At 29 weeks into my pregnancy everything was progressing well, with the only hiccup encountered being a bleed at 6 weeks. Now, with only a little over 2 months to go I was thoroughly enjoying my growing baby bump, prenatal yoga and anticipating the arrival of my 1st child.

Feeling great I planned to work as long as I possibly could. During a normal work day I was craving for chocolate, after a quick dash to the shops I proceeded to consume a family size block of chocolate all to myself. After dinner was when the baby was most active and I would lie down on the couch and watch my stomach contort into all different shapes. This night however the baby was a little more subdued and I joked with my husband that I may have put the baby into a sugar induced coma with all the chocolate I ate earlier.

In the morning the baby was still a little quiet so for peace of mind I made an appointment with my GP and honestly didn't think too much of it. I monitored the movements throughout the day and although I could feel the baby moving about the movements were very slow and sluggish.

My GP was fabulous however during our appointment he couldn't find a heartbeat, again I wasn't horribly concerned as at a hospital appointment a week earlier the midwife took quite a long time to find one also. My GP didn't want to take any chances and sent me straight to the birthing unit at Campbelltown Hospital for further monitoring.

On arrival at the hospital I was placed on to a CTG, it took well over 5 minutes to find the babies' heart beat and in which time I was getting extremely anxious. Once found I needed to record every time I felt the baby move and was given a cold drink, sandwich and another cold drink to see if it made any difference.

The Registrar explained to me that the CTG trace was not promising and that my baby’s heart rate kept dropping very low. It was decided that I needed to be transferred to a hospital that could care for my baby if delivery was required. Once the decision had been made everything happened so quickly. I was given a drip and an initial steroid injection to mature the baby’s lungs in preparation for delivery. We had been at Campbelltown 3 and a half hours when the ambulance arrived to rush us to Liverpool.

Once settled into a birthing room staff were again unable to find a heartbeat, the Register brought in an ultrasound machine instead. It was such a relief when I was told that he could still see a tiny heartbeat, but he was very concerned with what looked like an oversized placenta, he took a few pictures and left the room.

Only a few minutes passed and he re-entered my room with a lot more people, it was explained that my baby was in severe distress and even though I was only 29 weeks I needed to have an emergency caesarean to attempt to save my baby. Immediately I was prepared for theatre, blood taken, a catheter inserted, given the rundown of the surgery and what was preparing to take place, signed the consent forms and wheeled down to theatre.

Even before the options were explained knew I would stay awake for the caesarean. All that was going through my mind was that my baby was critically ill, the doctors were unsure as to what was to come and I needed to be awake to see my 1st child enter the world, regardless of the outcome.

It was such a relief when my beautiful baby boy Caden, was delivered on the 23rd October 2003 at 11.48 pm. He was 29 + 2 weeks gestation, weighed 1110 grams, 37 cm in length and his head circumference was 27cm cm. I only got to see his gorgeous little face for a split few seconds before he was whisked up to the Newborn Care Unit.

Caden originally breathed on his own, however shortly after arriving in Newborn Care he was placed on a ventilator. After a day of ventilation he progressed to CPAP support for 2 days and then did not require any further assistance with his breathing. He had high bilirubin levels and required time under both blue and white phototherapy lights on and off for the first 10 days of his life to reduce his jaundice.

Day 4 for my beautiful boy was the most emotional day of my entire life, Caden had just undergone his initial head ultrasound and I was asked to meet with the Neonatologist in the quiet room to go through the results.

It was explained that ultrasound results showed Caden had suffered a Grade IV Interventricular Haemorrhage (IVH) to the left side of his brain and also a haemorrhage to the right side of his brain. Initially I didn't really understand what it all meant for my little boy, the Neonatologist took the time to answer my questions and explain his condition and possible prognosis. It soon began to dawn on me that Caden had suffered "brain damage" and I was devastated to learn that the extent of his brain bleeds was highly likely to cause Cerebral Palsy and other permanent disabilities.

I cried, and cried but realised it was not going to help myself or Caden to dwell on something I couldn't change. I put all my energy into staying positive and getting my little boy home. After such an emotional and life changing discussion I was allowed to have the very first cuddle of my little boy. This skin to skin contact and bonding was truly amazing and lifted my spirits immensely after such an emotional day.

I visited Caden every day and spent hours next to his bedside, watching his tiny body and personality grow. We were very fortunate to spend 2 hours each day having Kangaroo cuddles (skin to skin cuddles), this time together was the most joyous, we would snuggle up and both often drift off to sleep.

4 weeks after Caden was born he was well enough to be transferred closer to home and back to Campbelltown Hospital. I will admit it I didn't like the move at first and it took time to adjust to our new surroundings, to meet new staff, families and also learn how things were done in the new nursery. 2 days after his transfer I got to give Caden his first real bath. This was the first experience that was exactly how I had imagined it, I felt like a proper mum and I relished watching him relax and enjoy the water.

Everything was moving along nicely, then a week after his transfer I received an early morning phone call from the hospital Paediatrician, informing me that Caden was very unwell and that I should come in as soon as possible. On arrival I realised how sick he was, very pale, high temperature, extremely irritable and screaming in agony, this was very unlike Caden and my heart just sank.

I watched Caden deteriorate rapidly during the day, he was a baby who craved touch yet screamed every time I tried and then began to have quite consistent bradycardia and desaturations. He had blood taken to check for infection but was started on antibiotics to hopefully get a head start on whatever he had contracted and then needed oxygen so was put on Low Flow. In the evening the decision was made to transfer him back to Liverpool in case his condition became critical. The Newborn Emergency Transfer Service (NETS) was arranged for the transfer and they arrived very promptly. The transfer went smoothly, he seemed to improve during the night and the day after I was told his blood cultures had grown a Group B Strep infection. There was fear that the infection may spread into his spinal fluid then to his brain however a lumbar puncture came back clear. To combat the infection Caden continued a long course of antibiotics, he made a fairly quick recovery and was transferred back to Campbelltown a couple of days later.

I'm happy to say after the setback everything progressed well, Caden continued to grow while we both learnt the art of breast feeding. On the 22nd December 2003 after 8 weeks in hospital Caden was discharged. We got home just in time for Christmas with Caden being 38 weeks gestation and weighing 2210 grams.

I knew from the beginning that due to the severe brain haemorrhages Caden was at an extremely high risk of having Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral Palsy or CP is a life-long condition that disrupts the brain's ability to adequately control movement and posture. He was diagnosed quite young as having Cerebral Palsy-Spastic Quadraparesis, which affects the movement of both of his arms, legs, trunk and neck.

Despite his physical limitations Caden's an absolutely delightful little boy and continues to make progress. He is awaiting a brand new electric wheelchair and is currently trialling different communication devices. He keeps our calendars busy with his regular appointments for Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Pathology, and goes to day-care ("school") 2 days per week. He is now 4 years old, is always smiling, loves interacting with people (especially the girls), and spending time with his grandparents.

We are truly blessed to have such a wonderful son and are forever grateful for the gifts he has brought to our family.

Update February 2009 - My little 29 weeker is now a very tall and gorgeously cheeky 5 year old. Caden's speech has improved since gaining the right postural support with his wheelchair and now has a few select words in his vocab including a very clear "yes". "no", "more" and "hello".

He absolutely loves the outdoors especially riding the tractor with his dad. Most parents have till their child is in their late teens to worry about driving, however we now have Caden learning to drive his electric wheelchair and I'm sure that's why I've noticed a few more grey hairs.

Even with Caden's extra needs we were very keen for him to attend main stream school and were so proud when he started Kindergarten in 2009 at our local Catholic school. The school has been truly amazing and very open to Caden's integration, making the transition for Caden, the school and his family so much easier.

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