She arrived four weeks early and I find myself writing this post, two whole months into the stint; but she’s here! It’s taken me a long time to untangle my feelings around Lily’s birth, so I do apologise for it taking me so long to update this, but I needed to process things a bit before I put them down into words. What was supposed to be a calm, planned csection in September, ended up being anything but that. Regardless of that, she’s here and she’s safe and I guess that’s all that matters right?!
The day prior to her birth, I had an appointment with my obstetrician. Lily’s movements had began to slow a few days prior and I had popped into the maternity ward the night before just to check that everything was okay. I was reassured that she was moving fine and sent home to follow up if anything else came up. I mentioned to my OB that I had been struggling to feel her move for a few weeks now and she very quickly had me move over to the ultrasound table to check it out. It became clear very quickly that something wasn’t right. When the obstetrician literally starts tapping your stomach with the doppler trying to trigger a movement, you know there’s something up. So shortly after that, she scurried me accross the hallway to the Qld Xray suite for a more detailed ultrasound.
Shortly after I had the ultrasound, my OB called and asked me to conference Steve in to the call so she could speak with us together. I knew then, that something was about to go down. She went on to explain that there was a chance that Lily might be delivered with a deformity known as microcephaly. Her scans suggested that she had an abnormally small head due to poor growth and we had been told that she might have brain damage. They wanted to wait until the next morning to deliver so that I could have a round of steroids overnight, so despite being emotionally and physically exhausted from the day we had just had, I didn’t sleep a wink that night. I was so nervous about having a premmie baby, about what it would mean for our family if there was something seriously wrong with her when she was born.
The next morning, we went down to get our little fighter bright and early morning. It was one of the best moments of my life when they placed her in my arms and I knew that she was safe, but at the same time I could feel in my spirit that the struggle wasn’t over. Her doctors reassured us immediately upon delivery that her head appeared normal and that hopefully it was just an error on her scans.
Following her birth, things seemed to be okay initially. She was tired and feeding a bit slow but they reassured me that this was common in 36 weekers. The next day it all fell apart, she crashed hard. She was so fatigued that she would barely rouse and after a few hours of trying to syringe milk, drop by drop into her mouth; they told me she needed to go to special care. It literally felt like someone had ripped a limb off me. There I was, stuck on a maternity ward; surrounded by besotted new parents and their crying babies, visitors coming to meet all the new arrivals and glowing mothers walking the halls whilst I was, babyless. We hadn’t had a chance to tell many people that we were delivering Lily early, and since she wasn’t with me the visitors were minimal.
What I remember so distinctly was that it had been such a surprise to most people that she was delivered early, so a lot of people didn’t congratulate us the same way that they did with Sophie’s birth. I remember sitting alone in the hospital room feeling so hurt. Why weren’t people happy for us? Didn’t they care that we had just gone through the most stressful 24 hours of our lives? Why didn’t people want to visit? I wanted to scream from the rooftops that she was important too. That even though it was a rocky start that she was worth celebrating.
In special care they placed an NG tube to help her gain some strength and feed better. Every two hours I would go and feed her and then they would top her up with EBM through the tube. There were no allowances for cuddles. I was told that every time we held her, it exhausted her little body. So the nurses would see me finish feeding & literally whisk her away and send me back to my room, babyless. A week passed and she grew stronger with each day. Steve was spending a lot of time at work & home, trying to save his leave so that I would have support once Lily & I were discharged. It was the first time I had been away from Sophie for more than a night, and I was struggling with it big time.
We got down to the wire where I was due for discharge but they were unsure whether Lily would be ready to come home with me. The thought of leaving her there alone was petrifying. I dug my feet in and asked for a benchmark that we could aim for in order to be able to take her home.
40g. That’s what got us over the line to be able to take her home, but it felt like so much more than that. Little did I know that the battle was just beginning for our sweet girl with the abundance of hair.