I fell pregnant with our first child in October 2015, just six weeks after getting together with my fiancé. Apart from horrendous nausea and Symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) everything was normal and going very well. On 3 June, our lives were suddenly turned upside down.
I woke up early to eat something to ease my nausea but after breakfast I violently threw everything back up. I had something to drink and the same thing happened again. Something definitely wasn’t right. Suddenly a headache started, and it felt like someone was ripping my skull apart with their bare hands.
By lunchtime I’d rung 111 and was told to see my midwife sometime in the next week; luckily I didn’t listen. After ringing the doctor and demanding an appointment I was finally seen. Never in my life have I seen a doctor look so worried. My blood pressure was sky high and there was protein in my urine.
My partner and I made our way to the hospital. We honestly thought that I’d be checked over, given meds and sent home. How wrong we were. I was diagnosed with very severe sudden onset pre-eclampsia.
At first, I was given meds and told I’d be in overnight, which turned into the weekend. The consultants then told me that I’d need to be induced at 37 weeks.
So far we weren’t phased by any of this, but the scan revealed that our little boy was extremely tiny for 32 weeks because he’d stopped growing at 29 weeks and had reversed flow and no fluid. I was told I’d remain in hospital and would now be induced at 35 weeks.
Two days went by without incident. Then when my blood pressure was checked, everything changed again. I was strapped to a foetal heart monitor to keep an eye on the baby for more than 10 hours and I had to literally beg to be allowed to go to the toilet. All the while, my blood pressure was drastically rising and my delivery date was brought forward to Monday – 33+2 weeks. Natural delivery was too risky now and an emergency c-section was planned. We were told that if the operation wasn’t performed both my son and I wouldn’t make it to Tuesday.
Our son Alex arrived weighing 2lb 14oz and screamed the operating theatre down. He was so strong, a real fighter, and smashed every NICU milestone. I met Alex when he was a day old and he was so tiny. The tubes and wires covered his body and his face was covered with a mask. When he was placed in my arms it felt like I wasn’t holding anything because he was just so skinny. When those beautiful blue eyes looked at me, I knew he was stronger than he looked. Overall our NICU experience was positive and day by day Alex grew and became stronger.
Three weeks later Alex was ready to come home so we were roomed in with him. We were so happy that night and all was right in the world until Alex had a bottle with his dad. The room was dim and I was reading a book when I had the feeling that something was drastically wrong. When we both looked down at Alex, he wasn’t breathing and was cold and blue.
To this day I don’t know how I did it, but somehow I got him breathing again and rushed back into the NICU with him in my arms screaming for help. Alex was taken back onto the unit and fed by a nurse but he stopped breathing again. Every feed now involved having to gently encourage my son to breathe. Alex stayed for two more weeks until he was deemed stable enough to come home.
I’d love to say that was the end of it but Alex has developed dysphagia, swallowing problems, and struggles with eating and drinking. Although he is a happy and very funny 16-month-old, we have to be very careful when feeding Alex. For 20 weeks he was fed lying on his side so he wouldn't breathe his milk in. We found two sucks and a breath worked best. Even though we were hyper vigilant, Alex would still choke then have apnoea and bradycardia episodes.
My fiancé has stood by me and been the most supportive and loving man I’ve ever known. In less than a year I found the two people I love the most in the world and I couldn’t be happier.
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