Ruben

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Miracle Mum, Carissa went from being the typical "fit first time mother" to being diagnosed with a very bad case of pre-eclampsia and a serious complication of high blood pressure which was killing off her liver. She shares the story of how her son's arrival into the world revealed her true strength.

"When my husband and I decided to try for our first baby I didn’t ever imagine that he would be born so early and so dramatically. After all I ticked all the boxes for a “fit first time mother”. But things started going wrong the moment I hit the third trimester. I woke up the first day of the third trimester swollen from head to toe and though nobody knew it at the time, it was the only indicator I would show until 31 weeks of pre-eclampsia. 

I sailed along with everyone believing nothing was wrong until 31 weeks 5days, where a routine appointment showed I had all the signs of quite bad pre-eclampsia. So off to Fiona Stanley Hospital it was for me. Over the next 3 days we went from the medical staff hoping I would be able to keep the baby in another 4 weeks to being told 3 days later that he had to be born that night. I was 32 weeks 1 day and so terrified it wasn’t funny. 

I woke up at 4am the Friday he was born in so much pain. After a full day of blood tests every 4 hours, scans and morphine shots the doctors told me, aside from pre-eclampsia, I had developed something called HELLP. The short explanation is that your body starts actively killing your own red blood cells, you have low platelets and so are a major risk to bleeding out and your liver starts failing. The pain I felt all day was my liver packing it in. So by 7pm they had their diagnosis and off to theatre I went. 

Because of my low platelets an epidural was too risky and this meant I had to have a general anaesthetic. By 8.12pm I had a healthy albeit tiny little boy, he weighed just 1.5kg,  and we named him Ruben. As groggy as I was when I woke up from the anaesthetic, my first thought was to see him. The medical staff were lovely enough to wheel my bed into the NICU so I could touch his tiny little foot before I was transferred to the ICU. And there began Ruben’s 40-day NICU journey. 

We were extremely lucky that even though he was tiny, Ruben proved to be a strong willed little fighter. He was only on CPAP for the night he was born, his jaundice was mild and his only real issue was a food aversion that made weight gain hard. 

I will always be thankful for the staff at Fiona Stanley Hospital for not only saving both our lives, but also for giving us whatever support my husband and I needed to cope with out situation. And while I will never forget the terror of his birth, seeing Ruben’s smiling happy little face every day makes every inch of that terror worth it. 

To anyone about to start, or already deeply into the journey of NICU parenting, know this; it will push you to breaking point and beyond but you are strong and you’ve got this."

Thank you Carissa for sharing your inspiring story.

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