Izzie’s Story

The summer of 2013 was lovely and hot…I saw most of it from a hospital window. On July 1st at 3.15am I woke with a dreadful feeling of my waters breaking but soon realised it was a massive bleed. As my husband was trying to calmly speak to the paramedic I was preparing myself for the worst. I knew I had a low lying placenta but I’d had a previous stillbirth in similar circumstance. At this time I was 24 weeks and had only been saying the day before how relieved I was to reach V-day – viability. When the scan in the hospital showed a healthy baby bouncing around in my tummy I didn’t quite believe it.

image2A few hours later I was transferred to North Staffordshire hospital as they were the closest with a bed and a cot. It seemed like a very long and lonely week…I was told if I hadn’t bled for 5 days, I could go home – which I desperately wanted to as had organised a 30th birthday party for my husband and was missing my son who was only 14 months old and being looked after by family. After an emotional chat to the consultant she agreed to let me home the day before my husband’s birthday.

Sadly that night I had another bleed and was transferred to Wolverhampton hospital this time. My wait here was just over 3 weeks as I continued to have large bleeds, contractions and my waters really did break. If I’d been told I could have bed rest and catch up on reading and films I’d have been pleased but in reality it felt like a prison sentence. There was constant monitoring and chats as to baby’s survival rate if delivered and lots of differing opinions. All I wanted was to be at home cooling in the paddling pool with my son and planning the arrival of our new baby. I felt like a useless ticking time bomb.

image4The relief to be transferred back to Worcester, my local hospital, at 28 weeks was immense. Even though it was still stifling hot and I endured continual poking and prodding, I felt like I was ‘home’ and when at 30 weeks I had my 6th bleed and they said that enough was enough, I was comforted I had my family nearby. I was gowned up at 10pm and waiting for the epidural in theatre but an emergency came in so it was more waiting until 1am. Our gorgeous daughter, Isabella Anne, was born at 2.30am weighing 3lb 7oz. We saw her briefly before she was whipped to special care as she needed help with breathing. Unfortunately, I needed to have hysterectomy as had lost and continued to lose a lot of blood and my placenta was attached to my uterus.

image3When the next morning I woke in intensive care it felt like a very strange dream. My husband showed me photos of Izzie and the nurses sent pictures for me to have and stuck them on the bed. It was three days later I finally saw her and realised how tiny and delicate but also how incredibly strong she was. The second time I saw her I was able to hold her and it definitely helped my recovery. After nearly 6 weeks of struggling to juggle life; wanting to be with my toddler and also wanting to spend every minute in Neonatal trying to get to know my brand new daughter, I went into TCU with her to try to establish breast feeding. I was glad I did as they found her to be tongue-tied and her tongue could be cut whilst we were there. It was an amazing feeling to finally be home as a family together and feel like I was in control of the complete care of my beautiful girl – as scary as this was at times! Now, she is almost 1 and she continues to amaze me.

My helpful tips for having a baby on NICU:

  • You get used to all of the beeps and alarms after a while but never be afraid to ask questions and look through notes. Feeding tubes are not that scary and you shouldn’t be put off bringing them home with them as there is plenty of support.
  • Try to be as hands on in their care as possible; also kangaroo care is great for baby, you and partner.
  • Do the resuscitation training offered.
  • They really don’t mind you ringing them up. My husband liked to call from work at all hours. When you are participating more in their feeding routine they find it helpful to know when you’re likely to be in. I used to phone to let them know if I was running late so they would hold off feeding until I was there.
  • If trying to breastfeed / express it really helps to look at photos of your baby and also have an item of clothing they’ve worn. I used to use muslins that I’d slept on to then put under her head so she could smell me and it saved on continual changing of bedding.
  • Use a large (hand)bag that you can fit many things in..camera, clean clothes and blankets, milk, more nappies etc. Use nappy bags for dirty clothing.
  • Treat yourself to a magazine you like so you have something can dip in and out when you’re expressing or having to wait for doctors.
  • Don’t worry about all the extra hair they have – it soon comes off!
  • Don’t try to please everyone by letting them visit straight away, they’ll be plenty of time for that. Keep them away if they have any germs (I forgot about my toddler bringing every germ going back from nursery with him!!).