I was so ready for the birth of my baby, I had planned to try and feed him, I had planned to hold him straight away and my husband had planned to cut the cord! The reality of the situation was really quite different! When my baby was pulled out of me, they declared, he’s a boy. We had already told the midwife right next to me that if it was a boy, we would be calling him Ernie. I remember so clearly she said ‘it’s Ernie’ but quite suddenly her happy demeanour changed and 8 people were crowded around my baby on the resuscitation table. I remember concerned faces, and a midwife who was trying to be calm but I knew that something was wrong!
I had had the perfect pregnancy, so perfect that I had wanted to have a home birth. I had planned everything down to the scented candle and the music, but as the labour progressed (32 hours later) I was transferred to hospital and laboured for 4 further hours before going for an emergency c-section. I wasn’t panicked by an emergency c-section as my sister had had two and I thought it was quite normal. But after the birth, when I was faced with calm faces but panicked voices I started to worry! I looked at Ernie and his lips were blue, he wasn’t breathing properly and they were worried about him. I wouldn’t be able to hold him, or feed him and he was whipped away to the Neonatal unit and I was wheeled to recovery completely empty handed.
Me and my husband sat there in stark silence. This was not what we had planned at all! We didn’t even know when we would see our baby, and it wasn’t until two hours later that my husband did in fact meet our newborn baby, and he said he just cried and cried. I was so desperate to feed him and I was so determined to get up to Neonatal to see him that just 6 hours post caesarean I got out of my bed and walked to the unit. But they had already fed him formula! It seems silly now as obviously you just have to do what is best for your baby and it has to be fed in whichever way is best, but I was heartbroken. I returned to the ward for the night feeling like I didn’t have a baby at all!
One of the worst things was being on a ward surrounded by other babies and mums when you didn’t have yours. On day 2 of being in the hospital I cried to a nurse and she kindly moved me to a private room. I was spending a lot of my time up at the Neonatal until but it was good to have my own space when I wasn’t! I remember so clearly the bounty lady bounding into my room saying ‘Congratulations! We are here to take a picture of you and your baby’. I was so upset when I didn’t even have my baby with me!!!
Another horrific time was at 3am in the morning when my lights suddenly went on, there was a doctor at the door, ‘Can I come in? Mrs Day?’ So I invited him in and he explained that Ernie needed a lumbar puncture and I needed to sign the form. It was going to happen immediately, so there was no time to wait! They informed me that he might have meningitis (which later turned out to be sepsis). I was beside myself, I couldn’t even ring my husband and I had nobody there to support. I remember that night vividly, as I spent the whole night from 3am in Neonatal. Even when the nurses said I needed to leave, I didn’t and I think they picked up that I wasn’t going to leave, as they handed me a pillow and a blanket.
After three long days of having no baby with me, I arrived back to my room after having a shower and there he was, being wheeled into my room!
I was ecstatic, it was the best thing ever!!! His breathing had stabilised, and he was recovering from sepsis! I know parents have to stay in Neonatal for much longer, and I know that my story has such a happy ending but it was scary, it was sad. We had regular hospital appointments after Ernie was discharged from hospital and we celebrated his amazing recovery and haven’t really stopped celebrating him ever since!
Ernie is now a cheeky three year old boy who loves learning, singing and dancing! Every year when I look back on his newborn pictures I am amazed at what he has grown into from that poorly little baby who was whipped away from me! I always try to see the positive in every situation and think Ernie has such resilience and is up for any challenge because of the way his life started out and it has made him into the boy he is.
Written by Charlie Day from Sounds Right Phonics