Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Fragile miracle.

I have a really wonderful circle of mothers I talk with regularly on Facebook, we share our stories and give advice, it's something I really appreciate and enjoy. One of these wonderful ladies was pregnant with her second baby, she is the same age as me and we went to the same highschool. I loved hearing her updates on her pregnancy progress with her unborn baby girl. When I learned that she had gone into premature labour, I was shocked, worried and nervous for her. She asked if she could share her experience and story with me and with you all, of course I said yes. As I read her draft e-mail I had tears running down my face...What a brave, strong woman.

This is Elle and this is her story...enjoy...

"My name is Elle I am a 'stay at home mum' to my beautiful 19 month old son Harley, A partner to an amazing man Matt and a 'NICU mum' to my gorgeous little Ava who is currently in the neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU). I wanted to share my story not only for my own benefit of letting it out, but also for those who may have to go through the NICU experience in the future.

So I'll start back to the day my waters broke.. 
April 4, 2011 at about 10am when I was about to vacuum my waters broke. At first I thought I had wet myself but quickly realised it was infact my waters breaking. Reality kicked in that I was only 29 weeks pregnant and I began to panic! I rang Matt screaming at him to come and get me then rang my mother-in-law to come and get Harley. I wasn't calm, I couldn't focus and couldn't find my hospital bag (I hadn't packed one as I hadn't planned on going into labour so early!).

The trip to the hospital felt like a lifetime and all I wanted was to hear my babys heartbeat. When we arrived at the hospital I realised that not only had my waters broken but I was also bleeding. I finally got to the maternity/labour ward and the lovely midwife strapped the monitors on my belly and I could hear my babys heartbeat.. The relief I felt was unexplainable and I was able to relax a little. They put a drip in and started antibiotics to fight any infection and also medication to stop my labour long enough so I could have 2 steroid shots over 24 hours (which matures a babies lungs quickly). Doctors and midwives came and went and I was exhausted. Every Doctor had a different opinion; I was told my labour would be brought on after the steroid shots had time to work, That I was going to stay in hospital until I was 34 weeks. I was incredibly upset and confused, all I wanted was to go home to my son as I had never spent more than a night away from him. I had a panic attack.

I was a mess on Tuesday (5/4/11) and was moved to the maternity ward. I wasn't allowed out of bed, I hadn't seen Harley, Matt went back to work (with my encouragement) and I remained locked away with nothing to look at but four white walls... It became a quick downward spiral in what seemed to be depression. I was a wreck and very irrational.. Matt would bring Harley in after work Tuesday and Wednesday, it was so hard to watch them leave!

On Wednesday night I began getting cramps. I was given pain killers and I was able to get a full nights sleep. I woke Thursday morning feeling very uncomfortable and felt like my waters had broken, obviously this wasn't the case and after checking I came to the scary realisation that I was bleeding heavily. Shortly after, I began getting contractions every 3-5 minutes and they slowly intensified....It took the Doctors two hours to decide to let me continue into my labour and give birth. At about 7pm the contractions were every minute and incredibly painful! With Matt by my side along with my best friend Renee I went through the hardest time of my life! I ended up having gas and after 9 hours of labour had only dilated 2cms, the Doctors decided to give me oxycotan to try to help me dilate and with this my contractions became unbearable. I was exhausted and knowing I wasn't making progress made it very easy to 'give up'. At around 1am the Doctor decided a C-section had to be done as my babys heartbeat was slowing. There was one more woman in front of me going in for an emergency C-section so it would be at least an hours wait for me to get in. Luckily I had an amazing midwife who demanded I was taken up first... I owe that midwife my life aswell as my daughters.

At 2:50am on Friday the 8th of april, Ava Sarah Daley was born weighing 1580grams. Her cry was so tiny but she cried and hearing that was incredible. She was so tiny yet absolutely perfect! They took Ava straight to the NICU and Matt went with her. While I was in recovery the Doctor who performed the C-section came and spoke with me, He advised me that if I had tried to push or if they had waited to do the C-ection my uterus would have ruptured and Ava and I would have died instantly. There was alot of damage and I am no longer able to have any more children. So laying in recovery alone without my baby wondering how she is and then being told I can't have anymore children...I just felt like giving up!
I was taken back to my room and waited for news on Ava ... Minutes felt like hours and finally Matt came in to me and updated me on Ava's progress. She had to be ventilated as she couldn't continue breathing on her own...All I wanted to do was see her and hold her. At 1pm (10 hours after she was born) I was able to see my daughter but because of the drugs in my system I nearly passed out in the NICU and was rushed back to my room. The same happened when I tried to go back to see her that night. It was so heartbreaking but I was determined that the next day I would get up and shower and see my baby...And that I did.

This is where our NICU experience begins and what is now my daily routine. Seeing Ava for the first time, I just stared at her for hours...so much dark brown hair. It continues to amaze me that even though she is so tiny, she is perfect! Ava continued to improve every day for the next 3 days. She had her ventilators taken out and a 'C.P.A.P' put in (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure). It's a treatment that uses mild air pressure to keep airways open whilst asleep. After 24 hours on C.P.A.P, I held Ava for the first time...It was so scary, I didn't know how to hold her or where to touch her. Her tiny little hands had drips in them and she had cords and monitors on her body everywhere. Even though I was so scared the instant bond I felt with Ava was amazing. I was worried I had lost the chance to bond with her because I wasn't able to hold her but relief rushed over body as soon as I did.

Ava continued improving and was taken off the C.P.A.P on Sunday and put onto 'highflow', which is basically forced air so she was breathing on her own but had a bit of extra help getting air in. While I was holding her On Tuesday morning they took her off the highflow and she breathed on her own- No monitor! She did perfectly! She continued breathing on her own once she was put back into her humidicrib. Ava also had jaundice and was under lights for a week which meant holding her was limited to an hour a day maximum.

In the first few days everytime a monitor made a sound my heart stopped but now I know a 'good beep' from a 'bad beep'. I was sent home from hospital on Tuesday, four days after Ava was born. Such a bitter- sweet experience...I was so excited to go home to my little man but so heartbroken to leave Ava in the hospital. I felt like the worst mother in the world! What kind of mother just leaves her new baby in hospital? What kind of mother chooses which child is more important? I was hysterical when I walked out of her room knowing I was leaving her. It was however, made easier going home to Harley...I cannot even begin to imagine how parents cope going home to an empty house.

So now my day consists of mornings with Harley then about 4-5 hours in the hospital with Ava. I ring NICU 3 times during the night to check how Ava is and first thing in the morning. I am expressing every 3-4 hourly as Ava has a feeding tube. We also live 45kms away from the hospital so travel is a big pain. I struggle everyday with finding a balance between time with Harley and time with Ava...I feel completely torn. I love both my children with everything I have, this experience is the hardest thing I have ever gone through and I can't wait for the day we get to bring our daughter home. I'm trying to just take each day as it comes and hope that the next five weeks fly by..."


I would really love to share with you Elle and Avas progress in the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit and share with you their precious milestones. Keep an eye out for more posts on this beautiful, couragous lady and her tiny Ava.


  1. This moved me to a complete blabbering mess of tears - such an incredible story to read... sending good vibes to Elle and Ava and the rest of the family <3

  2. Marcis has just turned around, noticed the stream of tears running down my face, and had a little panic.
    What an amazingly strong and brave woman.

  3. Thank you Elle. An amazing story. Love and prayers with you.

  4. Amazing story. So inspiring yet so sad. Goes to show how much we can take and keep moving forward.
    Can't wait to hear the updates and to see this gorgeous girl grow ♥ xx