On the 29th April 2016 I had just finished serving the tea. Catherine my wife, said she was just nipping to the toilet before we sat down to eat. After about 30 seconds or so, Catherine called me into the hall and said “My waters have gone” to which I replied “What do you mean your waters have gone you? You’re only 26 weeks pregnant!” A bit of a daft response now that I can reflect on the situation. However, off to the hospital we went.
We spent the next 2 days having tests and to rule out any serious issues or concerns with Catherine and the baby. During this time, we were offered the opportunity to speak to one of the NICU (a word I only learnt that day) consultants. They spoke to us about the NICU and what might happen if the baby was delivered early. It was a very informative chat and I didn’t really absorb the information being given. I was still thinking that everything was going to be fine.
After 2 days in hospital, we were told that we could go home, the baby was showing no signs of coming. I packed up mine and Catherine’s belongings and phoned my sister to say we were on our way home. The doctor returned for one last check before we left. Unfortunately the doctor struggled to get a settled heart beat and advised that we stay for another night. No arguments from me. I had just got myself a camp bed for the night!
At around 21:30 Catherine popped out to use the shower and returned at approximately 22:00. When Catherine returned, she became increasingly uncomfortable and called for the midwife. The midwife arrived and immediately called for the doctor. At 22:30 we left the ward and went straight to the labour ward. Baby Daniel decided to make an appearance at 22:47.
The delivery room was filled with doctors, midwifes and nurses running around taking a care of Catherine and Daniel. I tried to do my bit and held Catherine`s hand. But I was absolutely terrified because of what was going on. Daniel was taken off to the NICU and we were told we had to wait for an hour or so (it was 2 hours) while the doctors got Daniel stable. I must say, this was the longest 2 hours of my life.
We entered the NICU at approximately 1am. It was a strange feeling, with all the blue lights and darkness. We were met by a nurse. She explained all the wires and machinery. We didn’t really take in the information. We were more concerned by the amount of monitors, wires, tubes coming out of our tiny little boy. We stayed until the following day just watching and listening and trying to understand why this is happened. We still do not why he was born so early.
Over the next few weeks, to say it was a roller coaster would be a massive understatement. This would be true if the roller-coaster gave you the feeling of winning the lottery and being hit by a bus all in the same day. The first few weeks were the most difficult. Daniel was so poorly and we had another 2 older children at home that still needed looking after. We felt torn. Thankfully our family was on hand to support. We spent most of our time at the side of incubator continuously worrying about every little beep or alarm that went off. The doctors and nurses were fantastic though. They kept us informed of what was going on throughout the different stages. We tried to keep ourselves involved as much as we could. We changed his bedding, did his cares (giving him a clean) and learnt how to tube feed him. We kept ourselves busy. It was a very bumpy road and there were a few tears along the way.
After 5 weeks in room intensive care, a nurse arrived pushing a cot! “Right, it is time to go”. Catherine`s face was a picture of shock and excitement – we were moving into the nursery!! The nursery was very different from intensive care and the transition was very daunting. The staff made us feel comfortable and explained everything we needed to know.
On Father’s Day, I arrive just after breakfast. There was a little present on the side of Daniels cot from Spoons. It was a mug, chocolate bar and some toiletries. On the mug was a sentence that said Happy Father’s Day from your little fighter. I cried like a baby.
Time in the nursery seemed to fly. Daniel was having baths, learning to feed, all things you take for granted with new babies. Each one was a stepping stone to going home.
After a very long 9 weeks came the word we had been longing for. Home. We were asked to room in in preparation for taking him home. Catherine was reluctant, she was worried he wasn’t ready to go home. However, the time had come to get ready to go home and let Daniel sleep in his own bed. In total, we spent 10 weeks on the NICU with Daniel. Our NICU journey came to an end on the 10th June. We finally got to take our boy home.
My advice to any parents/carers who find themselves in the same or similar situation? Speak to someone if you have any concerns or questions. It doesn’t matter how small you think they are. The team on the NICU, everyone from the Consultants, Nurses, Health Care Assistants. Spoons were fantastic. They provided continued support during our time on NICU and after we went home.
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