Joshua's birth was a planned home birth. After a healthy pregnancy, I went into labour 2 days after my due date and laboured happily at home under the watchful eye of 2 midwives. Everything was going well, until Joshua's heart rate started to drop during contractions. At this point, I was fully dilated and pushing, though my membranes had not yet ruptured and he was still fairly high in my pelvis. The decision was made to transfer to hospital as he was in distress and didn't look like he would be born any time soon.

We arrived at the hospital (about 10 minutes away from our house) and Joshua was born a short time later via vacuum assistance. He initially was given some oxygen and then given to me to cuddle. His Apgar Scores were 5 and 8. Although his birth had not gone to plan, everything seemed to be alright. As I was holding him, it was noted that his breathing was a bit noisy and the decision was made to take him to the Special Care Nursery for Observation, particularly as there had been thick meconium in the waters and there was a possibility of meconium aspiration. In the Special Care Nursery, he was stable and doing well and was even able to have his first breast feed. I was told that he would be able to join me in my room shortly but that he would likely need to stay in the hospital for 24-48 hours as the Doctors would probably want him to have a course of antibiotics before going home, just in case.

After spending a few hours with him, I decided to go and try and get some rest and my husband went home to do the same and planned to bring some things back to the hospital for me, as I had nothing with me, seeing as coming to the hospital had not been my plan. Not long after falling asleep, I was woken up by a Doctor who informed me that my baby had a seizure and that he had stopped breathing, requiring resuscitation. He had now been moved into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. They found that his blood sugar was very low, and thought perhaps the seizure was because of that, and that now that they had started him on an IV to correct his blood sugar, it shouldn't happen again. But it did. I returned to see him, and I was there stroking him with my hands, his monitors started beeping and a nurse rushed over "This Baby is not breathing!". Right before my eyes, he had had another seizure and stopped breathing. They resuscitated him, and a short time later it happened again. The decision was made to intubate him, so that if he was to continue having seizures he would not have to be resuscitated every time he stopped breathing. All I could do was stand there watching and crying until my midwife took me out of the room.

The next time I saw my baby, he was full of tubes and wires and we had no idea what was wrong with him or if he was even going to survive. For the next 24 hours or so, it seemed like every time we went to see him, the news only got worse and worse. Then, slowly, but surely things started to improve. He was 5 days old before I got to cuddle him again. An MRI revealed that Joshua had suffered from a lack of oxygen at some point before he was born, the cause of which is unknown. This lack of oxygen however, had resulted in extensive brain damage called Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy. We were told that it was very unlikely that Joshua would be a normal little boy, but that all we could do was wait and see how things turned out as he grew and developed.

Joshua was discharged from the hospital at 12 days old and came home fully breastfed and doing well. It did not take long for us to realise that Joshua's head was not growing as fast as expected. His brain damage has resulted in a condition called Microcephaly, which means the head is much smaller than normal as the brain is unable to grow properly. We also learned when he was 12 weeks old that he had Hypertonia or high muscle tone. This is when the muscles are tighter than they should be and make movement more difficult. By the time he was 8 months old, Joshua was delayed in his fine and gross motor skills, and by 12 months old, he was delayed in all developmental areas. At 13 months, he was officially diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. So, the Doctors were right. Joshua is not a normal boy. He is an AMAZING boy. He is happy and smiley and lights up our life every single day. He is gutsy and determined, and despite everything, he continues to make slow but steady progress




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