to describe it is relieved. The bleeding was an indication that something was wrong and now we can see her and know that all is well…within reason.
I’m sure over the next 14 weeks I will feel many more different things and my moods and emotions will be crazy. I’m sure I will have good days and bad days. I’m sure I will laugh and I’m sure I will cry. I’m sure Emily will carry on being brave and I will carry on feeling proud.
Some people say that your second pregnancy is easier and there is some kind of pattern that your pregnancies and labours follow. Others say every pregnancy is just different and to expect the unexpected. During the episodes of bleeding, Fane and I definitely accepted that this was going to be an unpredictable pregnancy. But what we were not expecting was our baby girl to be born at 24 + 5 weeks gestation, at 11:05pm in Addenbrookes, weighing around 550 grams.
On Wednesday the 29th of June I put Alex to bed as normal, watched some Dexter and hit the sack looking forward to the staff conference at work because it’s always a bit of a doss and we get a free lunch. I awoke at 1am soaking wet. I thought I had peed myself, but upon investigation I was lying in a pool of blood. It had gone through my pants, my pyjamas and the sheets. I woke Fane up and he was so calm as if it had become a routine. I messaged my brother in hope he would be up and thankfully he was. He looked after Alex whilst we went to Bedford Hospital Cygnit Wing for the third time.
Upon arrival we were taken to the usual examination room on delivery suite and showed them the mess on my clothes. They went ahead and poked and prodded and once again we heard the same thing; we don’t know where the bleeding is coming from, you’re fine, the baby is fine but we have to keep you for 24 hours and do another scan. The difference this time was that I was 24 weeks pregnant so they decided to give me the steroid injections that would help the babies lungs develop in case she came early. Some of the night is a blur, all I remember is sleeping in one of the big delivery rooms for a little while whilst Fane slept on a fold out chair.
In the morning I was an emotional wreck. The midwives were lovey, but the doctor who came round was certainly not. Before Alex I had a miscarriage and the doctor who examined me that time was absolutely horrid and to my surprise he entered the room. I immediately went into shock, I was shaking, I could feel my face getting hot and my stomach churning. He was cold and stern and didn’t ask me anything about how I was feeling. It was a very quick “chat” in which he told me I’d be sent to Luton. I knew why he was saying this but I told him to leave and let me speak to the midwives. In tears I was desperately begging them not to send me to Luton. “She isn’t coming”. I was showing no signs of labour, I still wasn’t in any pain and nothing was opening up downstairs.
So we were admitted to the ward again. It was staring to become very familiar, we recognised most of the midwives and the consultants who were floating around and they remembered us. Thankfully Alex was in nursery that day and staying at her dads that evening. Sadly, the following day was to be Fane’s 30th birthday! I was so upset that we weren’t going to be able to celebrate it as planned; we cancelled the bbq that many people had arranged to come to and I wasn’t going to get out to buy him a cake or wrap his presents or even write a card. Obviously he didn’t care about any of this and he was only concerned for me and the baby. Sadly, my anxiety doesn’t allow me to see it that way. So I spent that Thursday in hospital distraught that I had ruined everything.
We were discharged on the Friday around lunch time and had to go back for a scan for 4:30. So 1 macdonalds and a happy toddler and Fane later I was back. This time they actually found the possible cause of the bleeding! A small blood clot and tear in the placenta which could either keep on bleeding throughout the pregnancy or heal itself. The worst case scenario being that the placenta tears away completely and they have to deliver baby…again stubborn me would not accept this…not gonna happen, I said!
Finally we were able to go home and celebrate Fane’s 30th birthday with caterpillar cake, many Game if Thrones related gifts and a 9pm bedtime!
The weekend had to be relaxing! I had to get through Saturday and Sunday with no bleeding and get to Disneyland on Monday! So I spent Saturday doing as little as possible, which for me was still a bit of cleaning and pottering about. Alex was happy making gloop in the garden and painting Fane’s face green.
Doctor Kim called me again in the morning and sadly advised against going to Disneyland in any way after talking to some of her colleagues about the clot in the placenta. So this put a massive downer on the day, but I decided I wasn’t going to let Alex not have a holiday! We booked a last minute trip to Butlins instead because luckily Alex never knew it was going to be disneyland.
After a crazy day of playing and noise and not really relaxing at all we sat down with a curry to watch The Hateful Eight. Only 20 minutes in I felt something familiar happen downstairs and on a visit to the toilet, there was lots of blood once again. I called Fane to come in and he said “Right, let’s go, back to the hospital!”. I was in tears and tired and frustrated and I just desperately wanted the bleeding to stop and everything to just be normal!
We spent the night again and this time the bleeding wasn’t settling. It wasn’t horrific but it wasn’t settling. So the concern for early labour was much higher but I was adamant it wasn’t going to happen; I was arguing with everyone about it and just outright refusing to be transferred….so we were transferred to Addenbrookes. Considering that I should be trying to avoid labour they made a good go at trying to induce it in the ambulance with their blues on whizzing down the A428!
Fane met me at The Rosie Hospital in Cambridge and it was decided that butlins definitely wasn’t going to happen…not for us anyway, but I gave the trip to Alex’s dad instead so she could at least go!
When Alex came to see me on Monday before she went there was a lot of upset from all parties, we just wished we could all go together. But it was for the best. She brought me flowers and a card.
The bleeding had stopped but my back was killing me. We had another ultrasound with a fetal medical specialist and he didn’t seem massively concerned. It was just clear that she was going to be tiny but he said not worryingly so. But so so so tiny!!
My mum made it over after work and Fane popped out to call his parents. During this time I expressed my concern to my mum about the back ache I was experiencing as my tummy started hurting simultaneously as well…I told a midwife who was remarkably good at hiding her concern but she asked if it felt like contractions. Nahhhhhh don’t be silly! She’s not coming!
She got a doctor to check my cervix but she couldn’t get a good look. The pains…or contractions…we’re getting more intense and closer together, so that was it, over to delivery suite, “just in case” they said. Fane was looking more and more and concerned but kept his cool.
So much is a blur again…I don’t remember the order in which things happened. A neo natal consultant came in and was very concerned at this point as the contractions were getting closer and closer and I was getting louder and louder. She said a load of stuff about decisions that had to be made and cesareans resuscitation options…my mum was taking it all in and Fane caught bits, but I was just desperately trying to keep her in! Then there were neo natal doctors that came in and I was surrounded by a dozen people trying to explain to me what was going to happen if I gave birth which they were clearly convinced was going on.
I was hooked up to a drip with liquids, antibiotics and infused with magnesium which would protect babies brain. This burnt like hell, I felt like my face was on fire, and I started feeling faint and sick all I wanted was a bucket of cold water thrown over me. This took 10 minutes to go in then there was a diluted version dripped through the canula. Fane was trying to tell me that it could still turn back around as that happened to his mum once, but I knew he didn’t really believe what he was saying.
Several people spoke to us about possibilities; a neo natal doctors spoke to me…no idea what was said…and an anaesthetist spoke about cesareans…don’t fully remember what he said. It all felt so fast and we were both so exhausted.
The herds of people left the room leaving just the midwife, my mum and Fane. My pain became constant and as a neo natal nurse came in the midwife checked my progress…5cm and I was wailing!! She told the nurse to get the team quickly and I felt it was time to start to push.
Literally within 3 minutes all neo natal people were in the room and God knows who else and I started to push my baby out before they all even had gloves on. And 1 more push later she was out…my mum was in tears and Fane was in complete shock. She was whisked over the doctors and nurses and put in a plastic bag to keep her warm and they intubated here and god knows what else I kept saying sorry to Fane that I couldn’t keep her in for any longer.
They let Fane take a picture but I wanted to wait till she was wheeled past me. A doctor came over after a matter of minutes and said she was doing well, everything happened the best that it could have. She came out naturally and in the sack…which is apparently a good thing. But there there was an infection. Which explains why she had to escape so soon.
They brought her past me and I burst into tears. She was the most beautiful and tiniest little thing I had ever seen. And then gone to neo natal to be looked after. It was 23:01 on July 4th…15 weeks and 2 days before her due date.
There are some more gruesome bits to the after birth, but I won’t go into detail. We didn’t see her again till 9am the next morning because of these things though.
We were warned that the unit would be scary with lots of wires and noises and things going into her, but when I saw her none of the mattered, all I cared about was that she was okay.
As I write this it’s been 2 and a half days and she is breathing without a ventilator (thanks to the steroids I had in Bedford!), she is still on antibiotics, her general health is good and they are pleasantly surprised at a lot of her progress. They might be feeding her some milk today; my new job is to express every 3 hours!
The nurses watch her 24/7, we can see her whenever we like. At this point Alex doesn’t know but she will meet her this weekend.
Emotions are running high for all of us and my hormones are playing havoc. All we can do is take every day as it comes and hope for the best. We are incredibly thankful to have been in the right place at the right time and couldn’t praise all of the midwives doctors consultants and whoever else enough between here and Bedford! Our position now would not be so positive without the help of every single one of them. Not to mention the free accommodation we have been given on site. There will be a lot of fundraising when we’re home!
If you read my last blog only a few days ago you will know that I have experienced many ups and downs over the last couple of weeks, but particularly the last week.
I returned to hospital on Monday morning after the bleeding becoming heavier again on Sunday night. I tried to stay calm, I tried not to worry and I tried to keep Fane positive…this is really not easy when inside you are terrified that you’re going to lose your baby.
After more examinations from a very nice doctor I was admitted to the orchard ward again and advised I would be kept in for the whole day and night for observation…what fun! This meant not seeing Alex that night as the logistics were too difficult. Worrying about one child and missing another like crazy is quite heartbreaking for any parent.
Blood was taken several times, a cannula inserted into my hand in case I bled heavily again and needed fluid, and I was poked and prodded in many uncomfortable ways.
I also had an ultrasound which gave us no indication as to why I am bleeding but it did mean I got to see my baby girl again and her heart was beating away nice and strong (legs are still little).
Another night spent not being able to sleep in hospital…as much as I commend the Orchard Ward and the Cygnet Wing in general, sleeping anywhere but your own bed is just not easy. I was hot, it was noisy and it was lonely. I did however get to meet a friends new baby whilst I was there, congratulation to Amy Blowles and Craig on the birth of Amber!
Once again, this morning, I was examined and spoken to by a doctor, a consultant, two midwives and a student nurse aaaaaall at the same time, and told there was no obvious reason for the bleeding, I just have to keep an eye on things and was once again discharged.
I am not upset or angry that I can’t be told why I’m bleeding; they would never conduct any kind of invasive tests on pregnant women or babies in order to do more research into such things as it’s simply too dangerous. I’m happier with that. I’m just said that it is still happening and that I feel helpless and that Fane feels helpless. But we can find comfort in the knowledge that it isn’t anything dangerous; it’s not the baby, it’s not the placenta, it’s not my cervix and I’m definitely not showing any signs of labour!
Oh, but just to add the the fun, they did find Group B Strep, which is an infection that would be dangerous if it was passed onto baby, so I need to be put on antibiotics via a drip whilst I am in labour and kept in for a minimum of 12 hours after birth. Woohoo…
On a brighter note, Fane’s parents bought our buggy for us which I absolutely love and cannot wait for baby girl to be in it!