Ambassador Haley Bracken shares her personal journey.
My son Chase was born at 7:40pm on Monday 24th of September, and although he was born at 34weeks and 3 days he was 5lb 9oz and was 48cm long. The days that followed were very difficult for me as a mother, and a person. Yasminah’s Gift Of Hope – Premmie Gift Of Hope Journal contains really useful information and great access to support services. It’s something I wish I had when I gave birth to my son prematurely.
Being the partner of a sportsman I spent the majority of my pregnancy alone. I remember being so sick with morning sickness I just needed to eat, but even just the smell of food would make me want to throw up. But other than early morning sickness, which abated by 12 weeks, my pregnancy went relatively smoothly… until 33 weeks. Nathan was away in South Africa playing cricket when I was hospitalized with high blood pressure. The night I was admitted I was placed straight in the delivery room, as they were sure the baby was going to have to be delivered then and there. Thankfully my blood pressure was stabilized and I was put on strict bed rest. Nathan wanted to return home, but as he only had a few games to go I told him to stay and finish the series.
I spent the next few days in hospital being closely monitored, and having test after test. Everyday my family would visit and Nathan would be kept up to date with what was going on. My obstetrician told Nathan the baby would likely be born later in the week, and I had steroid injections to strengthen his lungs. On the Monday after I was admitted my grandparents took me to the café for a walk, while we were there a nurse came rushing down and told me I had to return to my room and I wasn’t allowed to have anything to eat. My mind immediately went into over drive. My obstetrician told me that my kidneys and liver were under stress and that the baby had to born that night; that tomorrow may too late for both of us. I had developed toxaemia and the only treatment is to deliver the baby.
Nathan was on his way back from overseas when I received the news so I desperately tried to contact him. He said the messages he got on landing from my Drs and I were; ‘The baby will be born in the next few days, the baby will be born tomorrow, the baby will be born tonight, to the final one, the baby will be born as soon as you can get here.’ At the hospital I had the staff asking where he was, when will he get there, and thankfully he walked in as I was prepped for surgery and just about to be wheeled down for an emergency caesarean.
Chase was born at 7:40pm on Monday 24th of September, and although he was born at 34weeks and 3 days he was 5lb 9oz and was 48cm long. The days that followed were very difficult for me as a mother, and a person. The very first look I had at Chase was through a painkiller haze after being wheeled into the NICU in my recovery bed. He was in a humidicrib and I could only touch through him through the little door. I had no idea what was going on, and how he was being cared for. The only information we received was that he had some apnoea (periods he would stop breathing) and required an alarm fixed to his foot once he was out of the humidicrib.
Over the next week or so I had to deal with the nursing staff telling me I had too many visitors in my room with Chase, doing the handover discussing my babies particulars like I wasn’t there and telling me I had to get up and walk around; or I was walking around too much. Nathan was made return to India before Chase and I were released from hospital, being told his spot would not be guaranteed if he didn’t. I was devastated, I was still sick, my blood pressure had not returned to normal and I was still being monitored for kidney and liver damage; and Chase was not even out of NICU. Being premmie, Chase had to learn to suck and was tube fed for a lot of his first feeds. Rather than placing a feeding tube through his nose they would manually put one down at each feed, which was torture to watch, and I’m sure has scarred him to this day. The day that Nathan left us the nursing staff told me I had to express milk every 2 hours and feed Chase every 4 hours. Needless to say I found it difficult to cope. I had a baby that I had no idea what was going on with, my husband was leaving the country, and I had no sleep through feeding and expressing.
Chase ended up only being in NICU for just over a week, and once he was feeding independently we were released. Nathan was away for the first 4 weeks we were home, and it is something I still feel resentful to his employer about. However, once we got our tiny baby home he has not looked back. He came home in 00000 clothes, and coming up to his 5th birthday in September we have to buy size 8’s because he is such a big boy. We were so very blessed that, although arriving, early he had no medical conditions or developmental delays.
Having gone through what I did with Chase I was put off having any more children and wouldn’t even entertain the idea until recently. There is 20 % chance I would suffer from toxaemia again, but I think they are odds worth considering. I also feel this time, should anything happen I am a little more prepared and armed with at least some knowledge on what is happening to my baby and I.
As soon as I heard about Yasminah’s Gift Of Hope, I just knew I had to be involved. I wish that I knew about ‘Yasminah’s Gift Of Hope’ while going through what we went through. My daughter Arianna was born at 31 weeks and weighed 1.1 kilograms. I’ve seen the strength that these babies need to survive and I’ve seen the incredible nursing staff and equipment required to ensure these babies have the best chance of survival. This is a topic that is very close to my heart and I want to do all that I can to help.