Harry was born at 32 weeks weighing a tiny 3lb 3oz on 11th March 2011 by emergency Caesarian section following a complicated pregnancy.We knew there were potential problems following a scan at 16 weeks which showed that the umbilical cord had a single umbilical artery.
From week 20 I had regular growth scans, CTG (baby's heart beat) and dopplers (blood flow) to monitor the baby. Over the weeks it was noted the baby was growing very slowly and at my 28weeks scan there was evidence of IUGR (Inter uterine growth restriction) but as the dopplers and heartbeat was strong it was agreed to aim to get to 30 weeks to reduce the risk of needing to be flown off island. At the 30 week scan the IUGR was noted to be severe and doctors informed us the baby may be need to be delivered sooner rather than later so gave me steroid injections to develop the baby's lungs. I had the growth scan at 32 weeks and it showed that the baby had stopped growing and was the size of a 28week baby and that the amniotic fluid was dangerously low. It was at this point that in order to give the baby the best chance of survival he needed to be delivered by emergency c-section. The consultant was very honest with us and told us to expect at best, a severely disabled child and at worst that the baby won't survive. This was when we realised just how serious the situation was. This was when we got the opportunity to visit SCBU and meet our nurse (Lucy) and Dr (Dinesh) who were going be in theatre and look after the baby once he arrived. It was so reassuring to get the opportunity to visit SCBU as it eased our mind as to where we would be once the baby arrived and to see the equipment and incubator.
Unfortunately there were complications with the C-Section and I needed a
general anaesthetic meaning my husband was also not present at the birth.
Harry's start was pretty traumatic as he got stuck and needed a forceps
delivery but once he arrived he miraculously was able to initially breath for
himself! He was immediately taken to SCBU where my husband was able to
see him once he was stabilised. Lucy was amazing and once I came round
from my anaesthetic she kept us informed and produced a Polaroid picture
of Harry so that I could see him. By late evening Harry had developed
Respiratory Distress and so needed surfactant and to be ventilated .
I don't think we really appreciated quite how unwell Harry was as we were just so thankful that he was alive.
The SCBU team were amazing. Due to my C-Section I needed to be kept in bed so they arranged for me to be wheeled on my bed into SCBU to see Harry in his incubator. To be able to put my hand on his tiny body was just amazing. Over the following week Harry continued to need to be ventilated and given surfactant to help with his breathing as his lungs were so under developed. During this time we spent a lot of time sitting next to our beautiful baby boy and talking to him. As he was so small and weak he was fed by a feeding tube (NG) and I expressed every 3 hours to provide him milk. This was really important to me as it was the only thing I could do to help my little boy.After 3 days Harry was well enough to be held for the first time. Despite all the tubes and lines, It was so precious to be able to cuddle our tiny baby boy and we began 'kangaroo care' which is skin on skin contact with mummy or daddy. The position ensures physiological and psychological warmth, bonding and the parent's stable body temperature helps to regulate the neonate's temperature more smoothly than an incubator. Harry loved this and whenever he was on us his oxygen levels dramatically improved and he started to slowly improve. Initially we could only hold Harry for a few minutes at a time but as he got stronger each day we increased this. Nearly four years on, Harry still loves his cuddles and we are sure it stems from the hours of kangaroo care!
After 10 days Harry was able to come off his ventilator and we decided
that I would leave the maternity ward and go home. This was a really
hard day but knowing that Harry was in the best of hands made it so
much easier. By this time we knew the SCBU staff so well and seen how
amazing they were so we knew Harry was safe.We spent the following
6 weeks going to SCBU every morning and spending the day there
getting to know our little boy, helping with his care and watching him.
Harry struggled to maintain his body temperature, learn to feed and
put on weight so once he was coping without oxygen we literally had to
wait for him to get slowly stronger and grow! He graduated slowly from incubator to a hot cot and we will never forget the day that he was able to maintain his body temperature and move into a normal maternity cot! It was one step closer to home!!Once Harry could cope in a normal cot we were allowed to bath him for the first time. He was 6 weeks old. We then began trying to establish him fully breast / bottle feeding without his feeding tube. Every ounce Harry gained was a milestone and celebration!
During Easter week 2011 we started the journey home and I moved back onto the maternity unit to start 'rooming in' with Harry and take him onto the ward to fully care for him. This was daunting yet so exciting at the same time! After 4 days the consultant finally gave us the ok to go home and on Easter Sunday 2011, we headed home with Harry weighing 3lb 8oz. Leaving SCBU filled us with mixed emotions as we were so happy to be able to take home our little boy but SCBU was our safe bubble and family for nearly 8 weeks.The staff had become like family and had gone out of their way to care for not only Harry but us as a family. Staff write diaries of your child so you don't miss anything and on special occasions , in our instance Mother's Day and my husbands birthday, we found a card made by Harry on his incubator when we walked in . These small touches, the many mugs of tea and the hugs make a stressful and scary time just that little bit easier.
When we left SCBU we knew Harry possibly had problems but nothing obvious
had been found during his stay on SCBU. We have had our ups and downs
with plenty of hospital admissions and tests.
Harry does have some problems and it is very likely that he has a rare
genetic disorder but despite his challenges, Harry is a very lively little boy.
We have no doubt he will continue to thrive.
We are very proud of our little miracle!