About my big boy – from the beginning

My first born son (here known as BC – short for ‘Big Chicken’ his loving nickname!) was born five days after his due date, very close to midnight in September 04 following what was for the most part a long, painful but not particularly complicated labour. He was in a posterior position (hence the pain) but otherwise the labour moved slowly but steadily along.

The first hint of the potential for complications came when we’d moved to the final stage of birth. Once I started pushing, the progress was very, very slow. He was very reluctant to leave his warm little space!

Then things started to get scary. His head crowned, but despite me pushing he wasn’t moving forward. The midwife realised that his shoulder was stuck (shoulder dystocia) and she quickly changed my position and performed the “McRoberts’ manoeuvre“.

He was born almost immediately, but he was not breathing. They resuscitated him in the room. My husband was frantic, but I was totally oblivious as to how serious things were. I was exhausted and dazed but I think I had seen too many emergency room TV shows and just felt totally confident that while not normal, the situation would be taken under control in no time.

They revived him and took him almost immediately to the Special Care nursery. I showered and was then taken him to see him. He looked terrible – he was intubated and his breathing was shallow and uneven. He had already been medicated because he had apparently had a seizure. He looked so perfect. All 4.02 kgs of him. He had a mess of curly black hair and gorgeous little fingers. I just wanted to pick him up and cuddle him, but I couldn’t. And did not get to for another 10 days.

It was when he was taken to a larger hospital in an emergency ambulance a few hours later that it really sunk in just how ill he was. They wheeled him in for to see him before they took him away. He was in an enormous fully sealed humidicrib, wired up to several machines, intubated, drugged and looking about as different as I could imagine from the bouncy pink baby I’d expected to be cuddling. I’m sure the emergency ambulance staff are very good at their job, but their bedside manner was pretty appalling. They handed me an out of focus polaroid photo of my son, told us he was ‘gravely ill’ and that they’d do all they could but there was no guarantees he’d survive the journey, let alone the night…..

The next day at the hospital, BC’s condition was described to us by the head doctor of the NICU again as ‘grave’. We learnt that the medical term was HIE (Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy)- and that he had suffered a brain injury because of oxygen deprivation. We also learnt that it would take a few days before we would get a clearer picture and even then it would take a very long time before we would really know the extent of the effects of the injury to his brain.


I plied the doctor with lots of questions. I did my best to ignore all the negative possibilities (including the chance that he still might not make it through) and clung to anything positive that he had to say (including the very slight chance that the injury would have no lasting impact).

I could (and should, and probably will) write another whole entry about the experience of spending the first month of motherhood with my baby in hospital. It was very disempowering, very scary and very challenging, but also definitely not as dire as it could have been because after the birth there were very few additional added complications. He didn’t have any more seizures, he learnt to breathe on his own without too much difficulty and once the drugs wore off, he became responsive and alert.

An MRI was done when he was 3 days old which confirmed damage to the basal ganglia – which I now know is part of the brain associated with movement.

We were blessed that our lovely boy left hospital just before he was one month old. He was fully breastfed. The doctor who signed his release form admitted that she was surprised and impressed with how well he was doing and that he had ‘that sparkle in his eye’ that suggested he was going to do OK.

Since then we’ve had our fair share of challenges, but also lots of joy.

The diagnosis of cerebral palsy came when BC was 14 months old. The paediatrician was very gentle and very worried about how we would handle the diagnosis. But she didn’t need to be. It was not really a surprise, and in lots of ways it was great to have something more concrete to research and to deal with.

And that sparkle in his eye gets brighter and brighter each day.

7 Responses to “About my big boy – from the beginning”

  1. Natalie November 8, 2008 at 2:14 pm #

    Hi! I was reading your blog… and we have similiar stories – although we still have not found the reason for the CP. That is the one thing that I remember so vividly, is the month he spent in the NICU. I never even got to see him after birth because they took him too quickly. But your little guy seems to be doing amazingly well! You should be so proud that he walked so far in the benefit race. Loved the pictures – My son is working on walking across the parking lot into the drugstore nextdoor.

  2. Bron January 2, 2009 at 10:30 am #

    Di, that is scarily similar. I think I am living your life but 6 months behind! It is lovely to see BC’s eyes sparkling so much these days too :)

  3. Samantha Trenerry January 18, 2009 at 1:04 am #

    Di, you are amazing, and so is your little man! xoxo

  4. Kate March 30, 2009 at 9:47 am #

    We share the same stories except our little Girl (now 13 mths old ) has never fed orally – and our regional hospital waited for 18 hrs before sending us to a grade 1 hospital and left her having seizures over night – on arrival at the RWH Melb we were put in a special care unit and monitered, my husband and I could see her having seizures but the nurses took no notice of our constant concerns and questions – it wasnt untill we dragged a dr over by the shirt that all hell broke loose and she was put in the NICU unit with 1 on 1 care….
    The first month in Hospital was a shocker like a roller coaster ride, much like the first year has been.
    She certainly has that sparkle in her eyes though and as awfull as it sounds while I was in the hospital with her I was not sure if I ever would feel the love I do when ever I see that sparkle. She is such a happy laughing girl.

  5. Stacy Marshall September 16, 2010 at 11:07 pm #

    Our experiences, and that of our son’s births, are so very similar. Thank you for sharing your story. Peace, Stacy

  6. 19thmayflower September 26, 2010 at 1:20 pm #

    hi sis, i stumbled upon your blog while searching for posts of special yet amazing children because i have one, too. my daughter is 2yo now, a 26 weeker preemie with Erb’s Palsy and diagnosed with Global Developmental Delay.

    i hope you’ll allow me to blogroll you so that i can read more of your wonderful boy.


  1. Thinking Back Thursday…. « N0thingbuteverything’s Weblog - September 24, 2009

    [...] About my big boy – from the beginning ← The Show. [...]

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