The six hours that changed my life - Andy's story

Andy's Story Hero

Within hours of attending his wife's routine 28 week check-up, Andy met his daughter for the first time. Here he remembers those first six hours that changed his life forever.

We cut a deal: I will love, guard and protect her to the ends of earth. I’ll do everything in my power to ensure her safety. All she’s got to do is fight so that she can meet Mummy and get better.

“We need to deliver this baby today”

Seven words that completely rocked my life and I will never, ever forget.

We’d been to our midwife for a 28 week check-up and Amy had shown a significant amount of protein in her urine. The baby’s measurements were also coming up short.

1.00pm: “We’re just going to pop you down to the hospital for a check-up scan. You know, just to make sure all is ok.”

At this point, they knew exactly how our day was going to pan out… but we had no idea. Amy was panicking and on the verge of tears all the way to the hospital. By the time we got there, her blood pressure was critically high.

2.30pm: “We’re going to take you downstairs and admit you. That way we can observe you for 24 hours.”

We both started to panic now and I tried my level best to show no sign of distress. After all, we were just in for observation. No big deal, right?

3.00pm: “We need to deliver this baby today. You’re going to have an emergency caesarean section, we know the baby is early but we have no choice.”

Amy was in tears and her already critical blood pressure was increasing by the minute. At this point I’m in a cold sweat, trying to suppress any emotion I can. I’m Dad, I’m doting husband, I can’t get hysterical - my wife needs me. The best thing I can do here is stay calm, listen to the professionals, and support Amy.

She is wheeled off to theatre, having been a human pin cushion for an hour or so. I’m told I can’t go in until she’s prepped. I’m left on my own waiting in the corridor. Standing in that silent corridor, with no one around, I have never felt more alone in my life. The solitude is overwhelming. I pace up and down making some feeble attempt to work this whole situation out. I’m a planner, I like to be in control.

Various staff members walk past me and smile but don’t engage me in conversation. They know the situation I’m in, they’ve seen it before. There is a very real risk I could lose both my wife and daughter today, Thursday 3 July 2014.

Now Amy is out of sight, I finally show an emotion. I can now, right? The masculine thing to do is to not show your negative emotions to anyone but yourself. At that precise moment, no one needs me… but me.

I shed tears, ask the inevitable “why?” question and then pull myself together.

I begin dialling. My Mum and Dad, Amy’s Mum and Dad then finally, my boss.

“I won’t be in for a few days, bit of a problem with the pregnancy”. My American boss is probably a little surprised by the British stiff upper lip attitude.

4.00pm: “Andy. You can come in now, we’re ready.”

I sit in theatre while our daughter is delivered. We don’t get to see her before she’s whisked off to be worked on. Reality check: my wife seems to be ok, but I don’t know if my daughter is alive, and if she is, whether she’ll make it.

4.30pm: “Would you like to come and see your little girl? I must warn you though, there’s a lot of medical equipment and you can only come for a quick look, we need to work on her”.

“You just try and stop me” I said.

I walk in and there is my little girl, in a plastic bag (for warmth). We look at each other and hold hands. My heart completely melts. I’m in love, again! She’s wheeled off to special care.

It’s explained to me that they will transfer her to another hospital, as the one we are in can’t take her due to bed space. This day is now beginning to become white noise, things I’m told have started to go in one ear and out the other. I was only meant to be going out on a bike ride this afternoon.

The cavalry arrives: Amy’s parents get there and I feel I can breathe. The strangling hands of the day round my neck release a little.

Even rocks need other rocks for support.

As the hours go by, we wait nervously. Amy’s high as a kite on morphine and I’m pacing around, making cups of tea that go cold.This repeats maybe 15 times. I get pretty good at making hospital tea.

7.15pm: “She’s stable and the lines are in. Do you want to come and see her? We’ve still got more to do though.”

I go to see our daughter with Amy’s Mum and Dad. We spend five minutes and then very thoughtfully, both parents and nurses all leave the room to give me and my daughter five minutes alone.

We have a very important chat.

I explain that although she hasn’t met her mummy yet, she’s a bit busy getting better, but she is desperate to get to her. I explain that it’s going to be a very long and rocky road but I will always be at her side, rain or shine.

We cut a deal: I will love, guard and protect her to the ends of earth. I’ll do everything in my power to ensure her safety. All she’s got to do is fight so that she can meet Mummy and get better. We shake hands (of sorts) both buoyed by our arrangement. We also talk about other things that will forever remain between an exhausted father and his little girl.

I go back to find Mummy and let the team work on little one. Eventually, at 1.00am, our daughter leaves. This is the moment I’ve been so desperate for, Mummy gets to meet her daughter. Unfortunately, Mummy had a morphine hit 20 minutes before so is away with the fairies.

I’m gutted.

Gutted because I know she won’t remember this moment and we don’t know if our baby will survive the first night. It would be too much to bear if she didn’t make it and Mummy can’t remember ever meeting her daughter.

I spend the night at Amy’s bedside, electing not to go with our daughter. We have a late night cup of tea together (well, I have tea, she has her allocated 20ml of water) and I kiss her on the forehead as she drifts off to sleep.

We wait for news….

Eliza is now a bubbly, healthy one year old, and is home from hospital. Visit the Bliss website again next week to hear from Amy, Eliza’s mum, as she shares her experience.

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