I had been admitted to hospital with pre-eclampsia for a second time two weeks previously. My blood pressure was high and continuing to rise despite the enormous amounts of medication that I was taking. There was protein in my urine which is an indication that the kidneys are not functioning optimally. All these symptoms were explained to me as signals that the placenta is “not happy”. I stayed at the Prince of Wales Private Hospital for two days and then it was decided that the baby would probably have to be delivered early and as there was no newborn intensive care at the Prince of Wales, I was transferred to the Royal Hospital for Women.
My condition continued to deteriorate. On the night of Friday 9 February I started to experience severe epigastric pain. My blood pressure was still very high and there was a significant amount of protein in my urine. I was told that I would need a steroid shot to help mature the baby's lungs. Yikes. How strong must those drugs administered to my thigh be - they had to get to his lungs??!!
On the morning of 10 February my consulting physician and specialist in medical disorders of pregnancy came to see me on her daily morning rounds. She decided that, based on my condition, the baby would have to be delivered immediately. A theatre was booked for 11:00am, the doctors were notified and we were on our way. Out baby was to be delivered after only 30 weeks gestation.
I phoned my husband at about 8am to tell him we would have the baby that day. To say that we were very frightened is a severe underestimation of the terror that we were feeling. We knew that there was a possibility that he would be born early but this was so quick and we could not believe the enormity of the situation we were now faced with.
We had been on a tour of the Newborn Care Centre the previous day and knew what to expect in terms of where the baby would go and how things operated there but we had no idea of how our own baby would be and what level of care he would require. Let me say at this point that I was not the biggest coper on Planet Earth and I really never believed when I had read the terribly maudlin "What to expect when you are expecting" that this "worst case" scenario would unfold. I believed that these things happened to the sad and depressed woman rocking on the cover - not to me.
I was taken to theatre just before 11:00. Hubby changed into his theatre gowns and despite the fact that he looked pretty cute as a surgeon the whole thing was becoming scarily real. I was really frightened and scared and no dreaming of now being married to a doctor was making me feel any better. The epidural was very unpleasant (no kidding) and I think my level of fear contributed to that in a large way - that and the fact that the doctor said "now don't move" and I decided to jump up in fear . After the epidural was given I was wheeled into theatre. The drape was put up and before long I heard them tell M to stand as the baby was about to come out. It was the strangest feeling, as if someone was digging out the contents of my stomach and instead of just muddling about in my fat they pulled out a little human.
As they took him out I told M that I love him (did I mention that he looked very cute in his surgery garb?) and then he was gone with our baby boy.
E was rushed off to the anteroom where his paediatrician took care of him. His APGAR scores were a brilliant 7 and 9. They wrapped him up in silver foil to insulate him and brought him to see me. My first thought was that he was so perfect – he didn’t even look that small but I could not believe that he was my baby. When they took him away again I was sick - physically, voliently ill. I had survived the birth, my baby was fine and I was relieved. Then began E’s valiant struggle.
Ethan was taken to the Newborn Care Centre where he was admitted to Level 2 breathing by himself with a head box providing him with extra oxygen.