When I was 26 weeks pregnant I started to get regular cramping pains in my back. They steadily got more painful and normal pain killers and my TENS machine weren’t having any effect. We phoned the delivery ward where I was booked for Squidge to be born for some advice and they advised me to come in and be reviewed on the Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU).
By the time we got to the hospital I was in so much pain I could barely walk. We got up to the EPU and I was attached to the foetal monitoring system which showed regular contractions and confirmed I was in early labour.
Over the next three days and nights I was monitored almost constantly, given a variety of medications to try and stop labour and given two lots of steroid injections to speed up Squidge’s lung development if he did arrive early.
Anyone who has had steroids will tell you that they are horribly painful. You know it’s going to be bad when the nurse about to give the injection tells you that you’re really going want to hold her hand, regardless whether you mind injections and needles.
I had two lots.
Squidge then realised that actually he wasn’t properly baked yet and needed to wait another 11 weeks.
I feel dizzy just thinking about what could have been.
Sometimes knowledge is worse than uncertainty; me and my husband both knew what could happen if Squidge was born prematurely. When I was pregnant I had a target gestation to reach before I stopped worrying about him being admitted to NICU. Every Saturday was a milestone, an extra week that I’d kept him safe and helped him to grow.
I borrowed this quote from Leigh Kendall’s blog about her son Hugo http://headspace-perspective.com
It describes a grief that no one should have to understand but that far too many do.
The grief of losing a baby.
A grief that I came far too close to understanding.
More premature babies are surving than ever before but they aren’t really surviving any earlier than they were 10 years ago. Even with all the technology, medicines and clinical advances there are no guarantees that a baby born at 26 weeks will survive. Or that if they do that they will develop into a ‘normal’ healthy child without multiple disabilities.
If Squidge had been born at 26 weeks he would have been too sick to stay at the NICU at our local hospital and would have been transferred to the regional unit where I work. The night team were on standby to come and collect him if he did arrive, he would have been classed as an emergency call and the ambulance would have raced down the motorway with lights and sirens blazing.
He would have been taken away and I would have had to stay behind to recover from the delivery until I was capable of travelling by car. Although he would have been cared for by people I knew and trusted my arms would still have been empty.
It could have been the last time I saw him.
Or it could have been the beginning of months in hospital; day by painful, uncertain day.
The beginning of seemingly endless medical procedures; blood tests, x-rays, insertion of lines and tubes.
Of seeing each day of his life as a miracle and at the same time wondering how much longer he could go on.
Of seeing him bruised and in pain.
Being ready to give anything to take that pain from him.
Maybe we would have been able to take him home or maybe we would never have left the hospital without him.
Maybe he would still have become the bouncing, smiling boy that he is now. Maybe he wouldn’t.
I have no idea what our life would be like.
Would we be would be three?