Isla Joy was born on 2/11/19 at 34 weeks, she spent 17 nights in the Special Care Nursery in a hospital an hour away from her home in Traralgon, regional Victoria. Mum Eden shares their story:
Other than awful morning sickness that lasted until 20 weeks, my pregnancy had been great – I was planning on pushing out my leave and working until 37 weeks. One night I experienced cramps that lasted all evening, by the next morning part of me felt there was something not quite right, but I felt a bit silly going to the hospital. Once I lost the mucus plug and knew we needed to call the hospital. I felt excited that we might see our baby sooner, I really hoped it was just a false alarm.
At the hospital I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia and would be induced to speed things up. We were given the worst-case-scenario run down of what might happen – that our baby would be tiny, she might not be breathing, she may need to be transferred to a different hospital. The unknowns were terrifying. I was treated by a midwife who had her son at 35 weeks, she described them being in the isolette as a “see through stomach” and that we would get extra time with our baby.
The next morning I had my waters broken, the epidural in place and a syntocinon drip. Isla didn’t tolerate the drip at all, every time I had a contraction her heart rate would slow or stop. It was so scary hearing the beeping stop. They continued to lower the dose and check my progress, I will never forget a midwife racing in “the doctor wants the baby out now”. We were raced down to theatre for an emergency caesarean… however with the help of forceps and an episiotomy, Isla was born. She weighed a tiny 2.09 kilos but was just perfect in every way. After a quick cuddle she was off to the Special Care Nursery.
I didn’t get to see Isla until later that evening, she was snuggled up in her isolette and looked so small and lonely. The next day we had cuddles, and by the third day she was in an open crib. Isla required no treatment other than her feeding tube. It was hard not knowing when we would take her home, but I was able to stay at the hospital as a border for her entire stay.
A few weeks after we got home Isla became very distressed and sick, after some more hospital trips we discovered she had a cows milk protein allergy. This was definitely a testing time – we felt that we had used up our emotional bank of coping in the SCN, it was hard facing stays at two more hospitals and being hours from home. We were extremely fortunate to have supportive friends who helped keep our house in order – it’s amazing the washing, cleaning (not to mention pet feeding!) that still needs to happen.
Isla is now 6 months old absolutely thriving. She really is our joy, she is a happy, playful beautiful baby!
How LLTF helped us:
Isla was born close to the Melbourne Cup holiday, many of the ‘regular’ nurses and midwives were away, and while everyone was amazing – in the beginning a lot of people weren’t able to answer our questions. We were able to get our heads around what was happening looking at resources online, and applied for the Precious Prem Pack. When we came home from hospital the pack was waiting on our doorstep. We had missed out on our baby shower so it was lovely to be able to open something special together.
Advice and Tips to New Parents
- The mother and baby instinct is amazing! Countless maternal health nurses, doctors as others brushed off my “something isn’t right” queries. It turned out Isla had an allergy, and we ended up in a hospital far away from home. Always advocate for your baby and never feel that you can be too pushy!
- Ask for earplugs if hearing the sounds of other babies is hard when yours is in the NICU/SCN.
- However you feed your baby is the best way, I found the breastfeeding posters to be confronting when Isla was tube, expressed milk and then formula fed. Don’t ever feel down about how your baby is thriving.
- Write down all your questions when in the hospital, and then write down the answers. Sometimes it can be hard to bring things up if you feel ‘silly’, and when exhausted and sleep deprived it can be easy to forget things.
- Make sure you let staff in the NICU or SCN which things you would like to do, especially firsts – such as nappy changes, outfits, bath. If they have a whiteboard or chart ask them to write it on there so all the staff can see.
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