Nixon’s journey begins when Trent & I found out that I was pregnant. In September 2005 with just 2 weeks before we were due to get married we were extremely shocked but thrilled to be pregnant. I had a complication free pregnancy. I never really experienced morning sickness, which I was thankful for seeing I was 6 weeks on our wedding day and followed by our honeymoon for 2 weeks. Being reasonably new to Melbourne (originally from Sydney) we did not know anyone who had a baby therefore had no recommendations for an Obstetrician. I did however know I wanted to deliver at the Mercy Woman’s Hospital in Heidelberg as we had been to the open day and seen the wonderful facilities and hospital that it is.
We were planning to start a family shortly after our wedding so I was very keen to read up on as much as I could about becoming a mum. However I seemed to skip the pages in the books about prematurity because that just wasn’t something I would be encountering, or so I thought. I did have an urge to pack my hospital backs around 30weeks for JUST IN CASE, I had my baby shower at 28weeks, and the nursery was all but ready to go. Looking back now maybe my body knew what was ahead.
At 32weeks I took the day off work to go and get my glucose test for diabetes. I walked to the clinic and back struggling up and down the hilly area I live in, weather this triggered something will remain a mystery but that afternoon I experienced my first “leak” I rushed to the toilet thinking my bladder was failing me. By the time Trent came home I expressed my embarrassment at what had now happened several times. We were half way through our Ante-natal classes so that evening we attended. I never thought to mention anything because I thought if my waters broke, there would be a huge gush and I would sure know about it. At the end of the class when I stood up another leak, we quickly rushed home and my embarrassment was quickly turning into frustration.
The following day I went to work but the leaking kept happening and I was becoming more and more concerned, that night I rang the hospital but being a private patient they suggested I needed to ring my OB. Not wanting to wake him over something I thought was incompetence I went to bed sobbing. By Friday morning (Good Friday) I was not coping with my leaking body my husband rang the hospital and paged our OB, being a public holiday we couldn’t get a hold of him. Even as we were leaving for the hospital I was hesitant to go, because I thought I would be sent home and told I was silly for being concerned when my bladder can just not control itself. Once examined it was determined I had Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes (PPROM) and would be admitted until I had my baby. I was informed I could have the baby over night or last as long as 4 weeks but what ever the outcome I was now bed bound until his arrival.
We were lucky enough to have a tour of the NICU which I believed really helped us mentally to see what size the babies were, we were surprised how many babies there were, until now we hadn’t ever heard of anyone having a premature baby. Saturday and Sunday came with no signs baby was coming so I was getting ready for the long haul in hospital. But Nixon had other ideas at 1am on 17th April (Easter Monday) I awoke having contractions. By 4am I had called Trent, by 6am I was being taken to delivery and my parents were called and rushing to the airport to fly down. They arrived at midday. Today was to be the day, 33weeks and 3 days. Nixon was not delivered until 5.08pm by emergency Caesarean because I was not dilating and Nixon was becoming distressed.
His apgars were 5 & 8, he weighed 2296 grams, 48cms long and had a head circumference of 30cms. I got a quick glimpse of him and a short cuddle before he was taken into NICU. I was wheeled into NICU to see Nixon when I came out of recovery, although the room was full of doctors putting tubes in all sorts of places I could barely lift my head to see him. The doctors were talking to me about possible conditions that I had never heard of before it was all a bit of a blur.
Going back up the maternity ward without your baby is like torture. I planned to be wheeled back down a few hours later but encountered some problems and was heavily medicated and bed bound for the rest of the night. All I had was one photo of Nixon the nurses took to stare at until the sun came up.
Nixon was doing reasonably well on his 2nd day of life, he had started on CPAP but overnight they fully ventilated him. He had a small PDA & PPHN (persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn). My parents needed to fly back to Sydney as my sister was due any day to have her baby. (My niece arrived 4days after Nixon on her actual due date)
Seeing this tiny fragile little body being prodded and probed was so upsetting. I sat and watched in tears when they were trying to find a vein in his tiny hand, feeling so helpless as a mother I should be comforting him, feeding him and keeping him safe but he is in pain and there is nothing I can do. I wondered if he would know me and my heart melted when he tried ever so hard to open his precious eyes. I sat with him for hours, I was still in pain and not recovering too well from my c/s but all I cared about was my son and getting him better.
Day 3 was the hardest day of our life. The doctors prepared us that he would most likely go down hill before recovering, although we were warned no one could ever prepare you for it. Day 3 was also when “Baby Blues” kicked in, if the world wasn’t falling apart this day it sure felt like it was. Nixon had a catheter inserted after he was not urinating, they were concerned his kidneys may not be functioning well. He had a Lumber punch and I felt terrible I was not there to hold his hand but don’t know that I could have watched. Nixon had some seizure like activities which concerned them so they did an ultra sound of his brain as well as monitoring it for 24 hours. Trent’s mother and sister flew down this day, although they did not speak it I could see their worry in their eyes.
Day 4 was a complete turn around to the previous day. Nixon brain scan came back all clear, he was put under photo therapy for jaundice, but he was now urinating and the most exciting part of all we got our first cuddle! Time stood still, this was the most amazing time of our lives, to have this tiny human that we created, cuddle into my chest, within minutes my breasts started leaking, I found this truly amazing how my body responded to my son and I kept him warm for as long as I could before it was time for Daddy’s first cuddle. Trent’s mother and sister had to fly back home but his dad was due the following day.
Day 5 Nixon was taken off the ventilator, they were expecting to put him back on CPAP but he was breathing so well on his own there was no need. He pulled his own catheter out so they decided to leave it out and he started urinating regularly, his IV drip was removed and I think today was the first day he got fed my breast milk. He started on such a tiny amount 2mls I think it was. Every couple of feeds they would increase it we would jump for joy when he was taking 10-15-20mls! It seems such a small amount now but each step was a big milestone in our eyes. Another Huge milestone was he no longer needed to be in NICU and was moved into SCN (special care nursery)
Over the next few days Nixon spent some more time under phototherapy but now we could cuddle him each time we visited he was out of the woods and it was just a matter of gaining weight and learning how to suck. He dropped a little over the 10% in weight which made him about 1.9kg, he was quiet long for his gestation his arms and legs were so long and skinny.
Learning how to suck was a tough task. His little mouth would get tired so quickly, at times I thought this is never going to work, but with a lot of persistence and patience he started to get the hang of it. Going back and forth to the hospital each day was very exhausting. With no Family around to help we did it on our own. Emotionally I don’t know how we coped, I think we just ran on auto pilot and did what we had to. Trent would visit him before and after work and I would go in 2-3 times a day. My life revolved around Nixon’s feeding times. Expressing was another rough road, having to wake up in the middle of night to feed a machine was not an ideal situation, but again my body was doing what it needed to provide for my son.
Nixon spent 4 weeks in hospital and made it home just 2 days before mother’s day, at 37weeks and weighing 2650g. What a special gift that was as he still was not meant to be born. We continued to struggle with feeding, taking one hour to feed in a three hour cycle, falling asleep on me was a constant occurrence. He seemed to be settling in well in his new home but around 8-9weeks he started getting reflux. It is quiet common on premature babies but it was hard to know what to do. After several trips to the doctor, Paediatrician, medications, tilting cots and all the rest of it, it started to get slightly better at about 16weeks. He would still vomit from it but became what is known as a “Happy Chucker” He hated being on his tummy and even now will not last very long.
Nixon had check ups with the Paediatrician at 2, 4, 6 & 12 months corrected, as well as a hearing test and he is due to have another soon but I am confident his hearing is fine but because of certain risk factors such as being prem, spending time in NICU, phototherapy and his father born with hearing loss & it important to have it done. I don’t believe Nixon has any developmental delays he is now a cheeky 20month old (18.5corrected) and has a little 7week old brother Tyron who made it all the way to 38weeks!
Written by mum Nicole