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Carly and Isla's story.

When we were in NICU, and waiting for Elijah's surgery, I felt so alone. Like no one else was going through this and I took comfort in going online and reading others stories. I repeatedly Googled success stories and just prayed we would be one of them. Since starting my blog, I have had lots of people come to me to say they are so happy, I shared my story.

I wanted to start a series of guest blog posts from others who have gone through similar things, a platform for others to share their feelings, experiences and to help and provide comfort to others going through the same thing. We can all support one another, educate and raise awareness. One thing they all have common, these are the honest and raw stories of people's real experiences of parenthood. These are the NICU MUM medical files.
I first connected with Carly via Instagram, and she kindly agreed to share her NICU story after telling me she had Isla prematurely at 31 weeks. This is part one of her journey, her birth story. Part two of Isla's stay in NICU and how Carly really felt about this will be published tomorrow.
Carly with the beautiful Isla born at 31 weeks
Carly's birth story
I'd had a complication free pregnancy and as I am a procrastinator and always late for everything I had a feeling my baby would be late too. I was 30 weeks pregnant and midway through renovating our flat when my waters broke. I had barely had time to get excited, much less prepared practically for our new arrival.
Our friends were giving us a lift to Wickes for yet more DIY supplies and had headed out to the car, I was about to follow them when I felt what I assumed was a bladder leakage - embarrassing but I thought not uncommon during pregnancy. I was shocked to go to the toilet and see blood. At that stage I was mostly confused and trying to remember what I had ready about spotting being normal during pregnancy, but was that during the third trimester? I decided to consult Doctor Google, hoping to put my mind at rest but only finding advice to call the doctor, panicking as it was a Sunday so the doctors was shut I called 111 who advised that I head straight to the delivery suite at the hospital.  Suddenly realising that our friends were still waiting we rushed to the hospital and things began to feel very surreal, a feeling that underpinned the next few weeks.

I was examined and told everything was fine so was then surprised to be told I'd be kept in overnight as a precaution.  I headed off to the ward whilst my husband went home to pack an overnight bag for me. That was one of the strangest nights of my life. It appeared to be some sort of holding room for people in the early stages of labour, it was bizarre to hear people clearly in labour being sent home as it was too early whilst I was lying there feeling completely fine. I was monitored with my temperature and blood pressure being recorded every few hours as well as an ECG machine monitoring the baby’s heartbeat and movements.
The next day I was offered steroid injections which are routinely given to pregnant women at risk of premature labour to strengthen the baby’s lungs. These had to be issued 12 hours apart so again I was kept in overnight. The next day I was again told I was being kept in as a precaution but that there was nothing to worry about. At this point it was all still feeling very surreal and I was starting to get frustrated about missing work and not knowing what was going on. It wasn't until 4 days after the original bleeding that a doctor came round and told me my waters had broken. At this point I felt completely blindsided and cried for the first time as I finally realised things were serious as the doctor outlined my options and gave me a revised due date. 
I was told there were 3 possible outcomes; I'd either go in labour spontaneously, develop an infection and have to be induced or progress to 34 weeks and then be induced. Either way I'd be having the baby at least a month and a half early. What made it all the more surreal was that my original due date was the end of November so I had thought I was having a winter baby, yet when I was given this news we were having an Indian summer and it was 25 degrees outside! This was also the first time neonatal care was mentioned and I had to face the reality that my baby would be whisked off straight away before I was able to hold her.
I was eventually sent home after 6 days only be readmitted just 36 hours later as the bleeding got heavier again. The possibility of going into labour was beginning to be mentioned more often, I was placed on an ECG monitor again and told I would be given magnesium sulphate if it turned out that I was in labour as this would protect against cerebral palsy and motor dysfunction. I began to start feeling pains and it soon transpired that this was the beginning of birth. As the pains increased I asked for painkillers and the magnesium sulphate that I'd been told about but the midwife said this wouldn't be until I was in "active labour", at which point I'd be moved into the labour suite.  She said she wasn't able to check this herself as I was only 31 weeks so I would have to wait for the doctor, who would be around in 2 hours.

However, within an hour I could feel the baby's head and felt terrified. I didn't know anything as to what to expect during labour which I believe would have been mentioned in the later antenatal appointments.  All I remembered was a midwife on "One born every minute" saying "Don't push until I tell you to". The midwife hadn't responded when I pushed the alarm but luckily my mum was with me and she ran into the corridor and found another midwife who confirmed that I was indeed about to give birth and sounded a different emergency alarm and within seconds there were half a dozen people in the room with an incubator and various equipment, all shouting at me to push!

3 pushes later my daughter Isla came into the world at 12.08am, weighing three and a half pounds, and I was shocked when she was placed in my arms as I was already mentally prepared for her to be taken away immediately. I don't think I really appreciated that first hold as I was too shell-shocked, I just remember feeling really awkward and being amazed by her little skinny arms and legs.  A few seconds later they placed her on breathing support and the crowds disappeared with my daughter to the neonatal unit. The room felt so empty and silent. My mum went home, and my husband and I were instructed to wait to be told we could visit Isla and to get some sleep in the meantime. Needless to say, we didn't get much sleep.
Eventually at around 3am we were told we could visit the NICU and see her properly for the first time. The whole experience was so surreal as I was absolutely shattered and we could barely see her through the tubes and wires and it was difficult to focus as the nurses talked us through the practicalities of handwashing and gaining access to the unit. We stayed for about an hour and I was given a couple of small syringes and a booklet with instructions of how to hand express colostrum.  We were taken up to the ward and were lucky to be given a private room to sleep in. It was bad enough that there was an empty cot in the room, it would have been much harder to be on the ward full of other mums with their new-borns.
Baby Isla
Carly would also like to thank the charity that helped her during her family's NICU stay, whom she has even run a marathon for!

NICU MUM similar posts;

My birth story
Birth story part 2
Elijah's admission to NICU

Part 2 of Carly and Isla's story, their stay in the NICU will go live tomorrow!

If you have a story to tell and want to be part of the NICU MUM medical file guest posts please contact me!


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