Prematurity Awareness

This week is Prematurity Awareness Week. The Walk for Prems held last Sunday was to raise awareness for the cause of premature birth.  Sadly too many babies are being born too soon.

Eva was born at 25 weeks gestation after 4 days of trying to halt my preterm labour.

 

Minutes after Birth

 

She needed help to breathe,help with her immature lungs.  That meant intubation, a synthetic form of surfactant pushed into her lungs and CPAP from 12 hours old until 9 weeks old.

Day 2 on CPAP

Our hospital stay meant infections, nasogastric tubes, lines, blood transfusions, monitors and wires, learning about apnoeas, bradycardias and breathes per minute, medications, fortifiers, and lots of tests.  It also meant not having a baby to hug when you got home, pumping and stress and worry and lots of tears.  It meant feeling like a failure when she had a bad day and triumphant when things went well.

 

Wearing Daddy's Wedding Ring Day 5

 

Kangaroo Care cuddles were just the best time of the day for Mummy and Daddy.

 

Mummy's First Cuddle

 

 

 

Daddy's First Cuddle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Measuring progress in milestones like weight gain, Eva wearing clothes for the first time, leaving the incubator behind, her first breastfeed and her first bath.

 

Finally One Kilo

 

It was 105 days in hospital and it was a typical, run of the mill, premature baby course and we all made it to the other side.  Thank goodness.

 

Heading home on Day 105

 

Prematurity awareness is about making women aware of the signs of premature labour.  Making people aware of the support that is offered for families surviving the long hospital stays.  Also raising awareness of the fact that prematurity doesn’t stop when babies leave the hospital and that it can have lifelong impacts.

 

Two, One, Birth

Two-Year-Old Eva with a bag of rice 210g heavier than her at birth

Eva cuddling the Baba that is her lowest weight and slightly bigger than her at birth

 

 

 

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A Marnie/Bump Update

After a week of lovely rest and taking life slowly I visited to obstetrician again.  He declared that he was very happy with the procedure and that all is looking good.  Great news is that I am back to normal (just pregnancy restricted) activity level and he doesn’t need to see me until the week before Christmas.  Here I was dreading having to park and toddler wrangle whilst waiting every fortnight and I get a reprieve.

I did test positive for Group B Strep (as with Eva).  Group B Streptococcus is a bug that I carry but it doesn’t affect me however it can cause infection in a newborn with transfer  in utero or during labour.  Hopefully we can avoid any complications from this tricky bug.

I now just have to stay well and enjoy these next few non-medical weeks.  Thank you for all of your thoughts and prayers for the procedure last week they were much appreciated.

Walk for Prems

Today Eva proudly joined with many other premature babies and children to walk to raise awareness of premature births.  Eva was joined by her Daddy and Nanny to journey 5km around Albert Park Lake with about 1000 other walkers.  I sat and rested and watched the world go by while they walked.

It was amazing to see lots of tiny babies there with their parents who have obviously recently been discharged.  The money raised today will go towards supporting parents as they face the journey with premature and sick babies.  They are refurbishing a parent’s room at one of the Melbourne Hospitals and buying more comfortable kangaroo care chairs for multiple hospitals.    More donations are gratefully accepted at http://www.everydayhero.com.au/evahodges.

Eva Turns Two

Today our precious little girl turned two.  How delightful it was to see her enjoy the day remember how she has changed so much.  From the moment I got her up this morning she was gorgeous and didn’t take long to learn to sing “Happy Birthday” along with us.

We were busy with Skype phone calls and discovering gifts before breakfast then busy afterwards still playing.  I guess it was all the fuss but she really seemed to know it was a special day today.  We went to Gran and Pop’s for lunch today with Nathaniel there to celebrate as well.  Eva enjoyed “party lunch” today including sausage rolls, fairy bread and cake.  The chocolate mud cake was a bit rich but it didn’t stop her shoveling it in.

In the evening when Andrew came home Eva continued to enjoy her gifts including the baby doll that we gave her.   I was so excited to find a doll with less toxins and so pleased that she enjoyed it.

I think that she had a fabulous day and so did we.  It wasn’t anywhere near as emotional as last year which is to be expected and was a welcome relief. It is just amazing to see how much she is changing what feel like every day right now.  Her language is really coming along now with her trying to repeat most of what we say.  Her spontaneous words list is 27 most of which only we can understand of course!

We look forward to what the year ahead has in store for us as Eva continues to grow and develop.

The Last Day of One

Today is Eva’s last day of being One!  We will have a two-year-old come sunrise in the morning.  Today Eva has been very busy with a very patient Nanny.  Nanny was doing some gardening and Eva was enjoying helping with her own gardening tools.  You can just imagine how helpful she was!

I was fortunate enough to be resting lots today with all of us having a midday sleep to catch up.  Eva was quite tolerant of me lying down a lot however by the evening all she wanted was Mummy.  Andrew and I found it quite strange that on Monday I was on bed rest just like the same date 2 years ago when we were waiting for Eva.  Andrew tells me that this is definitely the last pregnancy that he can survive!

Marta, our 84-year-old neighbour, dropped in a delicious looking chocolate mud cake and Jill, our 70-year-old neighbour, dropped in a hand made giraffe toy for Eva. We live in such a friendly street.

Home Again Safe and Sound

I am home again safe and sound with a very wriggly baby in my tummy.

Warning: This may be too much information! Monday’s procedure went very well with a combination of a Shirodkar/McDonald stitch.  There is 5 loops around my cervix with a permanent suture with the knots at the top closest to the uterus.  To embed the knots in the wall of the vagina small incisions were made then stitched back over with the knots inside with dissolvable sutures.  This is to help prevent infection.  The stitch is one that can be cut around 34-36 weeks.  The whole procedure took just 30 minutes including putting in the spinal anaesthetic!  It’s a really weird not to be able to feel anything from waist down.  Once the anaesthetist found out that I was a nurse she also gave me some midazolam to slightly sedate me.  She offered me more during the procedure but I was enjoying listening to the surgeon describing the procedure.

I was away from Andrew for 2 hours in total after arriving at the hospital at 6.30am I went through at 11am and was on the ward by 1pm. I thought that it was all fairly efficient but it was strange being the patient in the process knowing how the system works.

After a light lunch I dozed while Andrew went home to pick up Eva and Mum.  Eva really didn’t enjoy seeing me in the hospital but I was selfish and wanted to see her.  I got a little cuddle from her right at the end but only with Daddy’s iPad to play with as bribery.

Andrew came back in the evening to sit with me.  I slept awfully of course being on a plastic mattress and under the air conditioning.  The nurses were great at letting me sleep and only came in when I called them.  I was on bed rest for the night which did get a little tiresome by 6am when I was sick of the bed and the luxury of a catheter.  Luckily the morning staff negotiated with the doctors for a shower early on so that was a relief.  Although I found that I was ready to get back into the bed that I had despised soon after the shower!  I am really ready for my bed tonight.

I had some periods of cramping overnight and today but not much bleeding which was a relief.  We waited a while to see the medical staff who didn’t come until 2.30 this afternoon.  However they did bring with them the scanner so that we could check on the baby’s well being.  The small person inside has a strong heartbeat and was wriggling non stop during the brief scan.  Andrew says the baby must take after me!

Thank you all for your prayers, we feel very blessed.  Now I just have to convince Eva that Mummy is having a restful few days and that Nanny is the person to play with.  My next appointment is in a week’s time by then I’ll have a 2-year-old!

A New Life

 

Coming In May

 

 

It’s with much joy that we announce that we will welcome a new member of our family in May next year.  We have been blessed with another life to bear and celebrate.  Of course the plan is to welcome this new person when they are a lovely bouncing full term baby.

I have been feeling well but very tired.  I guess growing a baby and toddler wrangling will make the exhaustion feel bone numbing.  Thus I have been having day time naps instead of writing blogs or uploading photos which makes me sad but it is just essential for now.

Pregnancy post an extreme preterm baby is proving to be an interesting experience to say the least.  We are having to keep everything in perspective as our dreams of a low intervention pregnancy are outweighed by the desire for intervention to keep this baby inside for longer.

Warning the following may be too much information.  Tomorrow (Monday 8th) I will have a cervical stitch put in.  You can read more about it here.  Basically the aim is to put a stitch in now to prevent early dilation of my cervix.  With Eva’s labour I didn’t present as a typical incompetent cervix but as the obstetrician put it we will never really know and do we want to risk finding out?

At our first appointment at 11 weeks the obstetrician discussed the stitch which I went into the appointment not wanting.  I was thinking that maybe something like progesterone pessaries which are being trailed for prevention of preterm labour.  The obstetrician wasn’t convinced that there was adequate evidence that they would be enough for me.  Coming home from this appointment I did lots of research (using Dr Google) and read about people’s experiences on forums and came to realise that maybe the stitch would be the best option for us given the risks involved with preterm birth.

Between the appointments at 11 and 14 weeks my cervix on the ultrasound scan had shortened from 58mm to 48mm which wasn’t too concerning at this stage but it is always a possibility that it could shorten drastically in the next few weeks.  There is always the thought as well that many women could spend their entire pregnancy with a shortened cervix and carry to full term.  However shortening is a key warning sign for preterm labour.

Having the stitch gives me between an 80-90% chance of reaching 37 weeks so we figure that they are pretty good odds.  Of course there is lots of time between now and then so we shall just have to wait.  The stitch will be quite embedded to reduce the risk of infection to this foreign body during the pregnancy.  The plan is to remove the stitch between 34-36 weeks which means that even if I go into labour then the baby will be in a much better position than Eva was.  There are also risks during the procedure tomorrow, mostly to the baby not me.  We have spent time praying for safety for our new baby and will place the baby’s safety in God and the doctors hands tomorrow.  We know that God is holding this baby safely in the palm of his hand so we are at peace with our decision.

The stitch will be placed with a spinal anaesthetic and I will stay in hospital overnight.  Hopefully I will see Eva sometime in the evening otherwise I will be in withdrawal with longer than 24 hours away from her.  It will also be the longest she has ever been without a breastfeed and she is in the process of cutting her last molar (of this set).  My mum has been able to fly in from Canberra today to help out with Eva this week which is a great blessing as I will be on bed rest for a few days.

We ask for your prayers for tomorrow.  We have faith that this baby is strong and can face the challenge of tomorrow.  Stay tuned for an update in the coming days.