What Jack taught us

What Jack Taught Us
What Jack Taught Us 

Amanda had battled through IVF and an incompetent cervix; giving birth at only 24 weeks pregnancy. Baby son Jack had waged his own battles; winning the fight to meet his parents, even for just a very short time.

Amanda had battled through IVF and an incompetent cervix; giving birth at only 24 weeks pregnancy. Baby son Jack had waged his own battles; winning the fight to meet his parents. Jack lived for 26 precious days.

Less than 24 hours later, our Jack was gone.

Amanda shares the story of how Jack taught his parents to live life to the fullest, and how much impact the short life of a tiny baby could have on those who knew him.From the day that Mark and I met, we knew that we wanted to be together forever. We were soon talking about kids. "I want a big family!" Mark told me, and that was just what I wanted too. We were engaged within six months, and were married a year after the engagement.

We put our plans to start a family on fast track, and had started trying for a baby six months before the wedding. We hoped to announce a pregnancy on our wedding day. The first six months of married life came and went. I couldn't understand why I still hadn't fallen pregnant. My cycle was like clockwork. All of my friends seemed to fall at the drop of a hat. After the cycle in January, I was convinced it hadn't worked, and I was a blubbering mess. I was offered an amazing opportunity in Mackay (my home town)... I decided to take the position.

The next day I had my pregnancy test and Oh My God! I was pregnant! I turned down the position in Mackay as I just wanted to concentrate on having a restful, stress free pregnancy.Mark and I were overjoyed!  It had worked first go! When the time came for the six-week scan, I was sure something was wrong, but all was fine; a healthy little bubba on the screen! I bawled with happiness and relief.I started spotting in week eight, and again in weeks nine and ten. But again, the scans showed that all was okay.

My Nuchal Translucency scan went great; a very tired little bub slept through the entire scan, and even rolled over and stuck his bum out at us! I was in love...At 19 weeks I went to the toilet to find a smear of brown on the toilet paper. Petrified, I phoned the clinic. Although they reassured me that all was okay, I wanted to go in for a scan. Lucky I did! I was two centimetres dilated, and I was diagnosed then and there with an incompetent cervix.

An emergency cerclage was placed a couple of hours later. I was on hospital bed rest for three days then sent home on bed rest with toilet privileges! My mum flew down to look after me.  A week later I felt something wet and was sure my waters had broken. A test showed negative for amniotic fluid, and so it was thought I was just incontinent due to the medication I was on to prevent pre-term labour.I had my 20-week scan and found I was having a little boy! But my joy was again short-lived when they informed me that there was only 4cm of fluid around the entire baby. I was rushed to hospital straight from the sonographers office.

Every one was confident that all was okay. The baby wasn't in distress and sometimes the fluid is just low.Three weeks after that, a bleed had me rushing back to hospital. I was told that all was well and was sent home again. I was home for an hour and started getting pains. I thought I was constipated cause that was what the pains felt like! I called the delivery suite and they told me it just sounded like wind pain and not to worry about it. But when it started getting worse and more regular Mark decided he was taking back to the hospital and making them admit me!

By the time I got to the hospital (45 minutes away) the contractions were two minutes apart and I was screaming. Sure enough I was in labour; a labour that was to go on for 26 hours. I was devastated! The baby was only at a gestation of 24 weeks and two days. They administered steroids and some more medication to stop the labour. I was transferred by Ambulance to Nepean Hospital. Everything settled down overnight, until about 11am when the pains started to return.

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At about 12 noon they tried to get me to sit in a wheel chair to go for a scan. But I couldn't physically sit and I couldn't understand why. They put me back on the bed and took me up the sonographer. When we got there I was still having slight pains! The probe went on my belly and the sonographer went white, calling out to the nurse. Jack (our little boy) was already in my vagina... he was coming now ready or not! I was rushed back to delivery and the room filled with equipment for him and eight medical staff for Jack and two for me!

As soon as they put me up in stirrups that was it... I felt him! They didn't even get a chance to remove the suture! Two pushes and fourteen minutes later Jack was born... no drugs! He was quickly worked on and whisked away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.I got to see him about three hours later. He was a tiny 731gm! But oh so perfect and he was doing really well! The next day they did all the tests and everything came back perfect.

On day three after Jacks birth my milk came in with a vengeance! I was sore and was having to hand express to try and get some relief. Within a few feeds I was on the pump and it made a world of difference. Jack started on breast milk when he was four days old; 1ml every two hours, which slowly increased as he got bigger and healthier. 

Breast milk is optimal food for premmies.  I was told that my body knew that my baby had come early and that I was making different milk to a full term mum. My milk changed each week or so as my body knew Jack was getting bigger and needed different nutrients.  The nurses tried to use my fresh milk as much as possible but I still ended up with a freezer full of milk within three weeks.

Although I couldn't hold Jack I always had my hands in his crib giving him cuddles as best I could. I always did his cares (washing his eyes and mouth, and changing his bum.)

Mark and I spent as much time as possible with him. Gently, we would talk to him; he always knew it was us and he would turn his head in our direction.He was a right little terror, always giving the nurses a hard time.  He constantly pulled on his feed and breathing tubes, to the point that one day he actually got his feed tube out halfway through a feed and got breast milk all through the crib (we thought it was funny but the nurses didn't!)

On a Saturday when he was 24 days old, the doctors told us that he was doing so unbelievably well that they were starting to wean him off the ventilation, and were hoping to have him on CPAP (Assisted Breathing machine - not ventilation) by the following Tuesday or Wednesday. He had no drips attached to him at this stage, just his feed and breathing tubes. He was so playful and active that day.  He had a beautiful little blue gown on which just made him look so gorgeous. Everyday we were falling more and more in love with him!The next morning I did his cares, and while changing his nappy I found that one of his testes were red and swollen. 

It was later discovered that he had a double testicular hernia where two parts of his bowel had slipped into his scrotum. The parts that had slipped inside had died and caused an infection to go straight through him. He had developed necrotising enterocolitis.

Less than 24 hours later, our Jack was gone.J ack passed away on a Monday, with Mark and me by his side. He was 26 days old. Jack.R.Webber (19/07/2007 - 13/08/07). As hard as this journey has been for us, I wouldn't change anything! We were lucky to have 26 days with our little angel. We could have lost him so many times during my pregnancy, but he was determined to meet us before he left... and he did!

For such a tiny person that was here for such a short amount of time, he has impacted so many lives! He has inspired us to live our lives to the fullest, and made us realise what is really important... not money or success, but family.

Now we are back on the journey to conceive another baby. I started a quick cycle (flare cycle before Mark and me moved to Mackay in November to be with my family.

I know that our precious little Jack is going to send us his little brother or sister very, very soon!

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Amanda's journey through Assisted Conception

Finally we went to an obstetrician in Kogarah (Sydney), who was amazing. But none of the tests showed a problem with Mark or myself. We tried Clomid for six months but still nothing. We were referred to IVF Australia and Professor Chapman. (Our saviour) Professor Chapman ran a few more tests and couldn't see any reason for us not falling so we moved straight on to IUI.

Every cycle went smoothly; I consistently produced follicles, and  'washed samples' were all of great quality... but after five IUI cycles, still no pregnancy.

We decided to take a break and buy our first home (we thought the distraction may help)

Six months down the track I was ready to move to IVF. But by this time, it was late October (2006) and there wasn't enough time for a full Down Reg Cycle so we decided to try a flare... I was so excited! But it wasn't to be I stimmed on 150IU for 14 days only to produce 3 follies, so they cancelled and tried IUI but no good another BFN! (Big Fat Nothing!)

I started another cycle in January 2007 a Long down Reg on 300IU Gonal F... and it went perfectly 19 follies on CD 12... EPU 13 eggs, 9 mature, 4 fertilised but only one made it to Transfer... 

Amanda

Discuss issues surrounding premature birth with other parents of premmies in the Babies Born Early forum. Links to previous Feature Member stories can be found in the Feature Member forum.

Compiled by Anni Taylor 2008