Dexter ~ 31 weeks
★ Premmie Stars ★ Introducing Dexter who was born at 31 weeks.
At 31 weeks, Dexter’s amniotic fluid began to leak and he was born by emergency caesarean. He had half a dose of glucocorticosteroids, to help with his lung development. He came out ok, but crashed during the night and we almost lost him. He battled pneumonia and anaemia and jaundice. He had ultrasounds, echo-cardiograms, x-rays, barium swallows, enemas, electroencephalograms, milk scans, swabs, blood work and loads of tests.
When Dexter was 4 weeks old, a routine head ultrasound showed that he had PVL. Brain Damage.
They found spots on his gastrointestinal tract so they sent him to another hospital for further checks in case he had to have part of his bowel surgically removed. (luckily not)
Then, when he was 2 months old and starting to make good progress, he had his first immunisation injections and 12 hours later… stopped breathing.
So he went back to hourly feeds.
At 3 months, they moved Dexter to his local hospital and Dexter thrived. His nurses pushed him into growing up. They allowed his mum to breastfeed him on demand during the day.
Then when Dexter was 4 months old he had his second lot of immunisation injections. Again he stopped breathing after 12 hours.
At 122 days old, Dexter went home. He was breast feeding on demand day and night. He was breathing on his own.
Dexter is now 2. He has cerebral palsy and is yet to sit or stand on his own. He has a walker, which he is learning to use, to move with independence.
He has a cortico vision impairment, and we are not too sure just how much he can see.
And, just after his 1st birthday, he was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma (liver cancer). After 6 rounds of chemotherapy, a few surgeries, platelet and blood transfusions, Dexter was cleared of his cancer in January this year.
He’s a cheeky, happy, patient boy… and a loving, gentle big brother.
Amanda ~ 31w
★ Premmie Star ★ Amanda born @ 31 weeks 1.53kg and 39cm
After a textbook pregnancy in October 1979 at 30wks 5 days I started experiencing pains which resulted in me being hospitalised at Blacktown hospital. The specialist put a drip in to stop labour pains and transferred me to Westmead hospital as Blacktown did not have the proper facilities should I deliver early.
Everything seemed to settle down and that evening I was admitted to a ward. The following day, which was a Sunday, around mid-afternoon the pains started again. I was taken back to the labour ward where they strengthened the drip to try and stop labour. By early evening the doctor realised this was not going to happen and gave me an injection to help strengthen the baby’s lungs. Pains continued overnight and early the next morning I was taken into a delivery room where I was given another injection, again for the baby’s lungs, as well as a spinal block.
At this stage the baby was showing signs of distress and at 7.21 a.m. my 1.53kgs and 39cm long baby daughter was born via forceps delivery. I was exactly 31 weeks into my pregnancy.
Wrapped in cotton wool and alfoil, brushed quickly against my cheek she was then whisked away for a paediatrician to check over, then placed in a humidicrib in the newly opened neo-natal clinic where she was the second baby to be placed in this new unit.
At this stage I was pretty dopey from the drip and lack of sleep and nothing was registering. Approximately 15mins later the paediatrician returned to say the injections had helped the baby’s lungs and that she had been put on oxygen and wasn’t having any problems breathing at this stage. They assured me that the baby’s chance of survival was quite high as she seemed to be very healthy for 31wks. I was told that there was a tear in my placenta thus resulting in the early labour.
I was put into a ward and did not get to see my baby until several hours later. When I first saw my daughter I was shocked at how tiny she was and at that stage felt detached from her as I could not believe something so small could survive. I expressed milk every four hours for the nurses to feed her through a tube.
I went down to the neo-natal unit on the Friday with my mother before being released. The nurses encouraged me to nurse her but I was too frightened to take her out of the humidicrib but my mother insisted that I hold her as she knew I wasn’t coping with the premature birth. Very early the next morning when I woke up at home I rang the hospital to see how she was and was told she was doing very well and had kicked the drip out of her foot and was breathing well on her own. After hanging up the phone I realised that I had had a baby and broke down crying as it was such an emotional time.
Over the next 4wks I continually expressed milk and took it down to the hospital daily so she could be fed from my breast milk and so I could have cuddles and bonding time. At 4wks old I was finally able to breastfeed which was a wonderful feeling and at 5wks old I went to hospital for the weekend to learn how to handle and bath my daughter and was finally able to bring home my 2.25kg and 46cm long baby girl, 4 weeks prior to her original due date.
Amanda hit fresh air and didn’t stop growing and thrived beautifully with no major health issues and today over 32yrs later I am a proud grandmother of 2 beautiful grandchildren. I still remember the emotions I went through as I had never heard of any babies being born that early and really didn’t know what to expect. It was a roller coast ride at first but I was very lucky that Amanda thrived. The nurses were wonderful and encouraging and I was very thankful to them all for looking after my daughter when I wasn’t there.
Aisha and Aaliyah ~ 31w+5d
6 weeks after we lost Yasminah, I went back to my naturopath and told her everything that had happened. I started taking supplements again in an effort to cleanse my body and give it the best possible chance to have another child. No one could ever replace Yasminah, but we needed to have something to hope for, a child to hold in our arms, not just our hearts. After everything that we had personally been through we weren’t going to wait a moment longer to fulfill our dream of a large family.
On the 1st June 2009 we found out I was pregnant again, 10 weeks after losing Yasminah, we couldn’t believe it had happened so easily and so soon. We received mixed reactions from family and friends. Some assumed because we were having another child, that we had moved on, others said it was too soon but mostly people were happy for us. No one can tell you when the right time is to have another baby, it’s a very personal decision after you’ve experienced a loss and one that only you can make. One month later on the 1st July, 3 days before our son’s 2nd birthday we had our first ultrasound and discovered we were going to have TWINS!! The sonographer cried, I cried and my husband laughed, we just couldn’t believe it! It was an amazing feeling. It felt incredible to know that 2 little lives were growing inside of me, but at the same time I was terrified something would happen to them.
The pregnancy was wonderful. We told our son he was going to have two babies to play with. Approaching our 20 week morphology scan was nerve racking. We had to hope and pray that everything would be OK. Thankfully there were 2 strong heartbeats, 20 little fingers and 20 little toes and we were doubly blessed with identical twin GIRLS.
I was monitored as a high risk pregnancy, because of our previous loss and carrying identical twins. As a result I had frequent ultrasounds to monitor the babies growth and development. During our 28 week ultrasound, it was discovered that our little girls were growing at a different rate. The Doctors explained to me and my husband that they had something called Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS) which only occurs in identical twins. We were very lucky that the girls only had a mild case and developed this later in pregnancy as the chances of survival are dramatically improved in late onset TTTS. It was a bit of shock as they explained that they may be born premature depending on how the rest of the pregnancy progressed.
Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS) is a disease of the placenta (or afterbirth) that affects identical twin pregnancies. TTTS affects identical twins (or higher multiple gestation’s) who share a common monochorionic placenta. The shared placenta contains abnormal blood vessels which connect the umbilical cord and circulations of the twins. The common placenta may also be shared unequally by the twins. The events in pregnancy that lead to TTTS are all random. TTTS is not hereditary or genetic, nor caused by anything the parents did or did not do. TTTS can happen to anyone.
From this point on we had fortnightly growth scans to closely monitor their development. I had been experiencing a few braxton hick contractions the day before my 32 week appointment. I wasn’t too concerned as they weren’t getting closer or painful. Being very heavily pregnant with twins, and at a stage where I felt like I had to carry my belly because it was so big, the added pressure didn’t help my bladder. I decided to visit the bathroom before leaving to go to the shops and this was a decision that would save my babies lives. When I went there was blood, it wasn’t a lot, but it was enough to scare me to death. I immediately told my husband, then I called the birthing suite. The told me to pack my bags and come straight in.
Upon arriving at the hospital I was taken to a room and monitors were placed on my belly. Twin B’s heart rate was over 200bpm. She was in distress and we were told it was important they get the babies out now. Contractions then started to get stronger and closer together, they hit hard and fast. By 10:30pm I had, had an epidural and was wheeled into theatre ready to have our baby girls.
Aisha Ann Aziz was born first at 11:53pm on the 16th December 2009, weighing a tiny 1554grams, 41cm long and head circumference of 29.5cm. She let out the most beautiful tiny cry, it was music to my ears. Aisha was breathing on her own.
I remember looking to my right at the clock on the wall and hoping and praying it wouldn’t take long for Aaliyah to be born and that she would be OK. I also really wanted our daughters to be born on the same day. Throughout my pregnancy people kept saying that they would be born across NYE and NYD, so different days and different years. Thankfully that didn’t happen.
Aaliyah Ann Aziz was born next at 11:55pm on the 16th December 2009, weighing 1730grams, 41.5cm long and head circumference of 31.6cm. There was silence when she was born, I remember waiting to hear her cry, it seemed like forever but I think it was only a matter of seconds and she let out a little cry. Aaliyah needed some help to breathe through a ventilator.
I felt like the weight of the world had lifted off my shoulders, my girls were born at 31 weeks and 5 days and were rushed away to the neonatal intensive care unit. My husband followed the girls to the NICU, whilst they stitched me up. I spent some time in recovery before my husband came in with a nurse and on the way back to my room they took me past the NICU to see my baby girls for the first time. I couldn’t see them very well and I didn’t get to touch them but I knew they were in very good hands and they would do everything they could for them. My husband had taken lots of photos on his phone, so sent some to me. By this time it was the early morning and my husband had to go home.
I first got to touch my daughters the day after they were born at 4:30pm. I got to spend about 30 minutes with each of them. The first time I placed my hand on Aaliyah she put her over the top of my hand, it was magical. Being able to touch them was wonderful but heart wrenching at the same time. They are so tiny and delicate and I missed them terribly, I just wanted to hold them. The following day we brought our son in to meet his little sisters. He knew their names as we decided before they were born. Aisha means life and Aaliyah means greatest gift of God. Zach said hi bubbies, Hi Shar and then hi Eyah. He wanted to stay with Aaliyah and kept talking to her and calling her bubby, then she did the most amazing thing and opened her eyes.
5 days later I was discharged and once again left the hospital without my baby in my arms. It was incredibly difficult to leave them, because at least when I was at the hospital I could go down to the NICU and see them anytime.
Aisha and Aaliyah had many ups and downs during their time in hospital. Aisha was strong and was progressing a little faster than her sister. Aaliyah had a lot of setbacks and required two blood transfusions. It was hard to see Aisha doing so well and Aaliyah struggling. 3 weeks after they were born, Aisha and Aaliyah were placed in the same cot. It was something I had been asking for a while as I had read that twins can sense and feel each other and can benefit from skin to skin contact with each other. It was nothing I can describe watching them nuzzle into each other for the first time outside my womb, then they both smiled as if they knew each other were there and OK. From this point on Aaliyah improved and got stronger. One week later and they were both discharged from hospital. Aisha came home first and then we went back the following day for Aaliyah. I got to bring both of my babies home on my 30th birthday, after them spending 30 and 31 days in hospital, born 9 weeks premature. I couldn’t of wished for a more perfect gift.
Aisha and Aaliyah are an incredible gift from our little girl Yasminah. They brought back happiness to our lives and filled it with love and hope. They have had no medical complications since their birth and continue to do well.
Aiden ~ 36w
Erin and her husband Michael married in March of 2010 after being together for 7 years. Six weeks after they were married, they found out they were pregnant with their first child. The first half of the pregnancy was straight forward despite Erin being monitored due to an autoimmune condition.
At their 19 week ultrasound, a severe kidney abnormality showed up in their unborn child. Erin and Michael were quickly referred to Royal North Shore for further scans. Their unborn son, Aiden, was found to have a enlarged multicystic left kidney and hydronephrosis (fluid filled) in his right kidney. As a complication of his minimally functioning kidneys, he had a significant reduction in amniotic fluid. Erin and Michael were told that Aiden’s prognosis after birth was poor.
From 20 weeks gestation, they had fortnightly scans to monitor Aiden’s progress. He continued to grow well but his fluid levels decreased considerably. At 27 weeks gestation, there was no more amniotic fluid around Aiden. It was at this point that a caesarean birth was decided on as it would be the safest option. The main concern for Aiden after birth was that his lung development would be affected due to the lack of fluid in utero.
At 36 weeks, Erin went into early labour and was rushed from her local hospital to RNS. Aiden was born via caesarean at 9:14 pm on the 21st December, 2010. He was immediately ventilated and taken to NICU to stabilise. The following morning, tests were carried out to assess Aiden’s condition. Erin and Michael were told that their son was in respiratory and renal failure and that he would not be able to breathe on his own. They made the hardest decision of their lives, to disconnect Aiden from the ventilator and spend what time they could without the tubes, machines and medication. Aiden Gary Carmody passed away 25 hours and 1 minute after he was born.
The initial support from social workers, friends and family was good but Erin and Michael found that the best support was provided by other parents and families that had experienced the loss of a child. Erin was introduced to Rebecca and Yasminah’s Gift Of Hope through a friend and received a Gift Of Hope pack with a personalised journal.