Guest blog post by mum of two, Sophie Willis, raising awareness as part of World Prematurity Month
I always dreamed of having a perfect pregnancy with a complication free birth and having immediate skin to skin with my new born.
At 35 weeks in July 2013 I was admitted to hospital with irregular contractions. I still had hope that I would make it to term – or as close to term as possible.
After a few days my waters broke and I went in to spontaneous labour. 2 hours and 51 minutes later I delivered a perfect little girl called Teegan-Mae. She weighed 1.990kg and was beautiful.
She was took to SCBU and stayed for 10 days with feeding difficulties, temperature control and jaundice.
Immediately after Teegan’s birth, I still longed for the perfect pregnancy and delivery. My partner and I always wanted more than one child so we decided to start trying right away.
Eventually with the help of fertility drugs due to secondary infertility, we found out I was pregnant in April 2015. My partner and I were over the moon, and was so excited for Teegan to become a big sister.
Despite having awful morning sickness, my pregnancy was perfect.
At 24 weeks I started to have contractions and went to my local hospital. I was examined immediately and given steroids – Ouch! I was transferred from Swindon to Oxford to be in a hospital with a better equipped NICU. Fortunately, the contractions had stopped and I returned home.
“I was worried sick, I felt like I was suffering a loss, I knew my pregnancy was going to end very soon. My partner, daughter and little bump was the only things keeping me going.”
At 28 weeks, I was admitted to hospital with contractions again. This time I was 2cm dilated and I knew this was it.
A few days passed, contractions still present and I had an awful feeling in my gut…
My waters broke and baby was in distress. I was prepped for a cesarian section where my gorgeous little boy Mason-George was born. He weighed 1.348kg and was born crying! Mason was transferred to NICU, where he was put on CPAP.
The first week after Mason was born was my worst nightmare. He was very distressed and needed to be ventilated. He also had a blood transfusion, returned to CPAP and then went on high flow. We also learned Mason had a PDA and a hole on his heart. He also had an inguinal hernia.
“I felt awful leaving Mason every night, and also felt just as bad leaving Teegan during the day.”
The unit became our second home. I always thought my body failed him, so I wasn’t going to fail him now. I provided all his cares, belongings and spent hours at his cot side expressing for him.
I learnt so much about my little boy, he had many apnoeas, desaturations and bradycardias. He had multiple blood gasses, blood tests, transfusions and cannulas for antibiotics or IV fluids. He had medication daily, and I was able to feed him breastmilk via NG tube and attempt breastfeeding when he was big enough – although he took a long time to coordinate himself!
Mason required an operation for his hernia and his immunisations which we’re little set backs for him. His PDA shut without intervention which was a huge positive!
After 88 days in NICU, Halloween, bonfire night, Christmas, Daddy’s birthday and New Year – Mason came home 9 days after his due date.
The transition home was hard, no monitors, temperature checks, charting feeds or nurses for additional support. But we quickly adapted and found a routine which worked for us all.
During our stay in the NICU, I learned to take each day at a time. Each small set back made room for a leap in the right direction. As little as these premature babies are, they have courage, fight and strength like no other.
The nurses who looked after Mason while I could not be there hold a special place in my heart. Keeping my baby comforted, fed and warm when he should be tucked up in my stomach. They are present during the darkest time of many families life’s, but also the greatest times too. Such amazing people.
We have made life long friends while in the NICU, we could support and advise each other as we have that one thing in common!
I now have 2 happy and healthy NICU graduates. My little miracles.
Raising awareness for prematurity holds a massive place in my heart. I knew nothing about prematurity until it happened to us.
Will you share Sophie’s story to raise awareness?
Have you got a story to share? Email Catriona at firstname.lastname@example.org