Today it is World Prematurity Day. It is a day where we think of the babies who came too early and grew wings too soon. We think of the research and the amazing medical advances that enable others born too soon to live. We think of the knowledge that we have to help babies stay just that little bit longer because we all know that even an hr longer can make a difference. We think about the amazing technologies that we have now to know sometimes it is better for baby to be out than in even if it is too soon. And for me it is a day when I count my blessings that are my three beautiful, healthy, amazing children all of whom were born early.
My pregnancy with Zac was difficult from word go and an incredible surprise to everyone as I was under the impression that babies had been ruled out for me. At least that is what the Drs had told me. I was in and out of hospital for one reason or another and had various complications. Zac decided that it was nearly time to meet us at 25wks, thank goodness for us the care my Dr gave me at that time slowed the progress of this to a stop which gave us a slight reprieve. The second time Zac thought it would be a good idea to meet us was at 28wks and whilst his outcomes would have been significantly better at 28wks than 25wks it was still in reality far too soon. So again my Dr was able to intervene and slow things to a stop. Each time administering high doses of steroids to me to help the development of Zac's lungs in case he did come. The third and final time that Zac decided he was done growing inside and wanted out there was no stopping things. Apart from anything my waters had broken this time.
We arrived at the hospital about about 930 in the morning (after a shower, putting sheets in the washing - yes my waters broke in the bed thank goodness for mattress protectors and foam toppers!, waking hubby, getting him in the shower, packing my bag and driving myself via my parents to the hospital - someone was too drunk to drive from celebrations with a mate the night before!) and were quickly ushered into a delivery suite checked over and told get comfy it's on like donkey kong this time. Well not quite, a drip was put up more drugs were administered to slow the rate of contractions to try to get another 24hrs so that two steroid shots could take effect! At one point the drip was up as high as possible and still the contractions came. The midwives sent hubby home for some rest as they were really hoping to get the 24hrs.
Next morning rolled around drip was taken down and we were letting nature take it's course. I was exhausted 24hrs in a delivery suite with no tv, not allowed out of bed in case moving started things up, no wifi or iPads or iPhones or Facebook to keep me entertained in 2001 and all the while I was hooked up to a drip that was supposed to be slowing the rate of the contractions. The main problem was that the drip was causing my heart to race so there was a fine line between too much and not enough and I was still having fairly regular contractions. I was determined not to have an epidural because I was petrified at the thought of the needle! Slowly and by slowly I mean super slowly things started to happen. Because he was my first baby and I had had some surgery on some bits no-one was really sure what to expect and he was only 31wks so I was also told to be prepared he might need to go to a NICU at another hospital. So calls were made to find beds in case this was needed. Eventually it was all systems go and when it happened things started to happen incredibly quickly! Because he was prem we had a myriad of people in the delivery suite with us. We had Obstetrics Dr and Registrar, Paediatrics Dr and Registrar and 3 midwives plus one from the Special Care Nursery plus hubby and my mum (who wasn't meant to be there but was it was just timing!)
At 3.30pm on 26/11/01 we were incredibly blessed with our amazing baby boy (whom we didn't know was a boy until he was born) he was born crying he had great apgar scores and hubby got to cut the cord before he was wrapped up to keep warm and all three of us there got to have a hold, fleeting but a hold!
This is our gorgeous boy on the day he was born so so perfect!
This is him about Day 4 under lights for jaundice but otherwise doing really well.
In the end he was incredible. He really only had to stay in hospital until he could regulate his body temperature, take all suck feeds and the jaundice was sorted. In all this was only 19 short days. Nothing short of amazing really. Home before Christmas.
I think actually he knew something we didn't this is one of a handful of photos I have with my only living grandparent my Pop with Zac. This was the day he came home at my Pop's 85th Birthday celebration. Pop was only with us for 2 more months after this he passed away on the day we had Zac Baptised. He may never have seen Zac if he hadn't come early or at least not been aware. I treasure these photos.
This is our gorgeous boy today, fit, healthy, strong and 14 in 9 days time!
We couldn't be happier!
It took me a long time to get my head around the fact that if we had anymore babies that there was every likelihood they would be premature as well. I also had a nice healthy dose of Post Natal Depression (it is also Peri & Post Natal Depression Awareness week this week!). But once I got there we very amazingly and miraculously fell pregnant with twins. I cried from the moment I was told for close on three weeks!
The pregnancy with the girls was even more complicated and had a whole raft of twin complication issues! I was not in and out of hospital as much with the girls but did spend 5 weeks at RWH n Randwick which was just awful as my family was in Wollongong. At 32wks I was discharged from Randwick told to go home stay on strict bedrest and wait. I was so completely over being pregnant I wanted my life back and my babies out. I was tired from all the crappy complications and the size of a whale.
At 34wks on the dot I woke up and just knew it was like a felt them drop. I rang my Dr on his mobile he was in theatre doing a c-sect and he said get yourself up to hospital. We rang daycare to get Zac in for the day explaining the situation and while hubby dropped him there I had a shower and got ready to go because I knew this was it. I rang the hospital to let them know I was on the way. Hubby dropped me off and then went to park the car. Not long after we arrived we heard my Dr in fact the midwives hadn't even had a chance to check me over or decide if my Dr actually needed to be there. But I knew in myself they were coming that day. My Dr came in said hi and did the only internal I had all pregnancy for so many reasons. Anyway, my Dr was a really chatty man normally and he went silent I looked at him and knew from his face. He told me not to move until they came to get me for theatre it was on. Then there was a rush because if contractions started there was a very real concern that I or the babies might bleed to death because of the location of my placenta and it's vessels - I had a condition called vasa previa among so many others but this one was a real issue.
The anaesthetist was called and the Neonatal Unit notified that twins were being born that day. I had very early on arranged with my Dr that if I had to have a c-sect I was having a general and he was fine with this. But the anaesthetist still tried to talk me into a epidural. It was hard work getting the canula in because my veins were hiding so there was blood everywhere but eventually I was wheeled in. I gave hubby a kiss goodbye and went in by myself. He called my parents and his parents while he waited for me due to the general he couldn't come into the theatre but he had a super important job and that was to name our babies when they came out. At 1234pm and 1235pm on 05/05/05 our beautiful girls Charlotte & Lillian were born. Charli was the bigger of the two but needed a little bit more support than Lil. He had polaroids of the girls sent down and my parents were waiting for me when I woke up. I remember being perfectly content the girls were born they were both alive I was alive all was good. I was wheeled up to the maternity floor and I was just really happy to stay in my bed. My mum on the other hand was very keen for me to see the girls because we had a rule that no-one but hubby could see our girls before I did. Mum & Dad were heading off to pick Zac up and bring him back because he didn't know what had happened that day and they were pretty keen to see the girls.
This was as close as I could get to my precious Charlotte as she needed a little bit of Oxygen and needed to stay in there. But I knew she was going to be fine and she was just amazing! It would be a couple of days before I actually got to have a proper hold of Charlotte.
Our beautiful Lillian I was able to have a tiny little proper hold with her. I honestly couldn't believe it I had always wanted a little girl and here I was blessed with two, even better all three of us made it through!
The girls a few hours after their birth. Even though they were a few weeks older gestation wise than their brother they needed just that little bit more help in the beginning.
Charli on leaving day a short 13 days after she made her early entry into the world we were taking her home.
Lil was just as ready to get out of there. In fact they slept through the whole process, the giant pram and the transfer into the car. Then we headed off to pick up big brother from daycare what a surprise he was going to get!
Charli big and strong and just awesome!
Lil is just that tiny bit more daring! Look mum no hands!
Some reflections on being a mum to prems means that I never take any day at all for granted! Sure I get cross with the kids and man oh man they can drive me mental. But not a day goes by that I don't appreciate them for the miracles that they are and know that we are incredibly blessed many of my friends who also had prems have vastly different outcomes to our babies. There is nothing in the world that can ever put into words that first night you go home from hospital and you have to leave your baby/ies behind. Walking into your house, into the nursery and not having your baby is heartbreaking but then again I know that things could have been very different and are for many, many families at least we eventually got to take our babies home.
Never underestimate the power of that connection you have with your child, today my kids have been in trouble and I had to be The Enforcer something I really don't like but nothing will ever stop me loving them.
Lastly, thank you to all the amazing maternity and SCU Nursery staff at The Sutherland Hospital who made sure Zac arrived in our arms safely. Dr David Morgans you are our hero. Also, a huge thank you goes out to Dr David Greening, Dr Greg Kesby, all the maternity staff at the RWH Randwick and all the maternity and NNU staff at Wollongong hospital. Without all of you we wouldn't have our gorgeous babies.
Hug your babies tight.