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We realised he was so sick and would be here beyond his due date

When Shantelle’s waters broke at 23+5 weeks, she had no idea what was happening or the journey that lay ahead.

This is her story:

I was having dinner with my husband, Matt, telling him how much I loved being pregnant and that I was so loving starting to feel the baby really move. I went to the bathroom, about to shower, and I felt as though a pressure valve had been released. I had no idea what was happening, and certainly didn’t think anything was wrong.

About 8 hours later, I was admitted to King Edward Memorial Hospital as my waters broke for no apparent reason (PPROM confirmed). I was 23 weeks + 5 days pregnant. After a 48h course of steroids and a shrunken belly from loss of amniotic fluid, contractions started, and Beau (Bowie) presented as footling breech. Bowie was born at 623g, 28cm long, and after getting to see him for a few seconds, he was whisked away to be intubated and he took his first breath at 8 minutes.

A long road ahead

Bowie was intubated for 10 weeks, including the Jet ventilator and a few brief attempts at CPAP after self-extubations. He has chronic lung disease and he experienced ventilator associated pneumonia, hyperglycaemia, and was anaemic which saw him have 7 blood transfusions. During those 10 weeks he had 21 IV’s and the transfusions required fasting, so his milk intake was very slow to build. At one point, we were able to stay overnight for 2 days at the hospital as he was very unwell, and we thought we might lose him. It took us a few weeks to realise that he was so sick, that the majority of other families weren’t experiencing quite the same things, and that we would be here beyond his due date.

During week 11 of his life, things were finally looking up. He was moved onto CPAP. Due to the chronic lung disease, he was on steroids for 3 months, as well as morphine to help him settle. He was so active that it interfered with his ability to get rest so there were also a couple of times where a paralytic was necessary to keep him still and rested. He spent weeks 11 to 16 on CPAP until he was finally ready for high flow oxygen and the Special Care Nursery where we were able to join a few fellow NICU friends we’d made.

Transferring to the Children’s Hospital

After 20 weeks at KEMH, at 44 weeks gestation, he aged out of the hospital and was ready for Perth Children’s Hospital. Whilst there, the medical team made it clear to us that he was much healthier than they expected for a child of his gestation and weight, but it was going to take a while to wean him off high flow as our goal was to balance breathing with feeding and weight gain. We learned back at KEMH that we were lucky in that he didn’t require any operations or have any other serious issues in addition to respiratory needs.

Bowie has fluid on the left side of his brain, so he has mild to moderate hearing loss with hopes of the fluid draining on its own. He will experience some developmental delays but so far, he is tracking well and progressing steadily.

Ready to take him home

We spent 13 weeks at PCH and on September 6th, just before turning 8 months old, we took Bowie home. With months of mental and allied health support under our belts, we were feeling so ready to take our sweet boy home and, as I type this, we have just hit the 1 month mark and he has just come home after his first swimming lesson.

As they wheeled me in for my surgery, I made sure to tell my husband that I wanted to call him Beau because I knew he would be beautiful. After 243 days in hospital, this past month with our son has been nothing short of that and I know that, without the support of friends, family, and foundations like LLTF, we wouldn’t be as mentally strong as we are today, taking every beautiful day as it comes.

Share your story

Have you found comfort in reading other parents’ stories? We get lots of grateful feedback on how reading these personal stories help new parents to cope with their own experience. Every family has a unique and important story to share. Share your journey and celebrate your story below.

Belinda Algie


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