Miracle mum, Rachael shares Levi's story.
"You never expect that having a family would be so hard. It’s supposed to be a natural thing, but for some, it’s far from natural. I was told I couldn't have kids, and we tried for so many years and nothing. It was one of the hardest things to hear in my life. I struggled big time with being told that and being a woman, thinking that’s what you’re put here to do.
But it all changed when I started feeling very tired and thought I was coming down with the flu, which I never usually get. I did three tests at home as I was in denial that it was really happening. I made an appointment with my doctor and she laughed and said it's done now and sent me for a ultrasound the next day. Sure enough they were right, I was six weeks+2 days along. It was a terrifying, happy, emotional experience all rolled into one; such mixed emotions.
During the pregnancy at 17 weeks, I was having small bleeds, so I went back for ultrasounds and internals but all were ok. I also had a low-lying placenta and they said if it didn't move by the time baby was born I would be having a c-section. This was devastating news to me as I never wanted a c-section, I wanted to go as natural as possible.
My waters broke on Sunday the 25th Sept around 6am. I went straight to the hospital, where they confirmed it all. They then transferred me to King Edward Memorial Hospital. I was given steroids for baby’s lungs for two days as well as antibiotics in case of infection. They said to me if he comes we will let him but we aren't going to bring him on. That night I had a big clot (the plug) I rang the bell, the nurse came and said back to bed now, she couldn't find a heartbeat (she never said this but the look on her face said it all) she leaped over the bed and pushed the emergency button, I remember looking up and there were 12+ faces looking at me with more coming. This was at 1am the following morning! Scary was an understatement!
The nurse threw my phone at me and said “get your partner here now”, I replied “is everything ok”? No one answered. I knew then, I was in trouble. They raced me down to the delivery ward and said to me “if we need to get this baby out it’s going to happen in the next two minutes”.
They managed to find a heartbeat and then monitored me for five hours. Nothing was progressing and I wasn’t getting contractions, so I went back to the ward where I was monitored three hourly from then on with the Doppler and I had the ECG twice a day for the next week. I started having cramps on the 30th at 1am and they sent me back down to the delivery suite and monitored me for six hours, then back to the ward with no progress.
They told me to tell my partner to get in early. They checked me at 12pm and said I was 4cms dilated; so then back downstairs for the third time that week and I finally gave birth to a beautiful baby boy called Levi at 4:19pm, with no drugs.
Levi was taken down to NICU 3 (the most serious one) where he spent his first 36hrs of life, not being able to be held. I was so exhausted, I could hardly open my eyes to see him. They kept me in overnight and I was discharged early the following morning. I had to leave Levi there! What a cruel world I thought to myself, how can you discharge me after what I’ve just been through?
The next morning when I went in he got promoted to NICU 2, we were so happy he was growing. He was only in NICU 2 for three days and then we were told he was being transferred to Joondalup Special Care. It was like reliving NICU 3 all over again. I was terrified having to move hospitals as they specialised for small preterm and sick babies at King Eddies. They prepped us for the transfer and Levi went in the Neonates ambulance with Dad. I followed the ambulance in the car. What a crazy drive that was as I was thinking all of this stuff that could happen. “What if the lights and sirens go on?”, I thought to myself.
I was a balling mess leaving the hospital every day for the next few weeks. I would be there at 5am until about 10:30pm every day. When I went home I was expressing every three hours. How I survived like this was beyond me. Being tired or sore wasn’t an option. I accepted what it was and spent all my time sitting next to Levi’s cot. Nurses would say to me “you need to rest, enjoy the last of your freedom while you can”.
I felt so guilty leaving him there every day. When I think about everything and how it all played out, I’m grateful it all went to plan but he was just a lot earlier than expected. The NICU life is hard to understand if you have never experienced it. It tests everything you have, emotionally and physically; although you also have no choice so you just do what you need to do to get through each day.
I was lucky enough I had a few friends that had been on the prem journey, which didn’t make it any easier, but they advised me what to expect. I had one friend that was totally amazing in telling me how I'd feel and why I’d feel like that, which kind of made me feel like all these feelings were normal with the journey.
It's something that makes you different. You meet some amazing people along the journey, some of whom I will always be friends with. Most of the nurses are great and so caring. They said to me once “I couldn't imagine leaving him here every night”. It was hard, don’t you worry!
Levi is now 3.5yrs and has grown into such a bright, caring little boy who loves playing rough and tumble. We are very grateful that Levi has no ongoing health issues. No appreciation will ever be enough for all the people that looked after Levi and myself in the hospital.”
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