One thing I never knew when I was pregnant was that I could have a premature baby.
It just wasn’t something that I knew about and it wasn’t something that I knew happened to people…. until now.
I was 30 weeks pregnant and I had been experiencing a pain under my rib cage on the right side of my body. It was about 1:30am and I got up, took some painkillers and tried to go back to sleep. I was still experiencing some pain, but it wasn’t excruciatingly sore, more like a dull pain, so I just got on with it. I thought it was maybe just the baby kicking me in the ribs.
Throughout the morning it was much the same, just a dull pain, nothing more. By lunch time it was still there and got a little more intense, but nothing that I was crippling over in pain. I decided to call the midwives at my local hospital for some advise. Due to my gestation they asked if I could come in just to get checked over.
When we arrived I was hooked up to a machine to measure my contractions. Whenever I was experiencing the pain it wasn’t showing as a contraction and I felt a bit silly being there at that point. As they didn’t really know the cause of the problem the midwife called for a doctor. He examined me and told me that I was 3cm dilated!
Time was a blur from then on.
No one can ever prepare you for the mix of emotions that you experience at that point. Sadness, worry, fear, confusion.
The doctor was trying to arrange transport, either an ambulance or a helicopter to transfer me to a hospital with better facilities for a premature baby.
My waters decided to break though and we no longer had the option of being transferred. I was to deliver where I was.
A doctor came and explained that there could be a chance the baby might not survive, particularly as they didn’t know the reason to why I was delivering early, and we would be best to prepare ourselves for that.
A few hours later, my baby was born weighing 3lbs 9oz.
I got to look at him for about 10 seconds before he was put in an incubator and taken away. He was perfect, just tiny.
He was born at 7:30pm, but we weren’t allowed to go and see him until 11:00pm.
It was the longest wait of our lives. We were just in a room not knowing what was going on. Was he okay? Was he going to survive?
When we got to go and see him it was very difficult to watch. A doctor was stood over his incubator manually pumping air into his mouth to help him regulate his breathing.
Our son got transferred to another hospital at 1am and we were discharged the following morning and headed up to be with him.
He progressed every single day, and amazed us all. He moved onto a C-PAP within a couple of days and started off by taking 1ml of milk per hour! He had episodes of jaundice, but they didn’t last very long before he was back to normal.
It was hard to look at your baby lying in an incubator with the tiniest nappy I’d ever seen, with all sorts of wires going into him.
I’ll also never forget the beeping from the machines around him, I can sometimes still hear them.
The nurses were amazing, and really are a credit to the hospitals. I actually don’t think they get as much credit as they should. And I will never forget when our son stopped breathing for around 20 seconds…. (but it felt like a lifetime for us.) My partner and I were panicking and not knowing what to do, the nurse on the other hand was so calm and just held him, talked to him and tickled his feet and he started breathing again! I couldn’t believe it, I was so amazed. I think this was the moment when we knew he was going to be cheeky!
One thing that I never got to experience was the moment you get to hold your baby straight after giving birth. It was so difficult, you kind of feel disconnected to your newborn in a way. We had to wait 6 days before we could actually hold our son.
The moment was amazing, and I will remember it forever, but I just wish it could have been different. We had to be so careful with him and could only hold him sitting right next to the incubator as he was attached to so many different machines.
I would say that one of the hardest parts of having a premature baby is when you had to leave them in the hospital and drive home without them. I would look over my shoulder into the back seats and just wish he was there. It just felt unreal, or that your baby didn’t exist, because he should be with you wherever you were.
It annoys me when someone says “you’re lucky, at least your birth was easy and that you didn’t have to push out a 10lb baby!”
Trust me, I was not lucky. I would much rather of pushed out a 10lb healthy baby than have a traumatic birth and an ill baby.
So, I just want to raise awareness that if you’re in doubt about anything, go and get you and your baby checked over to prevent delivering early. I think back to that day all the time… what if I just got through the pain and stayed at home, what if I gave birth in the car on the way to the hospital… the list is endless.
I actually experienced the same pain under my rib cage about a week after giving birth. This time it was a very excruciating pain that wouldn’t go away. I went to A&E and I had pancreatitis, brought on by gallstones so I had to have my gallbladder removed. We think this was the reason why our son was born early as the doctors couldn’t find any other reason.
Our son spent a total of 6 weeks in hospital and is now a healthy 20 month old who is meeting all his milestones, apart from he has a delay with his speech. He is an amazing little boy and we are so thankful to have him in our lives.
Guest post by Robyn McIntyre
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