Four and a half years on from my son, Torin's, rather rude entry into the world, I have decided to share our wee story as I can remember how much it helped me to break out of my bubble and feel much less isolated (be it only for a few seconds) by reading other people's stories. Anyway, here goes.
It was early morning mid July 2014, I was 28 weeks pregnant and I was supposed to be leaving for work. We have a farm with cattle, horses and sheep. I also train horses and teach people to ride more thoughtfully! This morning I had a lesson but really wasn't feeling very great so I decided to cancel it. My 11 year old daughter was on her summer holidays, thankfully, so was with me.
An hour passed and I was feeling worse, baby was doing loop da loop in my stomach and I was now also sure I was starting to get contractions, but how could that be? I decided to phone the doctor, he told me that it was probably just braxton hicks. After another hour or so with a concerned 11 year old, my symptoms were worsening, so I decided to phone the hospital maternity ward... They had a fit...I was to get there ASAP and if I needed to phone the ambulance, I wasn't to hesitate in doing so... My daughter packed my bag... Don't know what I thought but I insisted on her packing newborn nappies and baby clothes... As it stands I think it was 5 weeks later that I actually got to put clothes on Torin!
We got ten minutes into our hour long journey before the ambulance had to get us. They were absolutely brilliant!
In our area, we are right on the border line for being sent to the BGH instead of the ERI, so the ambulance took us there.
Torin was born ten minutes after we arrived, backside first, while his sister ate cake in the midwives staff room!
The thing I remember the most was the silence when he was born. He made no sound and the staff all went quiet and disappeared with him. As I sat there feeling more than a little shell shocked I really feared the worst. They had to give me blood but as soon as that was finished I was allowed to see him.
I walked into the room and saw a tiny jellybean, in a tank, with a blue hat and all this apparatus sticking out of him! That's when I think I entered the bubble that I remained in for the next ten weeks.
I was told that he would need to be transferred immediately to the ERI, so he was that night. I, on the other hand, was sent home, unsure of what had actually happened that day!
The next morning we went in to see him in intensive care at the ERI neonatal unit and I was truly humbled. There was a room filled with busy attentive staff, incubators, pipes, tubes, buttons, lights, machines, etc. I remember the smell and the alarms! This was a place I had never, before now, even given a thought to.
Torin was in an incubator with an owl print blanket on top of it. A tiny, fragile baby with a little blue hat... And a ventilator, a mass of tubes, pipes, buttons, cables, switches, machines beeping, alarms going.
He had to be transferred to the Sick kids on day two for a scan, I remember being amazed at the transport unit, thinking how much equipment they needed and two staff, a whole ambulance specially kitted out just for the job. And all to move something a little longer than my hand!
The staff kept telling me that he was huge for his age (3lb13oz) and that he just needed to grow... I wondered if we were looking at the same little thing?!
On day 5, we had been off the ventilator and on c-pap for a couple of days and I finally got to hold him. It was the most awkward thing ever, with bags on him, tubes sticking out everywhere that I daren't touch, alarms, etc, I could hardly see a baby and I sat scared to move but it was still amazing.
From then on we didn't look back, don't get me wrong, we had good days and bad but we kept plodding in the right direction.
Lauren (my daughter) was really struggling with it all as her whole world had been turned upside down, she also wasn't allowed to touch Torin which was cutting her up. I remember 3 weeks in, when we were in high dependency, she finally got to hold him too and she has protected him fiercely ever since.
I fed him myself, so every 3 hours I had to express. I think that visiting the 'humolactor room' or the 'dairy' as I called it was one of the most degrading things I've had to do and I found it really hard but I persevered, I had to for Torin's well being and it became really easy. In the end he was actually 14 months old by the time I stopped feeding him!
Torin slowly moved along through the different rooms, looking good and then suddenly dipping his sats only to send his monitor into red alarm melt down and then ping, back up to around the 100% mark again!! This went on until we finally passed our second sleep study. The staff were right, he just needed to grow!
Then a couple of days before his due date, we were off home.... Suddenly I wasn't so brave, no monitor, no nurses.... Help! I constantly checked him but he was always fine!!
I remember thinking at 3 months I had never heard him cry... Then he found his lungs, that certainly is not a problem!!
Torin is now at preschool, he is a delight to be around. Full of smiles, kind hearted, loving and bursting with energy (all the time)!
I'm very glad we live on a farm though and not a small flat in town!!! His favourite place is at home helping out with all the animals, especially the cows.
I will be eternally grateful to all the staff who were involved in Torin's care, thank you, you guys are real life heroes!!
PAULA, LAUREN AND TORIN