Alfie was born on the 29th December 2008 by emergency caesarean section(C-section) at 34 +4 weeks gestation. He was a 8lb1oz bundle of water filled and swollen gorgeousness. However this little man had tried to escape 3 times previously. At 19 weeks gestation I was in early labour and told that if things did progress there wouldn’t be anything that could be done to help or save the baby, If I were lucky I may have just a few minutes with him to say our goodbyes. My heart sank as just 7 months previously this exact thing happened to us as I gave birth to my second child a little girl born sleeping. How could this be happening again how could they not make it stop ? I was lucky this time thou as the medicine they gave me worked and my contractions stopped without causing to much of an issue.
24 weeks into my pregnancy strike 2 ! Operation escape mummies tummy had commenced, This time I was bleeding and contracting and although 24 weeks is considered the time when a foetus is viable for life in the UK, the likely hood of taking a healthy baby home without life long complications is still devastatingly low odds. I was given two steroid injections 12 hours apart in aid to assist with maturing the babies lungs should he be born this early he would need all the help he could get. I was also given the medication to stop or slow down my labour to help bide as much time with Alfie in side as we could. It was in the middle of the night when the consultant came to me and sat on the bed to tell me although the hospital can take “24 weekers” they just did not have the cot available in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). this meant the reality was that if Alfie did make an appearance there was little the would be able to do.
OVER MY DEAD BODY !!! was I remaining in that hospital a minute longer then I had to, now with my contractions between 7 and 10 minutes apart but still only 2cm dilated my fears of having to say goodbye before we even had chance to say hello were flooding me. It left me no choice I would fight with all that I had to get me and my baby out to a hospital that did have a incubator ready to save my baby or at least give him a chance of life on the outside, so with the help of my husband and a midwife that simply went above the call of duty calls were made to friends and family that were near hospitals with the facilities we needed ( unfair or cheating the system maybe but if your unborn babies life literally depending on it I’m guessing you would do the same). basically we had to say we were temporally able to move back into the catchment area of the hospital to be excepted into there care, I wasn’t about to play postcode lottery with my babies life. So blue lights blazing a midwife and ambulance crew I was off back to surrey to the hospital I was born in just five minutes away from my mum and das house.
Two weeks later after I don’t know how much IV fluid and antibiotics bed rest was ordered and I was allowed home to be monitored and Alfie was still inside. Although the nightmare was to be continued at 32 weeks gestation we were back again in hospital, It was there that we found out I had a urinary track infection (UTI) that had been laying masked by the other bouts of antibiotics but never really completely treated. this was causing my uterus to become irritated and in turn go into spontaneous premature labour. A further 10 days of treatment and I made it home.
Just under 34 week in fact the 23rd December 2008 it was decided that following a scan that now showed Alfie to have growth complications, (He was measuring big around the tummy and small everywhere else) to book a C-section was the best way to get him here safely. Little did we know that a safe delivery was not on the cards.
On the antenatal ward I was placed on a monitor blood pressure taken and all vitals recorded told not to eat or drink any thing and someone would come and see me soon. The doctor and surgeon popped to see me within the hour and checked the trace from the monitor, I was told they needed to keep me on it for a while longer and they would keep an eye on it from the nurses station, they muted the noise so not to disturb other patients and away they went. I was told to get some rest as when baby came it would be all feeding changing and sleepless nights, Thank god I wasn’t a first time mum and this didn’t vase me.
A few hours passed and I dozed off waking to be surrounded by a team of surgeons midwifes and the on call paediatrician, Steve was given scrubs I was literally striped and put in an open gown and put on a trolley were I was wheeled to theatre (or should that be run to theatre) I was told they had one chance to get the epidural in or I would be put under general anaesthetic to deliver the baby. I have never sat so still or been so scared in my whole life. What I hadn’t realised is that the trace on the baby heart rate monitor had been dangerously low and although a baby having dips or decelerations can be quite normal they are expected to return to normal almost as quickly as they drop. Alfie’s on the other hand had never quite got back up to any where near the normal range and in fact had been continuing to drop.
“My little boy had been in real danger and I hadn’t even realised !! what type of mother did this make me ”
Alfie was born just minutes after we arrived in theatre born blue floppy and lifeless without taking a breath or that all important first cry, instead he was resuscitated immediately and ventilated in theatre, before being whisked away to NICU. I didn’t even get to see him, I begged Steve to go with him but the doctors told him they would come and get him once Alfie was settled. They needed to do their jobs but I didn’t want my baby to be alone.
Later that day I was given a picture but still not allowed to go to be with Alfie. Steve had seen him but had simply been told he was a very poorly boy and the next 24 hours would be critical. It was 36 hours before I was well enough to be wheeled into see Alfie I had lost a lot of blood and still couldn’t pass urine, but enough was enough I Needed to see my boy.
Alfie had a lack of oxygen and had needed to be resuscitated 3 times in total in the first 36 hours of life and I hadn’t been able to be there, I could even hold his hand . We were finally all allowed home 4 and a half weeks later having been seen by the consultant and briefed a little on what to expect with Alfie. He had failed his hearing test 3 times and was likely to be profoundly deaf. A follow up was arranged in clinic for around 8 weeks. Because of the lack of oxygen he would have learning and developmental needs and we shouldn’t expect him to reach all of his milestones and communication would be a challenge. (good job I like a challenge then ).
At 8 weeks we had the audiology appointment where the outcome was bittersweet. On one hand we were told Alfie had a diagnosis of auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder in short means the auditory never running from brain to ear that transmits sound waves has not matured in time for delivery, but this also means there is a chance that It could mature over a period of time. If this happened then the nerve may well begin to have a more normal function. however this was likely to take up to 18 months and would mean a lot of lost first sounds and communication in speech and language were going to be inevitable. Equally likely was the chance that Alfie may never hear and never learn to speak a recognisable word.
Leaving us in limbo of course we asked all of the usual questions :
“how about hearing aids?”
“how about grommets?”
“how about cochlea implants?”
and to each question we had the answer, “due to auditory neuropathy being a spectrum disorder and Alfie young age all we could do is wait and see”. The team asked me about my pregnancy and labour my own personal health and genetics and the links between them all pointed to me , the premature birth, the premature labour and the amount of strong medications that were needed to stop these progressing were all down to my body not keeping him safe. down to my body doing what it was meant to do. (cue self blaming). It had to be my fault after all I had already had one premature baby and his dad was different therefore it couldn’t be genetics on Steve’s part. And it certainly couldn’t be the amazing team of NHS staff that if it wasn’t for many of them Alfie and I wouldn’t be here now.
Fast forward 2 years :
***SUPRISE*** Cant quite believe that I’m being talked into peeing on a stick ! yep its a pregnancy test and ping the clearest two pink lines have appeared and its not even sitting on the side of the sink yet! Oh my god I’m pregnant ! I cant be though surely its a false positive, a dodgy packet. I mean I cant have children naturally. both the boys were assisted conception. And following the internal mess I was left with after Alfie’s delivery I was told that I would need further assistance to have more children in the future. That must have been some good champagne new years eve 2010/2011!!
so at 9.5 weeks and 7 more pregnancy tests later we attend our first scan to officially confirm that we are indeed having another baby. The scan showed an even bigger surprise and how we didn’t literally fall on the floor I really don’t know, there was two babies there. however another bitter sweet day approached us 2 weeks later when stood at the kitchen sink I felt a sudden gush between my legs. As I look down the floor was covered in fresh red blood, with no sign of it stopping we went to the hospital and had a scan. There it clearly showed one good sized baby with a lovely flickering heart beating strong and another area full of emptiness and blood, this was the area that baby two had once been. It was confirmed that the twin pregnancy had come to an end and was now a single pregnancy. although devastated by the loss of one of the babies we clung to the hope and faith that we wouldn’t lose the other. (Pixie-Faith’s name is a constant reminder that we will always remember that there were once two babies ) Surprisingly the next few months of my pregnancy with pixie went smoothly, that was until around 24 weeks gestation, This appears to be when my body decides it doesn’t like growing a tiny human.
With premature labour starting we were going through an all to familiar process to slow things down and prevent another early delivery the steroid and antibiotics IV fluids and a 5 day stay in hospital before I was allowed home again. This time I was booked for an elective C-Section on the 13th September at 38.5 weeks to try and prevent the challenges we faced with Alfie. However little miss had other idea’s at 35+6 days gestation my waters went pop and Pixie-Faith was on her way, I had decided that if I went into natural labour around my section date I would try for a V bac (virginal birth after C-section). I had never really got over the fears that something would go wrong again if we did have the section as planned, even though I was assured that there really was no reason to feel scared. Nevertheless, My birth with Tyler was amazing, it was quick and painful but I did it I was a bloody trouper. In just 2 hours and 20 minutes pushing I went from 5cm dilated to having delivered a baby . Even having to have a blood transfusion and internal and external stiches didn’t scare me as much as not realising my babies heart rate was in immediate danger. One full day of labour and finally getting to the point of wanting to push my body has other ideas, it decided it really didn’t want to play this game any more.
My heart wasn’t coping well with the labour and before I knew it I was flat on my back Steve back in scrubs and heading to theatre for the dreaded emergency section. but then She was here weighing a tiny 6lb4oz and screaming. She was brought straight to me and then for daddy cuddles while he took her back to my room I was stitched back together and could hardly believe she was waiting for me to come to my room. Placed on my chest ready to try feeding I was on cloud nine, our beautiful baby girl was here safe and sound. it was a little while later when I began to notice Pixie wasn’t breathing well and her colour was a blueish tinge and only pinked up when she was being rubbed (stimulated) by me, we buzzed the emergency bell and off she went to NICU again my world fell apart. She was kept in NICU for 48 hours with C-PAP to assist her oxygen levels and kept under blue UV lights to help with her jaundice levels then back with me ready to go home, Feeding issues due to a tongue tie were resolved by ten days old and finally we could start to get on and live life as a family of 5. What could possibly go wrong ? !