Although it’s been over 7 years, I still remember the events leading to Luke’s birth on 27 Feb 2003.
My pregnancy was going fine, not too different from when I was pregnant with my daughter Maya. I was about 6 months pregnant and had invited a few of my friends around for lunch on Tuesday 25th Feb. My girlfriends had all left and I was getting ready to leave to pick up Maya from her new school. Suddenly I felt this strange wetness and went to the bathroom. My initial thoughts were that I had become incontinent!! I called one of my girlfriends who is a nurse and asked her if she had any idea of what was happening. She suggested that I ring my OB and discuss with her.
As soon as I rang Janet (my ob) and told her what had happened, she instructed me to go straight to Freemasons hospital to have a scan done. Off I went thinking nothing more. I had my scan and was sent into the waiting room to get the results. Shortly I got a phone call from Janet instructing me to go straight to Frances Perry where she had organised a bed for me. I was given instructions to call my husband David and ask him to take me straight to Frances Perry House.
I wasn’t allowed to go home to get my things or see Maya who was with friends. I was told that there was a hole in my sac and that I had to have complete bed rest to minimize any more leakages so that we could get this baby to at least 32 weeks. In the same breath, I was also told that due to this hole, there could be a possibility of infection in which case it would be best to get the baby out asap. I was given all the steroids to help strengthen the baby’s lungs incase this scenario came about. Next day (wed 26th).
I received visits from various medi-cal staff and was given information on premature birth and possible outcomes. I was completely taken unaware and found it very hard to digest this information. Surely this wasn’t the reality. The hospital staff also suggested that I go and have a look at the NICU unit so that if the baby was born early, I would be a bit more prepared. I still remember that first visit to the NICU unit.
One of my girlfriends came with me to support me and I just remember walking into this noisy room with lots of activity and feeling overwhelmed, shocked, emotional at seeing these tiny babies fighting for their lives. All I could do was breakdown and cry – surely this wasn’t going to happen to my baby.
Unfortunately this was to be the case and due to possibility of infection, Luke was born by caesarean birth, weighing 915gms at 27 weeks. However he was a fighter from day 1. As a result of the coin study, he was put on CPAP straight away and fortunately, never had to be ventilated during his time in NICU. Considering his extreme prematurity, Luke did well in his time at hospital. He went through a roller coaster ride that most prem babies go through but on the whole did well so that he was able to come home around his due date. We thought that now he was home, our journey was at an end and we could move onwards and forwards.
However this was not so. Amongst a number of things, we found out that Luke had food allergies. We only discovered this when I started to wean him of breastfeeding. I found that normal formula didn’t agree with him so moved him onto to soya based formula as I was led to believe that those allergic or intolerant to dairy use soya products. His first soya based formula feed was a disaster as he threw up everywhere straight after the feed. I then tried a number of different based formula but nothing suited him. I finally had to succumb to the fact that Luke would need special formula milk.
Once we started on solids, I had to be careful of what I gave him. Luckily I had some experience with food allergies as Maya (my older full termer) was allergic to a number of food items. I was very careful with Luke in terms of food that I introduced to him. Foods that I was particularly slow with were toma-toes, strawberries, wheat and completely avoided eggs and nuts (as a result of my experience with Maya).
I organised for Luke to be tested for food allergies before progressing with his weaning so that I knew what we were dealing with. In his initial testing, he showed intolerance to many food groups but over the years this has improved and the main food types that he has an allergy to are nuts, eggs, seeds, white fish and seafood. At least I now knew what I needed to do.
As the years progressed, these allergies have got better and Luke is now able to eat food which contains cooked eggs and some white fish. Despite these allergies, Luke has had a normal healthy life, enjoying all the things that young boys. Although his allergies are relatively severe, we have been very lucky to have managed it through using anti histamines. If I get a slight inkling that something is not right and that he is reacting to something, I give him a dose of Zyrtec and tell him it’s all going to be OK. Lucky for me, it’s worked every time!!
All in all, we are very lucky that despite his very early beginnings and a few developmental and health issues, Luke has grown up to be a happy cheerful boy, enjoying school and making many new friends. Many people are still astounded when I tell them that he was born 3 months early. He is an inspiration to us all and we are very proud of him.