My Birth Stories – Henry

It’s a boy! Little Henry arrived on the 21st of June 2007, at 3.27am, weighing 7lb 5 1/2oz. His arrival was slightly early and created a bit of drama, but all is well now.

Heres how it happened.  I found myself suddenly in pain, no warning, no build up, at around 12.30am.  Contractions were around three minutes apart and getting closer. My mother was summoned to look after my other babies, and by the time she got here half and hour later, my contractions were on top of each other and all in my back. With dread I knew what that meant. We arrived at the maternity ward, the midwife took one look at me and summoned the doctor straight away. I was fully dilated, waters hanging out ready to burst and as it happened they did, just as the doctor walked in the room, spraying a reported six feet, my husband was in complete hysterics at that moment. I was unable to see the funny side through the searing pain of another posterior birth. Screaming for pain relief, birth plan thrown out the window, I wanted to push but couldn’t find the right position. The doctor would not allow me off the bed!! I was furious yet unable to lift my own body due to the utter agony I was in, eventually I summoned some strength and managed to flip myself over onto my knees despite numerous protests from the spectators. But I just couldn’t stand it no longer. And pain relief was not forth coming because apparently it was too late. Being on my knees helped a little and the urge to push eased a bit, the doctor eventually coaxed me back over onto my back because he needed to check out what was going on. Being on my back reduced me to howls of pain again, and to make matters worse the doctor proceeded to insert his entire hand and feel my cervix, which was now swollen and had caused a lip to form, hindering babies progress. No wonder I’d been pushing for two hours.

So with the doctor physically pushing the lip back and me pushing against his hand, Henry finally tore his way into the world. Tearing, as he made his exit, right where I had my episiotomy last time. Thank god it was over. All my worries and fears had been realised (or so I thought), I was stitched up, showered and put into a room to cuddle bub. That’s when I noticed Henry was having a little trouble breathing. The midwife just dismissed it as probably mucus, and did a little bit of suction on him. Around 6am he was still struggling and I was still worried. The midwife finally took a bit more interest and took him off to check his oxygen saturation levels. He didn’t come back. It turned out that his level was very low and he had been placed in what’s called a head box inside a humidicrib, in an effort to get his oxygen levels up. By lunch time he still hadn’t picked up and the call was made to get him shipped to a hospital with the right kind of respirator.

Here he is ready for the airlift.

We were air lifted to Royal Woman’s Hospital in Randwick. There, Henry was admitted to the newborn care unit. By this time he was really struggling. I was admitted to the postnatal ward, and it was almost midnight before I was allowed in to see Henry. It turned out that they had been working on stabilising him. He had respiratory distress syndrome, a suspected infection and a bilateral pneumothoraces, which is a bubble of air between the chest wall and lung, which had come from a tear in the thorax, and may collapse a lung if not found quickly, thankfully they picked it up just about straight away and drained the air.

Nothing prepares you for the sight of your baby in such distress. He had a tubes down his nose and throat, and three cannulas hanging out of one tiny little arm, which was taped to a steel splint and pinned down to stop him moving. He was also being given morphine, to help him deal with all this discomfort. I could barely stand to look at him, I had to fight the urge to run from the room. And yet moments earlier my urge to see him had been overwhelming. But I stayed till the nurse told me to go to bed, I wasn’t allowed to touch him, just look. I spent everyday of the next week sitting by his crib for hours at a time, not knowing what I should be doing, until I was kicked out by the staff. I watched other parents come in and do the same thing, I noticed that they all had the same look on their faces, a sort of worried/sad look that I suppose I was wearing too.

The whole ward was filled with tiny babies in similar situations, and they were half the size of Henry. The camera crew from Saving Babies were there the next morning, filming some really tiny twins. I was asked how I felt about being so far away from home. It was very hard to give a polite answer, aside from the bleeding obvious, how did they think I felt!? Henry was better that morning and I was allowed to pat his little head. The following day he was no better, but no worse. He showed improvement by day four and he was weaned off the oxygen, and began breathing well on his own by day five and was moved from level 3 care to level 2, where I got to give him a bath and feed him. The staff were very excited by Henry’s progress, apparently these sort of things take a little longer to fix. By lunchtime on day 6 he was allowed to room in with me in the ward. Suddenly I had the normalcy I’d been craving, this was how things should have been to start with. The following day we were allowed to go back home. And after all that had happened, I had to sort out my own flight home!  So, even though you are transported by air ambulance initially, once you’re better they don’t have to help you get home (just as well I had my visa card). One bonus to being in hospital for a week, (where the staff were absolutely lovely) it meant I got a rest, of sorts. As I was still limping, bruised and battered from delivery.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch. Hubby was having to cope on his own with all the kiddies and a rather booked up last week of school. One would hope this has left him with a new found respect for how a spend my time each day. My long awaited homecoming was lovely, the kids were very happy to see me, as was hubby. You wouldn’t know anything went wrong looking at him now.

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