Arlo, 37 Weeks

Miracle mum Tahlia shares Arlo's story:

In early February 2024, I was in the Gosford Hospital progressing through my scheduled induction and not long after our sweet baby boy, Arlo, was born in the early hours of the morning. He was perfect. As I gave birth early in the morning, we were soon wheeled off to the maternity ward and my partner and Mum went home. As a first-time mum, I wasn't 100% sure what to expect, but what I did know was how much I loved my baby boy with everything I had. My plan was to breastfeed Arlo, but for some reason, he wasn't latching or waking up to feed. My midwives would keep reassuring me saying that he was just being 'sleepy' and that he would figure it out eventually. By the mid-morning, my motherly instincts were kicking in, my partner had come back to the hospital, and I expressed my concerns. That's when Arlo vomited a bright yellow mucus which we thought was just normal baby vomit, but it turns out that that was the first real sign Arlo gave us that something was wrong. About an hour later I asked to see a Lactation Consultant as I wasn't sure what was happening and why Arlo wasn't feeding. When the LC came around, I was able to express my concerns - he wasn't feeding, hadn't passed urine or meconium, he had vomited, and he wasn't really waking up much. My LC went to go and speak with the Midwives and that's when I noticed Arlo had begun retracting during his breathing, I immediately showed this to the Midwife and that is when everything began. Arlo was taken into the NICU resus unit at Gosford Hospital. He had a team working to put in IV's and inspecting him all over, trying to figure out what was wrong while we stood back and watched for what felt like forever. In our unaware bliss, what we didn't realise was that Arlo's little body was shutting down in front of us and it wasn't until the Dr's at Gosford NICU said that they didn't have the diagnostic tools to determine what was happening and that the NETS helicopter was arriving in 5 minutes to take him to Westmead Children's Hospital that I finally realised how sick Arlo actually was. In an instant Arlo and my partner were in the helicopter flying down to Westmead while I followed by car.

When Arlo arrived at Westmead, he entered the Grace Unit and a team of Dr's and Nurses swarmed him, placing more IV's, taking X-Rays and completing ultrasounds before they then began to intubate him. It all happened so fast, and before we knew it, the Grace Unit Dr's discovered that Arlo's bowel had perforated, and the contents of his bowel was spilling into his body. Before I even made it through the doors of Westmead Children's Hospital, the surgeons had been in and assessed Arlo, made a plan for surgery and had taken him to theatre for life saving surgery. 2 hours later and Arlo was back in the Grace Unit with an ileostomy.

Over the next 2 weeks, Arlo would slowly recover in the Grace Unit while his team of Dr's, Nurses and Surgeons would run every test and procedure to determine why this happened. We were over an hour away from our home, we spent the first few nights in a small room inside the hospital dedicated to families before a social worker assisted us in arranging accommodation at the Ronald McDonald house across the street.

The team with the Grace Unit at Westmead Children's Hospital ensured that as Arlo's parents, we were kept informed about everything that was happening in every moment of his care. They gave him an abundance of cuddles when we weren't able to be there and ensured that we were rested and fed, they gave us the opportunity to care for our son, even though it wasn't what we had envisioned our first moments as parents it was the small moments of being able to complete his cares alongside his nurse every day that made us feel worthwhile.

We will forever be grateful to the fast response Arlo received, as we have been told by all his Dr's that if one thing didn't line up the way that it did that night, Arlo wouldn't have made it through to the next day.

Arlo still has his ileostomy and lives with a stoma bag but upon our last visit with his surgeons, they have approved his surgery to reverse his ileostomy and remove his stoma bag. Our paediatrician back at Gosford Hospital is committed to continuing Arlo's care and is assisting us in trying to eliminate causes for Arlo's bowel perforation to provide us peace of mind, because at this moment in time, it all remains a mystery. So, although our little boy is happy, healthy and alive, his journey still hasn't reached the end, but we know that he is in the best care we could possibly wish for, and his team care for him in a way we could only have hoped for.

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