i have nothing better to do on christmas night, so i figured i would finally write out Ethans birth story like i had been meaning too for quite some time
My story starts on the 9th September 2011. Ben and I had just had an argument. He was insisting that it has been quite some time since my last period. I kept telling Ben that he was an idiot and had no idea what he was on about because I had only had my period a few weeks ago. The next day while at work I decided to buy some pregnancy tests. I remember thinking “I’ll prove him wrong!”. 6 tests later, 3 different brands and one very frazzled me, it turns out Ben was right. Every single one of those tests said positive. When the first test showed + I thought hmm maybe it could be wrong? I’ll try the other one in the morning. When that one showed + I thought hmm… maybe I’ll try a different brand? When BOTH of those showed + I thought you know what, I’ll try some digital tests… cause you know… surely one of them would have to be negative… 6 positive tests later and nope… I was definitely pregnant… ben and I had only 4weeks beforehand discussed our life plans for the next few years. We were due to be married in the following may, then we planned to move into our own house and then we were going to try for a baby. Yeah… that totally didn’t happen….
My GP sent me to get a dating scan done seeing as I had no idea when my last period was. My girlfriend who was also pregnant at the time had told me that depending on how far along I was, my baby might not “look” like a baby when I went for my ultrasound. She said that it might just look like a little blob. (We called the baby Blob until 20 weeks) we went for the ultrasound and the lady said the same thing. There may not be a heartbeat, the baby might look like a little sac, don’t worry, blah blah blah. She puts the ultrasound on and HELLO. Full baby. Arms, legs, fingers, toes, nose, heartbeat, everything. She then asks how far along I thought I was and I said MAYBE 3-4 weeks? She laughs and says Um, no. you are 11 weeks 6 days…. I remember seeing Ethans heartbeat, and that moment changed my life. I didn’t care what I had to do, I was going to do everything possible to bring this little surprise baby safely into my life.
The next day I was admitted to hospital. After having several blood and urine tests done, we discovered that this pregnancy was wreaking havoc with my diabetes. I was admitted for 3 weeks and 5 days to stabilise my blood sugar levels. I was having ultrasounds every 3rd day to check how my little blob was coming along, blood tests every 2 days to check hcg and god knows what else and ctg’s every day. I had a doctor come and tell me every day that we just didn’t know whether this little baby would make it. After almost 4 weeks in hospital, I was allowed home. Only for 3 weeks, after those 3 weeks I was admitted again for 7 weeks. My pregnancy caused me to be diagnosed with hypoglycaemic induced epilepsy. I had also become hypoglycaemic unaware. This meant that every time my bloody sugar dropped I had become unaware of the symptoms and I had no idea what was going on and every time it happened (which was several times daily at this point) my body would have an epileptic fit. This was dangerous not only for myself, but for my baby.
After 7 weeks in hospital, I was allowed home for another 3 weeks. During my entire pregnancy, I had also been having appointments twice a week with my endocrinologist. Every appointment they kept saying that my baby must be a strong little fellow because he was just not giving up. After 3 lovely weeks at home (in a new house might I add!! Ben had moved us into a new home while I had been in hospital!!) Taking me to 30 weeks of pregnancy, I was hospitalised once again. This time I wouldn’t be coming home with a baby still inside me. I was such a regular at the hospital by this stage that the tea lady that came around in the morning, afternoon and after dinner would already have my “order” ready before she got to my room LOL.
On the first of February 2012 my obstetrician came in and said that he was “sick of the sight of me” he had authorised for me to have a leave pass for the next day for 4 hours. He didn’t care what I did, but I was not to remain at the hospital for that time. He said he was pretty sure I was getting cabin fever and he was worried about my mental health. We had a bit of a chuckle and he left saying that he would see me when he started at 2pm the next day, but at around dinner time, I had said to my favourite Midwife, Leanne, that I really wasn’t feeling fell and that my blood sugar levels were just all over the place no matter what I did. She spoke to another Ob, my endocrinologist and some other specialist and they all decided they they would keep an eye on me for the next few days and would just wait and see what happened.
At about 4.30am on the 2nd February 2012 I woke up vomiting. I vomited 6 times between 4.30am and 7am. I felt like I had severe period pain and I had the shakes. Leanne was back for the morning shift on the 2nd and she arrived not long after 7.30am. I was sitting in my bed crying and rocking back and forth. She asked me what was wrong and I said that I felt like I had the worst period pain I had ever experienced. She gave me some pain relief and said she was going to go and find a CTG machine so we could see what was happening with Bub. She arrived back at 7.45am. I was hooked up to the CTG by 8am. Leanne kept coming back every 15mins or so and she kept shaking her head. By this stage, I knew how to read the CTG machines and I could tell that my baby wasn’t being picked up on the machine properly. He kept moving so the sensors couldn’t pick up his heart beat and movements properly. At 9.15 she told me that she had had enough of my baby being so stubborn. We had a bit of a giggle because Ethan HATED the CTG machines. Everyone else could have their readings done within 15 mins, but the quickest one I ever got a satisfactory reading from was one hour!
Leanne told me to get up, have a shower, have some brekkie and we would try again. I still had the pain and the pain relief was doing nothing. At 9.50am I was back on the CTG. At 10am Leanne walked in and looked at the trace paper. Her face went white and she turned around and walked out of the room. I screamed “LEANNE!!!! GET BACK HERE!!! WHAT DOES THAT FACE MEAN?!?!?!” she yelled back “I DON’T HAVE TIME TO TELL YOU, JUST STAY CALM!!!”.
By 10.20am there was a surgeon standing at the end of my bed prepping me for an emergency ceaser. After Leanne had called for the surgeon to come see me ASAP she had also called ben and told him he needed to get to the hospital straight away. Ben met us in the lift on the way to surgery; he made it with about 30 seconds to spare! Ben on his way in had also called my mum who lives an hour away and told her to get to the hospital as fast as she could. I was wheeled into surgery at 11am. I was told several times that the Drs would try their hardest, but they could not guarantee that my baby would survive. It took them 40 mins to do the epidural. I remember during my ceaser looking over to Ben who was beside me and saying “so much for the water birth I had said I would have liked”. Ben responded by saying “I can tip a cup of water on your head if you like!”. Ethan Lane Alexander Wise was born at 12.55pm on 2/2/12 at 33+2 weeks. Weight in at 2.735kg and 43cm long. As soon as they Pulled Ethan out, he let out a sneeze. I remember thinking “thank ****! He is alive”. But then he stopped breathing. He needed to be resuscitated twice. Ben was allowed to cut his cord and got one pic of Ethan before he was whisked off to the Nicu. My baby had been born, but I hadn’t been given the chance to even see him. I was stitched back up and was in recovery by 2.30. My mum had made it to the hospital and had been waiting for a few hours to come see me. As soon as she got to me, I told her to go and see Ethan. I told her that if I couldn’t see him, I wanted him to know that there was someone there that loved him, just in case he didn’t make it through. I was wheeled back to my room at 3.30. I had asked several nurses if my baby was okay but no one knew. My Obstetrician came to see me at this point and just shook his head. I remember him saying “I knew you were bored, but I didn’t think this would be how you made the day go by today!” I could have slapped him. He is probably extremely lucky that the epidural had me completely bedridden!!!
When I got back to my room, my step dad and my Mum were there waiting for me. My mum had some pics of Ethan on her camera. She told me that he was the most beautiful baby she had ever seen. I asked if he was okay and she said she didn’t really know. She told me that he had a machine (cPap) breathing for him and he had numerous tubes sticking in through his belly button, arms, legs, mouth and nose. Apparently the nurse’s wouldn’t tell her anymore because she was not next of kin. My mum and stepdad had to leave the hospital to travel home at about 5.30. Ben was still with Ethan in the NICU. He came back down around 6pm. He told me that Ethan had needed to be resuscitated another 4 times and that the machine was breathing for him 100%. He also told me that the nurses would be tube feeding him formula a) because he was hypoglycaemic b) because he was born without a suck reflex and c) I didn’t have any milk as of yet to feed him. I told him that I didn’t care; they could do whatever they had to to keep him alive. I waited for hours to go and see my baby. I didn’t get to go and see him until he was just under 12 hours old. 20 minutes past midnight on the 3/2/12 was the first time I got to see my son. I was told that I could look at him, but that was it. He was too sick for me to touch him or hold him. He was finally breathing all by himself and no longer needed the cpap at 4 days of age. He was 5 days old before I could touch him and 9 days old before I could hold him. He was jaundice at 10days of age and although you supposedly don’t go jaundice more than once, he went again at 15 days and again at 20days of age.
Ethan spent the first 6 weeks of his life in intensive care. Every day I arrived at the hospital at 7am and was kicked out between 10pm and midnight every night. I sat by his crib every second of every day. I was so scared that I was never going to bring my baby home. Ethan was 4 weeks old before we managed to give him his first “real” breastfeed. I had been expressing milk and he was on EBM 100% by this stage, but had never had a proper feed, it had all been done through his NGT tube. By 5 weeks of age, he was having alternate Tube/suck feeds. But because I couldn’t be at the hospital during the night time feeds, the nurses had been feeding Ethan his suck feeds in a bottle. I believe this also contributed to having so much trouble breastfeeding. Along with Ethan having reflux and being lactose intolerant, I really don’t think we stood a chance. I managed to express/breastfeed for 3 months.
After Ethan was born, they discovered that his umbilical cord had an infection in it. His umbilical cord was slowly killing my baby and that is why I had been feeling so sick for the 2 days before his birth. My Ob had said that if they didn’t pull him out when they did, by dinner time the day he was born I would have lost him. I am so lucky to have him here with me today, and I will never forget the kindness and generosity of the nurses, doctors and midwives who cared for both Ethan and I during my pregnancy and Ethan’s birth.