Author: Nyomi, mother of 23-weeker Colton
My names Nyomi and I'm from Lincolnshire in the UK. Colton’s my one & only child. He was my 2nd pregnancy. My 1st pregnancy turned out to be a blighted ovum which required a d&c in 2016. The pregnancy wasn't planned as wasn't sure I could conceive. It wasn't the best pregnancy as I pretty much bled all the way through minus 3-4 weeks. I ended up back & forth to the hospital nearly every week with bleeding & cramping. I also had extra scans at 5,6,8,12,19 & 21 weeks. I didn't know anything about premature babies and never heard of a NICU before.
I ended up getting an infection and the doctors didn't give me the right antibiotics to start with which caused my preterm labor. I'd been in the hospital on the Saturday 4th August with bleeding and cramping saying that something didn't feel right & I could hardly walk properly. they checked his heart beat and gave me a speculum said everything looked okay; then they sent me home. I struggled having a bath the Sunday night my mum had to help me get out the bath; slept fine then woke up Monday 6th felt him move then stood up and my waters just broke there and then I thought I'd wet myself went to the loo put a pad on and laid down once I stood back up I felt another hush so ended up rushing to the labor ward. The hospital I was due to deliver at could only cater for babies born at 32 weeks not before so they had to ring around loads of hospitals but half of them only had a bed for me rather than for us both until they found one 2 hours away.
One of the consultants from the NICU came and spoke to me and explained about babies being premature and how they helped them; he was lovely and really caring because he could see how worried I was. I thought that was it for my baby he wasn't going to survive and I'd never be a mum. I was still in shock the first time I saw him it didn't really register that I'd just had a tiny baby that was laid in a glass box with wires hooked up to him. I had him at 4:52am and I saw him for the first time 6-7 hours later when my sister came to the hospital and I didn't get to hold him until he was 28 days old.
It was a surreal moment being brought into a room full of tiny babies and what felt like 100s of nurses with the machines beeping every 2 seconds. I didn't feel like he was my baby. I just looked in the incubator and stared at his tiny chest moving up and down. Physically I recovered quite good from delivery and ended up going for a walk outside the hospital 4 days after giving birth but emotionally it took me ages to get over the fact I'd given birth to a poorly baby. I ended up getting quite depressed and didn't want to see Colton so I got some therapy to talk about my feelings and what was happening around me. Colton had multiple blood transfusions, a different cannula every week, suspected meningitis, sepsis a couple of times, NEC which they caught early and cleared with antibiotics & had 4 extubations,the last one requiring a round of steroids to help him come off the ventilator. He was known for the baby always having a Brady in room 3. He was in 2 NICU’s for 130 days in total: 10 weeks in Sheffield & 8 weeks in Lincoln.
I was so happy by time I actually managed to bring him home as it got delayed 3 times due to feeding and not pooing. He came home on 0.1 litres of oxygen which was over ventilated but they couldn't go any lower and he couldn't come off it. We also came home on 4 different medications which I had to administer: 2 diuretics, one for reflux & one for constipation. He saw a dietician as they weren't happy with the amount of weight he was putting on and he's also had some physio as he was behind on sitting, crawling and walking. He has been admitted to the hospital about 4-5 times since coming home due to his breathing and feeding which he is now on an inhaler for and had some more steroids. He is doing fabulous today, no longer has oxygen nor any medication since mid-last year. He's walking everywhere and eats whatever you put in front of him. He still isn't talking yet but does make noises but says “mama” and “dada” when he feels like it. Other than that, he's brilliant and such a happy child. Definitely my little miracle child.
My bit of advice for NICU moms would be take every day as it comes. I was told it's like a rollercoaster with the ups and downs of the NICU life. If you ever feel like you can't connect to your baby or you just feel like you don't want to, speak out to the nurses to make sure you're okay and that you always have somebody to talk to. Not going to lie, it was hard work coming home. But it's been the best part of my journey. It might seem scary at first, but you'll soon get used to how things run.
Follow Colton's progress by clicking here.
Have questions for Nyomi or just want to leave an encouraging comment? Be sure to leave them in the comment section.