Then we became pregnant with twins, who unexpectedly arrived early at just under 23 weeks, sadly too small to survive. When we became pregnant again with Hugo we were terrified that the same would happen and despite the best medical care, it nearly did. After 4 weeks of hospital bedrest, infections and leaking waters, it was decided that Hugo needed to come out at 24 weeks and 6 days gestation.
Hugo was a fighter from the start, weighing 702g from birth, the neonatal team resuscitated him and stabilised him quickly, then whisked him off to the NICU. The next time we saw him, he was covered in wires, cannulas, tubes etc. His skin was almost transparent, he looked exactly like his twin brothers and it was hard to believe he was alive. We must have been some of the only parents to be pleased to be on the NICU after our previous experience.
We had a bumpy ride through NICU with Hugo being diagnosed with chronic lung disease and needing steroids to come off the ventilator, only to go back on it when he had a particularly nasty case of sepsis (one of many) and we thought we were going to loose him. He contracted Serratia, Pulmonary Hypertension and had a brain bleed. He also developed a dislike for his breathing tube – he pulled it out many times, one memorable time when he was only 4 weeks old, on his big brother Adam’s 5th birthday, giving us all a bit of a scare.
While we wanted to spend all our time with Hugo, we also wanted to keep life as normal as possible for his big brother. Adam was old enough to realise what was going on and had already had to come to terms with losing his twin baby brothers. We tried to keep him involved, he drew pictures for Hugo’s incubator and during the weekends would take it in turns to take him to different activities while the other spent time with Hugo.
It was hard to leave Hugo. His dad went back to work after 2 weeks, so was only able to see him on evenings and weekends. I would drop Adam at school then spend all my time at the hospital until school pick-up time, then go back in the evenings and weekend, alternating with his dad. No matter how good you know the staff are, leaving your baby can be really tough.
Hugo had a large PDA which meant that he had to travel to Alder Hey to have heart surgery. He then had a return trip a few months later for them to carry out bowel surgery to fix his Bilateral Inguinal Hernias. At around the same time he was also on the cusp of needing laser eye surgery as he developed grade 3 ROP with plus disease – amazingly this disappeared on its own, without any treatment and his eyes are now completely fine.
Hugo was on the neonatal unit for a total of 217 days (31 weeks exactly). He still needed some breathing support, so came home on oxygen. After discharge we had a few problems with reflux, a cows milk protein intolerance and spoon/food aversion. But now, despite him still being small for his age, he is a happy healthy 2-year-old. You’d never know what an eventful beginning he had!
After having one child, full-term and without complications, we thought pregnancy was fairly straightforward.