Laura Rivers born at 24 wks gestation, 750 grams, 19/9/95

My darling first daughter was born at 24wks, and what a roller coaster ride it was.

Not knowing what to expect when told we were in for the long haul. It was two steps forward, one step back with her. Laura was diagnosed with NEC (necroentercolitis) at 10 days old, and required bowl surgery. She was then diagnosed with a PDA duct that needed to be closed surgically at 30 days old. With so many blood and platelet transfusions, drugs and procedures that she endured, it was amazing that she was surviving. The hardest thing to endure through all  this was that I didn’t get to hold my precious baby until she was 41 days old.

Even with her laser eye surgery at 80 days old, for Grade 3 retinopathy, it was only then that she started to feel like  she was really my baby, as after that she was taken off the ventilator and moved to Special care, that I was able to be more involved in her care. After another few weeks, we returned to ICU to have her bowel stoma closed, and finally after 120 days, we were able to take our little girl home. After spending so long in hospital, you never want to see your baby back there.

At 10 months old, about 7and half months corrected, Laura become quite sick, having trouble breathing, her little chest rattling with a nasty cough, and generally being unwell. On a weekend, as unable to get to our GP, we took her to the Royal Children’s Hospital and were admitted straight away on oxygen. It was so frightening seeing her again being hooked up to monitors, needing oxygen, and looking again so helpless. The Doctors told us that she possibly had something called RSV, but they couldn’t be entirely sure until more tests were done. Thankfully, after four days of oxygen and constant monitoring, Laura seemed to be getting better, and we were sent home with a humidifier for her room and some anti-biotics.

It was so scary having to back in the hospital environment again, it brought back so many memories and we had just seemed to have gotten her home, and there we were again with a small and sick baby. After something like that, you tend to wake up at night every time you hear even the slightest cough, whether they are a tiny baby or even now when they are a big teenager.

Now at nearly 13, Laura has the physical scars to show from her times in hospital, but it is those times in hospital that long stays in the memory of her Mother.

Daniel Rivers born at 29 wks, 5 days gestation 1730grams 12/10/98

After going through what Laura, people often ask me how we possibly could have done this again. At the time, you don’t really think of those things.

Knowing that this was a high risk pregnancy and the chances of having another Prem baby were so high, it was no surprise that Daniel tried to enter the world at 23, 25, and 26 wks. Each time we managed to convince him to stay a little longer, but at the time of his birth, doctors were amazed a how much bigger he had gotten by staying with me for those few extra weeks.

Daniel was a much bigger baby than his sister, and was doing so much better. He didn’t have to spend as long in ICU, he didn’t have the operations or as many major worries as Laura. In Special care at around 4 weeks old though, he weakened a little and was found to have caught phenumonia. The doctors were concerned that his right lung would be a little weakened by this, but after a week of really battling, he started to turn the corner and showing signs of real improvement. Although, he didn’t come home on oxygen, it was only five days before he was discharged that he finally appeared not to need it to go home with. After 66 days, we could finally go home.

After all we had been through with them, when we left with Daniel we had hoped that we our days in hospital were over.

It was again in the early part of August, that I recognised in Daniel the same type of symptoms that Laura had showed the winter she was a baby. We again went straight up to the hospital, where they showed no hesitation in taking Daniel in and immediately giving him some oxygen. It was so hard to hear that he was going to be hospitalised, and again the doctors mentioned RSV to me. I must admit to not asking as many questions, as we had done this before, all I wanted was my baby to well again and go home.

I spent the next six days sleeping in a chair next to his hospital cot, watching him struggling to breath, scared of what may happen. Although Daniel was a bigger baby and longer gestation, RSV seemed to have struck him down harder. His right lung was so weak and troubled by this nasty virus. I hated being there, wanting to go home, but fear of leaving him as he seemed to be so sick. After nearly two weeks, we finally started to see some signs of improvement and were allowed to take him home. What a relief.!

For those first few winters, Daniel always seemed to struggle with coughs and with bronchial strains. Now at nearly 10 years old, he seems to have finally beaten all those early problems.

Mia Abbott born at 32wks 4 days gestation 1380 grams 2/2/07

After such a long time between my Prem babies, it was just as much of a shock having Mia at 32 weeks, as it was having Laura at 24 weeks.

My pregnancy was a horrible nightmare, but Mia’s time in hospital was relatively easy. Not needing any oxygen or ventilation, Mia was taken straight to special care, and spent her days getting learning to feed and getting bigger.

In comparison with her sister and brother, her hospital stay was far less stressful for her. It was much more stressful for her Mum, and her time in hospital brought back so many memories of previous experiences.

After spending 38 days in hospital, Mia was discharged at 2100 grams, a small but happy and healthy baby.

Now at 17 months of age (15 months corrected), so far this winter has been by far the worst. Mia has been constantly sick with ear infections, colds, conjunctivitis, and flu’s.

It is our greatest fear that something like RSV will again hit our family, and I know that we won’t rest easily until this period is over. I don’t think that I could bear to see Mia go through what Laura and Daniel did with being re-hospitalised. We will keep our fingers crossed!