After eight years of infertility, we finally fell pregnant with the help of IVF. We were ecstatic! We were really nervous those first few weeks but eventually settled into the idea that we would soon be parents. It was the best feeling ever. At 22 weeks, I noticed I was leaking some clear fluid. After a couple of days thinking it wasn’t normal, I went into the hospital. To be honest, I thought I would go in be told it was normal discharge and be sent home.
We eventually saw a doctor who did an internal examination and determined that my waters had broken. My husband and I broke down and the shock set in. We were admitted to hospital and basically told we were waiting for my body to go into labour and that my son didn’t stand a chance. I remember asking for a scan to check on him and was told: “if he’s gone, he’s gone - a scan won’t change anything.” It was a traumatic few days.
I was put on bed rest, and the soul-crushing waiting game began. Every day he stayed in was a blessing. We were told if he came before 23 weeks, he wouldn’t be viable (such an ugly word for a baby). Each day passed, and we grew a little more optimistic. When we reached 23, I felt so much relief. Our boy had a chance. I couldn’t sleep that night and watched the clock tick over to midnight. So strange to think that they will provide life-saving measures to a baby on one day but not the day before.
I remained on bed rest with regular temperature checks, regular blood tests and lots of waiting. After a few weeks, the idea of moving to the Ronald McDonald house across the road started to come up. I didn’t feel comfortable with this as I just wanted to stay in the best place to get help should my son need it. It kept coming up almost every day, though. They were really pushing for it (inpatient care is very expensive!)
It was a Friday night. I started feeling some pains in my stomach. They weren’t too intense, and there was no kind of pattern, so I wasn’t sure. I have cystic fibrosis, and stomach pains are pretty normal to me, so I first thought it might just be that. In the early hours of Saturday, they started getting worse, so I buzzed for the midwife. We started monitoring baby, and the contractions and a doctor came and did a check. I hadn’t dilated, and nothing was happening. So we just kept an eye on it. I was still getting pains but very irregularly. That continued through till Sunday. I had a scan to see if they could still see any cervix. They could see cervix and were confident I was stable, so they put the pains down to constipation.
I was given a laxative, and we packed up and moved to the Ronald McDonald House on Sunday.
The next day on Monday, I was still having pains. I waited for my husband to finish work and come to the Ronald McDonald house so we could go over to the hospital and get checked out. We arrived, and I kept asking for pain relief. They just kept saying we needed to monitor the baby, and once the doctor had seen me, they would give me a suppository. After 2.5 hours, the doctor finally came in and checked me. Within minutes the doctor said that I was fully dilated and needed to deliver the baby straight away. Arlo had been transverse but had turned breech two days earlier. So the plan all along was for a C section. Unfortunately, Arlo was too far down, so the only option was a breech birth. We were moved to the delivery suite and given a rescue dose of steroids, magnesium and antibiotics. As soon as they had run through I had to start pushing.
We had multiple doctors and midwives, NICU doctors and nurses all in the room ready for his arrival. Within 15 minutes at 11:13 pm, Arlo was born and let out a little cry. We were able to delay cord clamping for 1 minute before he was taken into the resus room with the NICU team and my husband.
I was still working on delivering the placenta and was losing a lot of blood. They needed to take Arlo to the NICU to get set up, so I begged my husband to go with him. So they were all whisked away. The placenta wasn’t budging, and the doctor lost the umbilical cord so made the decision to have a manual removal in theatre.
I was taken down to theatre and given a general anaesthetic. When I woke up a few hours later, I was wheeled into the NICU to see my son. He was so tiny. I don’t remember much of this visit as I was still quite drowsy. But I remember asking if I was allowed to touch him and the nurse said, of course, he’s your baby!
I was then taken to the ward and couldn’t sleep for the rest of the night. I had a lot of packing put in to stop the bleeding, which was very uncomfortable. I had lost over 2 litres of blood. Lunchtime the next day, I was able to go down and see my son. I had my first kangaroo cuddle, and it was the most amazing moment of my life. Lots of tears!!
We spent every day for 11 weeks in the NICU caring for Arlo as much as we could. We finally brought him home on the 9th of February. Arlo still needed some oxygen support so came home on low flow oxygen. Three months later and he’s just been given the all-clear to come off oxygen.
We could never have imagined our road to parenthood being so bumpy, but we are finally home all together and discovered strength we didn’t know we had.