Kelly and Dave were not expecting to spend the first few weeks of their son's life in hospital. It can be an incredibly difficult time for parents, but Kelly remembers every second of it....
13 May: My fiancé Dave and I find out we are expecting our baby boy, I cried with happiness, but it was also a bit of a shock as it was much sooner than we’d anticipated.
19 May: I quit smoking cold turkey, and never look back
21 October: Today is time for my 28 week scan. I have had a remarkably easy pregnancy up until now, except for a small bleed a couple of weeks ago. I’ve had no morning sickness and no aches or pains. The doctor said all is well, but he is a little low weight so I will need to come back in a couple of weeks.
21 October, later that day: On my way home I call into a few shops looking for bits for our baby and start to feel uncomfortable, but I thought it was just my little man getting comfy. I get home, sit down and my waters break. We rush to the hospital and I am put on a drip to stop labour and given steroid injections to help our little boy’s lungs.
23 October, 9.00pm: Dave, my mum and my best friend have all gone home and I have been taken off the drip. I start getting pains so am given some paracetamol, and later on some codeine and a sleeping pill.
24 October, 7.30am: I can’t take the pain anymore and ring for a nurse. I am monitored and taken to a labour suite. Suddenly there are three midwives and a doctor in my room and I hear the words “You’re fully dilated, we need to get this baby out.”
24 October, 8.33am: Our baby boy, Jackson, is born weighing 2lb 4oz at 28 weeks and three days gestation. I was obviously in total shock and alone as Dave had gone home to freshen up and get ready for work. I got to see a quick peek at Jackson before he was whisked away to NICU. It was then two and a half hours before Dave and I got to meet him properly for the first time.
25 October: Today I was able to have my first cuddle with my baby and it was the most amazing feeling I have ever experienced in my life.
26 October: While I am expressing my baby boy is having an x-ray. Afterwards I am told that his abdomen is badly extended. There is a hole somewhere but they need to do an operation to find out where. Without this operation – well, it’s just not worth thinking about.
26 October, later that day: My baby has to be transferred to another hospital, which luckily is only a twenty minute drive away. I go in the ambulance and my mum follows in a taxi with our bags. Dave meets us there.
27 October, 9.00am: We say goodbye to our little warrior as he goes to theatre at two days and 27 minutes old. The next few hours are horrible. We took peace in the fact that he didn’t know anything was wrong, the doctors had picked up on it before he felt anything.
27 October, 11.45am: We finally get the call to say he's out of theatre. We race to see him and are told that there was a spontaneous bowel perforation which they cut away and the two ends of his bowel are left on the outside of his body to enable his bowel to heal. This is called an ileostomy. Until its closure our little boy has to empty his bowels into a stoma bag. Dave is still working full time so it’s up to me to learn how to properly care for him. It’s weird not changing dirty nappies!
17 November: Over the past few weeks we have developed a routine. I take my insulin, eat, express and spend every other minute with Jackson – where else would I be? He has surpassed everyone’s expectations. Today he is taken off CPAP (mild air pressure to keep airways open).
19 November: Jackson is moved to the low dependency bay, and we start the countdown to be moved from the incubator to a cot – he just needs to maintain his temperature.
21 November: Jackson no longer has his own personal roof! Our little warrior is going from strength to strength.
2 December: He had his first bath today and loved it! He is finally free of most of the wires and tubes.
11 December: We fed him from a bottle for the first time and he enjoyed every drop – they’re talking about us going home soon.
12 December: I get home at a stupid hour and try and get a couple of hours sleep before preparing the house. When I get back there’s a lovely note in my diary. “Mummy I was a good boy when you popped home for the night. I took all my bottle, it was yummy. But then what a trick I played on Julia, I let my bag leak all over my clothes so Julia had to put on a new bag for me and clean clothes, and then I promptly fell to sleep. Love Jackson.” Little things like this are what make times like this worth all the heart ache and stress of not knowing anything.
13/14/15 December: I am spending time in one of special rooms in the hospital, which make the transition home a bit easier.
16 December: It’s time for Jackson’s eye test. If he passes this we can go home. I'm nervous and extremely emotional because of the thought of finally going home with my baby. The suspense kills me, but it turns out to be one of the best days of my life as we get the all clear to go home! We leave hospital, when Jackson would have been 36 weeks gestation. It took a bit of time to get used to no beeping monitors, no nurses being there, but we still had check-ups.
2 February: We arrive at the hospital for Jackson’s ileostomy closure surgery. I had to hand him over to a nurse to get ready for theatre. The wait was agonizing. When I see him again I start crying, he was puffy from the liquids they had given him and he looked so different.
3 February: In the paediatric critical care unit Jackson has an MRSA swab.
5 February: We are moved to a normal children's ward with a baby bay. We get talking to the parents of the little girl in the bed next to Jackson as their daughter has just had the same surgery. We slowly get him feeding again
6 February: Jackson does his first poop – I was so excited, I almost cried with joy. We just needed to get his feeds back up to normal and we can go home.
9 February: The results of the MRSA swabs come back positive for skin colonies, and we are moved to a side room. We are given medication to treat it and told we can go home.
10 February: We are finally discharged from hospital for the last time. The relief of not having to go back to stay is the best news ever and we’re so happy.
26 March: He weighs in at 11lb.
Now: Jackson is doing fantastic after everything he’s been through and going from strength to strength. I have started weaning him and he is thoroughly enjoying trying new things, from Rusk’s to banana porridge to pureed fruit.
During our time at hospital we met with the local Bliss worker. She was lovely and answered any questions I had, gave me booklets to read to help with making everything easier in understanding Jackson’s treatment.
I cannot thank all the staff involved with helping Jackson grow and overcome his operation enough, I owe them the world and more, without whom I may not now be a mum.
If you are affected by any of the issues in this post, you can call the Bliss helpline for support or alternatively if you would like to share your story with Bliss, please email firstname.lastname@example.org