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Like many new parents to be we were absolutely thrilled to find out that we were pregnant, this baby had been longed for, for over 10 years, but like a lot of people we found out we were unlikely to conceive ourselves, after numerous tests confirmed there were problems on both sides we took the descision of seeking help in the form of ICSI (intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection) we had our shot at ICSI in 2006 and after just a week of implantation I started bleeding....we were devastated to say the least, emotionally and physically we were drained, we just wanted a baby to love and take care of. David was my rock throughout but I just couldn't put my body or mind through it again so he supported my decision, years went past family and friends were having babies left right and centre and while we were ecstatic for each and every one and joined in the celebrations, behind closed doors I cried my eyes out....everyone used to say "everything will work and I know how you feel" but until your in that situation, I'm sorry no you don't.
We resigned ourselves to the fact that we would only be parents to our boxer dogs holly and benny, our world, they went everywhere with us and still do...until in 2013 we found out we were pregnant, our little miracle was due on the 24th august 2013, at first we didn't want to believe it just in case anything happened, a few early scans showed everything looked ok and there was a heartbeat...18 weeks I felt my baby move and from there on all she done was kick 24/7 (at that point we didn't know it was a boy or girl)...I got bigger and bigger and was thrilled when people asked when are you due.
We were monitored every fortnight from 28 weeks due to being diagnosed with gestational diabetes, but apart from that everything was going great, the hospital took the decision to induce me a week early just with everything that we had been through, anyway I went into labour they day before this, excited and nervous contractions came and went and to be honest I was fine but david decided enough was enough, so off to the hospital we went....we were finally going to meet our son or daughter.
I was put on the monitor just to check baby and nobody seemed alarmed but by now the contractions were getting stronger and stronger and I was asking for some pain relief...gas and air was amazing all I done was giggle, I was totally oblivious to what was happening but David assures me now he knew something was wrong, after several examinations and nurses/doctors humming and hawing, there must have been about 20 people in the room by now saying we're taking you for an emergency c-section, eh did nobody read my birthing plan I was having this baby myself, it might sound stupid but secretly I wanted to feel the pain that went along with it after all it was never meant to happen! after eventually giving in, I was rushed to theatre where our daughter was born at 02.46am on the 17th august 2013 weighing 7lb 2 oz, she didn't cry or do anything when they took her out in fact at first they couldn't even tell us if it was a boy or a girl, she had meconium aspiration (her first stool) and pulmanory hypertension of the worst possible case, minutes seemed like hours but she eventually gave a whimper, we didn't get to hold her, we just got a quick glimpse of her before she was rushed off to nicu where we were told she was very critical....so we named her Rebecca Amelia. Minutes turned to hours before finally at about 6.30am they came to tell us that they were still working with her but she was very ill. After taking seriously ill myself I was unable to even get to see her, but 24 hours later the doctor was at my bedside with the worst possible news, your daughters condition has deteriorated overnight and we've taken the descision to move her to Yorkhill sick children's hospital as she needs specialist treatment from a machine called ECMO (extra corporeal membrane oxygenation) she was moved almost immediately by the St Johns Ambulance Team, I only got a few short minutes with her but even covered in wires and tubes she was the most gorgeous little girl I had ever seen....and we made her, yes me and david!!!
Eventually after having several blood transfusions, I took the descision on the Monday night that I was discharging myself, I had to go to my baby, she needed to know her mummy was there for her, david had taken pictures of her on the machine but nothing prepared me for what I saw, all the wires, tubes, machines, drugs and my wee Rebecca lying sedated oblivious to everything, her saturation levels were very poor but the minute I held her hand it went to 100%...she knew I was there, she knew I was her mummy, my fear that because we had been separated for 3 whole days that she wouldn't know me when we had spent a full 39 weeks together but she did!
She had two nurses with her 24/7, they were fantastic at explaining everything nothing was any trouble, just seeing how calm they were and they always had a smile kind of made things a bit rosier. The Tuesday we spent all day by her bedside just stroking her hand and talking to her, she was responding well to the treatment, we were told she would probably be on ECMO for 10/14 days, so Wednesday brought the best news ever....they were taking her off it, I remember the surgeon saying its one of the quickest improvements he had ever seen just under 72 hours.....she fought against all odds for her place in this world and she was still fighting....that's my girl!
ECMO is used in infants who are extremely ill due to breathing or heart problems, it provides enough oxygen to the baby while allowing time for the lungs and heart to rest and heal, it requires a large team of caregivers to stabilise the baby, as well as the careful setup and priming of the ECMO pump with blood and fluid, surgery is performed to attach the ECMO pump to the baby through catheters that are placed into large blood vessels in the babys neck or groin. Baby's on ECMO are very ill and are already at high risk for long term problems including death.
After coming off ECMO she was placed on a ventilator to help with her breathing, that afternoon the nurse promised me that we would get to hold her....how long had we waited for this!!! After careful manouveration of all the tubes and wires she was eventually placed into my arms, she was so tiny but so beautiful,I didn't want to put her down but she still needed plenty of rest and was still really drugged up so tired really easily. Thursday brought even better news, they were taking her off the ventilator and going to try her on just oxygen, Friday she was transferred back to nicu at ayrshire maternity and it felt like we were on cloud nine. This was short lived as they were trying to wean her off a lot of her drugs that had kept her sedated, I just remember us both sitting at the side of the incubator holding her tiny hands, the only way she would settle, the slightest noise or movement made her all jumpy and I have to say it felt like a step back....horrific to watch. By the Saturday at one week old she had perked up a bit and we got to dress her, her first clothes! We were warned that it would be a slow process and she could plateau which she did, never did we imagine though that we would still be there for another almost 4 weeks.
David was back at work now so we would get some time together when we eventually gor her home, I spent every day by her bedside just talking, watching and carrying out her "cares" she was still being tube fed, so we made the most of the cuddles we got each day. She was eventually moved to special care the last step from going home, it was a more relaxed here, we got to do more for her like bath her and eventually feed her, she was getting a mix of expressed milk and formula. She was still receiving oxygen and her breathing was still very rapid, it seemed like she had progressed so well but was at a standstill this was so frustrating to watch but she would heal in her own time. Eventually she came off oxygen and went on to low flow which was basically just a touch of air like you and name would breathe....the end was in sight, but a slight set back meant it being upped again, another week, download number 3 saw us with no tubes and being monitored over the weekend for possible home. On the 16th september we eventually got to room in! Our first night as a family, david slept...me I just sat and looked at her worrying about taking her home. She was a little angel and hardly made a peep all night.
The 17th August 2013...home time, I bawled my eyes out leaving the unit, I think just all the support and the back up we got, now we were on our own. David collected the dogs so they were home before we got there with Rebecca....they were amazing, very inquisitive but very calm. Anyway there all best of buds now and Rebecca just laughs anytime they brush past her or beg for her food!
She's 6 months old now and I actually still pinch myself everyday at how lucky we both are to have her in our lives, she will still have regular check ups until she's 2 in case of any underlying health issues that wouldn't be apparent just now but so far she's meeting all her milestones.
I wanted to organise this walk, just as a thank you for all the specialist care we got, without ECMO we most definetly wouldn't have Rebecca so we have a lot to be thankful for. As new parents you never imagine yourself in this position, yes you hear of Yorkhill all the time but until you're there you don't realise what an important part they play in so many children and parents lives.
Thank you for taking the time to read our story, and most of all thank you for your donation....it really will make a huge difference!
Ingrid, David and Rebecca....OUR MIRACLE xxx