Caroline and Baby Sam's story
Having a premature baby was, to me, quite a distressing experience, especially as this was nothing to do with my baby but due to a very rare and distressing condition that affected me during my pregnancy. Basically I had severe hypotrophy of the breast, AKA Gigantomastia which meant that I had a very rapid and severe overgrowth of my breasts which resulted in me struggling to fit into an L Cup bra which was the largest cup size I could get. As I am of a petite frame I looked completely bizarre and in fact nobody realized I was pregnant. All I seemed to be subjected to were stares and vile comments.
Emotionally I was a wreck and physically - by about week 26 of my pregnancy – my health was deteriorating too. I was having trouble breathing due to the sheer weight of my top half and my legs had swollen up too. Nobody could tell me when the growth would abate and I was told it would basically continue until the baby was born. Most women dream about having a fuller figure but this was just ridiculous and I just wanted it to stop. I was worrying constantly about the effects this was having on my baby, but was reassured by the top Breast Specialists in the Country that this wouldn’t cause him any problems. However I still worried. I also felt completely alone due to the fact that this condition was so rare and there was no-one I could speak with who could offer encouragement and support and say “it will be fine” as there is hardly any information or case studies recorded about this.
By about week 32 my Obstetrician decided enough was enough and it was time to think about delivering our baby. My husband and I were so frightened – a) because we knew this would be best for me but b) it wasn’t the best option for our baby. However we knew we just could not continue much further as my health really had deteriorated rapidly by this point.
So on 5th April 2011 we made our way to the hospital for our baby to be induced at 34 weeks + 4 days. The whole experience was definitely frightening as our main concern was about our unborn baby. Luckily enough we had a very supportive and sympathetic team of medical experts with us throughout who were very considerate to my feelings of anxiousness and also embarrassment, and who helped reassure us that this was for the best. I don’t think we would have coped so well without their support and encouragement.
We had a few scares as the heartbeat of our baby kept dropping during labour which was extremely worrying and my energy levels were dropping quite low. Eventually we were taken to theatre as the baby was lying in an awkward position and there was the possibility of my needing to have a c-section. At this point I did have a major panic as I just wanted our baby to be born safely and I started to feel out of control. Luckily at 6.08 pm on 6th April 2011 our beautiful baby boy Samuel came into the World by forcep delivery weighing 5lb 9 oz.. His weight was fantastic considering everything and when we heard him cry the relief we both felt was overwhelming. I cried tears of joy – he was the most beautiful little thing I had ever laid eyes on. As is the norm with prem babies he was taken down to NICU virtually straight away to be checked over. I then felt as if my right arm had been cut off and despite knowing these checks had to be done, I just wanted to hold my baby and have him by my side.
It seemed like forever before we were eventually allowed down to NICU to see him. Both my husband and I just wanted to see, hold him and be assured that he was doing ok! He was put in an incubator and was suffering with a little jaundice but other than that our baby boy was perfect in everyway. We both were so happy and relieved that despite everything our son was proving to be a little fighter.
When I think back to other babies in the unit, I am still so thankful that Samuel was such a healthy weight. He spent a total of 6 days in NICU which was nothing compared to the length of stay for some of the other little babies there. I really felt that someone was watching out for us by delivering our baby safely after such a traumatic pregnancy.
The hardest part of it all was going back to the ward on the first night. All the other women had their babies with them but obviously I didn’t. It was very strange and I found that most of the other women didn’t ask where my baby was either – I think they just didn’t want to intrude as I was visibly upset anyway. I got very upset when my husband went too as I just wanted to have him by my side however I must say I was so tired I did manage to get a good night’s rest despite my worries.
Going to NICU each day was draining, more so when I was discharged after 2 days but Samuel wasn’t. Obviously it was draining emotionally but also physically my breasts still hadn’t reduced at all and my body was just dealing with the after effects of labour. In an ideal world you would be at home just bonding with your baby and resting up but it was so much harder for me as I was away from home and constantly on the go when what I needed to do was to rest my feet up as much as possible so my body could recover from labour. We were only there 6 days but that was enough – I just got fed up with being there and craved being at home where we should have been. That aside, when at NICU it was wonderful, especially when we were allowed to cuddle and feed Samuel and after a couple days in his incubator he was put into the nursery room so we were able to cuddle and feed him pretty much the whole day and night if we wanted to. That was just the best thing ever. It is heartbreaking when you see your baby covered in wires and it just takes your breath away every time you see them move or open their eyes. This part of Samuels’ arrival into the World will stay with me forever as one of the most worrying, frightening times in my life. However the doctors and nurses in this unit were fantastic and we are eternally thankful for the help and support they provided. They always kept us updated with Samuel’s progress and told us we could ring anytime day or night if we were unable to get there at all. That gave us much needed peace of mind.
I did feel a little resentful of other women who were able to take their babies home straightaway and also had some tearful moments whilst at NICU but I think that was just a natural emotion to feel considering the circumstances and didn’t last long.
Samuel is now 7 months and doing wonderfully – he is eating solids and having regular development checks. He has put weight on steadily and is just beautiful – he brings such joy into our lives! As for me, I am still awaiting news of a reduction operation but that is another story. In the meantime we are just enjoying every second with our beautiful baby boy!