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World Prematurity Day

Hannah shares with us an unexpected surprise on the babymoon, their NICU Journey and a few tips and tricks.

 

In April 2015, my husband, Richard, and I decided to go away on Easter Sunday to Auckland for a babymoon.  I was 32 weeks pregnant, the HG had finally ended, I was feeling good, and we thought it might be our last holiday for a while.

That night, after we finished eating our Easter chocolate and were about to fall asleep, my waters broke in the hotel bed.  I had no idea what to do, I asked my Facebook Due Group who all told me to call my midwife.  I felt terrible ringing her at 11.30pm on a Sunday night but it was the right call because she sent us straight up to Auckland City Hospital. 

The next 12 hours were filled with steroid injections, pills, checks and contractions.  Our wee boy was in a hurry to see us and at 12.20pm (at 31 + 4 gestation), Regan was born.

This began our NICU journey.

I never expected to have a premature baby – the thought never crossed my mind.  While I was in labour, I wasn’t worried about my baby (because a Huggies email told me that from 30 weeks most baby’s would survive if they were born early), but I don’t think the reality sank in until after we graduated from NICU. 

We were in Auckland with an overnight bag and that was it.  Mum brought up a bag of things (I was incredibly organised, my hospital bag was ready to go!) but this definitely taught me how little we really need when we give birth. 

Regan was an incredibly healthy child considering his gestation.  He was on CPAP (oxygen) for the first few days and then he was breathing on his own.  He was tube fed for the first few weeks of his life with me expressing 7 times a day for weeks.  My experience at Auckland City was incredible – the team were amazingly supportive, they helped me hand express colostrum in the first few days, got us sorted at Ronald McDonald House, and let us lead Regan’s care.

After 9 days at Auckland City Hospital, a bed became available at Waikato.  Regan and I got a helicopter ride (him in an incubator) to be transferred, while Richard drove all our stuff back home.  It was an adjustment – the way things are done at Waikato is definitely different to Auckland, but our babe continued to receive excellent care throughout his stay. 

 

Having a baby in NICU is definitely a unique experience.  Coming home after giving birth but not bringing a baby with you is really shit. You see the bassinette made up, all the things ready to go, and you don’t get to use them.  Getting up at 3am to pump milk for your baby, and not having him there to nurse, was shit.  Having to let other people look after your baby and leave him there every night to come home without him was shit.

But there were definitely positives.  We have had an extra 8 weeks with our wee boy than we expected.  We were so looked after by family and friends, food was delivered, teeny tiny premature clothes were bought, and people checked in with us all the time.  We spent a lot of time with other families in NICU, and for many of them, their journey was different because their little one had health complications.  We were forever thankful for the journey we had. 

After 6 weeks in NICU, we got to bring Regan home.  He’s now 6 years old and you would never know he was prem.  He’s healthy, smart, cheeky, inquisitive, loving and an absolute light in our lives … he’s also a great big brother to Hadley and Maddie!

Having your waters break at a hotel on your babymoon is definitely not something I would recommend, but it’s our story, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

 

Thoughts and tips for NICU:

Remember that you are the parent, you know your baby best.  We wrote up a schedule and stuck it to Regan’s bassinette and that helped the staff know when to expect us each day and what we were doing. 

Ask for help. Your focus is on your baby in NICU – if someone offers to cook a meal, take it.  Food is needed to keep you going, but it’s the last thing you’ll have energy for.

If you are going to breastfeed, get a pump you love.  You’ll be using it a lot at the beginning to help establish breastfeeding until your little one is strong enough to suck.

If you need support, the Neonatal Trust have an amazing team to help you out along the way … you don’t have to do it alone.

 

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