My 24 weeker - Paul's story

Paul And Dalton's Story Hero

Dalton was born at 24 weeks and one day. Here, his father Paul remembers how he fought his way through the multiple health problems in the days, weeks and months before he was able to come home.

Our lives turned upside down from that moment. Just when we had thought things had started to turn and he had started to improve, something else went wrong.

Our son was born at 24 weeks and one day. It was heart breaking to see the size of him, for me and his mum, Keeley, weighing in at 666 grams, my first thought was “there is no way can he survive”.

There were emotions like I’d never felt before. We lived in the hospital for about two and a half months until he was out of danger, our lives just stopped. Nothing mattered except our son.

After the first week he started getting very sick and his tummy was swelling up quite badly. It was thought he had an infection in his tummy so he was given antibiotics. Nothing changed, he just got worse. We had a call one morning to meet the surgeon immediately. He explained the problem and said that Dalton had to go for surgery immediately to have any chance of surviving. We were told that one in five babies survive the operation, but that if he didn't have it he would die anyway.

He was diagnosed with necrotising enterocolitis. He was left with a stoma, which we had to get our heads around. Scans were done on Dalton, then the bad news started all over again just when we thought we had got through the worst. A scan showed he had a hole in his heart, bleeding on the brain and chronic lung disease. And that was just the beginning.

Our lives turned upside down from that moment. Just when we had thought things had started to turn and he had started to improve, something else went wrong. He had infection after infection from his intravenous lines. Luckily the bleeding on his brain was not getting any worse, it turned out to be a blood vessel that cleared up on its own.

At least Dalton made good progress when he came off the ventilator. He went straight onto continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), then straight onto high flow and eventually low flow.

Then Dalton had his eyes tested, and that wasn't good news either. He had retinopathy of prematurity Stage 3 and needed an operation to save his sight before things got worse. Thankfully the operation was successful and something had gone right.

But the doctors also found out that Dalton's adrenal glands were not working and he had to start hydrocortisone medicine as he wasn't producing enough cortisol in his body. His tummy started to swell again. His testicles and penis disappeared -- another infection. Once that was sorted and the swelling had gone down we were told he had two hernias and needed to be operated on again. Dalton was taken to theatre to have his stoma reversed and his hernias sorted at the same time. After the operation for his stoma, which was successful, one of the hernia operations wasn't, so a week later he had to have another one. Thankfully it was successful.

At last things started looking good. Dalton was improving and putting on some weight as he could now have milk. Then a big surprise -- the day we went to see him and he came off oxygen.

He had been born in February and in August we finally started preparing for him to come home, including learning about all his medication that we would have to give him.

In September we brought our little miracle home and things just got better, day by day. It would take pages to write everything we went through, the emotions and feelings, the ups and downs and the heart breaks, but parents who have been through this will understand. No matter how tough you think you are it can almost break you.

Our advice to parents with premature babies is don't ever give up. These little ones are a lot stronger than you think. Our son Dalton is now as normal as any baby. He is our hero.

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