Elijah's Story, 29 Weeks

Miracle Mum, Jacqueline shares baby Elijah's story.

"I was 29+4 weeks pregnant and up until this day I had a really healthy, and what felt like an easy pregnancy. I woke up in the morning feeling a little 'off'. We set off for a family walk along the beach and returned home for lunch. The ill feeling came back with some nausea and a little bit of pain, which was very abnormal for our pregnancy. We decided to head in and get checked by the midwife, when the pains picked up.

I was placed on CTG monitoring and it seemed our baby was kicking at the monitors, making it appear as if it wasn't a reassuring trace. With some panadol and rest the pains eased and we were preparing to go home. We were talking about what we were going to have for dinner when our midwife said she felt uneasy about the trace. We were told to wait until we could get a reassuring trace for 10 minutes with the midwife holding the monitor on the baby before we could return home as a family of three.

I'll never forget hearing his heart rate drop for the first time. I felt my heart drop with his. Then again, and again. The midwife called an obstetric medical emergency. My husband had just left to take our daughter home. As the doctor was investigating with a bedside ultrasound, our boys heart rate dropped dangerously low. He had to come out straigh away; we had no time for antenatal steroids for his lungs. I will never forget how terrified I was in that moment.

I am a nurse and have worked in the special care nursery, I knew what happened there and I did not want that for my baby; if he lived. I was whisked into the operating suites quickly, I screamed the entire way that I didn't want a premature baby. Maybe if I screamed it loud enough someone would hear, maybe it would be a mistake. Not us. Not our family.

I looked around the operating suites and saw about 30 nurses and doctors ready to give me and my baby a fighting chance. I looked up at the faces of my colleagues, I knew the doctor who would work on our son. I turned to my anaesthetics nurse and told her I wanted everything, all measures to save his life. Anything you need to do to save him please do. I was put to sleep under a general anaesthetic and our son Elijah William was born via emergency caesarian at 5:14 pm.

I woke to a nurse smiling down at me. I asked if my son was alive, she phoned the NICU and told me yes he was alive but they were still working on him. They worked on him for an hour before they were able to place him on a ventilator to breathe for him.

The first time I met Elijah I was wheeled down to the NICU on a bed. They pulled my bed snug up against the isolette and I was allowed to put my hand in and hold his. I told him how sorry I was.

Elijah spent 50 days in the newborn care unit, over half of them were spent in intensive care. He battled a PDA (Patent Ductus Arteriosus), bilateral brain bleed, jaundice, late onset sepsis, retinopathy of prematurity, chronic neonatal lung disease and received a blood transfusion. The walls of the newborn care unit were such a dark place for our family, yet so filled with hope and magic. Our baby was brought there to learn how to breathe, feed and grow. It taught our family that even through the darkest of times there is always light and hope.

Elijah is now 12 months old, he has had two surgeries on his airway due to the difficult intubation at his birth. Despite his many challenges, he is the happiest baby I have ever met, loves to cuddle, is very clever and adores his big sister.

Thank you to the staff at GCUH for saving our son's life, we are eternally grateful and couldn't imagine our lives without him."

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