"Everything that I had planned was taken away from me" - Kaitlin's story

After a pregnancy with no issues, when Kaitlin gave birth to her full term baby, he unexpectedly needed care in NICU. Her son, Lleyton suffered a brain injury. Kaitlin tells the story of his birth, as well as the difficulties she and her family went through.

Attending the last scan appointment before giving birth brought me so much joy. I was so excited knowing I would soon have my little baby in my arms. Our boy was due on 24th December 2018, although we were booked in for a caesarean section on the 21st, as he was in the breech position. I knew this would be the safest way to deliver, so I left the hospital that day feeling joyful that we would be meeting him in a short while.

The next day, I received a phone call from the hospital to see if I would be okay to bring my C-section forward to the 19th, which I happily accepted. We knew we were having a little boy and we just couldn’t wait.

The morning of the 19th December arrived and there was so many emotions, we woke up at 5am and every minute that went past felt like a lifetime, 6.00am, 6.35am, 7.15am... time ticking on, while we waited in this little hospital room waiting to be called through.

It then hit 9am and my phone was blowing up with good luck messages. Eventually, a lovely nurse took us to the clinical room, then the theatre room, and we were told about the procedure and what would happen after the baby had arrived. I was getting my cannula fitted into my hand and I started to feel a bit nervous. The excitement was wearing off a bit, as I realised what I was just about to go through.

We were all set and ready to go; one of the nurses in theatre stood by my side the whole time and my boyfriend at the other side. The next minute, I heard: "oh we have hair" - my baby was here!

He was born and came out with the biggest cry in the world, then nothing... silence.

I could tell by everyone’s reaction that something wasn’t right. My boyfriend went over to see his son, our baby Lleyton. At the same time, I could feel my eyes closing, my neck felt numb, I was drifting in and out.

In amongst everything, I could hear the nurses talking to each other about how my baby wasn’t doing great. They thought he had some gunk in his lungs and he was struggling to breathe. They buzzed for some assistance, and he was then taken away in a little incubator.

The only words I heard as he was passing by was "can you see him? He’s beautiful!", but I couldn’t see a thing. Everything was blurry, I didn’t feel good, and I had a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that wouldn’t shift. He got wheeled away.

I got propped up onto a bed and wheeled into the recovery unit. My pulse was through the roof and machines were beeping. I was still trying to process what had just happened, it wasn’t the outcome I ever expected.

My baby boy, Lleyton, was born at 15.38 on 19th December 2018. It was now 5pm and I still hadn’t seen my son and didn't even know what he looked like. My mum had seen him up in the neonatal unit, with permission from my boyfriend and the doctors. My boyfriend was back and forth, telling me that Lleyton was doing well and that his breathing was being maintained.

I managed to get my pulse to a normal kind of standard, the "normal level of high" and eventually at 6.30pm, I went up to see my baby boy... only to be hit in the face with the biggest bombshell of my life.

I could see loads of nurses around this tiny incubator. I was then stopped by a doctor, and I suddenly had the words "seizure", "brain", "abnormal movement" and "meningitis" all whizzing through my head. The doctors' mouths were moving, but I couldn’t hear anything. I was speechless.

Everything that I had planned was taken away from me. First planned baby outfit, first family photo, skin-to-skin. I didn’t get to experience any of it. I was taken in to see him and he was so small in this incubator, covered in wires. I couldn’t really focus much, it was dark, lights were flashing, monitors where beeping. A nurse handed me a little blue cloth in the shape of a baby and told me to keep it by my side.

My world fell apart and I was still unaware of what was going on. I was left with all these unanswered questions in my mind. I left the neonatal unit confused, weak and upset. How did this happen? I had no problems at all with my pregnancy.

I had a suitcase full of baby clothes, nappies and blankets, but I didn’t want any of it. I didn’t want to be reminded of the fact that I was alone, isolated in a room by myself, with a baby bag. I should be ecstatic, but instead the only thought going through my mind was that my baby was in another ward in a complete different part of the hospital. I had nurses giving me injections into my stomach to prevent blood clots, but that didn't phase me. I was tired, hungry, drained, physically heartbroken and numb. I got wheeled into a little room, everyone left and I was alone. I cried and cried and cried.

My phone was going off the hook with messages: "is he here?", "well done", "congratulations". I couldn’t be bothered with any of it. All I wanted was to see my baby. But instead, I was alone in a room eight hours after a C-section, couldn't move, couldn't stand, couldn't sleep or eat.

At around midnight, I decided enough was enough, I wanted to see my boy. I didn’t even have a clue what he looked like. I buzzed and asked if I was able to go down and see him. Having to ask to see your own baby was surreal and painful.

The nurse that came to assist me was brilliant and the support I had from her was really what I needed at that time. Going back into NICU felt so strange. It was dark and quiet, monitors were still beeping, but in a little incubator all cosied up was my precious baby. He was on a CPAP machine (a machine that increased air pressure to his throat, so that his airway wouldn't collapse when he breathed in).

He was so perfect. I felt a sense of relief and felt like a mum for the first time.

Lleyton had multiple tests and seizures and it was just a waiting game on results. After the longest two days, we were able to share our first cuddle. The connection was amazing. The love was getting stronger by the day, as was he, his seizures reduced down.

Lleyton was diagnosed with being born with a subdural hematoma (SDH), a type of bleeding in which a collection of blood - in this case, associated with a traumatic brain injury - where blood collects between the skull and the surface of the brain. He spent his first Christmas in hospital, but he progressed so much that we were able to dress him and change him. We could also feed him.

It began to feel real and we felt like parents, after not being able to do anything but sit by his bedside and look at him.

The doctors explained that Lleyton would be monitored throughout his life until the age of two. They said there may be a few complications, such as not being able to roll over, crawl, sit up, walk or even talk.

Lleyton is now two years old, he has met all of his milestones, he can walk, run and jump. He loves to play football and is a crazy toddler with the most infectious smile.

He has been signed off by his doctors and team and has officially graduated. We are overwhelmed with how well he has come on, he has smashed every obstacle in front of him. He is a superstar!