By a NICU Daddy – Part One

This is the first part of a very special series of guest blog posts. My husband has written down Jack’s journey from his point of view and I have to admit that when I read through them it was emotional. He remembers some things in this post that I had maybe blocked out or forgotten due to emotional trauma or fantastically high pain meds. Here’s his story of the 24 hours leading up to Jack’s birth.

“I’ve been asked to write from the father’s viewpoint on having a premature baby, and all of the stresses, strains, highpoints and lows that come with it… Wish me luck.

Here goes. We’ll start from the beginning…

On the 17th November 2015 I received a text message whilst I was at work from my wife Laura, after her routine visit to the Midwife in the morning. The midwife said that her blood pressure was a bit raised, and she’d like Laura to go to the hospital for observation. I thought nothing more of it at this point, as first time parents, I assumed it was fairly normal so didn’t worry myself too much about it. Later in the day, I received another message from Laura, asking for me to come to the hospital when I finish work, and bring some clothes, as they wanted to observe her overnight. By this point, I started to feel a bit concerned for her, and asked if I could finish work early.

It was raining really hard, and I knew Laura had driven to the hospital, so I arranged a lift from one of my good friends, who had just woken up from a night shift (Sorry Ralph). I arrived around 3pm, and was shown to Laura’s bed in the High Dependency Unit. The specialist had just been and gone, I can’t remember what Laura told me the specialist said, but I’ll forever remember the look on her face!

Later that afternoon/early evening after numerous blood tests (I was nowhere near her for these, as I’m terrible with needles, and any medical machinery as I seem to find these sinister and scary… We’ll touch more on this as the story goes on), there was a shift change, and Miss Hamilton took over. She was immediately concerned by Laura’s ever-increasing blood pressure, and amount of protein in her urine (yummy). She suggested that within the next 24 hours she’d have to operate and give her a Caesarean section. By this point Laura and myself were beyond worried, shocked or any word that sums up the horror, disbelief, and downright madness of our situation.

Laura’s mum was contacted at about 7pm, and immediately turned up! She bought some drinks for us (as however nice hospital orange squash is, it doesn’t come close to having a nice cold Coca Cola). She was as concerned as us at the news, and we all worried together.

After some time had passed (can’t remember exactly what was said and done) Laura was asked to sign some paperwork regarding her pending operation, we both read through it, and a paragraph that stuck with me and Laura was (paraphrased slightly) “If it comes to a point where the medical staff have to choose between saving You, or saving your child, which would you prefer?” By that point, Laura was inconsolable and struggled to make the decision, Miss Hamilton the specialist, suggested that we saved Laura for various reasons.

After we’d (literally) signed Laura’s life away, Miss Hamilton was urgently called away for another emergency. Laura was then prepped for surgery, whilst I got dressed up in theatre scrubs, and some ill fitting Medical Crocs. We waited until about 12:45am for a slot in the Operating theatre and then the “fun” began! As I mentioned earlier, I’m the first to admit, I’m not really a fan of medical apparatus. It makes me feel all queasy. Anyway, I was escorted into the theatre by one of the theatre staff, and was asked to sit at a seat at the head of the bed, next to Laura’s head, there was a stand either side of Laura’s bed just below Laura’s neck, with what appeared to be Blue roll taped between them. That (thankfully) stopped us from seeing the actual procedure in progress.

Within what felt like 5 minutes of the operation at just before quarter to two in the morning, they removed Jack, and Laura asked me to get up and have a look at him. When I say he was tiny, I mean TINY! He was immediately put in a plastic Zip lock bag to keep him warm, and then that’s when the NICU staff swooped in like an army of angels. They weighed him, and ran a full sweep of medical tests to make sure he was stable, and able to breathe, which he couldn’t, so they had to resuscitate him and breathe him with an emergency respirator . He was then wheeled away into the Incubator room in the NICU.

Back to the operation… After Laura asked me to go and have a look at Jack, I’d turned around and accidentally looked past the blue “curtain” NEVER LOOK PAST THE BLUE CURTAIN!!!!!!! I never thought I’d see a hole in my wife’s stomach, but there you go… I did!

The anaesthetist was a real Scottish character, and managed to distract us both from the proceedings. He was funny, and helped us both through whilst doing his Job, which was rather impressive, as he was very busy!

The operation was then complete, and I was whisked away back to the waiting area where Laura’s mum had been waiting. Within a couple of minutes Miss Hamilton came past and we asked how it all went, and what type of incision she had to make… odd I know, but earlier in the evening she was talking us through the different types of Caesarean that are undertaken, and I for some reason found those interesting, puke inducingly interesting! She said everything went well, the scar would be tiny and horizontal.

When Laura was wheeled out of the theatre, she was pushed into the observation room and was constantly monitored for an hour. After that, she was wheeled back into the HDU. This in my opinion isn’t the greatest move for a lady that’s just had a premature baby cut from her body, as by that time another of the beds was filled by a mother WITH her child next to her. Oh well, at least she was still receiving the best of care. Laura’s mum and myself were then asked if we wanted to go and have a look at jack in his incubator, we both jumped at the chance to see him within a couple of hours of being born.

When we got to Jacks incubator, I was in for the shock of my life! He had been fitted up with a ventilator, ecg leads, and numerous drips, long lines and Umbilical cord tubes. He looked like medical experiment! I was shocked to see how transparent and thin his skin was! The nurse on duty watching over him told us that he was so active they had to give him morphine to sedate him, or he’d have pulled out all of his connections, she said that later that evening/morning (they all roll into one at that time of night) they were going to remove the ventilator to see if his tiny lungs had improved any.

We then said our teary goodbyes to Jack, and went back to see how Laura was doing, and also to show her photos of her new baby! We were also given lovely photos of Jack from Jo in the NICU to take back to Laura, so she can have something lovely to look at whilst she’s getting well enough to go and see him. We finally said our goodbyes to Laura at around 5:30 in the morning and we went back home.

So that’s Jack’s dramatic arrival into the world! The next post of my hubby’s that I’ll share will be about Jack’s NICU stay. I hope you enjoyed this post from the father’s perspective as it’s all to easy to focus on the mother because everything happens other body. Hubs was so supportive to me for the entire journey, especially when I was at my most broken. I love you Andrew xxx

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