Where were we? Oh yes: pre-eclampsia. The causes of this condition aren’t well-understood; the management of it is. Shortly after my last post on the subject, the midwives and obstetricians at the Rosie Hospital in Cambridge started to manage Nessa’s pregnancy more closely, and we found ourselves in and out of hospital every couple of days. By Maundy Thursday they’d decided to admit her, and because her blood pressure had continued to rise, on Easter Sunday they decided to induce the baby.
He didn’t want to come and so after a very uncomfortable night for Nessa, a caesarian section was booked for the afternoon of Monday 13 April. I’m not going to scare anyone with tales of the management of pre-eclampsia; nor of how unpleasant a c-section is, but after 20 minutes of hard work, Daniel Benjamin Isaac Marlow was born at 4:38pm, weighing 5lbs 14.5oz. He was taken to the Lady Mary ward first, and then transferred to the Special Care Baby Unit as his oxygen saturation was too low. Meanwhile, Nessa was transferred back into the delivery unit where she had to stay for 24 hours after the birth. Being separated from Danny for all this time was horrible; I tried to fill it by running between the two of them with my digital camera but it wasn’t a good substitute.
Eventually, Nessa was moved onto Lady Sara ward, which is adjacent to SCBU, and could visit him at any time. He was still a tangle of wires and tubes at this point – oxygen through his nose; a canula and glucose drip into his arm; a pulse and O2 saturation sensor on his toe, and a feeding tube up his nose. But by the third day, he’d had some “kangaroo care” or skin-skin contact with Nessa.
This was a surreal time for us. The first few days were absolutely horrible; it was very difficult to hold our baby; he was fed hourly through a tube on a 24-hour cycle and day blurred into night. He was four weeks early and being delivered via c-section meant that the fluids hadn’t been squeezed from his lungs. All the while, the medical staff attempted to eliminate other causes for his low oxygen saturation – lumbar punctures to detect infection; chest xrays; ultrasound. But every day he got a bit stronger and a little less dependent on the external support.
Still, it was nearly two weeks before he could come home and almost three weeks until he met his older brother and sister.
Douglas Adams compared a child’s early development to a computer booting up, and this is what we see with Danny. His awareness of what’s around him gets wider each day.
Working out how old he is, is also difficult and even confuses the medical staff. A GP was concerned that he’d not started smiling by six weeks old; the hospital confirmed that these development checkpoints in the first year can all have four weeks added on to account for his prematurity. Still, no problem with smiling now.
He’s now doubled his birthweight and it’s interesting to compare him to his cousin, Charlie, who was only a week old at the time this photo was taken.
He’s becoming a lot more aware of his own body and has started to grab for his knees and his toes with his fingers.
He’s also become a lot more facially-expressive.
So Danny’s now nearly four months old and we’re well into the routine of having a young baby in the house. Time to go and sterlise the breast pump!