At 20, I had the world at my feet. My Fiancé and I both had strong jobs and were looking at buying our first home. It was 4:30 am when I discovered I was pregnant, (I worked at Coles in the bakery). We were both very excited!
I had morning sickness all day, but still battled along in my job. At 16wks I had severe bleeding and was taken to hospital. Being a country hospital I had to wait around an hour or so for the Dr to arrive. When he arrived he had a feel of my tummy and told me I was miscarrying. I was heartbroken. I was only kept in overnight, they were all 99% sure I was going to lose my little bub. I saw my Dr the following day, but had to wait a week for an ultrasound to find out if my little bub had survived. It was the worst week of my life. I had already taken leave from my job, not wanting to risk anything. When they did the ultrasound I saw my little bub, he was ok! I had bled from between the placenta and uterus (sub-chronic haematoma), but it appeared to still be intact and healthy. I was on bed rest from then on. At around 20 wks my fiancé got another job about 4-5 hrs away, we were staying at his Nana’s.
In Jan 07 we moved to a very small town, Marvel Loch a farming/mining town approximately 30 kms south of Southern Cross WA. I spent half my time there and the other half I stayed with my mum, not wanting to disrupt the pregnancy; I was determined to carry my baby. I was having ultrasounds every 1-2 weeks to make sure everything was going ok. At 24-25 wks I had finally stopped passing blood. I thought I was safe.
At 28wks my waters broke (PPROM, Preterm- PreLabour Rupture of Membranes) there was no warning. I felt ok, but starting feeling sick inside, it was way too early! My mum lives out of town and rang my hospital, they told me to go straight to King Edward Memorial Hospital. My mum drove me the 2 hrs into Perth. The next few hours were a blur, I had drips and blood tests and strapped to the ECG. At around 11:30 pm I was admitted onto the ward. I was given steroids and other drugs to stop my labour. I didn’t really sleep much that night. My mum had slept in her car as she couldn’t get a room for the night. I had an ultrasound the following day, showing a small 1108 grams. The ultrasound also showed the haematoma which had grown and was probably the cause of my waters breaking.
The next few days passed slowly, my mum was always there she didn’t go home for anything. The nurses showed me the NICU, which was scary seeing all the tiny babies. The nurse pointed out, through the window, a baby that had been born at 28 wks. I felt a little bit more prepared for what was going to happen. For the next week and a bit I had seen the inside of the labour ward 3 times with false alarms. On the 24th of Feb I woke up with contractions happening around every 3-4 mins once again it was a trip down to the labour ward. It was going to be a long day.
The contractions kept coming all day, I was determined to do it without any pain relief, but 14 hours of contractions which were now every 1-2mins I was exhausted. I tried having a shower for pain relief but I couldn’t stay in there. I opted for some morphine to try and get some rest in. The morphine didn’t last very long, maybe an hour or so and now the contractions were coming every 30sec-1min. Still determined to have as very little drugs as possible I soldiered on. The pain was starting to get to me, I hadn’t slept very well the entire time I was in the hospital (2 weeks) even with the sleeping tablets as they woke me every four hours for obs. I had another shot of morphine around 10pm. I had several internals over the course of labour, but was not progressing very well at all. By 2am I couldn’t take it any more, I was feeling very weak, exhausted and the pain was getting to me. I opted for an epidural while they discussed a caesarean section, if I was to have a caesarean I wanted to be awake for it. They started to prep me and the theatre were put on notice. The epidural went in at about 2:45am and then they checked me to discover that it was too late for a caesarean, bub had moved right down and was about to crown. They also discovered I had Chorioamnionitis (An infection of the Uterus Lining) and my bub also had an infection.
Once he started to crown it was over with just 2 pushes. My small bundle entered into the world at 3:15am on Sunday, 25th February 2007 weighing just 1545gms. And so his fight to live began.
The first 5-10 mins after birth were the scariest of my life. I saw him be born and watched as the cord was unwrapped from around his neck and then be cut, I then watched as a neonatologist and NICU nurse resuscitated my son. He was born with an extremely low heartbeat and he wasn’t breathing. The whole room was silent as they were counting compressions to get his heart beating, Brendan was given a shot of adrenaline to help. He was ventilated, then stabilised. 15 mins after birth I was shown my son. He was wrapped in bubble wrap and blankets, I was so relieved that I finally met him and he was alive, although not breathing himself… he was alive. He was then whisked away and taken to the NICU.
Day 1, after having a nap, I am wheeled down to the NICU and wheeled up to a plastic box (humidicrib), by this time Brendan is 8-9 hours old. Inside the box is a scrawny pink thing, hooked up to wires and machines, there’s beeping everywhere and I can’t see much of what is my baby. I am crying, not knowing what to think and just wanting to cuddle him. I could only stay for a few mins before becoming overwhelmed.
The first few days after Brendan’s birth was a blur, I had to come to terms with the fact that my little boy was going to be here a while. I also had to learn how to express my milk and live away from all my friends and family. I stayed in accommodation next to the hospital, as I lived 4-5hrs away. The accommodation was basic, the room was no bigger than the average bathroom, containing a bed, desk and a built in cupboard. We shared a kitchen and a bathroom/toilet. I tried to make it has “homely” as possible, but there wasn’t much point, I only slept there. I ate most of my meals in the parent lounge in the SCN and spent all my time next to Brendan’s humidicrib. I remember coming in on day 3 to visit Brendan only to find he had gone, his humidicrib wasn’t there any more. I was devastated, what had happened whilst I was asleep? Had he died, what had happened, where is he?. thousands of questions are buzzing through my head, I finally get noticed by a nurse. But she can’t find my baby either, the floodgates open, she was asking other nurses and no-one knew what was going on. Had they lost my baby, and how?? I was told to go and ask the co-ordinator of SCN2, there I was pointed in the direction of my little boy. He had improved and been moved to the next level of care. A huge relief!
It seemed Brendan was doing really well, being in the SCN level 2 I was able to stay with him longer, change nappies and start being somewhat, a mum. I was so happy that my little boy was doing so well. On day 5 I did my first nappy change! On day 6 was my very first cuddle. I thought that we had seen the last of the NICU. This was to change and quickly, on day 9 Brendan contracted two infections and was back onto another round of anti-biotics. Day 10 early morning, I receive a phone call from the co-ordinator of SCN2. Brendan had “given up” he’d stopped breathing and had to be resuscitated and was back in the NICU. I think this was the quickest trip I ever did from being asleep in my room and getting into the NICU. He was on CPAP again. I was devastated, he had been doing so well, progressing nicely and then we were back to square 1.
After a little over a day in NICU (SCN level 3) Brendan was moved in level 3B. I was overjoyed that he was better and off of the CPAP. I was even happier that after less than 12 hrs in 3B he was moved into SCN level 2A. Hurray! I was so happy that Brendan was back in 2A, I began to feel a little more like his mum, rather than just a milk machine. The nurses were nicer and I was able to cuddle Brendan more often, sometimes once a day!!!
I wasn’t as stressed any more, knowing that Brendan was doing well I was able to sleep a little better at night. On day 16 Brendan was moved into SCN level 2B, WOOHOO! Although this move was good, as Brendan was doing so well. It was very hard on me, I sat and watched as babies came and went. Some babies only spending 4-5 hours in the SCN, it is very good for them, but hard for me as we’d been there nearly 3 weeks and still had quite a journey to go. On day 18, Brendan had been holding his temperature well for a few days now and was transferred to an open perspex cot! I was delighted. I even spent the night of day 20 away from the hospital, my fiancé came down for a visit and took me to his parents. I didn’t sleep well that night though, I was upset and depressed. It is so hard to walk away and leave my son in the SCN, and even harder to spend the night away from him. I cuddled him before leaving.
When I returned on day 21, Brendan had been moved to an extended section of SCN 2b, Satellite Nursery. I arrived there to be told that only 30mins prior to me arriving they had to bag (get him breathing again) Brendan. I was a complete mess, I had only spent one night away from him and I almost lost him. Within minutes of me arriving Brendan was being moved back down stairs to SCN 2b. Once I got my cot space down there, I immediately cuddled him. I noticed that his little shirt seemed a bit tight so I undid the button to find that he had a very red ring around his neck. After speaking to the nurse looking after him, we both came to the conclusion that the shirt had put too much pressure on Brendan’s neck and airways. From then on I was in control of dressing him. I went down to Target with my mum and we bought some more 5×0 outfits for him to be dressed in. On day 22 Brendan got his first bath. Before his bath we got his hand and foot prints done. I was delighted as I watched the nurse from the SCN give my little bundle a bath.
Day 23, It’s been just over 3 weeks since Brendan was born and I have been away from home for 6 weeks. I was upset and depressed, I missed my fiancé terribly even though he visited every weekend. I was depressed and really upset. I went home to Marvel Loch for a few days. It was extremely hard the first day and I rang the hospital whenever I felt uneasy. While at home I got my nursery a little more set up. After a few days of being at home, I headed back to the hospital. I was more relaxed and very happy to be back with Brendan. The next few days were easier, I was happier and felt better in myself. On day 28 I gave Brendan a bath. Day 29 Brendan was moved back up to the satellite nursery. I was relieved and glad to be going up there. Brendan was 1 of only 2-3 babies being monitored. It was much quieter here and far more relaxed too. Brendan still made music with his monitor and I was edgy every time his monitor would go off.
Day 38 is an excellent day for me. Brendan’s Nasal-Gastric tube is removed!!! Brendan is now on all suck feeds. The next few days were frustrating. Brendan was on all suck feeds and was gaining weight, but we weren’t allowed to go home as he was still on the monitor and still de-saturating. I knew that he was so close to going home and I kept getting excited every time the Drs came round. Excited and then deflated as the days were still passing and Brendan was still monitored. On the afternoon of day 40 one of the Drs came around and was looking at Brendan’s chart, she asked to get the monitor taken off! Brendan still had to stay for at least another 24 hrs to make sure that he would be ok. I was so excited, we are so close to going home!! Morning of day 42, the Dr did his rounds and did the discharge check for Brendan. Brendan passed and we were able to go home! Brendan was 5 weeks 6 days old and weighed 2090gms when he was discharged, my fiancé picked us up from the hospital just before midday. I finally had my baby and was heading home.
Visit Sally’s blog about her boys and life after the NICU