Today is World Prematurity Day and Rachel Marie McEvoy talks to us about her experience of giving birth to her daughter Ella prematurely.
My story starts about a week before my daughter Ella was born, at the end of April 2013.
I had been waking up every morning with a swollen face, hands, and feet, and knew something wasn’t right. I went to my GP, who said that my urine showed protein of +2, which is known as proteinuria. Because of this I was admitted to Wexford General Hospital on a Tuesday and monitored until a bed could open in either Waterford Regional Hospital or the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street, Dublin.
On the Friday of that week I was admitted to Waterford Regional Hospital and was continually monitored again. My blood pressure remained high, along with too much protein present in my urine.
On the Sunday morning, just over 24 hours later, I woke up with severe migraine. A lot of what happened that morning is fuzzy, as doctors were whizzing everywhere trying to control the pain in my head. I thought it would explode.
At 9:15am a doctor came and asked me if I knew anything about pre-eclampsia toxaemia.
I listed off a few things that I knew, including the fact that the only cure is delivery. He then told me that in less than 30 minutes I would be a parent. My baby had stopped growing at 28 weeks.
They hooked me up to IVs and a blood pressure monitor. Then they gave me an epidural and made sure I couldn’t feel anything before they delivered my 2lb10oz daughter at 9:48am on Sunday morning.
She was able to breath on her own, which was the main thing. She had a hole in her heart. I got to see her for a few seconds before they whisked her off to the NICU. It would be another 36 hours before I got to see or hold her because I was on magnesium sulphate to make sure I wouldn’t have seizures (and another medication to prevent strokes) for 24 hours.
From that point, luckily, my daughter went from strength to strength.
The hole in her heart closed when she was one. She’s now a healthy and happy two year old who is taller than all of the children her own age and can speak a phenomenal amount. Although Ella is mentally the same as all the other children, we think she may have something called developmental dyspraxia, as she walks mainly on her tip toes. Developmental dyspraxia is a neurological condition that can affect movement and co-ordination.
I was lucky I got both the steroid injections that I needed in time (within 24 hours of each other), because her lungs would have been too under-developed otherwise and our stay in hospital would have been longer than 6 weeks. The staff’s care made all the difference to us too.
There are 4,500 preterm births every year in Ireland
Since my own personal experience with prematurity I’ve learned, through the charity Irish Premature Babies , that there are 4,500 preterm births every year in Ireland and one in every 16 women will deliver a premature baby.
Irish Premature Babies is the only Irish charity supporting parents, families and friends dealing with prematurity and they have a great support network all over the country. Reaching out to someone when you need support and counselling is the first step. Sometimes, it can be hard to know where to turn to for help.
For more information visit Irish Premature Babies and to donate just €2, you can text PREM to 50300.