Sunday, July 31, 2011

6 weeks too early, not a day late...

I know this post has been well awaited, and it's going to be well read.  Before I begin - I will add a disclaimer -

much of this is very difficult for me to show in a public arena, and to "talk" about.  This post will probably be long, but I'm keeping with who I am in being honest and real.  There are pictures - they are not all nice to look at.

Welcome - Aiden Harris.  Who arrived to our family - on 3 July 2011.  6 and a bit weeks before his due date.

What can I say - but I knew it.  I knew he was going to come early.  I just didn't quite expect the journey to follow.

Most of those who know me, know I LOATHE being pregnant.  I could honestly quite happily skip that stage and go from not pregnant to the day after delivery quite happily.  So when I woke up on that Sunday with some dull ache, and then contractions arrived - I was just a wee bit excited.

I shrugged it off - because over the 3 or so weeks prior, I had multiple false alarms.  I was hospitalised 2 weeks earlier with "labouring" contractions - that slowly eased off overnight.  So I knew that each day counted as one step closer to home.

The labour - well, it was amazing.  Very different from my first experience.  I was very relaxed and quite enjoyed just breathing through the process.  I left church a bit early because I was uncomfortable.  Thinking I was going to be in hospital for the night again - I grabbed pjs and a few other things.  I threw in a feeding bra "just in case".

I was not afraid, but was chewing back on steroids every 15 minutes and being jabbed all over.  You see, they were trying to stop my wee boy from coming quite so soon.  Things continued to progress and my midwife decided to bring me in some gas.  I quite enjoyed that experience too.  It was all a bit blase because I wasn't supposed to be having this baby, but I started to think "gee, if I don't have him today - this is going to suck - I'd have to do labour twice for ONE baby!!"

I was given the "last resort" pill, which either stops your labour or you are declared full blown.  It was a bit late - I was full blown.  A short time later I told my midwife that "I'd be ready to push soon".  She checked and I was nearly fully dialated.  After this, I don't remember much.  Apart from that I was begging them to break my waters.  Other than that after about 10 minutes the alarm was pressed, the paediatricians rushed in the room and my son was born.  He was promptly removed and given some oxygen to "pink" him up a bit.

I was given a 5 second glimpse at him wrapped in a towel, and then he was transferred to the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) because he was labouring a bit with his breathing.

My established labour was less than 2 hours.  I was happily breathing through it all and texting my friends at 12.50pm.  I gave birth at 2.30pm.

I was in shock for about 3 hours.  I couldn't believe I had just had him.  I hardly got to see him - it all felt a bit strange.  I finally showered and gathered my things, then went to see him.

He was the cutest wee thing ever.

Day one he was doing quite well.  We all were.

Then came Monday.  The Doctors then told me that he had developed a "condition".  Basically, the short is - Aiden's body was delayed in converting from using the placenta for oxygen to using his lungs for the circulation he needed.  No visitors, and I wasn't allowed to touch or talk to him for at least the next 24 hours.  I still hadn't even held him.

Some of our darkest moments...

The gadgets above are as follows:
  • oxygen + air in his nose - keeping lungs inflated and providing extra oxygen to enable his body to get enough for circulation
  • aspirate tube down throat into tummy - to enable them to suck out mucous and remove breast milk to check for digestion
  • wires on chest/tummy - recording heart rate, oxygen levels and breathing rate
  • IV line in his arm - for fluids and later, for fluids with "extra calories"
  • 2 x wires in umbilical cord - 1 for monitoring blood pressure and taking blood. The other to "feed" him with (among other things).
  • wire on foot - measuring oxgen saturation levels

    They did consider transferring him to Auckland via helicopter.  They were seriously concerned about his health.  They didn't relay to me quite how bad it was until he was 'well' (about 10 days later).

    Not only did he have a condition - but he couldn't tolerate any breast milk at all (so he lost a lot of weight).  On the Wednesday, he started having serious apnoeas (holding his breath for long periods).  He would do it several times in a short space.  They got even more concerned about him.  He hated any stimulation.
    With his dummy ^^  the only comfort he had
    He was lying on a table, vulnerable to all the elements.  Every time a doctor walked in the room, or there was a new voice, or someone got flustered - he would get distressed.  He would handle this by holding his breath again.  He would cry and grizzle and look like he was trying to leap from the table.  All the while I just had to sit there and watch him - because I wasn't allowed to hold him or hardly touch him.

    To be honest, for the first week, I sat next to his bed - and cried. And silently prayed and desperately hoped and willed for him to keep fighting.

    Having a break from some of the wires ^^ and loving it!

    That night, finally - at midnight, the nurse decided to shift him to an incubator to try to help him handle all the noise etc.  She landed him in my arms for the first time.  I said to her through tears "am I really allowed to hold him???"

    From that moment, he never held his breath again.

    "Sunbathing" - being treated under the phototherapy lights for jaundice.  Wires slowly coming out.

    Each day he progressed.  His tube down his mouth, turned into one down his nose.  This was to feed him.  He was far too little to know how to suck properly, so there was no hope of feeding him breast or bottle for a while yet.

    He started to tolerate 1 ml of breast milk every 2 hours.  Yes, 1ml.  Slowly over a period of days that increased to 2mls, 3 mls until it was at his total of 59mls every 3 hours.

    2 and a half weeks on, he started wanting to suck.  He was still very sleepy, so he'd have a short breast feed, then a tube top up, then sleep for the rest of the day and night.

    I spent 3 weeks waiting for him and teaching him how to suck so he could feed.

    After 12 days, I got sent home from the hospital without him.  I commuted each day to be at his side, feeding him through a tube and expressing my milk every 3 hours.  Coming home without him was absolutely heart wrenching - but my family needed me at home.

    Finally, another week on, I was being called back in to the hospital to stay with him and get him ready to go home.

    Then, after an episode in ED, I got readmitted onto the surgical ward for myself with severe mastitis.  I was in agony (I even thought I might of had meningitis again).  They were going to operate, but decided first to aspirate - the treatment involved needles in places no woman wants a needle.

    IV antibiotics for another 5 days and apart from my baby all that time - he went back to tube feeds.

    I was devastated.

    Come the Monday, I was awaiting a further diagnosis from the surgeon and the "next step".

    The prayers of many faithful people meant that the surgeon checked me - and it was decided I didn't need any further treatment.  I begged him not to continue the IV antibiotics but to let me go with oral ones so that I could go back to Aiden.  He agreed.

    I spent the next 4 days re-teaching my sleepy boy how to breast-feed, and to wake for feeds.  Monday he had his last feed from his nasal gastric tube.  (He had been pulling it out every day for about a week).

    Finally no NG tube in his nose ^^

    Tuesday he was weighed. He lost 15g.  That's normal for a baby converting from tube feeds to sucking (using energy) for feeds.

    The condition for our discharge was that he had to be all breast-fed and put on weight.  Thursday was the next opportunity for weigh in.  Thankfully, he succeeded in putting on weight and, after 3 and a half weeks in hospital, we came home!

    My wee poppet, in his short life, has already battled death twice.

    I am so greatful that God is my rock, and my keeper.  I have no other.  At one point in my labour, I was SO aware that God was there.  It was like Jesus had just literally walked in the room.  This kept me while I sat at Aiden's side - helpless, but knowing God was willing him to live more than I was.

    Heading home ^^

    Yes I've cried millions of tears, I've asked mega questions and I've come pretty close to the edge.  I've pleaded before God for "no more" and I've cried in my mum's arms telling her I can take no more.  It's been a rough 4 months for us.  But I can sit here and write that I know we are on the side of victory, because Victory Himself is on our side.

    There is still ongoing things with him.  Aiden is well, but must be protected.  He is still little and vulerable.  So, for a while - I will be hibernating.

    I am looking forward to watching his little life unfold - because I know he is destined to greatness.

    For now, back to my crying baby ;-)


    1. What an AMAZING story! You are an amazing Mum and I am so happy that you both pulled through xxx Bless you both and the rest of your fantastic family!

    2. Oh hunny, what a major trial for your whole family, but thank God so much for His grace. Still praying for you most days. Love you heaps - you are so precious to so many people xo

    3. Beautifully written Arna - and soooo true, Victory Himself is on your side. xoxo

    4. Oh Arna, wow, what a little battler you have. He is gorgeous and so precious.
      You have had such a rough pregnancy and birth and first weeks. It is really so much for you to bear and yet you are an amazing strong woman and you write of such faith and trust.
      Your post has brought me to tears.
      Much love and Gods blessing on your special precious family.
      If I can do anything, please just ask.

    5. So well written. I went through weeks in hospital with my 33weeker after having pneumonia in 2008 and the memories are never far away, and I remember so much of the birth and the weeks in hospital so similarly to how you wrote! Bless your little Aiden and I hope you all grow stronger, healthier and happier. And good on you for persevering with the BFing!

    6. Thanks for sharing Arna! SO awesome that you are home with Aiden *hugs* much love to you all xoxo

    7. What an amazing journey! God is Good!
      Thanks for sharing the photos and your real feelings through it all.
      I look forward to seeing the little man in person sometime soon :)

    8. Wow Arna! Thank you so much for sharing that. You're a very special mom!

    9. Wow, PTL - He is good! God must have big plans for your young man!!

    10. What a darling little guy. I'm visiting from Paisley Jade, and wanted to say your story is so sweet. What a bittersweet time this has been for you and your new son! I cannot imagine going through such rough times with my babies. Thanks for sharing, and for reminding us all that God is with us through whatever storms life brings.