“The worst day gave us the best thing”

Argggh!! Here it is. Please make sure you are sat down with a bit of cake and a cup of wine tea because it may take a while to digest the ramblings of my first blog. Yesterday I posted a recent image of my little boy, Rex on the instagram site for our new venture with a whole stomach full of butterflies (it made me eat nutella straight out the jar!)

It isn’t easy for me to open up or to place my mini’s faces on the internet for all the world to see. I spend so much of my time at work telling kids how important it is to keep social media private and photos limited, yet here I am shoving their little dials on the big world-wide web…..but I’m hoping it’s for the greater good.

Before we start, please do not read any of this thinking I want any sympathy or I’m throwing a pity party for one. That IS NOT the case! Yes, having Rex was THE hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but I am forever thankful for what we went through as a couple, as parents, as a family. If I am wanting people in a similar situation to invest something into me and ‘Little bugs’ then I think its important for them to know that we will probably have more in common than they think.

So here goes…In the year of 2013 we had lost two pregnancies. I fell pregnant for the third time pretty quickly and was anxious to say the least. I started with pre eclampsia at around 27 weeks pregnant. My blood pressure was high and I had protein in my wee [yummy!] but I had no other external symptoms. I’d never heard of the condition before, not a peep. I’d had it rammed down my throat that I should breast feed or I’m basically failing my child at life*insert eye roll* but i’d never had a life threatening illness which effects 8% of all pregnancies and effected 6.6million women in one year!! So here I am, getting fatter just feeling rubbish but putting it down to being pregnant. I never had any other symptoms of P.E so a plan was put in place to monitor me and see how we went. 

They decided that on the 29th of may at 28weeks+6 I would have a steroid injection and another the following day to help develop their lungs in the case of early delivery. I had my injection in the women’s health unit and they strapped me to a monitor to see what the heartbeat and activity were up to. A couple of midwives fussed and one said “I’m just going to have to take you downstairs to the birthing centre”, at this point there still wasnt much panic in me 1) I’d just bossed an injection in my ass cheek, when I HATE injections and 2) I was more than likely, absolutely thinking about the sausage cob I was going to ram down my throat from the hospital cafe when I was finished.

They took us into a room and Lee decided it would be a fantastic time to have a walk go for a poo. Then a second later, the Sister midwife was in the room and within 10 minutes I had 3 people putting cannulaes into each arm and my hands and the Sister whipping down my pants [which to my embarrassment were 10year olds hello kitty knickers!! Oh the shame] and putting a catheter in.

At the end of my bed was a little women no bigger than 5ft, really petite and nimble. She took one look at the machine monitoring the babys heart rate and said we are going to have to deliver you. My response was panicked and I said “you can’t, you can’t deliver it I’m not due for another 3 months!” She said “We either deliver you now or in the next couple of hours both your baby and you will be dead”. Allllriiiiighty then!!!

I can’t really remember the c-section. I just remember people being stood around the room on their mobiles, leaning against the wall like this was all normal. Which I suppose for them it is. It is their job. Lynn the midwife held my head (Lee had returned from his wandering by this point), she was AMAZING, she reassured me, asked me questions to distract me and wiped my tears away. 

♦4.52pm Baby Kirkwood entered the world. He was limp and lifeless. Lynn and Lee turned my head and Lee was told to keep repeating to me look at me, just look at me. It wasn’t until a month or two later I found out that the reason they did this was because in the direction Lee was looking, they were trying to restart my baby’s heart. They were resuscitating him and trying to intubate him and they needed to keep my blood pressure down.

The next 12 hours were a blur. I was in and out of consciousness. They sedated me to keep my blood pressure under control and I received this photo of my baby that NICU had taken for me. For some people that photo would be the worse thing to look at and looking back there are some family and friends that maybe would have preferred not to receive that picture but to me, in that moment, it was life, it was love, it was hope. 

The next afternoon they said as soon as I could walk the width of the room I could go and see him. I got up and I did the elegant ‘c-section shuffle’ with what felt like a mattress between my legs. I went to visit him and there were two ladies sorting him out (Lydia and Layla). He was in the intensive care bay next to the nurses station. I SOBBED. Snot bubbles, dribble the lot. The OVERWHELMING guilt I felt for not doing my job as a mother and not keeping him safe physically hurt my heart. I was terrified of touching him. I placed my hand in the incubator and with a vise like grip he wrapped his whole hand around the tip of my finger. I knew then that we had a fierce one

Back in our room my mum and dad were our first vistiors. Dad sat at the side of the bed reading some magazine wishing that he was asleep in his chair at home, Mum had come fully equipped with cards, gifts a ballon AND I kid you not a fresh whole cooked chicken in a bag – now anyone who has ever bought one of these you know that they smell like fart and she was stinking my room out with it thinking it was normal haha!

A consultant who was put in charge of Rex came to see us. She asked if my mum and dad were okay in the room and I thought what a strange question. What is there that I wouldn’t want them to hear. 

Well I was about to find out.

[In time, I became to really like his consultant but from what I’m about to tell you I instantly got a dislike for her, I was unable to comprehend how she just said everything she said so bluntly and with no emotion, to her it was a job, to me it was my whole world]

She said word for word “You have a very poorly little boy. He is currently on a life support machine that is keeping his vital organs working, he is unable to breath for himself. His gut is leaking fluid. He has a large hole in his heart. The next 48 hours are crucial  and I need you to prepare yourselves for him not surviving. If you wish for anyone to see him or to get him baptised then I recommend you do this as a matter of urgency. We do not expect him to survive the weekend. If he does survive, he has two large bleeds on his brain and your son will be unable to ever do things such as sit up, eat, talk walk and feed himself. If he is ‘viable’ after the weekend we will rescan his brain and then discuss our options.” 

I can’t remember anyones reaction. All I can remember is my mum silently swiping all the gifts, cards and balloon out of my sight with a look on her face like she wanted the ground to swallow her up. [It became a running thing from this moment, that in my next pregnancy I wanted to leave hospital with a baby and a balloon like normal people]

Less than 24 hours after the birth of our first son we were sat in a room discussing if the kindest thing to do would be to end his life. Imagine that conversation. 

This was the first and last time Lee broke down throughout the whole situation. The next few days were a blur I was bed bound and sedated as my blood pressure had risen to the point they were booking me in to theatre (I wonder why!) but needless to say those ginger genes fought and conquered over the weekend and that dreaded monday morning came…

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That is the start of our NICU journey


Now pass me the cake!!!!!!!!