· By Tiny Hearts Education
It was Monday 25th November. I work from home as a hairdresser and don't usually work Monday's, but with Christmas around the corner, I had to squeeze as many clients in as possible.
Given I was so busy that day, I never really got a chance to sit down. Therefore I hadn't really been paying all that much attention to bubs' movements. It wasn't until that night that I thought I hadn't really felt him move since Sunday. I thought I'd sleep on it and see if there was any movement the next day.
I woke up Tuesday morning, still no movement. I went straight to my local hospital, and they checked his heart rate. Of course, as soon as they commenced this, he kicked, and his heart rate was perfect. They were super busy and couldn't fit me in for an ultrasound, so I was sent home and told to come back the next day for an ultrasound. That night, I had one client in and remembered having to run to the bathroom to vomit. (I was never sick throughout my entire pregnancy) I just presumed I was getting sick with gastro or something.
It is now Wednesday 27th November. I had my glucose test first thing that morning, so by then, I'd felt utterly drained and dizzy. Again, I just narrowed it down to coming down with something. But I couldn't help but notice that my stomach had almost halved in size. Straight after my glucose test, before my ultrasound, I went home for a nap. I felt so out of it and couldn't keep my eyes open.
I'd been in the ultrasound room for all of 5 minutes. The lady left the room three times. It was then I knew something was up. I was told to go straight up to the maternity ward to talk with a doctor. I was 27+6 weeks. Not for one second did I think the doctor was about to tell me I was going to have this baby within 48 hours.
She immediately called my husband and told him to meet us at Monash hospital, where I would be transferred via ambulance. We needed to get steroids into my system ASAP so it could reach bubs before his birth in 24-48 hours. By this stage, I was nothing but stunned. I literally sat there with my mouth wide open while being jabbed left, right and centre with needles. The magnesium made me feel like I was on fire. I will never forget that weird painful sensation.
Twenty minutes later, a heap of doctors and nurses flew into the room and told me my son's heart rate had dropped and needed to come out immediately via emergency c section. I'd already had a c section with my first baby. But the difference between an emergency and an elected c section, I've now learnt, is entirely different.
My first thought was: "No. I can't have a stillborn. I won't get through that". My second thought was: "My husband. He's at another hospital. It would take him almost an hour before he could get to me in peak hour traffic."
It all went so fast. But at the same time so slow. I had no one with me except a midwife, and all I could look at was a ginormous clock on the wall. I remember feeling almost everything, minus the pain.
My son Jai was born at 6.05 pm weighing only 1.071kgs and was bleeding from the lungs (pulmonary hemorrhage); he was put straight into an incubator. My husband arrived 11 minutes after the birth. I got to meet my son for all of 5 minutes. I wasn't allowed to hold him. I could only rest my hand on his tiny head. He was then taken to Monash hospital via the PIPER team, and my husband followed him there. There were no beds for me there, so I had to remain at my local hospital. That was very hard being away from him. He had/has chronic lung disease, which will hopefully heal itself over time.
My boy is now 11 weeks old and is kicking goals! He spent 79 days in the NICU and five days in special care. He is now home with us and doing very well. I guess all I wish for other mums to be, is that they listen to their bodies. If they're sensing something is off, go and get checked. Book in that extra scan, it can't hurt.
I'm very blessed as that outcome could have been a lot worse.
Below is a blog I wrote while my son was in the NICU. It's raw, but it's real:
"No one can prepare you for a premature baby. One minute you've got this beautiful baby bump and the next, you're sent away without the bump, without your baby, sent away with nothing but "wtf" questions running through your brain!
You're not at all prepared for this journey. There are no words to explain this new life that hits you like a tonne of bricks! But here you are, you've become a parent of a premmie, a force to be reckoned with.
Meeting my son for all of 5 minutes before the Piper team took him to another hospital. It would be another 24 hours before I would see him again. You're left wondering if it was something you did wrong. Did I eat the wrong meals? Did I not exercise enough? Did I drink enough water? Or in my case, did you eat your words after the countless amounts of times you would whinge about how done you were with this pregnancy, how you weren't enjoying it the second time around and couldn't wait to get him out—wishing so badly that you'd booked in another scan after your 20 weeks one.
You're still feeling your empty belly wondering how this has happened and getting angry that you didn't get to enjoy the rest of your time alone with your littlest love in your womb where you never had to share him.
It's the perfect definition of an emotional rollercoaster. You weren't ready. Your body was only halfway there. Your mind was only halfway there. You have days where you're super positive but then worry that you're too positive and may jinx everything. Then you have your bad days where your little one takes a turn, and you're left feeling like he's about to slip away.
And yet here he is, only he's not living the life you'd envisioned for him. He's fighting. From the second he came out, he's had to fight. Such a tiny little person given no option but to give it his all, just to breathe. A perpetual battle. And as a parent, you just have to sit back and observe and pray to God that he's strong enough to stay alive! A tiny little human at 28 weeks old and you're already having to expect so much from him. All he should be doing is receiving cuddles from his family. But you're not allowed to hold him yet. You're only able to touch him in certain ways at certain times. You have to ask a complete stranger if and when you're allowed to hold your baby. And even when you are allowed to hold him, you're slightly reluctant in case you pull out one of his tubes or misplace one of the ten different cords that's attached to him.
And for those that have another little one at home, wanting to be with them and keeping their lives as normal as possible, at the same time wanting to be at the hospital with your littlest love. The guilt game… It's a killer.
As the days go on, all of the things he does excites you—his first poo. You're allowed to have your first cuddle with him. You're allowed to care for him and clean him. You start seeing a difference in his face, his body, his skin. And you start thinking "oh my god, he's growing, he'll be home with us in no time" And then a bad day comes. He takes a turn or takes a step backwards, and you're left feeling the same way you did at day one.
The strength and resilience of these babies are phenomenal! It's like they know what's going on and know they're supposed to fight for you and for themselves. They're destined to overcome this critical time. However, for others, the circumstances can be very unfortunate. And that's the small thought you always have in the back of your mind. Just how fast things can change.
As the weeks go by, everything that was so unnatural to you becomes the norm. You learn all of the medical terms; you start to recognise what each "beep" or alarm is code for. You start learning what a safe heart rate and breathing rate is just by one quick glance at the machines your baby is hooked up to.
And then come the milestones. Their first bath, CPAP level adjustment, the introduction of hi-flow, weight gain, their first day out of NICU and into the special care unit, feeds increase, hi-flow coming off, coming out of their incubator and into an open cot and so much more. Slowly but surely you start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hope and positivity run through your whole body, and you know he'll be home with you so soon. But you will always have that tiny little thought of what could still go wrong. Infection, breathing, chronic lung disease could strike again; you just don't know.
You just have to tell yourself that they're in the best hands. The NICU, the special care unit, they are magicians in there!
Hats off to all of the parents of premmie babies! It's honestly a journey that no parent should ever have to go through. And to the staff at the hospital that gets us all through.
And last but not least, our resilient and vigorous little fighters!
This baby will forever be the "special" one, given what they've had to endure. You'll want to wrap them up in cotton wool until they're 18 years of age and never let them out of your sight! But the reality is, they're strong. Their capability is superlative. They've fought this for a reason.
You've become their rock, just as they've become yours too."