Henry was born by emergency caesarean at 34 weeks due to my severe Pre-eclampsia. He weighed 4lbs 6oz and needed a little help with his breathing, but was OK and took a bottle straight away – yes, I know, I was desperate to breast feed but not quite up to it! Henry desperately needed to take some calories on board so the midwife asked if she could give him a bottle and he gulped down a couple of ounces.
After about an hour the midwife said he wasn’t maintaining his temperature and he was put into an incubator to warm him up – but he was absolutely fine, just tiny! When he was about 4 hours old he had a nasal tube put in so that he could be fed but not waste any energy on sucking… still fine. By day two I was able to express tiny amounts of breast milk and feed it to him via a syringe down his tube and then top it up with formula…. Great! But then Henry started being sick, so we were topping up his feeds to compensate for the sick! By days three and four he was vomiting more and more, on day four Henry slept on a Bili-Bed as he was now jaundiced and was down to 3lb 11oz – I cried, but they said that was ok, he’d lost 10% of his body weight which was acceptable, deep down I knew it didn’t look good – his hat was huge on him but it had fitted him the day before!
On day five his sick was brown tinged and Dr Fenton took one look at him and had him moved onto SCBU – I was devastated. Within minutes he had cannulas, leads and wires all over him, I sobbed! The staff were great and explained everything to me but I couldn’t take it all in, my brain just wasn’t working and I felt totally helpless.
I spent hours holding his hand through the incubator door, he was MY baby and I wasn’t allowed to pick him up or feed him. An x-ray thankfully showed there weren’t any problems inside his tummy/bowels etc and he ‘just’ had an infection in his tummy, so we had to get rid of the infection and then slowly reintroduce him to food again – to do this he was nil by mouth for 4 days and survived on an IV drip of nutrients & fluids direct into his bloodstream. Obviously knew what food was by this time – so it was tragic to see him laid on his tummy, mouth open and snuffling across the bottom of the incubator in search of food. I went home the day after Henry went into SCBU – more inconsolable sobbing.
For the next two and a half weeks we lived our life on SCBU, Henry’s big sister didn’t like all the ‘beeping’ noises on the ward and decided she’d only visit him once a week – on a Wednesday! We spent every possible minute with Henry and were delighted, on day 10, when we saw milk on the infusion pump, he was only getting 1ml an hour but it was a start. His intake was built up each day and I was frantically expressing as much breast milk as I possibly could courtesy of the electric breast pump that SCBU very kindly loaned me. Once he was tolerating his feeds I was able to hold him for a short while each day and breast feed him, then came the joyous day when I walked onto SCBU heading for Henry’s ‘blue’ ward, only to be told he wasn’t there, he’d been moved to green which meant that the next step was the out door! Henry & I spent a night in the flat to make sure we could cope ‘alone’ and the next afternoon we were freed!
We will never be able to repay the kindness of the staff in the maternity unit and on SCBU, they are all amazing people.
We were in a very scary situation which we didn’t fully understand but they were always calm, caring and thoughtful, no matter how afraid we felt during that first month we always felt safe in their care… now that tiny baby is almost a year old and can climb our stairs in 43 seconds!!