I arrived for a growth scan at 28 weeks following having covid at Christmas. My blood pressure was dangerously high, even though I was being treated from 12 weeks. I was monitored weekly throughout the pregnancy and knew an early arrival was expected. We were told baby would arrive between 32 & 36 weeks due to preeclampsia. However at our 28 week scan, it was discovered I had developed IUGR and George had stopped growing at 24 weeks. I was admitted on bed rest, until 28 + 6 when George was showing clear signs of distress and had stopped moving.
I was rushed down for an emergency c-section and george arrived weighing 895 grams.
George was breathing by himself on arrival, however doctors had to work with George for over half an hour before we were allowed a 60 second cuddle. The nurses kindly took photos and he was whisked away to NICU.
Cuddling my baby in a plastic bag, with 6 doctors around me wasn’t how I expected my first cuddle to go. I felt robbed of that magical moment, but then I felt robbed of my pregnancy.
We had visited the neonatal unit before surgery to familiarise ourselves with what we would be greeted with. However there is nothing that can prepare you for seeing your baby in an incubator for the first time, fighting for their life.
The feeling of being out of control and unable to help is a feeling that will never leave you. The noises, wires and smells stay with you forever. Thankfully our unit was a level 3 and took 28 weeks onwards. So we were able to stay local and could spend 24 hours a day there - although that’s no good for your mental health.
Our hospital is part of the PERIPrem project which meant at 12 hours old we were allowed to get involved with George’s care. Change his nappy, tube feed him and quickly learnt how to administer medication. We had our first skin to skin at 48 hours old, although George could only cope with 30 minutes out of the incubator. These small things made a huge difference. Having the parent passport helped make us feel a little more in control and that we were doing something to help George.
Whilst George spent 10 weeks in NICU, his journey was pretty uneventful. He got away with only having one blood transfusion at 6 weeks old and thankfully suffered no bleeds or infections. His weight gain was his only issue, which impacted his lungs developing. Meaning when we were discharge a week before his due date. We came home with Home Oxygen and a diagnosis of Chronic Lung Disease, which hopefully he will grow out of by the age of 2.
George is now 10 months old, weighing a healthy 15lb and oxygen free.
If you’re currently in NICU or preparing for a stay there. Please reach out to friends, family and professionals for help. Talk about your feelings and know it’s ok to not be ok. I recommend reading Dadpad - even for mums. It really helps understand what you are seeing or could be expecting.
Reach out to Bliss. They have some amazing support and breakdown a lot of the medical jargon.
Look after yourself. Self care isn’t selfish.