Myself and my partner Thomas planned to have Jaxson - we were so ready to share a baby together, it was all we talked about and just the perfect finish to our family. When you plan for a baby you feel more prepared, more organised.
But what we have learned is that planned or not the pregnancy is something all on it's own, no matter how many babies you have it's always different.
The month before Jaxson we miscarried and I started to feel it was going to take forever - we were heartbroken and I felt I had failed my partner big time…
But the following month no aunt flow and I prayed and prayed for a beautiful positive result.
From there we were quieter about things until the first scan and were sure our bundle of joy was ok.
We knew we would be in for quite the ride as I was a high risk mum to be, I had suffered preeclampsia in my two previous pregnancies both ending in emergency C-section - one 4 weeks early and the second 3 days late! So we knew a C-section was our only choice in delivery but it was so worth it to join our family with our own sweet baby. I already knew how amazing our NHS stuff were - they had been there for me twice before and are truly remarkable people!
So at the start it was all predictable - hospital appointment and midwife appointments, blood tests, blood pressure checks over and over again, constantly being checked. But we didn't mind - we felt closer to our baby, we had more scans and heard his heartbeat all the time - it was like falling in love over and over again.
And we knew the staff were keeping me and baby safe :)
When we found out we were having a boy I was in shock. With two girls already I just didn't believe I'd ever have a boy. I didn't think I could carry them as I had miscarried twice and really believed for some reason my body didn't take to carrying boys. I also had two girls which I carried completely differently to each other, but this pregnancy was so much like my first I couldn't keep anything down but spicy food (for a short while anyway). I was sick pretty much the whole way though, I was craving milkshakes again. And the dreams were vivid every night, so here I was believing and feeling it was a girl.
However I didn't believe I'd ever have another baby and experience the joys of creating life again. I thought I was pretty settled with my two daughters until love knocked me of my feet and I knew I wanted a baby with him. So, girl or boy it didn't matter I was lucky I was blessed!
And then here I was finding out I was actually having a son … my very own boy I couldn't believe it a blessing twice … to say we was over the moon would be an understatement!
As the weeks went on the high blood pressure began creeping in.
I found out from a check up on my cervical screening that the abnormal cells were getting worse. I reached cin 3 and was terrified, I hated those appointments because I didn't want anyone checking me. I was worried for my baby boy, I didn't want to risk losing him, it was my job to keep him safe, he is all that matters my body has to pull through he has to be safe… these thoughts constantly going through my mind day and night!
The midwife told me my cervix was very irritated and my blood pressure was high but our boy was keeping the preeclampsia at bay … she said 'he must have his dad's immune system'. This made myself and my partner feel extremely grateful, we knew then he was a strong and brave boy and it gave me a lot of hope and faith …
Shortly after the doctors told us there were no signs of cancer cells and the reason it's probably spreading and changing is because I was pregnant and my immune system was busy caring for our unborn child. The doctor reassured us after the pregnancy things would probably improve and to focus on our baby. (He was right thank god)
Then came the night I'll never forget. I was 30 weeks and 3 days and I started getting hot flushes and feeling dizzy then sick.
I thought at first I might be coming down with something until the period pains started - they were a dull ache at first (we had just got back from a day at QA after a scare) so I got a hot water bottle and went to bed promising my partner if it was still there in the morning we would go back.
I didn't tell him but each time I went to the toilet I was scared incase there was blood but I do over worry and the pains were just there kind of in the background uncomfortably. I didn't want to worry him anymore, I got back into bed and in the morning I felt fine…. a huge sigh of relief. I said morning to my partner and kids, Came down stairs and stood in the front room then all of a sudden I fell, hunched over on the floor the pains were very real and strong! It was scary and I knew our baby was not ok!
The panic set in and my partner got me to the hospital so fast that morning, and I was seen quickly this time, doctors and nurses coming in and out, I was on pain relief and strapped up to what I thought was the machine to hear my babies heart, it was all a massive blur for me but the very opposite for my partner I could see in his face … something not quite right was going on…
Then I heard the nurse say 'she's having contractions but the cervix is closed' They asked me where the pain was coming from … with my heart in my throat all I could do was point to the top of my bladder area. And then I heard the words "rupture" and I knew something was terribly wrong.
Then came the talk no dad or mum could ever be ready for or completely grasp ….
"We think what's best for you and the baby is to get him out now"
"We believe your old scar tissue may have ruptured and this is extremely fatal to you and the baby."
I didn't even know this was possible… old scar tissue rupturing! What is happening? Why?
I asked my partner what we should do and he said to me "get him out if it's the safest thing to do that's all we can do right?" "it's going to be ok I'm here".
The rest for me was pretty much a mess from there one big blur. But not my partner, he was holding himself together for me, for our son, for our family at home - he was amazing.
I was given steroids and taking pretty quickly down for a C-section. At 30 weeks and 4 days our son was going to be born the 11th of November 2018 and I wasn't ready. This wasn't meant to happen he was meant to be born on 16th of January 2019!!! I put all my faith in those doctors and in my son and I felt awful, he was mine, it was meant to be my job to protect my baby. I was meant to be his home, his safe home! Broken and praying and being pulled about, heart racing and checking my partners face for answers was all I remember in that room!
The one look my partner gave me when our son was born still haunts me today he told me our son was ok but his face was terrified.
And after what felt like sooo long waiting to know if he was ok, he was wheeled away I saw the gas mask on his tiny face! Such a small precious, gentle face.
My partner got a quick look and a picture but I could hardly lift my head.
After I was stitched up and put back on the ward to rest Dr Chaudary came to see me, she told me I had alot of scar tissue and a very sensitive tummy. She told me my cervix was extremely weak and our son was very low down (he had been that way for a long time) with the cin grades too and my hip dysplasia my body was just going through to much and the pressure on that area was very clearly too much for me to handle, she said "we definitely made the right choice". But It didn't make me feel any better all I wanted to do was force myself to get up and walk - I wanted to see my son. Watching my partner pace up and down and constantly asking "when can we see our son?", "how long now?" was breaking my heart. I felt I had cursed this whole mess and I was watching my partner crumble inside... Jaxson was born at 11:57 weighing 3pounds 11 and we got to lay eyes on him just after 6pm! It was a long and scary wait.
My partner wheeled me down to the NICU ward and that is when I first learnt about the NICU and all that happens there. And I can tell you know it doesn't matter how much you know about it , you can't prepare yourself for the life and feelings behind that door until you're there living it, seeing it and hearing it.
Our baby was in a box, he was sooo tiny and I just wanted to hold and kiss him, to tell him I was sorry but ever so proud of his strength. There were tubes everywhere, wires all tucked around him, plasters and wraps everywhere. He just didn't seem like enough of a human to have that much going on. We couldn't hold him or kiss him - all we could do was reach into one of the little doors and touch his super soft skin… it's such a hard situation to grasp - this had all happened so fast.
Going home was even harder, leaving my tiny baby every day. Seeing people that kept saying "oh my you have had your baby but where is he?" or "where's that baby?" "didn't realise you had him already" . It broke me down, I became angry - I felt my pregnancy had been ripped from me and I felt I had failed my baby. I was trying to be happy for my little family at home but it was sooo hard. I wanted to be close to my kids at home, but I didn't want to leave my son.
Everyday we were torn and every day was long and a real mix of emotions.
Jaxson was on the NICU ward for 4 weeks and a day and on the 12th of December at 5 pounds we finally took our beautiful brave miracle boy home!!!!
I can never ever thank those amazing nurses and doctors for saving Jaxson, for keeping him safe and warm and loving him while I couldn't be there.
They're true heros!!!
He was kept warm, fed with a special tiny bottle when ready to come off tube feed, he was given a blood transfusion, washed daily, treated for thrush twice, had his nappies changed and extremely cared for. Everything they did for him was inspirational.
Life on that ward has changed my view on life.
After we left NICU we found out Jaxson had no hearing in his right ear
And in March 2019 he ended up on picu in Southampton with pneumonia. His right lung was over inflated, his left lung had collapsed and he was sedated for the first 3 days … he was swollen … completely unrecognisable and again our world was upside down for two weeks. We were living in fear and watching him have withdrawals from the medication was so awful - nothing can prepare you for the life of a premature baby. Don't ever feel guilty about that because everyone feels the very same, no two premature babies have to have the same story but all us parents feel that I promise you. However premature babies are so strong, and they deserve your strength in times of need too, it really is incredible what they can do and you just being there is enough!
I will never forget Jaxsons journey - it's made him who he is, it's made me who I am and I believe with every inch of my being even though the world wasn't ready for him he showed the world he was ready for it. That's why fate gave him to me on the 11th of November at 11:57 weighing 3pounds 11 - the world wanted me to remember his strength, his spirit and just how amazing NICU and PICU is and to be thankful for them all so on Remembrance Day we celebrate a few more heros and a lot more strength and gratitude.
It's extremely hard, it's tiring but It will get easier and the staff become family, your life line and your support as well …so you have to keep going your baby needs you.
And these miracle babies are ever so mighty!!