Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Reflections... and a favour

I believe everything happens for a reason. Sometimes we never get to understand what that reason is, and sometimes we do. Two months ago I woke up at 3am and realised my waters had broken - way too early. As I sat in hospital for the following days I did beat myself up about what I had done to make this happen and worrying about my baby's health. I put on a brave face most of the time, but I was wracked with guilt over it all. I had been working too hard, burning the candle at both ends so to speak. I told myself I wouldn't, but I did. Was that why she was comming early? Or was it the bruise on my tummy? I'd bumped my tummy really quite hard on the car door as I was trying to navigate toddler, pregnant tummy and car door in the garage. Had I done more damage that I'd originally thought? I was really scared at the prospect of her being born early and the problems that 'could' arise from it. Of course there was the chance that she could be born and cope with life as a full term bub would, but I guess the docs and obs have to warn you about the problems that may occur. And hearing it all did make me scared. I know my labour with Amelia was so much harder than the boys labours, because my mind didn't want to let my body let her out. I know in my mind I kept thinking she was safer in there. I was scared as they told me they didn't know how tiny she would be, and that I may not dialate fully, she could just come very fast before anyone was ready, and that as soon as I felt like I needed to push I had to tell them so they could get the peads and special care team in. It was all making me hold her in. It wasn't until I realised she was in more danger in that I let go. As soon as her heart rate plumeted I heard the change in my Ob and midwifes voices as they told me we needed her out NOW. Within a minute she was out. She had a very short cord, so she couldn't be lifted to me until it was cut. Once it was my midwife put her in my arms while she snapped the id tags on her ankles, popped her hat on her head, then told me she didn't like the way she was breathing and she had to go to Special Care now. And with that she was gone.

I had a quick shower and then went up to special care to see her. There was a swarm of doctors and nurses around her. I understood that that were all busy attending to her needs and I just had to wait. A minute or so later a nurse (the only one I had who wasn't exactly nice!) came over and started telling me things, but I remember not being able to take any of it in. I coulnd't remember what she was telling me as soon as she'd said it. Nothing she was saying made any sense, and I felt like I was going to faint. I told Brett I felt sick and he started to walk me back to my room. Then the (not very nice) nurse started to tell me off. "Excuse me, you can't leave yet I need to tell you about your baby" Brett explained that I was sick and he'd be back in a minute. "Well I'm going home in a minute and I need to tell you this now". (She knew I'd just given birth 15 minutes beforehand). Another special care nurse stepped in and told the bossy one that I was going back to my room and she walked me back, telling me not to worry, that Amelia would be ok and that they could tell me everything later. My midwife came and put something into my IV and I fell asleep.

I woke up 2hours later when Amelia's pead came into my room to tell me that they thought she had a lung infection common in strep B babies and that she may have to be transferred to Monash or Royal Childrens, but they'd put up the oxygen in her isolette as high as they could and they were just hoping her lungs didn't begin to colapse. Brett had gone home to sleep (I'd been in labour all night) and I called him in tears, but he didn't answer and I knew he'd be alseep and nothing would wake him up. So I sat in my room and cried. Our parents, sisters etc all came in to visit and we all trecked up to Special Care two-by-two to show them Amelia. I think I'll always have the vision of her lying on her tummy, struggling to breathe, with tubes and wires all over her and medical equipment beeping, and lights flashing and at the time not knowing what any of it meant. Watching her chest rise and fall and just seeing that it was so much work for her to just breathe. Two days later I was discharged from hospital. Walking out of those doors was hard. Walking out through a crowded foyer, carrying stacks of pink gift bags and a huge pink "It's a GIRL" floating balloon attracts a lot of attention. People look around for the baby. But we didn't have ours with us and I was sad. But while my heart was sad, my head knew that it wasn't all that bad. She was alive and doing well. Some people don't even get that. It would only be a matter of time and we would be walking out those doors with her.

Her 8th day (exactly 1 week old) was such a fanstastic day. We got into the hospital and she was tollerating her feeds so she could have the IV out. Brett was able to hold her for the first time. She was dressed and the plan for the day was to give her her first bath, dress her nice and warm and put her in an open cot to see if she could hold her temp. Everything was going so well and it was looking like we'd have her home within a week or so. We all went home on cloud 9. So excited and relieved.

Just after 7pm I was out at the clothes line, when Brett came out and told me I'd just missed a phone call from the hospital (answering machine caught it). I called them straight back and listened a bit dumbfounded as they told me we had to come in because Amelia's heart had just had a bit of a fit. Both boys were alseep on the couch and by the time I'd hung up the phone Brett had already yelled out to a neighbour to come over. We took off and made it to Frankston in record time. We raced into special care. She wasn't in her isolette, she was in the treatment room/surgery. They explained to us everything that had happened. Her heart monitor had alarmed. Her heart rate which is usually around 120-150bpm was showing up at almost 300bpm. Her beautiful nurse Patricia had checked her with to make sure it wasn't the monitor playing up and realised she was in SVT. She was taken to the treatment room and two peads tried to shock her back to a normal heart rythm. It took 55 mins. They were just about to inject her with adenosine, when she suddenly reverted. She had Xrays, and a scan on her heart, but everything showed up normal. It could have been a once off thing, or it may not have. Her tests results were all sent through to RCH. Brett and I were in, standing with her about 10.30pm when they came in and told us RCH had said they wanted her sent up. We were both in tears, we couldn't understand why it was happening, it had all come out of the blue. They'd called for the NETS (Newborn Emergency Transport Services) Ambulance to come and collect her. NETS are based at Royal Womens, so we had about 1.5hrs while we waited for them to arrive.

Watching her be packed off and wheeled out was SO HARD. Again the vision of standing at the hospital enterence, watching that ambulance drive away with my baby inside it just broke my heart. While one of us could have gone in the ambulance with her we knew that would mean we'd be stuck at the hospital 2hrs away from home with no car in the middle of the night. We were already exhausted, so we decided the best thing to do was to go home and sleep and head up there first thing in the morning. Neither of us even knew how to get the hospital! We went home and while I was in the shower (crying again LOL) her nurse from the ambulance called to say they'd handed her over to RCH and that she had been fine the whole time. She hadn't even woken up.

She spent two weeks in 7 West (the cardiac ward) at RCH. Every day I went in to see her. I'd get up at 6am to call the hospital and see how she was overnight, and express before getting the boys up and ready for school. I'd drop Liam at school at 8.45, then drive out to Brett's parents to drop Ethan off with them. Then drive to my mums house and park my car there. Mum would pack my lunch for me every day. Dad would drive mum and I to the train station and we'd catch the train in to Melbourne Central, walke up the street and catch the tram to the front doors of the hospital. We'd get in there about 11.30am. We'd spend until about 4pm just cuddling our girl. (She seriously didn't get put back in her bed unless the doctors needed to to an ecg or check her LOL) Everyone would say to me "well you know she's in the best place" and while my head knew that was right, my heart just wanted to yell "NO, the best place for her is in my arms!" It was so nice to be able to hold her while she was at RCH though. Because she had her IV in again she could only be moved about 1m from her bed if that. So to weigh her the scales had to be bought right up to her bed and we'd be squishing in to put her on the scales, and the same with bathing her. I was able to do some Kangaroo Cuddles with her (skin to skin). Because we live quite a long way away, I was offered Ronald McDonald house to stay in, but I felt I needed to be home at night to maintain some sort of normalicy for the boys, especially as it was the first week back at school for Liam, and Ethan's first week of kinder. On the weekends though I stayed at her bedside. Because I was breastfeeding I could have free meals at the hospital, but I didn't end up doing that either, because mum always packed my food for me. (I think she knew I wouldn't eat if she didn't make me. Bless her :) ) So each day at 4pm mum and I would kiss our beautiful girl goodbye, catch the tram, and then the train home. Dad would be waiting at the station for us, drop us back at their house where I'd pick up my car, drive to Brett's parents, pick up the boys (they'd picked Liam up from school) and drive home. Then I'd call the hospital again every night to see how she was.

Each day/few days they'd make some sort of progress with her meds. Sometimes we'd think we found the right dose of medication, and then the SVT's would occur again. I never knew what I was going to hear when I called the hoppital. Some days they'd say she'd been great and had none, other times they'll tell me she had 3 overnight. They changed her over to a different drug and slowly upped the amounts on that and eventually got to a level where they knew it would hold off the SVT's.

I was so busy I didn't let myself stop and think too much at the time. It's reflecting back on it all now that I am reminded of how everything happens for a reason. While I beat myself up about what I had done to cause her to be born early, the simple fact is that it saved her life. If she had not been in special care, on monitors, we would have had no idea that there was anything wrong with her heart. We would have taken her home from hospital, and not have known anything until she went into cardiac arrest.

Our bub is with use today (like so many other bubs around Australia) because of the brilliant care she received at both Frankston hospital and Royal Childrens Hospital. You just can not put a price on your baby's life, and you just can not thank a team of doctors, nurses and specialists enough. The treatment Amelia received was nothing short of brilliant, and none of it cost us a cent. We go back every month to see her cardioligist. One of the leading specialists in Australia... and it does not cost a cent.

And as for the favour:
Well Amelia isn't the only bub to use this brilliant facility. My gorgeous friend Kylie, has also had quite a bit of experience with them :) To read about what she's doing, and help out read here

Time ran out and I have to do the school run... sorry to cut that post short (LOL SHORT!!?)


Briony said...

Oh Katie,
Thanks for sharing that with us. I have tears from reading it all, but as you said, Amelia coming early was the best thing for her. I will be donating for the RCH appeal as I do every year. Last year DH and I ran (I ran with the boys in the twin pram, only the 5km though!) of course with this bub due any day, it is impossible for me to do. The little boy who was the face of the appeal in 2007, Noah, is my cousin. He has Hyperplastic Left Heart Syndrome, and spent his 1st 3 months in 7 west. He is now 8 and going well, after many, many operations.
Anyway, thanks for sharing your experience with us all. Amelia is one beautiful little girl!
Take care,
Bri xx

jane fitchett said...

yep- theyre amazing! my little sister spent alot of time in there when she was younger...
hope to see you tomorrow night :)

Carolina said...

Thanks for sharing Katie, i'm speechless and thankful and teary and joyus all at the same time. Your baby girl is a beautiful miracle.

Just call me Peahen........ said...

OMG.....what a moving post.....I have some serious tears here. XXX