newborn baby in neonatal

Ernie’s Story #LittleHero

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.

newborn baby with tubes in neonatal

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!

newborn baby with nose tube

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!

newborn baby

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.

baby and mum smiling

Written by Charlie Day from Sounds Right Phonics

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newborn in hospital

Elsie’s Story #LittleHero

Elsie Rose was born at 11.22 am on the 24th October 2014. She was small- although not as small as the doctors had feared- and she was beautiful. Our much wanted and much loved fourth baby was perfect. Ten fingers, ten toes. Perfect. She was weighed, she was wrapped and she was placed into my arms for a cuddle I’d barely dared to hope would happen.

My fourth and final pregnancy was never supposed to be a smooth ride. I was 37, I was ‘high risk’ thanks to three previous caesarean births (two of which had been emergencies) and I had a history of producing small babies that meant regular growth scans were booked in as a matter of urgency. But we got through it all. We attended weekly, then twice-weekly growth and doppler scans. We changed our birth plans, we prepared for an early delivery and we came to terms with a possible stay in special care. We knew that this baby was going to put us through it all in the lead up to her birth, but we also knew we’d get through it somehow. And we did. She did.

The doctors were never really able to explain things to us very well. Elsie was classed as IUGR- Intrauterine Growth Restriction- but we didn’t really know why, and we were told to expect delivery at 34 weeks. We actually made it to 37 weeks, despite several episodes of reduced movements, another emergency caesarean scare, many scans and many, many more sleepless nights.

Newborn baby

The steroids they gave me strengthened her lungs, gave her an extra chance at survival. The hats, cardigans and blankets they found kept her out of special care and the determination she still shows today brought us home so much more quickly than anyone ever expected. And despite feeling rushed, despite the shock of her finally being here, in my arms, despite her tiny yet surprisingly ‘robust’ size, the relief at having her home was amazing. Yet daunting. Frightening. So very, very frightening.

We were discharged before Elsie had managed a feed, sent on our way with a confident ‘this is baby number four, you know what you’re doing!’ We spent our first night downstairs, together in the darkness and I simply watched her, terrified to be alone with her yet not wanting her out of my sight for a moment.

By the morning I was distraught at how little she’d fed and I knew something was wrong. Instead of thriving beside me, she was unable to open her eyes and unable to cry. I didn’t know what I was doing after all.

By day three Elsie had lost too much weight on her already tiny frame and the doctors at the hospital gave us 48 hours to turn it around before she would be admitted for tube feeding. They were concerned that her fontanelle was sunken and her lips were dry. Her skin took on a grey tone and her body was limp… she was literally fading before our eyes.

We were told to syringe feed her every hour- and amazingly we avoided being re-admitted. She was starting to respond, starting to open her eyes a little. On day seven, she cried. She cried! Her beautiful cry punched the air and reminded us she was here. She was here, and she was fighting, at last.

Newborn in the bath

Over the following weeks we continued to struggle during every single feed. Elsie would feed for a few seconds, then fall off the breast over and over again. She would squirm and cry and pull her legs up, her face distorted in frustration and pain. Her shoulders were constantly hunched up around her ears and she was stiff, tense and untrusting. She was eventually diagnosed with a severe tongue tie which was rectified at 10 weeks old, and finally we were able to work on establishing breastfeeding.

Some weeks later, Elsie was further diagnosed with severe reflux and a probable cow’s milk protein allergy. Our specialist told us that she was also struggling to breathe properly and we were given an inhaler plus other medication to help her airways. We were also told her oesophagus was literally being burnt due to the reflux, given yet more medication, and told that she may need exploratory surgery somewhere down the line… It all seemed so much for such a tiny girl.

Yet through it all, Elsie was growing. Aged 4 months she rolled over for the first time. At 7 months, she learnt to sit up. By 13 months she was taking her first steps.

Smiling Toddler

She was Elsie Rose. Strong- so strong- determined and brave. She dealt with it all- the pain, the discomfort, the medication- with such a strong and steely determination, and if you met her today you’d never, ever guess she’d had such a rocky beginning. From that tiny, tiny, little baby with the grey skin and the always-closed eyes… to the fun loving, cheeky little lady she is today. She’s feisty. She’s a fighter. No longer the smallest, no longer the most frail and always the biggest inspiration to us all.

Little hero girl

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