Baby no. 3 for me was baby no. 1 for my husband. Noah and Holly are from my first marriage and although Matt has taken on my children as his own, there is truly nothing like watching your baby grow from a freckle to a fully fledged human. I think every parent would agree that watching your child be born is the most wonderful and in explainable joy you could ever feel. My need for my selfless husband to experience this joy was so great, he wanted a child of his own and to be able to give this gift to him brought me immense happiness.
It took us around 5 months to conceive our wee boy, and I had surrendered to the fact that this child wasn’t ready yet and was going to take a while. So, you can imagine my utter surprise when I had a visit to my obgyn and he told me the news. Having had two pregnancies before, one with some rather revolting nausea and vomiting to end with placenta previa and the second much easier and straight forward, I thought I knew mostly what I was in for. I was also surrounded by friends and family who had mostly all had multiple children, I had seen many complications and issues.
My pregnancy tracked along normally, nausea, fatigue etc.. until I had my 20 week anatomy scan. I was told that my baby only had one umbilical artery, he was supposed to have two. This is known as SUA or Single Umbilical Artery. I was sent for further tests to rule out the fetal abnormalities that can occur with this malformation. The risks were cardiac, renal, kidney and skeletal problems. Thankfully, everything looked healthy and my very watchful obgyn saw me fortnightly from then, tracking the blood flow through the cord and keeping a concise growth chart as babies with SUA generally have a lower birth weight. We plodded through the rest of the pregnancy healthy and well.. large. It was a sizeable bump.
When the day arrived for our baby boy to be born, I was at 37 weeks, 6 days gestation. He was looking big for dates and seemed perfectly healthy in utero. I was beside myself with excitement and nerves and so excited for Matt.
When Harrison was born, at 8.37am on the 28th January 2016, my family became complete. He joined Matt and I together, Matt to Noah and Holly and Noah and Holly to their new brother. The SUA did not affect his weight, he was a solid 8 pound 5 ounces or 3.8kg, even being a tad early. Our beautiful boy had a full glorious head of fair hair and we all fell in love.
This is where it went pear shaped.
We went back to our room, me confined to the bed after my c-section. I attempt my first breastfeed and the midwife asks how long Harrison has been making a grunting sound for. I say a while, its very sweet isn’t it? The midwife whisks Harrison from my arms and leaves the room. Matt follows and returns a short time later stating that he is in respiratory distress and he is producing more carbon dioxide than oxygen and will need to be taken to Princess Margaret Children’s Hospital to be placed on CPAP.
Um what? ah no.
I insist on getting up and all the contraptions taken off me so the nurses assist and I am placed in a wheel chair and taken to the nursery. I see my baby boy in the humidicrib, waiting to be transferred. I am allowed to place my hand through the small window and touch him, my heart in a million pieces on the floor.
The PMH staff arrive and Harrison is transported to PMH, for how long, we don’t know. His wee lungs were not formed properly and could not sustain how big he was.
I can never explain the heart wrenching loss I felt, being alone in a maternity ward, hearing other babies cry, with no baby in my belly and no baby to nurse. I wanted to breastfeed so I vigilantly expressed every three hours to bring my milk in.
My obgyn gave me day leave from hospital the following morning and my husband took me to see our child. He looked so big next to all the premature and very sick babies in the neonatal room with him.
Unfortunately the CPAP, the oxygen he needed to get well, burst his wee lung lining and gave him a pneumothorax – which is air in the pocket of the lining of the lung – or more commonly known as a collapsed lung.
At the time I had absolutely no idea what that meant and as the doctor is explaining intubation, all I could say is why aren’t you feeding my baby?! Harrison was intubated when he was 36 hours old. This, in layman’s terms, means placing him a on machine which breathed for him so his lungs could repair themselves. They popped a tube into his lungs and a tube into his chest to drain the air pocket that had formed in the lining. Due to his chunkiness, they couldn’t cannulate him through a hand or foot so they used his umbilical blood vessel to keep his fluids up. This was the only ‘food’ he received for a week.
Harrison was in alot of pain, his toes were curled and his tiny body tense. The doctors decided to sedate him to help his body rest and heal. They pumped him with morphine and midazolam and our baby went into a deep dreamless sleep.
And we waited.
Three times a day Matt would drive me back and forth from my hospital to his, until I was discharged and left the maternity hospital without my baby.
Eventually, Harrison was extubated, placed back in the CPAP and then finally sent back to my hospital, where I readmitted as his carer. Whilst Harrison was in neonatal, only the parents and grandparents could visit so when we arrived back to Glengarry, this list was opened to include immediate family. Seeing Noah and Holly hold Harrison started to mend my heart back together. The end was in sight.
We took another week there, with him in the nursery and me in another room. Harrison was being tube fed, very small amounts and in between we were teaching him to suck. It was a long, slow and heart breaking process, we just wanted to be home. My children needed me, Noah had just started high school and I was desperate for normality.
In a beautiful end to a horrid experience, we were released on our second wedding anniversary. The second anniversary is cotton, quite fitting really.
As hard as this experience was for us, it is a drop in the ocean when compared to what some parents and children go through. We got to take our baby home and it was a matter of weeks, not months or years. I have no words for how grateful I am for the care given to our child at Princess Margaret Childrens Hospital. One morning, we arrived at the hospital and a nurse had changed his tubes. When his tubes were off his face for a brief moment, she took a photo had it printed and left it for us in his crib. She said, I didn’t know if you remembered him without the tubes. I actually can’t recall this story without welling up. This epitomises the level of care, kindness and love in that small and scary ward.
Each child is a complete blessing and with Harrison came a lesson in patience, trust and empathy. We are so lucky to have a healthy baby who is blooming with each day and just celebrated his half year birthday.
So, baby no. 3, he came with his surprises, life lessons and the prettiest butterfly eyelashes I ever did see. We wouldn’t have him any other way.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this post! There’s a nifty little comment field below! Much love xK