When I was 29 weeks pregnant my partner and I split up. I was devastated but he no longer wanted to be in a relationship with me, he promised to be there for the baby when she was due 2 months later. I would later find out I would be her only parent as he did not want any involvement. 2 weeks later when I was 31+2 weeks pregnant, my waters broke, I was at home alone and I didn’t know what to do. I was terrified. I rang the rotunda and they told me to come straight in.
The doctor said that yes my waters had (half) broken so they needed to keep me in for observation, I didn’t know what was happening ,I was in shock, I was terrified that the baby was coming early, was she going to be ok?, why was this happening? All these thought and questions racing through my mind.
The doctors told me that they wanted to get me to at least 34 weeks but then they would need to take baby out. I was given injections every day to help the baby’s lungs develop. In hospital I was trying to prepare myself mentally for having my baby early, while still dealing with the upset of the relationship break up and of being on my own with the baby when she arrived, but friends and family promised to help out. I didn’t know how I was going to cope being a single parent.
I was 3 days in hospital with regular checks from nurses, I felt grand was in no pain until later on the 3rd night. At about 12 am I felt strange felt a sort of contraction I thought, so I told the nurse. About 20 minutes later the pain was unreal, the baby was coming and now. I was rushed to delivery with no time for pain relief and teagan was born at 1:03am on the 14th may, weighing 3p14oun. Only an hour after I felt my first bit of pain. It all happened so fast. Teagan was rushed to intensive care; I only saw a glimpse of my baby girl after she was born.
After an hour or so they brought me to see her in I C U, I didn’t see a baby all I saw was tubes and bandages, she was so tiny, I think I was still in shock wanted to cry but I couldnt, there was my baby in an incubator and I couldn’t hold her, I listened to the nurse but I don’t think I actually heard what she was saying, the next few days would be critical, my baby was here now, 2 months early.
The following days I was on auto pilot, I was lucky I did not live far away so I spent my days in the hospital with her. The hardest thing was me leaving hospital without my baby, going home to a house full of baby stuff but my baby would not be there yet. Every day I saw parents bringing their baby home, to me it was not fair, my baby should be going home too. Every night I left to go home I didn’t know if I would get a call to come straight back in or if I’d see her again the next day. Every day I grew more anxious and I felt alone as I was the only parent teagan had now caring for her. I felt jealous of other people that both parents would spend hours in ICU with their baby and teagan only had me. The nurses were a great support, but when you’re spending hours on your own looking at your tiny baby and then you’re going home without her, it’s the worst feeling in the world. Some people say things like, “well at least you can get some sleep”, I hated these comments, how do you sleep when your baby is in intensive care in hospital and you can’t stay with them at night, how can you sleep knowing this.
When teagan was one week old, they discovered she had no palate and was diagnosed with a cleft palate. This would make feeding difficult .Which it was. She had to be tube feed first and then use special bottles which I had to squeeze the milk out of into her mouth. At that stage I was just numb from her early arrival so anything else added on to her health problems I just had to deal with.I had no choice but to.
I had to live one day at a time, praying, hoping every day teagan would get that bit stronger.Teagan finally was well enough to go home on the 14th June she only weighed just over 5pound, she was still really tiny, she fit in my hand, but I couldn’t wait to get her home, either could my friends or family, they had never met her.
But gradually the excitement turned to fear, I was at home on my own with a premature baby. It was tough, very tough; she was so small even changing her nappy, clothes was a task in itself. At her 6 week check up, we were on the way home when the hospital phoned to ask me to bring teagan straight back in, she needed an emergency blood transfusion; they had found this from the blood test. Again a complete shock to me, but she had it and she was fine. I was so nervous all the time, she vomited after every bottle, screamed most of the time, and her breathing was not the best. I constantly tried to stay awake at night afraid to go asleep. I was drained physically and emotionally, I was diagnosed with post natal depression, with all that had happened my doctor was not surprised. What got us through the next few months, were my great friends and family. They came around and looked after the baby and me. I will always be grateful to them, they are my angels.
Teagan was classed as failure to thrive and it was hard for her to gain weight, constant checkups and weekly weigh in's were now a normal part of my life and hers, but we got through it all, me and my tiny baby.
Teagan is 2.5 years old now. She had her cleft palate surgery at 9 months, which they then diagnosed her with Pierre robin syndrome, a rare syndrome associated with cleft palate. She has a small chin, jaw mouth which can cause further breathing problems. She is under a team at Temple Street which regularly see her. She has been ill a lot in the past 2 years but this is normal for us. She has a speech therapist and will need regular hearing tests as these too are complications with cleft and Pierre robin. She is a happy beautiful girl, loves playing and chatting away to friends and me. She will have problems with her health but after all that she has been through so far I know she will be just fine.
Having a premature baby, is not easy, especially if you’re on your own from the start, but you learn to cope, to let people help and most of all you realise that your prem baby is the greatest gift you will ever have. Premature babies are brave, strong, and they are unique. I am grateful my tiny baby defeated the odds, and is now a happy, loving toddler.