Blog post by Melissa Caine
From the very beginning of my pregnancy I had complications but I carried on as normal, still working and looking after my three year old son. Then in July 2013 it all went wrong and I started contracting. I was so scared of what might happen, thinking that my baby was going to die and there wasn’t a thing I could do.
The next day, as the evening progressed so did the contractions again, this time I knew they weren’t like before so at about 11pm in the night on 23 July the doctor came and checked me over and said he had to take me down to a labour room.
I started to panic as I also had a cervical stitch which had to be removed, I told the doctor that if it actually was happening, I needed my husband, so I called him to come and be with me. It felt like forever as I was waiting for him, as he had to travel from High Wycombe to Oxford, but finally he made it.
I had a scan, and the doctor said “No Melissa, we aren’t waiting anymore.” I remember both me and husband sharing tears fearing the worst and being overwhelmed with the paediatric team who came in to see us and prepare an incubator for our little girl. At 3.50am on 24 July our daughter Gabriella Hope was born at 24 weeks gestation, weighing just 1lb 10oz. My heart sank, I felt guilty and so angry with myself, and I kept thinking “Why is this is happening to her.” But we knew that the doctors and nurses were going to do a damn good job of looking after our daughter.
They told us that the next 24 hours were crucial, and so we waited patiently. I had to stay over of course, and then a nurse asked me if I wanted to express some milk. I said “Well yeah, but isn’t it a bit early for all of that?” She said no and that it was the best thing for Gabriella at that point, so I did.
As the days turned into weeks and Gabriella was still with us we were so thankful, but as she was born so early there were so many things that a prem baby has to face. Gabriella had it all, PDA (Patent ductus arteriosus), apnoea , chronic lung disease, and I remember the consultant saying that she had the worst lungs he had seen for a long time. All that was in my mind was will she ever get better? What life would she have to face? She had a small bleed on the brain, she needed high levels of oxygen and ventilation, but as the weeks went on and she got a bit stronger, the day when we could finally hold her in kangaroo care came.
Words cannot describe how it made me feel! I had waited for five weeks just touching her little hands inside the incubator feeling so helpless, and I was struggling to express milk but I carried on because I knew that even a tiny drop would be better than none.
Gabriella then got taken off of the ventilator and was put on vapotherm and from there she then moved into high dependency from intensive care. After seven long weeks she got transferred to our local hospital. She was doing well, we were able do so much more for her and she was gaining weight. She was also being monitored for Retina Of Prematurity (ROP) as she had had an injection into her eyes already.
Next they started to talk about sending her home. I asked one of the doctors who looked after her who said that she would be home before her due date. I cried, tears dropped and the doctor smiled and said he hoped they were tears of joy. I roomed in with her for two nights thinking that we would get to take her a few days later but I had my bubble burst and she got transferred for an operation on her eyes and she spent a week because she had to have laser eye surgery for the ROP and had to be ventilated again. However, being a little fighter she made a quick recovery and soon returned to back nearer to home.
We roomed in for one more night then we bought her home on oxygen but hey that didn’t matter, as finally we got our little princess to ourselves. After five months of giving her my milk I stopped as I never had a good supply, but I knew I had given her the best start. Then, after just four weeks of being at home and having to take her to appointments she had to be re-hospitalized for RSV where she was ventilated again, and though we had started to wean her off the oxygen she had to go back on, which made me feel sick with worry yet again. However she got through it, and after a week she came home, a week before Christmas. Since then she has come off the oxygen completely and is now our brave heaven sent little princess who is now smiling which makes us smile. Being in that situation wasn’t easy but we had a good support network from family and friends and we cannot thank the nurses and doctors enough for taking care of our little girl.