Back at the Beginning

I always knew that when Dominic was born we would be spending sometime at John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford. From my 20 week anomaly scan where the ultrasound technician burst into tears and kept repeating the phrase ‘I’m sorry, I’m so so sorry’ without explaining what the hell was going on – we both knew it was going to be bad. Having already ‘survived’ an amniocentesis after the 12 week scan showing an increased Nuchal Translucency (NT)we really weren’t expecting any further complications. However, there we were, back in MDU in the ‘Room of Doom’ being told that our little boy had heart deformities, multi cystic kidneys, a dodgy spine and a single vein and artery umbilical cord… We were then told because of the Drs strike we couldn’t have an appointment for our referral to Oxford for an entire week. I can honestly say that was the worst week of my life – especially when the hospital rang to discuss termination options ‘so I wouldn’t be blindsided by it if it came up while we were in Oxford’. Do you know how they terminate babies at that point in a pregnancy? It’s horrendous. Don’t google it.

Anyhow, The prognosis from JR a week later was considerably less black. Dominic’s spine was fine, his heart had 2 superior vena cava (unusual, but not in anyway life threatening), the umbilical cord thing was, again, unusual but wouldn’t affect him – but one kidney was effectively dead and multi cystic and the other was dilated. Here was our issue that put us firmly in the NICU box on delivery.

Both my hospital and JR monitored me consistently throughout the rest of the pregnancy. The amino fluid around Dominic was always ok so there was no desperate rush to induce and get him out for immediate intervention, however at week 36 I agreed to an induction at week 38 because the idea of going into labour and having to get through all the roadworks to Oxford was freaking me out more than anything. No one wants to give birth on the A43…

Dominic didn’t agree with this plan however and was born 5 days earlier naturally. My labour was about 5 hours – having been convinced by everyone that your first born takes much much longer than this, I arrived at my hospital (not JR) 9.5 cm dilated. Despite him being quite small, i still had to have an episiotomy – if you can avoid it, do. Recovering from it is not pleasant.

When Dominic was born he was placed on my tummy for about 5 seconds where they cut the cord, then they whisked him off and put him into an incubator in the doorway where about 6 Drs were waiting for him. I didn’t even get to see him because he was whisked away before I’d even opened my eyes. Oddly, I can still remember that slimy plop onto my stomach – I can’t quite decide whether or not I regret not seeing him then…

After he was out, I can honestly say I have no idea what they were doing with him in the doorway – all of this I only found out later. Actually over a month later when we were finally discharged from SCBU and i had the courage to read the discharge notes. (Just for the record, this was a good call – as was the doctors and my husbands not to tell me at the time. I was already in a state and knowing would have made it so very much worse for me).

Dominic breathed on his own for 8 minutes – a kind of barking, raspy, gutteral inhalation, almost like he was drowning. 5 different people thn tried to intubate him: 2 Drs, 2 consultants and an anaesthetist. Everyone failed. They couldn’t get the smallest tube (2.5mm) past an obstruction in his trachea / wind pipe. At that point one of the consultants used the hand pump to breathe for him for the next 3 hours before the team from Oxford arrived to transfer him. At that point, the consultant from Oxford placed him on CPAP, nasal prongs that force in air under pressure – then blue lighted him to Oxford in a critical care ambulance.

He is one of the only babies ever to be transferred with an unsafe airway.

Dominic wouldn’t have survived had it not been for the persistance of those 2 consultants manually breathing for him for hours.