Thank you to MoorMum Amanda from Otley for sharing her story.
Jacob arrived nine weeks early on Saturday 26th May 2007. He was perfect but tiny, weighing only 4lbs 1oz. I was allowed to hold him for only one minute before he was given oxygen and whisked to intensive care. The next time I saw him he was hooked up to a host of beeping machines, with wires covering his little body and a drip bruising his little hand. This wasn’t the birth I had imagined, but it was Jacob’s birth, and although very early and very scary at times, it was still a positive experience and one I’d like to share.
A couple of days before Jacob’s birth I’d noticed that I wasn’t feeling as many movements as usual and had gone to Harrogate antenatal clinic to be examined. I’d also had what I thought might be a show. Jacob’s heartbeat was regular and strong and once there I started to feel normal movements again so I was sent home and told to get in touch if I had any concerns. The next day I decided to work from home so that I could take it a bit easier and be more aware of Jacob’s movements. It was now Friday and the day went by without any further indications that Jacob was getting ready to arrive.
At 6a.m. the next morning (Saturday) my waters broke spontaneously. I went straight to Harrogate delivery suite where they confirmed that although my waters had broken I wasn’t yet in labour. I was feeling a little bit anxious by then but I think some kind of autopilot kicked in and I just concentrated on what was happening at the time, rather than worrying what could happen. To help Jacob’s lungs mature in case he did decide to arrive I was given a steroid injection. Because my waters had broken I was also given antibiotics to prevent any infection. I was then informed that because I was only 30 weeks and 6 days pregnant I couldn’t be admitted to Harrogate and had to be transferred elsewhere. Harrogate can only take women who are at least 32 weeks pregnant because of the level of special care the baby might need. Luckily a bed was found at York District Hospital and I was taken there by ambulance. My husband David followed on behind.
The doctors at York told me that even if your waters have broken early there is still a chance of going full term. This is because the amniotic fluid is replaced constantly. So we sat in a delivery room wondering what was going to happen next. By lunchtime I started to experienced mild period-like cramps every fifteen minutes. The midwife determined that I wasn’t experiencing ‘proper’ contractions and that it could just be a reaction to the stress. I wasn’t sure. And when these ‘cramps’ started to happen more frequently I just knew that our baby was coming. The cramps continued to get more frequent and more intense until it was confirmed that I was in labour and that Jacob was on his way. A consultant came to discuss the implications of having a premature baby, warning us that when our baby was born he would need immediate special care and would probably need to stay in hospital until his estimated due date. We just wanted our baby to be OK.
Jacob was born at 20:20 that evening. The hours between being admitted to York and actually giving birth were all a bit of a blur. I’d started with mild contractions just after lunch and these quickly developed into full-blown contractions. I tried gas and air but it made me feel sick. I was given a Meptid injection at some point but it didn’t come into effect until after Jacob was born.
Jacob and I spent one week in York, and when he was transferred to Harrogate SCBU (Special Care Baby Unit) I was discharged. York hospital had allowed me to stay in to be near Jacob. It was both a scary and amazing time. Jacob started off his life in intensive care where he needed help regulating his oxygen levels. After that he was moved to an incubator to regulate his temperature and also to receive treatment for jaundice. He remained hooked up to a heartbeat monitor and an oxygen level monitor until a few days before being discharged. Jacob stayed in Harrogate SCBU for another two and a half weeks, where he continued to do amazingly well and suffered no lasting effects from his premature birth. It was extremely tough as his parents, having to leave him in hospital and return home without him night after night but we knew he was in the best possible place, and the staff were fantastic. Thanks to their support and Jacob’s ability I was able to breast feed full time by the time he came home. And it was very handy to be able to practice changing Jacob’s nappy and generally learn how to look after him with nurses always on hand with much appreciated advice!
Jacob has now been joined by a sister Maia, who thankfully was full term! Jacob soon caught up with his peers in size and development and is a tall, strong, healthy and happy little boy. I’d never thought about what having a premature baby would entail but the care available in our local hospitals is amazing and because there was no medical reason why Jacob arrived so early we think he was just impatient to join us!
Amanda would love to hear from you if you have had a similar experience or if you would like to talk about her story, please contact us and we will put you in touch.