I was admitted to Croydon University Hospital on the 25th of October 2020 due to abdominal pain and a positive result of preeclampsia. I had previously been diagnosed with gestational diabetes and hypertension. There were some worries in regard to how well my placenta was performing, so I was being monitored by the prenatal team.
My preeclampsia developed into HELLP (Hemolysis, Elevated Liver enzymes and Low Platelets) syndrome within 12 hours of being admitted. An ultrasound found that my placenta was not working at all. For my baby Kayla to have the best chance to survive, she was delivered by C-section on Tuesday 27th October at 31+4 (31 weeks and 4 days gestation). Things did not go to plan: I had to spend a few days in intensive care and Kayla went to NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit).
Kayla was a perfect bundle of joy - just small - weighing only 3 lbs. She was ventilated for four days because she had some respiratory distress when she was born. Overall, Kayla spent six weeks in the NICU. She had issues with jaundice, infection, vitamin levels and reflux but she thrived and after six weeks she gained enough weight for her to come home. Just in time for Christmas, her original due date.
Kayla is now a very energetic, bubbly and charismatic little girl! You would not for a moment think she had the start in life that she did. She is full of happiness. She has a slight delay in general, but we put that down to her prematurity. I am confident that, with support, she will catch up with her peers.
I understand what it means to always be on the edge of your seat and not be able to relax when your baby is in NICU. I also understand the feeling of being “the problem”. Kayla was delivered early because my body had so many issues and I felt so much guilt. Additionally, I was so ill, I missed the first five days of Kayla’s life.
I was briefed for five minutes about the NICU before my C-section. I honestly could not tell you what the doctors said. I was not prepared for my first trip to the NICU. I was so overwhelmed the first time when I was wheeled into the unit; it was so hot I felt like I was going to faint. I felt scared of all the beeps and other noises and I did not understand what they all meant. When I saw Kayla, I was frightened. She had wires and tubes everywhere - I could not believe what I saw. I felt lost at first, but with the support of the lovely nurses and the rest of the team at Croydon University Hospital, I grew the strength to support my baby. I learnt so much from the other mothers on the unit as well.
I wanted to be part of the Croydon University Hospital’s peer support group as, due to COVID, we did not have that sort of support. I want to make sure any new parent to the unit does not feel as lost as I did.
I love being part of the Ickle Pickles peer support group because it allows me to be part of a fantastic support system for parents going through similar experiences.