(This post also features on my Steemit account under my username novagirl)
Alyssa was a text book child. My pregnancy with her followed the charts and the birth was 'normal'. I'll always remember that it was a really hot evening in September and the hospital windows were left ajar . There were loads of 'Daddy long legs' bumping against the glass. I also remember having loads of midwives in the room as the ward was relatively empty that night and there was a TV on wheels in my room. I strongly remember watching episodes of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple. Alyssa could have been an Agatha I guess!
Zoom forward a few years and I was pregnant with Harvey. Absolutely wonderful until I started to itch.....and itch.... and itch. I would literally scratch my skin until it would bleed. The palms of my hands and the soles of my feet were the worst. Even writing this now sends me back to remembering how awful it felt and it would gt worse through the day. So tingly and no matter how much I scratched at them, the feeling wouldn't go away. It would have me in tears ~ and I'm not someone that cries!
I had never been one to complain through pregnancy. I was very mellow and relaxed so when I went to my next midwife appointment I just calmly said that I had these itchy feelings. Without any hesitation, she immediately was on the phone arranging for me to go and have some blood tests done at hospital?
"Could I go straight away?"
When I arrived, everyone was so lovely. This was a part of the hospital I had never experienced before. The Maternity Assessment Day Unit. I was hooked up onto a machine where it monitored Harvey's heartbeat. They also took some more bloods from me as I continued to itch and itch and itch! I had to give a urine sample too like usual throughout your pregnancy. I got a telling off for it being so dark even though I drank so much water I thought I would burst. I was then sent home.
That evening I received a call saying that they wanted me in first thing the following day to do a bit of monitoring again and some more tests but not to worry.
Oh, and to bring my hospital bag with me. (That evening, I packed my hospital bag. Nothing like leaving everything to the last minute.)
I felt very much like I was in a whirlwind. Everything seemed to be happening so quickly. I was only 36 weeks pregnant ~ I had another month to go didn't I?
I arrived back at hospital and someone came along and informed me I had something called "Obstetric Cholestasis". Symptoms of this is the itching and can also include dark urine.
I was handed 2 A4 sheets of paper with a few diagrams on and some information about the condition. It was saying that there was a reduced flow of bile down the bile ducts in my liver. Some of the bile had then leaked into my bloodstream, in particular bile salts. Ahhhhh, so this was the reason for them treating me like a pin cushion. They could see was was happening with the levels by testing my blood.
After some more results came back, I was told that they would like to induce me as my levels had become very high. I went with the flow and followed them up to the maternity unit. They said they would try and induce me first thing in the morning.
The morning arrived and I had some gel placed in me.....(not the most pleasant experience I have to say.) Contractions started very quickly, Harvey's dad was called to come in and off I went to the delivery suite. i remember the usual random chatting with the midwife whilst Harvey's dad sat there doing Sudoku. The pain quickly became immense and I remember thinking that if he talked about that stupid puzzle one more time, I would tell him where he could shove his number 9!
A sudden urge to push and Harvey was finally here at 12:24 on 10th January 2010. The world would never be the same again! If you are reading this Harvey, I'd like to point out that yes you were born with ears. Not like you said this morning..... "my ears are cemented on."
I was very much out of it .... that gas and air is divine I have to say! I *thought* I had seen his dad holding Harvey looking out of the window but years later after speaking to him, this wasn't true. My mind had been playing tricks on me it seems. He told me that suddenly lots of people had arrived and Harvey was whisked away.
As for the itching, it went. Immediately. Yes, immediately. No itching whatsoever. So strange.
Harvey had become one of those chosen babies that got to see the other side of the Special Care Baby Unit. He had weighed 6 lb 10.5oz when he was born but had decided he didn't want to breathe on his own and needed a little bit of help. He looked massive in comparison with some of the little ones that were in there with him. He was very much out of place. I'd just like to point out now that Harvey's trip to SCBU wasn't necessarily down to Obstetric Cholestasis. He was born too quick it seems so the mucus hadn't been pushed out so he was having trouble.
These kind of photos instantly bring me back to standing in that dimly lit room seeing my baby properly for the first time.
I felt so bad having to go back to the maternity ward leaving my baby across the corridor. My bed was the furthest away from the entrance meaning I had to walk past baby upon baby and I could feel the tears welling up inside. I got back to my bed and just sat there.
An hour went by as quick as a flash and all I had done was stare at the wall. I remember hearing a trolley coming towards me and then a loud lady saying......
"Oh, they don't have any babies. Let's go back that way."
I DID have a baby!
That loud, rude lady instantly made me pull myself together though. I got dressed and made my way back over to SCBU. I immesiately felt at home over there. They showed me how I could express breastmilk and that any amount I could do would be beneficial. I felt like I was actually now doing something for him rather than just allowing the staff and machines to do everything. I was now his mum.
I was discharged from the maternity ward and allowed home. That was such a strange feeling. Last time I had left that ward I had been carrying Alyssa in her car seat. Now I had no such task. I just had a breastpump.
We could go and visit. Alyssa even went to go and say hello too.
Over time, Harvey was moved into the main part of the unit where we could be much more hands on with him. We'd go visit him as much as we could and Facebook became a way of sharing photos and how he was doing.
"Harvey has got his Ray-Bans on."
(Harvey was forever managing to get himself down the bottom of his 'fish tank' so they just worked with that.)
We could take him out for a bit of cuddle time though.
When it was time to take Harvey home, they took a photo of us as we were leaving and handed us a little box full of memories. His wires that were stuck on him, his little hat and of course, his "Ray-Bans".
Harvey really enjoyed his stay in the SCBU. Then he came home to his big sister who pampered and cared for him too.
Without the help of the Special Care Baby Unit team, I wouldn't have Harvey. It's as simple as that. The care they showed to him was above and beyond. They always made time to talk to me about his progress and to answer any questions I had. Day or night. We had Alyssa at home so would go and see him after she had gone to sleep at my parents' house. Midnight visits to the SCBU were common for us and that was the joy of the place. They understood how hard it was to be separated from your own baby.
I've now made it my mission to fundraise for them. I've not kept track of the amount but it must be nearing £10,000 what with donations and also matched funding from my employer, Barclays. I've never kept a strict total as, to be honest, no matter how much I raise for them it will never be enough.
They made my child survive. How can you put a price tag on that?
Dreamdrops ~ "The money raised by the charity is used to provide those things that the NHS simply cannot afford, but would love to have. It’s those items that can help make a child more comfortable, allow a young patient to go home to their family, get the latest equipment to improve a patient’s experience, and take a bit of the stress away."