When Dulcie looked down at that beautiful bump on that windy afternoon in Cardiff Bay she had hopes and dreams of how things were supposed to be. She had left the house in a hive of activity, walls were being painted and new furniture had been ordered, all in preparation for a cosy home to host the birth of this precious little girl she was carrying. Dulcie is an organiser, a stickler for details and dare I say a tiny bit of a control freak and the birth of her second baby was an event like any other that needed to be planned and executed with precision.
Now after at least the birth of their first baby most Mums will tell you that a Birth Plan is just some ridiculous exercise a midwife gives you to do to stop you from obsessing about how dirty your skirting boards are and how it is 'really important to wallpaper the entire house' in one weekend before the baby comes. In fact it makes for quite an amusing read after the event when you recall your strict instructions that 'under no circumstances' are you to be given any drugs for pain relief yet at the peak on your fourth contraction you are clinging on to the side of the bed screaming all manner of expletives you never even knew you could pronounce and tugging at the consultants sleeve offering financial bribes to get a top up on your epidural or another shot of pethidine! Regardless of this the plan was there.
Dulcie's plan was a simple repetition of the home birth she had with her first daughter Primrose, but the bigger plan, the one she was not involved with took a slightly different route. Around 33 weeks she began to feel unwell not unusual given she works as a paediatric nurse and is surrounded by sick children most of the day she put it down to a bit of a virus and being pregnant and went home to rest, and by rest I mean paint the kitchen! After a few days she decided to go to hospital just to ease her mind, she was kept in for a few days whilst tests were done but when they came back inconclusive she decided she was better off resting at home. There was little improvement and if anything she started to feel worse and on the day she was to witness her best friend get married she was taken back into hospital. Devastated that she had missed such an important event she was handed another blow when the consultant told her that if thing didn't improve by morning she would be scheduled for a Caesarean. Friday morning came and it was clear baby was not happy so she was prepped for theatre. Baby Nell arrived earthside at 35weeks and was immediately whisked off to the Neo Natal unit. Tubes and masks and machines enabled Nell to breathe so she could concentrate on recovering from being yanked out of her cosy space in the womb whilst slowly her still poorly and devastated Mummy came to terms with the fact that she now had a very vulnerable little baby that needed her more than ever. Nell is a fighter and with every ounce of her tiny 5lb 7oz little body she fought to breathe on her own. After a week she had gained enough strength to be allowed home to finally meet her big sister who was confused and disoriented with the sudden change in routine not to mention the lack of mummy.
When your body betrays you in such a way that you have no choice but to stage a medical intervention like a Caesarean the emotional scars carry a heavy weight. Self doubt creeps in not to mention disappointment at not having the outcome you wished and planned for. It's easy to be flippant and remark that 'at least you have a healthy baby' and whilst that is absolutely true and the very best possible outcome the trauma experienced, and the worry and anxiety of an unknown takes much longer time than you imagine to get over, and sadly in some cases some parents never do.
The impact of this experience and bringing home a baby that has had a traumatic start in life will take time for Dulcie and Rich to absorb and overcome and whilst we are obviously all hugely relieved that Nell is here now and thriving, putting on weight and getting to know her beautiful family, we also know that so many other babies have been born too soon. They have a long journey ahead and their Mummies and Daddies may like Dulcie and Rich, need even longer to come to terms with it all which is why charities like Bliss that offer such amazing support to these families are so wonderful. Every penny goes towards supporting those families, helping the incredible nursing staff that look after these poorly babies as well as funding crucial research into premature birth and right now after cuddling this beautiful little baby I can't think of a better cause to donate to.
If you would like to donate you can find a link to their page here: BLISS