After having two perfect, labour and delivery during my first two pregnancies I thought this would be the case with my third child.
I had already made my birth plan for with my husband and my midwife.
I had requested a home birth.
Little did I know that things were not going to work out as planned.
I suffer from severe morning sickness during pregnancy right till labour.
I always wonder why they call it morning sickness, for me it’s all day and night sickness.
During pregnancy, I find it hard to eat any kind food and instead of gaining baby weight I actually lose weight.
The toilet bowl is my favourite place when I am pregnant because I will be vomiting day and night.
Pre-eclampsia (High Blood Pressure In pregnancy)
During the 28th week of my pregnancy for my third child, I was not feeling well.
I had seen my midwife at 21 weeks and she had done the routine checks for pregnant women which are usually blood pressure check and urine test.
Everything was okay within normal ranges.
I had also gone for my second ultrasound scans for the baby and the result we good.
All of a sudden I felt my body heavy for me.
I had abdominal side pains just below the rib cage.
I knew right away that they were not labour pains so I decided to call my GP for an appointment.
I went to the GP and I explained all the pains I was feeling and the GP just brushed them aside and he did not think it was something serious.
He prescribed me some Gaviscon thinking that maybe it was heartburn or acid excess causing the pains.
I went home and I could not sleep that night with the pain.
In the morning I woke up and the pain was still there only now it was much worse.
My husband was pressuring me to go back and see my GP.
But me being stubborn I was not keen on the idea as I had seen my GP the day before and he had said he was not at all concerned with the pains I was getting in my abdomen.
Instead, I told my husband that I wanted to go for a walk and he said he would go with me.
Although during that time he had to be somewhere he decided to go for a walk with me instead.
I guess he was more worried about me than I was.
So we went for a walk around our little town and we came across one of our local pharmacies and I told my husband that I wanted to go in the pharmacy and get my blood pressure checked.
Still to this date I don’t know how or why I thought about having my blood pressure checked at this exact moment.
I had never suffered from any high or low blood pressure in my life but somehow surprisingly a thought came to my mind to have it checked.
Either it was motherly instincts or God’s angels’ whispers.
When we asked the lady at the counter if I could get my blood pressure checked and she said they don’t provide that service but she would do it for me just this once.
She checked my blood pressure at it was 220/105 she advised me to go and see my GP straight away as my blood pressure was dangerously high.
We took the advice and went and booked an emergency appointment with our GP.
I was seen by another GP and not the one I had seen the day before.
The GP told us that I had pre-eclampsia and wonder why the doctor I had seen the day before had not picked this up.
The side pains I was having were some of the symptoms of pre-eclampsia.
Pre-eclampsia is a condition that appears to pregnant women it usually starts to develop in the trimester of pregnancy.
It causes pregnant women to have high blood pressure and high protein levels during pregnancy.
Some of the symptoms include swollen feet and puffed face.
Failing to detect pre-eclampsia early can result in the death of the baby or even the mother.
Unexpected Emergency C- Section
The GP told me that I had to go to the hospital and she called out an ambulance.
We asked if my husband could take me to the hospital instead at this time I did not know how much about pre-eclampsia.
She said I was an emergency she could not risk me getting back home and let my husband take me to the hospital later.
When I arrived at the hospital I was monitored by a few midwives and two consultants. They tried to bring down my blood pressure to acceptable levels with medication.
I had wires all over me and monitoring me and the baby, that’s when I began to take in what was happening.
As the midwives continue to monitor my baby they told me that there were signs the baby was under a lot of stress and the baby’s heart rate was slowing down.
I could feel the presence of fear and panic through the actions of the midwives.
At one point they could not get the baby’s heart rate.
It was then that the consultant broke the news that I had to have an emergency cesarian.
This came to me as a blow in the face, I just couldn’t control all the tears as they came down pouring on my cheeks like heavy rain.
I could not take this, I had never had a premature baby.
I was worried and afraid of whether my baby had a chance to survive at only 28 weeks.
This also came as a shock to my husband who was sitting beside my hospital bed.
We both looked at each other in silence.
This was not what we signed up when we planned the pregnancy.
Unfamiliar territory for us.
The consultants went on and explained why they need to do an emergency c-section on me pointing out that I had severe pre -eclampsia.
It was a hard decision for me and my husband to make but we had to make the decision fast.
We did not have day or hours to think about it, in the end, we both agreed to have the emergency c-section.
The consultants explained all the risk of having a c-section but all his explaining went to deaf eyes as my mind was wandering off with thoughts.
From then onwards, everything happened in a flash.
I was wheeled into the theater and given general anesthesia.
I was overwhelmed by the number of people health professional in the theatre, consultants, nurses, midwives and neonatal team, there must have been at least 15 people there.
As I lay on the operating table I was scared to death.
Fearing for my baby, fearing for my life.
I was so sleepy and tired I think it had to do with medication they were giving me.
During the operation, I remember closing my eyes wanting to sleep for just a few minutes but one of the midwives kept asking questions me so that I could stay awake.
I would find myself dozing off and she would wake me up with a touch on my hand and a question “So how many children do have ?”
As soon as I answer her question I would doze off again.
Ohhh, what a job she did to keep me awake.
Within a few minutes, I heard a small cry.
Thank God for that wonderful sweet faint cry.
One of the consultants said “congratulations it’s a baby girl. ”
They show me my baby and straight away she was placed in an incubator.
They weighed her and she was only 700g/25 ounces.
When I saw my baby I was shocked as I had never seen such a tiny human being like that in my life.
The baby was taken down to the intensive neonatal baby unit.
I was stitched up and taken to a private room on the maternity ward.
This kind of birth was new to me, I was distressed about many things at the time.
I was concerned about my baby.
Would she survive?
How would she cope?
Will I be able to care for her?
When will I be able to hold my baby?
What would my relatives and friends think of my baby and me?
All these kind of questions popped in and out of my head as I lay on on my hospital bed.
As I lay there and hear other healthy babies on the maternity wards cry with their mothers.
I felt even lonely.
I felt like a part of me was missing.
The night went by in a blur for me.
It was only the next morning that I was allowed to visit my baby in the neonatal intensive unit.
Because my fresh wound from the cesarian my husband had to take me in a wheelchair.
As we entered the unit I saw many premature babies in their incubators with their parents standing or sitting by their side.
There were blipping sounds and flashing screen monitors everywhere.
It was then I realised that I wasn’t the first person in the world to have a premature baby other mothers had to cope with that too.
With my spirits a bit lifted after seeing all those mothers around, I felt a bit excited to take a closer look at my baby and even hold her in my arms.
When we arrived at my baby’s incubator or shall I call it hospital bed we were greeted with one of the nurses who was looking after my baby.
I looked closely at my tiny baby who was sleeping.
I battled the tears that were welling in my eyes but failed terribly to stop them and my spirit crushed down.
I wanted to hold my baby in my arms.
But the nurse said I could only put my hands through the window of the incubator and touch the baby as the baby heart rate was not yet stable.
She had a continuous positive airway pressure (c-pap) around her nose to help her breath better since her lungs had not developed fully.
She was too small to breathe on her own.
The consultant came and gave us all the updates on our baby’s health.
Because my baby came to this world before her due time she was born with all sorts of health problems.
The list seemed endless.
As the consultant discussed with us about the health of our baby we were both wondering if she was going to make it.
All I wanted was for things to go back were they were, to have my baby back in my tummy so that she could have more weeks to grow inside me.
And not to be outside this harsh world where she would have to fight for every breath.
We eventually decided to name our daughter Nadia which means hope.
Before she was born we had chosen other name for her but her early arrival into this world made us want to change the name we had to fit the situation.
I am glad we did this.
The days that followed were full of ups and downs.
Some days were good days.
Some days were bad days.
Some days were worse than bad.
We gradually introduced the baby to our two other children and they were thrilled to have a baby sister.
We had to find ways to answer their never-ending questions about their little sister and in the end, they sort of understood everything.
We also had to tell our friend and family about the early arrival of Nadia.
The reactions of people were more of how sorry they were than congratulations.
Most people don’t know what to say to parents of a premature baby they forget to say congratulations which is disheartening to parents of preterm babies.
Saying sorry will discourage and crush the spirits of parents of preterm babies.
It’s never easy to talk to a parent of a premature baby but at least saying congratulations than saying how sorry you strengthen will hope of a premature parent.
It’s better to keep quiet and say nothing than saying how sorry they are.
Premature Baby Sepsis
After about 3 weeks Nadia developed sepsis and her organs were failing, we were called by the doctors and were told to be ready for anything.
I remember exactly the words they said: “We have tried everything we could possibly do, we are now trying to make her feel comfortable as we can.”
If you paraphrase this they were saying they were just waiting for my daughter to die they had done everything the could in their power.
Were they giving up on my daughter I asked my self silently?
This was the most difficult time for me my husband we felt like the world had crushed on us.
We were about to lose our daughter and none of us was ready for this.
We stayed all day at the hospital and left in the evening and asked them to call us if there was any change.
I went home with my husband we did not talk to each other along the journey home.
Sometimes life throws you situations that call for silence even to someone who is very talkative like my husband.
I went to bed and not a second did I close my eyes to sleep my mind was busy racing.
We took my mobile phones to bed just in case the hospital called us.
But they never did we did not know if this was good or bad.
In the morning I and went and called the hospital dreading what they might say.
We learned to live each day as it came and to be grateful no matter what day we were having good or bad.
Nadia gradually recovered from sepsis.
Nadia stayed in the hospital for two months and 2 weeks and eventually left the hospital.
I remember vividly the day we took Nadia home I had mixed emotions.
I was thrilled to take my daughter home at the same time I was worried about how we were going to cope with taking care of Nadia.
Looking back now I wish had been kinder to myself and not worry so much about how things will turn out.
Nadia is now a healthy 3-year-old she certainly had a difficult arrival in the world but we are so grateful she made it.
She is our miracle baby.
How Having A Premature Baby Changed Us Forever.
Nadia early birth changed us forever on our perspective about life.
This experience made us appreciate the value of life and celebrate small things and milestones in our everyday life.
We now see life and the world very differently and we are so grateful.
We learned that no matter how things might seem there is always someone in the world who is worse off than you.
Along the journey we saw children who never fully recovered, some we never knew what happened to them but we are always praying that God is with them through their journey.
We learnt to live in the present moment and not to worry about what will be tomorrow by living each day as it comes.
Before I had Nadia I used to worry about what other people think about me very contrary to my husband who thinks otherwise.
When I had Nadia I even worried more about what people will say and think about me and my baby.
During the early days of Nadias’ birth, I made a decision of not wanting to take any photos of her mainly because I was afraid of what people might say when they so my tiny baby.
I made this decision not knowing that I was robbing myself and my family all these memories of Nadia’s early days all because of fearing who other people might have said about Nadia at the time.
I regret making this silly decision because I don’t have any pictures of Nadia during her first days of life I have to live with this now.
But I have now made peace with this decision.
I have learned to stop worrying about what other people think about me or my family.
This is the only life I have here on earth so why waste my time worrying about what other people think about me.
I want to live my life to the fullest.
Why I Wrote This Personal Story
I decided to share this personal story in recognition of Premature day.
Hoping that my story will provide some kind of hope and comfort to someone with a premature baby.
You are not alone I have also walked in those shoes.
And it’s okay to cry when you find the experience difficult to handle it.
Over to you…
Do you know anyone who has had a premature baby?
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