By the time my daughter, Aarya, was born on 6th November 2016 my wife, Bina, had been in hospital for just over two weeks.
She was suffering with sever preeclampsia and was admitted into hospital so they could monitor / control her blood pressure and because it was too dangerous for her to be home alone.
Aarya was born via a c-section at 34 weeks and one day, after the doctors decided it would be safer for both her and my wife. We had a few hours to get our heads around things. We were both very nervous but equally excited at the thought of meeting our child (never having found what were having).
The time came to head over to the delivery suite, they wheeled my wife over in her bed, wires coming out of hands, she was hooked up to a couple of different machines.
Once in the delivery suite Bina swapped beds and we waited, I was given some scrubs and boots to change into. I really did look the part; it was like I was ready to perform an operation myself.
Bina was taken into theatre and I waited in a side room as they got her ready. I sat there wondering what they were doing. As time went by I started to fear that they may have forgotten about me. I even asked a nurse to check for me, “they will be out for you soon” she says. Thankfully they hadn’t forgotten me and as the nurse said they came for me 10 minutes later.
I’ve never been into an operating theatre before, when I walked in I was surprised by the number of people. Doctors, nurses and midwives, all standing around. Lying there on the bed was my wife, her bottom half was covered by a large blue sheet.
I was given a stool to sit on, I sat next to Bina. I muttered the words “Are you ok?” She smiled and said “yeh”.
As the doctors carried out the operation my emotions were all over the place, there was my wife having to be cut open as it was the safest way to deliver our baby and within a few minutes I’d get to meet my son or daughter.
It didn’t feel too long before the doctor said “The baby is here.
I responded with “What is it?”
“Have a look” he said.
As I peered over the blue sheet I could see my wife’s open tummy and all the equipment that was being used. But in the hands of the doctor was a baby, I looked and thought, ‘Wow, that’s my daughter’. Hold on a minute it’s a girl!!
I must have had a funny look on my face as Bina said, “What is it? What is it?”
Turning to her with a real puzzled look on my face I said, “It’s a girl” We had both convinced ourselves that she was going to be a boy, hence my puzzled look.
She let out a little cry and we thought all was ok, I could see the paediatric doctors working on our little girl and trying to get her to breath. As I stood there watching I could see a doctor looking at me and telling me to smile. She knew Bina couldn’t see anything and wanted me to smile to try and reassure her. I smiled, I smiled big. But inside my heart was breaking into a million pieces, I wanted to know my little girl was alright…
As they wheeled her away the doctors told us they needed to give her some extra help so they moved her to the NICU unit.
Thinking we would get to see her soon, neither of us were prepared for what was to come next.
As they tidied Bina up, the doctors asked me to leave, I was back in the room I had waited in beforehand. This time I was a Dad, but a Dad with no baby to hold. My mind and emotions were all over the place and I started to cry. I prayed that my little girl was going to be ok, I asked my late Mum to send down some help and give her the strength and fight she needed to get through this. I begged her to help us…
A nurse came to show me to the NICU unit, I was going to get a better look at my little girl. Just as I came out the door Bina was being brought out of theatre, thinking she would rest a while and then we would be able to see our daughter, they wheeled her straight into a HDU (High Dependency Unit).
My wife’s blood pressure had come back with a vengeance, she wasn’t a well woman. I remember looking at a monitor and seeing 180/101 and worrying like hell!! I had a little girl in NICU and now a wife in HDU, what was happening? This was meant to be our special moment and here were the two most important women in my life and they were both in a bad way.
My wife was monitored for 48 hours, she had four cannulas in her hands and each one was hooked up to some medication that would help bring her blood pressure down. I remember one of doctors sitting next to her and pushing drugs into her and doing all he could to help my wife.
By now I had lost all sense of time and I couldn’t tell you if it was still Sunday. During the night I’d slip out to the NICU unit to see the baby, she looked so tiny, she was in an incubator and had a tube down here throat to help her breath.
Every so often they would heal pick my her to draw blood so they could check her gas levels. I could see the pain on her face every time they did it.
Sadly, and it still hurts me now, at no point was I offered the opportunity to hold my daughter, no one even said I could open up the incubator and stroke her hand, showing her someone was there for her.
Thankfully some six hours after birth my wife’s blood pressure started to steady and it felt like the doctors had more of a control then at the start of the evening.
Early hours on Monday morning the doctor on duty in the NICU informed me that our little girl needed to be in a level 2 hospital and the hospital we were in was only a level 1. A level 1 hospital could not offer her the help she needed and the time had come to think about moving her. In an ideal world, she would have gone to another hospital in Leicester but they were full and now it was a case of finding a hospital with a bed as close to Leicester as possible. Within a few hours, they’d found a bed in Peterborough, Peterborough isn’t a million miles away from Leicester, but it just wasn’t Leicester.
Before our baby left for Peterborough the ambulance crew brought her to see my wife, our daughter was now about 22 hours old and this was the first time my wife got to see out little girl. It breaks my heart and hers that they never got to spend more time together in those early hours.
Speaking to the nurses in Peterborough that evening, they gave me the best news ever, our little girl had arrived safely and she had been taken off the ventilator and was breathing for herself.
She went on to spend 10 days in Peterborough, thankfully my wife joined her the next day. While it was a nightmare for me to travel up and down to see them every day, I knew they were in the best place, I can’t speak highly of the staff that looked after my wife and out little girl they were a god send. A further stay at birth hospital back in Leicester and they both got to come home.
We named our daughter Aarya (pronounced Aria). It means Lioness because she’s strong like one, and hated being disturbed by Doctors when sleeping, so she used to growl at them.
Life as not been the same since Aarya arrived and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
She is a funny, beautiful, happy, curious little girl. She may not have had the perfect start in life but thanks to the wonderful staff at both NHS Hospitals she got through those dark days. She recently celebrated her 1st birthday with all our family and friends, a birthday that was filled with love and laughter, all the things missing from the day she was born.
Now is the time to start looking forward, I’m not saying we forget, I’m just saying we use the experience and grow stronger…