29 weeks gestation
When my husband Geoff and I found out that we were pregnant we were overjoyed and a little shocked. We had talked about having kids but after only being off the pill for 3 weeks we didn’t think that it would happen so soon. I loved being pregnant. I loved lying on the couch and feeling our baby kicking and I loved watching by belly expand. Everything was normal until I went to one of my regular monthly visits with my GP during my 29th week.
After finding my blood pressure was quite high and several pluses of protein in my wee, I was told to pack a bag and go straight to Nambour hospital. At this stage I was quite nervous. I just didn’t know what to expect. I was admitted in the maternity ward where I was observed closely. The next day, Saturday, I was sent for an ultrasound where we were told that I had reduced flow dopplers. We were also told we were having a girl. Later that night I was transferred by ambulance to the Royal Women’s Hospital in Brisbane. The reality of how serious this was hadn’t really set in. I had heard about premature birth at my antenatal classes but you never really think that it will happen to you.
Bella Jane was born on Sunday the 20th May 2001, at 8:50pm, weighing 950grams. She was delivered by emergency Caesar under general anesthetic after she was found to be in distress. When I woke up Geoff showed me the polaroid that they had taken. You can’t really see what size the baby is from those things. I did think she was beautiful though. Beautiful, even with her red skin, long arms, long legs and skinny little body.
I got to meet my baby at about 10 the next morning. Entering the intensive care nursery is like being kicked in the stomach. It was shocking, all those machines and tiny babies. I never even knew that such a place existed. And there was my Bella, Room 2, second from the front on the right hand side. She was the smallest, most amazing, most precious baby that I had ever seen. She was ventilated, had a central line and was under the phototherapy lights.
Bella stayed in hospital for 48 days. On the ventilator for 45 hours, CPAP for 100 hours and the rest of the time spent fattening and feeding. When we took Bella home she weighed 1970grams. A lot of term babies are born at twice this weight, but this was normal to me. People would stop me on the street and say ‘Oh my goodness, look how small she is’, I thought that she was huge. I think that having a prem for you first baby just warps your perception of what a ‘normal’ baby looks like. I had never had much to do with other babies before having Bella so I just saw her a being normal sized. Only now when I look back I realise how small she actually was when she came home.
Bella is now a very healthy happy child who only recently celebrated her second birthday. Bella has no long-term effects from being born prem. She had caught up with all her developmental milestone by twelve months and stopped seeing a paed at the same time. The only problem we have had is getting her to put on weight. She is not a big eater and at two she doesn’t even weigh 10 kg yet, but we are working on it.
Read about Bella’s sister Lianna on this site.