“Reading the stories on the Bliss website helped me to feel less alone” - Jasmine’s story

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When Jasmine’s son Tobias was born at full-term during the pandemic, after a smooth pregnancy, she didn’t expect him to have to go to the NICU. Jasmine has kindly shared her story with us for Full-Term Awareness Month.

I was induced at 38+4 in August 2020 as my baby was predicted to be big. Despite having two pessaries, I was on the ward alone for six days as there were no visitors allowed due to Covid restrictions. The labour ward was too busy for me to have my waters broken.

My waters went on their own on the sixth day and I noticed my baby was not moving like he usually did and something felt wrong. I raised my concerns but wasn’t listened to. After asking all day, the midwives finally checked my pads and there was meconium so I was finally moved to labour ward.

When I was being monitored things escalated quickly. The baby and I were tachycardic and our heart rates were getting higher, so a doctor tried to break my waters but there was no fluid left. Our heart rates continued to increase, I had a temperature and the medical staff were not happy with the monitoring.

Various symptoms were recognised and we were put on the sepsis pathway. Gradually the room filled with people and they decided to do an emergency c-section.

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My son was born at 39+2, screaming and pink. He was briefly shown to me from a distance, and I was told that he was healthy with an Apgar of 10/10 and my partner went with him. Hours later in recovery, a neonatal doctor came to tell me that my son was in NICU as he was struggling to breathe and very sick.

I wasn’t able to see him until about 12 hours later. I was in recovery and they wheeled me into the NICU in my bed. When I saw him he was in an incubator on high flow and had lots of wires in him. I wasn’t able to hold him. That night he deteriorated further and was put on an oscillating ventilator so had to be paralysed and sedated.

He had a severe infection in his lungs and the next morning. We were woken by the doctor who told us that he had deteriorated since we had seen him a few hours before, and they were struggling to stabilise him. They put him on nitric oxide and this was the last thing they could try - they were preparing to transfer him to be put on an ECMO machine if the nitric didn’t work.

When we saw him he was so sick. They thought he might have a problem with his heart as it was like a washing machine. One of his lungs partially collapsed and his monitors were blaring all day. The consultant pulled me and my partner into his office to explain what was happening and that he was critical but stable. We couldn’t take it in. It was the worst day of my life.

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Thankfully he turned a corner the next day and he slowly improved. Gradually the various medications were stopped and he was taken off the nitric. He had to go back onto it and was weaned off again, and then was taken off the ventilator on about day nine. When his arterial line was out I was finally able to hold him which was a surreal experience.

When Tobias was stable enough, they did a lumbar puncture (it took three attempts over two days) and they confirmed that he had meningitis so would need a further two weeks of IV antibiotics. Eventually, we were moved from NICU to the high dependency unit and then moved to transitional care once he was taken off the high flow. We were finally discharged after 24 days (29 days for me due to the induction prior). They still don’t know what caused the infection but I suspect it was the lengthy induction.

It was a massive shock to me as I was at full-term, I had no complications in my pregnancy. It was completely unexpected. For a long time, I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone because everyone tries to relate as though they have been through something similar when they haven’t had a baby in NICU. Reading the stories on the Bliss website helped me to feel less alone.

Tobias is now 18 months and is the most perfect little human. Every day we are so thankful for the phenomenal NICU team University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire who saved Tobias and the support and kindness they showed us throughout.

I feel it’s so important to share these stories to give hope to families who may be going through something similar. Thank you Bliss, for all that you do in raising awareness and helping families feel less alone during some of their darkest times.

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