An extremely early arrival - Ffion's story

Ffion's Story Hero

Ffion's son, Oliver, was born just before 24 weeks, facing many ups and downs during his stay in three different hospitals.

At 22 weeks, I suffered a huge bleed and was told that I would miscarry my baby that night. My partner was away at work and I had to call him to break the news and ask him to come home. We were absolutely devastated, in denial and determined to prove the doctors wrong.

We didn’t even know it was possible to miscarry so late into a pregnancy and couldn’t believe how quickly things seemed to have changed for us. It wasn’t long since we had our 20 week scan and had been told everything was perfect. Now, the doctors said they had no hope for us. We felt so isolated and alone.

I was placed on strict hospital bed rest and was told that if I somehow made it to 23 weeks, I would be transferred somewhere with a level 3 neonatal unit an hour and a half away from home. We didn’t care about the distance – we just wanted our baby to be ok.

During those terrible three weeks, my partner never left my side. He did everything for me, even helping me wash. Thankfully I made it to 23 weeks and we were transferred. It was the most terrifying journey of our lives. As soon as we arrived at the new hospital we felt safe, even though our baby was far from safe and every hour that passed was crucial.

I was given a bed in the labour ward where our baby’s heart rate was monitored hourly. Unfortunately, his heart rate was moving lower and lower down my body so we knew it was only a matter of time before delivery.

After 13 days on bedrest, our baby boy was born by natural delivery at 23+5 days. Our Oliver weighed a tiny 575g. There were three doctors, three nurses and two midwives present at the birth as well as Oliver’s dad.

As soon as he arrived, Oliver was immediately rushed away from us and they worked on him in the corner of the room. I remember my partner blocking my view from what was happening. I later found out that Oliver was making no effort to breathe and that it took them five minutes to get a pulse. As the doctors checked me over, a nurse said they were taking our baby to the unit. All I could do was blow him a kiss as he passed us.

For four hours, my partner and I sat in a room not knowing what had happened to our baby. We didn’t say a word to each other the entire time. We knew that our baby was extremely sick and that he only had a 15 per cent chance of survival.

When we were finally allowed to visit, I remember thinking about how tiny he was. He was bright red and his fingers, toes and eyes were still fused together. He was attached to all sorts of tubes and wires because he was simply not ready to be here yet. At that moment in time we felt totally heartbroken.

On day three, Oliver took a turn for the worst. We were advised to call our family in to say goodbye to him and to get him christened. We refused because we were not giving in. Our boy was strong and started to get better.

Oliver’s dad kept telling me that as long as we hear the word “stable” we would get through the day. He was my rock from beginning to end and I’d have never been able to cope without his positive attitude.

There were many ups and downs along the way. My partner still had to work and I would sit by my son’s side for 14 hours a day and during the night. It was a very lonely experience. Luckily, I made friends through the Ronald McDonald housing where I was staying. We were all going through the same thing so we were able to support each other. On the weekend, my partner would travel up from London to Wirral and we would sit with Oliver together and tell him we’d make it through this as a family. I felt safest when we were all there together.

We lived in three different hospitals for four months. Transfers were always terrifying and it would always take some time to adjust to our new surroundings. We’d also have to get used to the new members of staff and the other parents on the unit.

Whilst in neonatal care Oliver battled many infections, a brain bleed, a heart murmur, Stage III ROP and chronic lung disease. Eventually, our strong boy came home on oxygen after 125 days in hospital.

We were so afraid to take Oliver home because he had been so well looked after in hospital. We were first time parents so felt pretty clueless and didn’t want to let him down. We were so scared to lose the monitors because they assured us that he was ok.

Our experience in neonatal care was the toughest thing we’ve ever gone through and we can’t thank the medical staff enough for what they’ve done for him. Our friends and family were another huge support and we are so grateful for those who endured three hour journeys to come and see us.

Oliver is now 16 months old and the most perfect baby. People who meet him now cannot believe how far he has come and that he has no long term health complications. He is our precious miracle and we count our lucky stars daily.

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