Today is National Premmie’s Day. We are so fortunate to have our friend Aleisha share her son Charlie’s story and his fight for life, born at just 28 weeks.
Looking at my 5 year old boy, you would never have known he was born at 28 weeks, 12 weeks early and weighing 860 grams. He came into the world on a Monday morning with the help of an extremely large team of Doctors and Nurses, and was immediately whisked away into the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), where he would spend the first 50 days of his life. It was 7 days before I was able to hold him for the first time.
In NICU he learnt how to breathe, struggled to put on weight, endured endless testing, blood transfusions, phototherapy, needles, scans, all the while avoiding contracting any serious infections. It was a long and arduous time for both him and me, only being able to hold him once and day, supervised with constant heart rate and breathing monitors alarming along the way.
Early one morning the phone rang (always a bad sign) and it was the Director of NICU informing us our baby had contracted a life-threatening bowel infection called NEC, he was one of 4 babies who were infected and they were quickly isolated. We were told there was nothing anyone could do, but only wait and see if he survived with the next 48 hours being critical. It was the longest 48 hours of our lives. Somehow he pulled through and all his vitals picked up after 24 hours. Unfortunately 2 other babies didn’t make it. We were extremely thankful.
We learnt to take each day at a time, and focused on getting through each milestone – all be them small, and adopted a mantra ‘as long as it’s not going to kill him, we can deal with it’.
One of the happiest days throughout his stay was when he moved from NICU into the Special Care Nursery 7 weeks after his birth. This marked him being able to breathe on his own, unlimited holds, and finally being able to breastfeed. He also had his first bath, and was able to wear clothes! He was in here for another 4 weeks, and one of the happiest days of my life was bringing him home at 1970 grams, and ironically on his due date.
It certainly is one of the hardest things anyone will ever go through having a premature baby, and somehow putting it into words doesn’t seem to describe the enormity of having a baby who is fighting for their life day in and day out, whilst as parents you can only sit and watch through a glass incubator completely helpless.
There is light at the end of the tunnel! My beautiful 5 year old boy is very special to us and to all our family who lived through the 3 months he spent in hospital. We are very lucky he is healthy, happy and with as much energy as any other 5 year old boy. The constant support and love we received kept us afloat throughout our journey. He certainly would not be here if it wasn’t for the tireless work of the Doctors, midwives and all hospital staff with whom I only have the highest level of admiration.
Thank you so much to aleisha for sharing her incredible story with us (Kleenex anyone?). Let’s all wear Green today to help raise awareness.
Please feel free to share your own experiences or thoughts below.