28 weeks gestation
Stories of Liam have appeared in the PIPA newsletter before, written by his Nana, so I feel it’s about time his Mum gave an update. I have tried before, but get so emotional still. Such big swells of love, pride and relief that it gets a little too difficult. I guess you need to be in the right mood to re-live those early months.
Anyway, our 2nd son Liam came into the world on 14th June 2001 at 28weeks gestation. He weighed a relatively robust 1200g and came out spitting blood. I can remember my surprise at his strength and being frightened by how small he was.
His birth actually lifted a weight off my shoulders after 9 weeks of increasingly heavy bleeding during which I felt absolutely (irrationally) solely responsible for his survival. Now at least I could hand that responsibility to the experts.
The previous months had taken more of a toll than I had realised. Each day, willing the baby to move so I could feel him, but knowing that that same reassuring movement would bring on another bleed and more fears for his life. Much had also been speculated on about what had caused the problems with my pregnancy including the possibility of severe genetic abnormalities .I also had to move away from my home in Tennant Creek to live closer to medical care in Brisbane. This meant leaving my husband, mother and ten month old son for a month while I moved in with my brother and his wife.
Through Liam’s ten weeks in hospital we went through the usual NICU and SCU dramas…brady’s, CPAP, expressing milk, jaundice, alarms, monitors, machines, unexplained high temperature etc etc. In those early days I remember trying to appear calm and eager as I walked into the hospital each morning. Underneath, I was terrified that my baby may not have made it through the night and that someone would be waiting with the news by an empty isolette. I envied those wonderful parents who spent hours reading, talking and singing to their babies. I was so uncomfortable with having my life and emotions exposed to all those people on the ward that I withdrew a lot. I actually tried not to fall in love with my precious little man lest the worst should happen and my world would fall apart in front of all these people.
Liam took a long time to get totally off oxygen. He suffered a grade 1 haemorrhage and brain damage due to a poor cerebral blood flow at some stage. The brain damage, we were told, could result in a stiff arm or leg. (Phew!! was that all). Through it all, Liam’s weight gain was incredible and we began to feel quite lucky by comparison.
We met some lovely families and made some firm friends while we stayed near the hospital. A whole new group of friends who knew what you meant, could guess how you felt and shared each other’s ups and downs. It has been wonderful to see all these babies grow into beautiful toddlers.
Other milestones I remember are realising Liam’s ears no longer folded against his head like wet paper, seeing him actually grow bum cheeks and the day he moved into an open cot.
The most wonderful day, apart from leaving hospital, was when my husband got to give Liam his first cuddle. That day, I didn’t care how many people saw me cry.
Then, on the day he was discharged some ten weeks later, he was finally, really MY baby. I could just hold him and stare at him and, grateful as I am to the wonderful nursery staff, do it on my own.
Almost 3 years on, Liam is doing very well. I would like all families facing the prospect of raising a premmie baby to know that it is quite possible to leave the safety of the hospital and have no problems. Ever. When Liam smiles at me, with a grin so big that his eyes become slits, my heart aches with love. He is cuddly, happy and very caring, the first one to comfort his baby brother if he cries and tell his amputee uncle that he will buy him a new arm. He speaks with a lisp and calls day-care his work.
Liam adores matchbox cars and is rarely without half a dozen clutched to his chest. He is healthy and suffers no more colds than his full-term siblings. He loves his dog and chickens and older girls, for whom he always reserves the flirtiest giggles and bounciest walks. He also loves his trampoline and his brothers, Sam 3 and Joseph 9months.
Right now he tells anyone who will listen that when he is three he can have popcorn.
I am so blessed to have him in my life and will always be incredibly grateful to the hospital and it’s staff that made his existence possible.