The Birth Story of Jack Henry
As usual, we don't like to do anything to plan! After being admitted on Tuesday 30th April with possible pre-eclampsia and threatened pre-term labour, Dr W decided he would administer steroids, order those precious platelets and monitor mine & baby's health, but bring delivery forward a week to the following Tuesday at 34+6 weeks regardless. We agreed that my body was telling us it was time and we had given our boy the best possible chance on the outside. At first, my body was cooperating...but slowly my blood levels showed developing pre-eclampsia & on Sunday night, I became symptomatic with headaches, abdo pain, high blood pressure & nose bleeds (not to mention those regular tightenings). The next morning (Monday) Dr W came to see me first thing & said that it was time. I thought he meant later that day but he meant NOW, and within minutes I was signing a consent and speaking to anaesthetics! I obviously went into a mad panic. This couldn't be happening again - Scott was at home an hour away with James.
Thankfully my midwife saw my face and managed to buy us some time so I could process what was happening and Scott could make it to the hospital. I called my birth photographer Beck from 'A Mothers Love' and prayed she could also be there. The next hour went by quickly as I was prepped for theatre, and then as soon as Scott & Beck arrived, time stood completely still. We were in my room literally waiting for the call that my boy was going to enter this world. Even though I knew this moment was coming, I could never fully understand or prepare myself for how I would feel. Even now I can't really describe the mixture of emotions as we sat in that room waiting. I felt like I was living a dream - it just didn't seem real!
The call came and I was wheeled around to the theatre holding room. I was a nervous wreck with a million thoughts running through my mind, until I was wheeled into the theatre room where Dr W and Dr C (our neonatologist) were waiting. I felt an immediate sense of calm. I remember saying to myself 'Amy, you've got this. Your team has got this.' I had everyone there I needed and above all of that I had trust. My doctors were some of the best and they also had compassion - something quite rare in healthcare these days.
The anaesthetist popped in my spinal block and it was all go, but with absolutely no urgency! I remember thinking there were so many people in that room but everyone was so relaxed...Dr C was having a good old chat to my midwife in the corner trying to guess what baby's name would be, the anaesthetist was putting drops of water in my mouth cos I was dry AF, and Dr W was casually teaching his assistant how to cut open my abdomen!! For some reason all of this put a smile on my face. Scott and I just kept looking at each other with a mixture of excitement and fear, but as soon as we heard a little cry from behind that curtain, we both started crying. I heard Dr W say 'oh look at him, he's just perfect' and someone else said 'he's got so much hair' - all of them with such sincerity. They dropped the curtain so we could have a peek of our precious little bundle, and then Dr C took over and said 'Hello Frances Purling!!' 😁 I quickly told him that baby's name was Jack Henry and they proceeded to do his initial checks, where Scott was able to cut the umbilical cord. He was then wrapped up like a burrito and brought over to me for my first cuddle on the table. He was the most perfect burrito I had ever seen, and the tears came hard and fast.
The first thing I thought was 'he's so big', even though he was so small! But compared to James he had so much chunk - his cheeks were squishy. My next thought was 'he's so purple' - I said to Dr C 'I know we are desperate to give me a cuddle but did you want to fix this situation first' 😂 Scott and I just stared and took in his features, before Dr C agreed he would quickly give Jack a suction & puff of oxygen before bringing him back again for another cuddle! I really couldn't believe it was happening - it was no longer a dream, this was REAL. He was here, and he was healthy! It felt as if a weight was immediately lifted from my shoulders and I could breathe again for the first time in 6 months.
They then took Jack away to NICU to get him sorted while Dr W finished stitching me up and removed my cervical suture. The room was now empty, Jack had certainly stolen the show! I just remember laying there smiling feeling so content, when Dr W came around the curtain and said 'Congratulations, this pregnancy was extremely difficult...I don't know how you did it, but you did.' And this is coming from an experienced high-risk MFM doctor who sees it all. Wow.
Scott came back into theatre and told me Jack weighed 2280g & was 44cm long - even this blew me away! We were expecting a small baby but he ended up measuring in the 25th percentile! I was taken away to recovery where Dr C popped his head in and announced with the biggest smile that Jack's platelets were 120 - we had even won that final battle! In that moment the whole medical team breathed a sigh of relief. I even asked Dr W the next morning how he felt, and his first word was relief'. This man had invested so much of himself to our journey, and after seeing me weekly from 19 weeks, he had also become a friend. He must deliver a lot of babies, but I could tell he sincerely cared about each and every one. I feel incredibly blessed that he is the only OB in Adelaide familiar with NAIT, because I can't imagine I would have trusted anyone else.
Jack's birth story, in our eyes, was perfect. We couldn't have imagined anything more. Dr W apologised that I couldn't deliver naturally as I had always hoped, but I am no longer fussed. I honestly feel as though this experience healed us after an extremely traumatic birth with James. Everything I had grieved over the past 3 years was suddenly less painful, as though a few pieces of my heart had been glued back together. And I have the team at the Women's and Children's Hospital to thank - especially the nurses & midwives in HDU, and the knowledgeable Dr W & Dr C. Not to mention the incredibly talented Dr Yoong (from Ashford) who helped us to conceive against the odds. This baby wouldn't be here safely in my arms without all of you.
If you personally are ever doubting having another baby after infertility, loss, or premature birth, I hope our precious rainbow gives you the hope and the courage to do so. Yes, our journey was undeniably hard...there were days I was consumed with anxiety & fear, days I wanted to give up, and days I seriously thought we wouldn't meet our miracle. But with an incredible medical team & close monitoring, we did it...and it's the most magical feeling in the world. If we can do it, so can you. And I'll be here with you every step of the way ♡
You, Jack Henry Purling, are worth every moment xx