Rebekah – Why HertsPrems Started
Welcome to the very first HertsPrems blog where I talk about how and why HertsPrems started as well as our plans for the future.
Firstly a huge thank you to Mojomums who have truly supported us and given us the extra strength we needed to reach out to parents about premature birth and labor. If it wasn’t for you I would not be sitting here typing this.
After my husband passed away two years ago, I managed to reschedule my 20 week scan and completely daunted and still in a state of shock, I took my mum and mother in law along with me. This was such an emotional experience for me. I was functioning and going through the ‘motions’ but knew that I was still very much at my survival stage……and what a fight I had ahead….
After my scan i was given blood tests which revealed that I had an under active thyroid and was also very anemic. Straight away I was given medication to help and still to this day take thyroxin to manage my thyroid!
" I look back now at those all too raw memories and I think shock keeps you going! "
Weeks somehow turned into months and I was at a routine midwife appointment when I was told that my blood pressure was extremely high and they found it hard to hear the baby’s heartbeat. The midwife kept on asking if I was in any pain but that day I remember feeling quiet well ‘considering everything I was going through!’
I was rushed straight to hospital and monitored overnight. There are no words for what was going through my mind. I look back now at those all too raw memories and I think shock keeps you going!
I had attachments all over me, one for my baby’s heart beat and the rest were all for me!
The following morning I was taken for a scan to find out if my baby was ok. I was told that the umbilical cord wasn’t working 100%. I felt numb knowing there was something wrong and nothing i could do about it. It was out of my hands, just like everything else that was going on around me.
This could not be happening to me not with everything else…. right? Wrong!
At this time I had my sister in law with me who had just ‘ popped in’ to see how I was and keep me company. I was pleased to have her with me for my scan.
We got back up to the ward and my auntie was waiting for us. Before we had a chance to say anything a consultant rushed in and told me that I would be having an emergency caesarean section! For me, at this time, to be honest I couldn’t think straight. If I did I’d hate to know how I would of really reacted! My aunt took my hand and said a small prayer and told me everything was going to be ok I just smiled and nodded, again ‘survival mode’!
In the meantime sister in-law was trying to get hold of my mum as I had chosen her to be my birthing partner after my husband passed away.
There was no time for me to dwell on things as I was immediately taken to the pre theatre room and prepped me for my c section.
All I can remember was seeing my wonderful brothers and sister who somehow made it to the hospital to support me and stayed with me until I was taken to theatre. My family were amazing but inside I just kept thinking “I want my hubby! I need my hubby!” Inside I was silently screaming.
I was prepared for theater and my body as well as my thoughts was numb literally!! My aunt came in and just in the nick of time my mum arrived. There was no time for us to talk. Mum was ready she held my shivering hands and the surgery started!
For those that haven’t had a c section I was in a big room with lots of nurses and a surgeon. I was put on an extremely thin bed and tilted to one side. I was numbed from the chest down and a blue sheet was put up so I couldn’t watch the operation.
My surgeon was so friendly and very humorous and the staff were excellent, they were talking to me all the time and explaining step by step what was happening. That was very reassuring.
Once they got my daughter out they were shocked to see that she was a tiny 3lbs 5oz an average 36 week baby is around 5lb.
They wrapped my daughter up in a blue towel and brought her to me to see for the first time. I couldn’t hold her as she was quickly taken to the special care baby unit.
I was taken into the recovery room where my family came to say good bye for the night. I was glad when everyone left as I just couldn’t hold back the tears. I had been keeping strong for so long for everyone and I just couldn’t hold them in any longer.
Finally I was told that my new daughter was doing ok but had to stay in SCBU! I was holding a picture of her given to me by one of the nurses and I just began to cry. I was in a very dark place. I had no husband and now no baby to hold. This wasn’t the night me and my husband talked about months before. We had planned about how he was going to cut the umbilical cord and take silly pictures of me looking ‘rough!'
"I was desperate to meet my daughter properly and hold her for the first time."
The tears were so over whelming that even the nurses were crying too.
They managed to give me plenty of pain killers and I was knocked out.
The morning came and I woke feeling very different. Something had clicked in me that I had not felt before. I was desperate to meet my daughter properly and hold her for the first time.
I was taken up to Scbu in a wheel chair as I was unable to walk due to the c section.
I was pushed into the room and i found myself surrounded by babies in clear boxes. It was such an over whelming experience to be told that my daughter was in one of these boxes lying there so helpless and full of tubes and wires with just a nappy on.
She was helpless just like me, only in a different way. I had lost my rock, but my daughter needed me. I was her rock now!
The nurse placed my beautiful baby in my arms for the first time. I was so nervous. She was so small, the smallest baby I have ever held. She was so fragile, like a china doll, how was this precious gift mine?
My hands and body where still so sore that I couldn’t hold her for long. We ended up getting a bit tangled. It wasn’t the way I pictured that first precious cuddle.
I just remember holding her tiny finger through the incubator. I didn’t want to leave her. I was singing to her a song that still to this day I sing to her when she poorly. And somehow it still comforts her and me!
I stayed in hospital for three nights longer than a usual c section but as my daughter was in high dependency they thought it was for the best. However the day I was told i was going home was horrific. I couldn’t imagine leaving my precious daughter in hospital after leaving my husband for an hour in ICU when I was then told he had seconds to live!
Somehow I found myself walking out of the hospital with my Dad and balloons. Balloons but no baby and no husband. Nothing made sense. It was surreal.
My mind was all over the place but again somehow I made it to my parents’ house!
My daughter was in the high dependency unit for her first week as her body wasn’t ready for milk and so she was kept on a drip.
The second week we moved to unit 3 where the feeding and being a ‘hands on’ mum really started. This meant more cuddles (kangaroo hugs). This involves skin to skin touch to help your baby grow and know you your smell and your heart beat sounds which helps with development.
I started to be able to dress my baby and change her nappy (I’ve got many nieces and nephews but never changed a baby so helpless and small)!
Trying to hold her and the wires and the nappy whilst cleaning her was all very difficult but I didn’t take long to become a pro!
My little daughter was gaining weight well and seemed to be enjoying her feeds but sadly it didn’t last long as she caught an infection and was taken to a small room, with instructions ‘nil by mouth.’
This was a horrific day as she cried so much and I wasn’t allowed to hold her for ages whilst they changed all her tubes, so distressing for the both of us! All I could do was just hold her finger and ‘sang the song’ that soothed her.
She was such a fighter and after 48 hrs she was back in room 3 and back having cuddles and milk!
I felt like a cow by this point as it was all about express express express!
This is where I first got to sit and talk to some of the mums in what soon be known as the pump room!!
My daughter was doing really well and on track to coming home. By the third week we moved into unit 2, another step nearer to the last unit where I would be allowed to sleep over night with my baby before bringing her home!
The wires and monitoring got less as we were gradually prepared for going home.
Without the monitors every breath and heart beat was a waiting game. This was such a strange time of transition as I was so used to looking at the monitors to make sure everything was is ok now. Now I was just looking at my daughter, surviving on her own, watching her every move!
This was also the week that I gave her, her first bath, such an incredible experience! Trying to juggle keeping her half wrapped up with her tube in so was another challenge for us both!
You get into a routine coming back and forth to the hospital. You slip into a
routine and with knowing when her feeds were due, I started to get comfortable too! I loved stocking up her little cupboard under her incubator with her clothes and nappies.
And then you’re told that she’s coming home! This was such a quick process once she was on full bottle & breast feeds.
By now my baby had no monitors and we only had one more day left until our very first ‘sleep over’ together!
ON sleep over day we were set up in a room next to Scbu. You can ask for assistance and help at any time but for me, it was a time for me and my daughter to share our first moments together away from all the noise, doctors and the intense heat of the main other units.
I had my mother in law and mum come to visit that night to see there granddaughter for the first time on their own. It was a very special time.
The next day was “going home day”!
This depended on how we got on through the night. For us, all went well and my daughter gained or at least stayed the same weight and we were allowed home! I had a list of medication to give her every day for two months and appointments for check-ups. I was finally handed my red book!
My best friend came to pick us up from the hospital as I still couldn’t drive. I had been dependent on lifts every day for four weeks to see my daughter. I would arrive at 8am every morning and leave at 10pm every night. I found it so hard to leave her but I knew she was in the best hands!
I put her in the car seat for the first time and she has to have three special inserts to help fit her in as she was so tiny and weighed only 4lb 10oz!
Finally, I was leaving the hospital with my daughter! I couldn’t really put it in to words how I felt. But you can try to imagine the emotions going through my head….
Throughout this whole journey in Scbu you leave feeling like saying ‘thank you’ just isn’t enough. They had saved my life and my daughters!
I had gained trust again in a hospital and friendships that will last a life time, so how can a simple ‘thank you ‘be enough? I decided it wasn’t going to be…….watch this space!!