If Your Baby Ends Up In Special Care
By number baby number 4 you would think I had the whole pregnancy and childbirth thing nutted out.
However with each of my girls, each pregnancy was more difficult and more problematic than the previous one.
After my fourth caesarean, they gave me our new little girl to cuddle and I felt as though our family was now complete.
Eventually we were separated and Mr B went with our new addition to the nursery to do her checks and I went off to recovery. We both were feeling excited that we had added another little girl to our now complete family.
I was taken back to my room after getting the all clear, eagerly anticipating a snuggle and a long cuddle with our gorgeous new little girl, however upon arrival I was greeted by Mr B, but no new baby.
My heart plummeted when I found out that our newborn had developed breathing problems and had to be placed into a humidicrib to give her extra oxygen.
As the day drew on her struggle to breathe became worse and worse and that night she was placed in a “headbox” in an endeavour to increase her oxygen intake.
In the morning however the situation had changed dramatically.
During the night she had popped air sacs in her lungs and as a result her left lung had collapsed. She now had to be moved to a neonatal intensive care hospital and special care.
The hospital rang Mr B at home and told him that she would be leaving in about 20 minutes via the “NETS” team, that included one doctor and one nurse, who were going to take her straight to the Westmead Neonatal unit.
Miss G needed her lungs reinflated fast and the hospital we were currently in, was not equipped to handle a baby with such special needs.
I was offered to accompany her, however this was advised against by my doctor. We had chosen to have Miss G in a private hospital, with my own OB. If I was to discharge myself and be readmitted at Westmead, I would be admitted as a public patient and most likely discharged after a few days.
After having just undergone a C-section and with my blood pressure all over the place, it was decided that it was best if I stayed where I was, under the care of my current doctor.
I sent Mr B with Miss G, terrified at the prospect that she would be alone. I assured him I was perfectly fine, but I would much rather him be with her. So off the both of them went.
Her procedure to re-inflate her lung went extremely well and after 24 hours she was showing some major improvement, however she had to remain there for the next few days while the lung and the incision site healed. She was also developing jaundice, which they were also now treating with phototherapy.
And I was left for the majority of time on my own feeling guilty…..
- You feel like you have failed, that the reason your baby is sick and needs help is somehow your fault. It’s not…shit just happens.
- Your milk will comes in and you have no baby to feed. It’s then a matter of learning how to use a breast pump, before you learn how to breastfeed, those cold compresses work a treat too…ouch..
- Your babys father will become a glorified milk man. So while I was expressing every few hours and storing it in the maternity wing refrigerator. Mr B was running backwards and forwards from Westmead Special Care to my hospital ferrying bottles of milk and colostrum in a cooler bag.
- You hear babies crying and you feel insanely jealous of the parents next door, who are right at this moment cuddling their baby and you are not.
- You don’t have very many visitors. I am one of those people who loved to have visitors in hospital, I don’t do too well on my own. When you have your first baby, you are inundated with well wishers. The number dwindles however when you have your second and third. By the time you have your fourth, you are left watching the tumbleweed blow past the door. Add to that a sick baby who is in a completely different hospital and you find you start talking to yourself. I think it’s because people just assume you would like to be left alone, maybe people just want to see the baby and you are an afterthought. Those visitors that you do have are left wondering what to say, scared that they may upset you. They give you their gifts with the “I’m sorry” look in their eyes and silence. You start to look forward to the checks from the nursing staff, at least that gives you someone to talk to. Feeling sorry for myself much?
- The separation is absolutely horrible, you wonder if she getting enough cuddles, is she feeding OK, is she feeling any pain, will she be all right,is she missing you? Will she have any long term effects? Those are just the tip of the iceberg.
- You take your 10 year old to visit her in special care, just in case something happens while she is on a school camp. You hate the thought that she may never get to meet her brand new sister.
- You will feel guilt, perhaps you think that the reason she is in special care is because you did something wrong….rest assured you didn’t.
- Use this time in hospital by yourself wisely. Make the most of not having to care for your other children. Use the time to recover properly and get your strength back, because when you are finally able to bring your baby home, a healthy mother is a good mother.
- You will get past this and eventually this stressful and traumatic time will all be but a memory.
Our Miss G is now a feisty nearly 8 year old, but I still remember how fragile and sick she was like it was yesterday.
She now takes pride in flashing around her little scar and telling people how this is what “helped her to breathe when she was born”. She will always have that little scar to remind her and us, just how precious she is and just how hard she fought coming into the world.
Miss G was our final baby, she was also the last baby that our Obstetrician delivered in his long career. I have always felt kind of guilty about his last delivery being one that resulted in a very sick girl and a lot of drama. But then that’s the thing with having babies, they are unpredictable.
As much as we would like for things to go meticulously to plan, they never do. We just have to handle what we are given the best way that we know how, put our faith in those whose job it is to make them well again and cross our fingers that everything will be all right in the end.
Our doctors and nurses at NETS and indeed our Special Care and Neonatal Intensive Care units around the country certainly do an amazing job, they are very special people and we can never thank them enough.