This week I have a guest author who has bravely shared her diary from her days in the NICU. Unlike my own experience, Kim’s little boy Mason lived only 4 short days. It is remarkable how honest this account is.
Monday 27th October
It’s been nearly four weeks since I’ve been in hospital. Besides the ruptured membranes and lack of water around the baby, everything else is well. All blood tests, scans, swabs, heart rates and temperatures were good. Today was just another long day of many. I took a sleeping tablet at 2am and slept through. I woke up feeling well, better than I had felt on the weekend. I ate breakfast, than had my scan and there were changes in the baby. His usual heart rate was between 140-160 with about 30 kicks in about 20 minutes but he’d only kicked once and his heart rate was between 136-142, then he turned and they couldn’t find it for a few minutes. They paged the doctor to look and left me on the machine for another half an hour or so. The doctor was out of the hospital. They took me around for an ultrasound. The baby was lying still in a crossways position with a foot at the top of my cervix. There was no water and I hadn’t leaked any water overnight. The doctor then came in and said the baby had to be born today. They took me back to my room and I thought I’d brush my teeth, have a shower and then get done at some stage. There were people in my room and it was time to get done now. They took my jewellery, filled in forms, put a drop in, shaved part of me, took my clothes, and gave me a bum showing gown and fussed all about like army ants going into battle. My bed was brought in for me to go to theater. It was so quick. They took me upstairs double and triple checked forms, gave me poisons to drink which would help for something, gave me needles and an epidural. They all introduced themselves “Hi I’m Dr Whoever, I’ll be looking after your whatever”. I guess the team had ten or so people. They all had blue hats, just like me and masks so I didn’t know who was who anyway. I passed through this busy section and the bed was waiting under the big lights. The bottom half of my body was dead. They started to yellow up my tummy and get ready to go. It hadn’t been an hour since I left the ultrasound place. They put a sheet up and I couldn’t see my bottom half but if I looked up at the big circle light above, there was a round plate, like a mirror and I could see in that. I didn’t look too often incase I saw something I didn’t want to. They started cutting and not long after they pulled out a foot, then another foot, then a bum. He was facing down so they couldn’t see if he was a boy or a girl. They pulled out the rest of him and said “He’s a boy” and they took him to his bed behind my head, I couldn’t see him. I was laying there as the doctor operated, staring at the big clock on the wall besides me. He finished off after another 20 minutes. I was taken to recovery. I was thinking as I lay there maybe its all a dream, then a nurse came in with two photos of my baby. It’s only half an hour after he’s born. He has lots of tubes in, he doesn’t look well. I started to cry. The photos brought me back to reality. When I settled, I looked at them again and I cry again I laid the photos on my chest facedown, I didn’t want to look at them, they were too sad. By now his picture was stuck in my head without looking at them so I just cried at the thought that he was born and it’s too early and he doesn’t look well. The long wait was over and now the next stage is ahead of me. In a short time they took me to my room, I saw Roger there. They slid me onto my bed and there I was, my legs were still numb. As the numb wore off the pain came and it was unbearable. I just laid there not knowing what to think, say or feel. Roger had a look at the baby upstairs. Throughout the night I had about six shots for pain and I was nauseated and couldn’t sleep.
Tuesday 28th October
I was still in a lot of pain. They sat me in a chair for hours and I kept nodding off. My head was dopey from drugs. They took me up in the wheelchair to see the baby, he had responded well overnight and his breathing had improved a lot. It was very positive. I touched his leg and stroked his hand. I thought I wont touch him much, I didn’t want him to catch germs and when he gets better we’ll spend lots of time together. His eyes were opened and moved a lot. Late in the afternoon on an ultrasound there were signs of a bleed in his brain. They said it’s probably the beginning of one and they’ll scan him tonight or tomorrow. If it doesn’t get worse, he should be all right.
Wednesday 29th October
Physically I was feeling a little better. They took my catheter out this morning and I could almost get out of bed myself. My boobs were getting sore as they were filling up with milk. I was wondering if they’d already scanned the baby and what was happening. I asked the nurse but they happen. I went up to see him and watched him for a while. They brought the scan machine over so I left to give them room. I asked the doctor to come and tell me as soon as they finish. Two doctors came into my room and told me things were now a lot worse and he had a fourth degree bleed to the brain and if he was to live, at best one side of his body wouldn’t function and he’d be intellectually handicapped as well. The doctors though we should stop treating him within the next few days and I agreed for Friday. I saw a priest and organised a baptism for Thursday 1pm.
Thursday 30th October
Today I could walk, my legs and feet were fat looking. The baptism is on at 1pm with father Brendan. Hrs a nice fellow. We named the baby Mason Abel Langsworth. Mason was a name in my head that I got from a book in the hospital in Townsville. It seems to be a strong name and Mason was strong, just born too early. His middle name Abel is from the bible. Eve had two sons, Abel was the innocent one who died. I went to Mason about 11am to get him ready. We cleaned him, his face and put a beautiful white dress on him and booties. He now sleeps all the time because he’s sedated because of his head pain. Roger came back after 12. We left Mason to be back at 1pm for the baptism. We returned and Father was there. I sat down and took photos and Roger stood behind me. The nurse videoed it. I cried most of the time because I knew he was never coming home and that he would die tomorrow. After the baptism, we nursed Mason for the first time. I held him and stated at him. He moved his chin and lips like when babies are sucking. He is so beautiful. He had fair hair on his cheeks and arms and on his head, it’s mixed from fair to my colour. He is perfect looking and his spirit is so strong and special. He would have been a lovely person, everyone would love him. I can’t believe the baby I’m holding, so precious and perfect is never coming home alive. Even holding him I cry because I miss his life so much. When I was pregnant I though I’d never love anyone as much as Sebastian and the baby would come second, but now holding him and loving him, I can’t imagine loving anything more. The pain of his loss, even though he hadn’t gone, is unbearable. The thoughts and feelings of today are the saddest in my life. We left him and went downstairs. Tomorrow I was going to go to him about 11am and spend as long as I wanted with him, then after taking him off the machines, he would come downstairs with me and spend the night, then I would leave the hospital on Saturday. It was about 7:30pm Thursday night and a nurse came in and said “the nursery called and Mason has a problem and go up now”. I grabbed the camera and video and wrong up. The doctor and nurse were with him and they told me he wouldn’t make it till tomorrow and the time to do things was now. They asked what I wanted to do first. I just didn’t have a clue in what order of things to do before your baby dies. I washed his head with cotton balls. Hand printed a book and piece of paper, 3 hand and 3 foot prints and cleaned that off him. They took the monitors of his arms and foot, and two tubes out of his belly button. I changed his nappy. The only tube on him was the one in his nose to help him breathe. What had gone wrong was that the bleed in his head got a lot worse and his brain was shutting everything down. Only his heart was beating. I was holding him crying, thinking my baby is leaving me and there’s nothing I can do except love him and hurt the most terrible hurt. I thought it was time they took the last tube out and I take him to my room so we can be alone. I had a lifetime of love to cram into such a short time. He was in a basket and a nurse took us downstairs to into my room. I was waiting for her and another nurse to leave. I wanted to be alone with him. They soon left us in peace. I straightened his clothes, changed his nappy, put on his cardigan and bonnet, then wrapped him in his blanket I bought him and he was ready. Already to die in his mothers arms. He gasped every now and then. I videoed him, took photos, hugged him, kissed him, talked to him, sang to him, read to him, stared at him a lot thinking of what we’d been through together and how I wished he was born a few weeks later. It’s such a waste of a perfect life. I know it’s no ones fault. He’s just born too soon. I wish in all my pain, physical and mental, that I could have it ten times worse and for ten times longer, just to kept Mason, in the end. It was just after 10pm that his heart stopped beating. We had two hours alone together, while he was alive. He spent the night in my room, in a basket on a chair, next to my bed. There was such a silence, such a loss.
Mason was only .898gms when born. He was 26 weeks gestational age. My water broke at 22 weeks.
Exactly a year after Mason was born, I left the hospital, with a healthy baby boy.