Laura Rogers

On the 8th June 2016 Dylan James Rogers made a swift entrance into this world. Having taken two whole days of persuasion, sorry induction to decide to listen to his eviction notice the final part was surprisingly quick…..

When I say quick I mean supersonic fast, just 45 minutes from artificial rupture of membranes (ARM) to birth, and in all honesty if I’d have opened my legs when my lovely midwife wanted me to, it would have been a whole lot quicker! I was off my face on Entonox (gas and air) as I refused to give it up between contractions, and having jumped from no contraction to every two minutes, within 5 minutes of my waters breaking it was especially painful!

I had the worst pregnancy, having had two previous live births and an ectopic, I wasn’t new to pregnancy life but this one was different. I assumed and was told it was because it was a boy.....along with all the other old wives tales. With all my pregnancies I was sick, and when I say sick it wasn’t morning sickness it was all day, every day sickness. Every waking hour from positive pregnancy test until birth was spent either being nauseous, trying to find ways to help the nausea or actually vomiting. I felt I saw more of the toilet bowl than I did my husband! I had a condition called Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). I wasn’t planning on having any more babies because of how extreme it had been with my second child, I had kidney failure from the extent of dehydration. Anyway I digress!

On the 8th march 2016 I felt generally unwell, I had a bit of a temp and felt like I had flu; of course I went to work and by the end of the day was contracting strongly. It was too early I was only 24 weeks and 6 days pregnant. The midwifery unit didn’t look after premature babies younger than 28 weeks, so it was felt that the safest option was to transfer me to another hospital that had a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit that could care for an infant so early. In the space of 10 hours I’d gone from being admitted to the antenatal ward with a urine infection to being blue lighted by emergency ambulance to the only hospital in the south that had a bed for both me and the baby, should it be required.

I was transferred to St Georges Hospital in London, hours away from my home. I had never been so scared for the future, I remember lying in the back of the ambulance holding the midwifes hand feeling utterly bereft. All I could think was that my baby wouldn’t survive, or if he did what the realities were of having a baby so prematurely. That he could develop life threatening infections or develop cerebral palsy. A baby at that prematurity only has 60% chance of survival. He would have a 1 in 10 chance of a permanent disability.

On arrival to the hospital the paediatric and obstetrics team were brutally honest. I was told my chances of having a healthy baby were slim if they couldn’t stop the labour. That if he was born showing no signs of life it was advised to just give TLC and hold my baby as he slipped away. That if I so wished they would attempt resuscitation but the chances of a poor outcome were extremely high. However if he was born in good condition they would do all they could, but he still had a fight on his hands.

I remember calling my husband and having to discuss what we would do in either situation. I didn’t want to have to make those decisions, on my own. All I wanted to do was go to sleep and hope it was a nightmare. I was given medication and all we could do was hope and pray. We named him Dylan that night; I couldn’t bear that my baby boy would potentially be born with no name, that he would die before he had an identity, I was scared that he would never feel my touch or know the love that surrounded him. I stayed in the bed, legs tightly closed as if that would help prevent it.

I spent the night talking to the tiny baby in my tummy, stroking my bump hoping he would know how much I loved him. I told him about his Mummy, Daddy and sisters and I prayed that he would stay put. As the night wore on the contractions slowed and by morning they were less painful and irregular. We breathed a sigh of relief. I wasn’t out of the woods, but there was hope.

Over the next few days I was on bed rest, and it all settled. I was discharged home with antibiotics for the presumed urine infection and a prescription for rest. My pregnancy continued eventfully and slowly!

I believed that it was just bad luck , that going into premature labour multiple times was just a fluke, an unfortunate turn of events. He always held on, and the nearer it got to his due date the less I worried I became as I knew his chances of survival were better. I even began to look forward to having my baby, being able to hold him in my arms safely and kiss his tiny nose.

I was induced at 38 weeks because of multiple reasons, I have a clotting problem and it was deemed a safer option due to the pregnancy complications. I actually had really quick labours with the other two, and as I wasn’t giving birth at my local hospital but at one at least an 30 minutes away (on a good day) there was no way I wanted to risk having a baby on the hard shoudler!!

Dylan came out a little shocked but with these big bug eyes, I was overwhelmed. I couldn’t believe that this little fighter was finally here and safe. I didn’t want to put him down and tucked him close skin to skin.

My beautiful boy looked very different to my girls, his face was purple and he had these tiny pinprick bruises all over. The thought was that it was due to his quick birth… known as contusions. As a midwife myself I had seen contused faces but never one like Dylan’s. He also had a very small head, but again it was all put down to him being squished.

We stayed in hospital for 48 hours as I was Group B strep positive and hadn’t had enough antibiotics to protect him due to the swift birth. He was monitored every 4 hours over that time, the staff checking for any symptoms of infection. He was unsettled and vomited bile but this passed. He seemed to be breastfeeding well, passed his hearing screening on the second screen, and although his head size and rash were documented on his NIPE check, no concerns were flagged so we were discharged home.

The first night at home Dylan screamed, and screamed and screamed. He wouldn’t feed and only settled after hours, held tightly skin to skin. I contacted the hospital who were unconcerned, and as the midwife was visiting in a few hours advised me to continue as we were. The midwife wasn’t at all helpful and told me some waffle that it was probably hunger as my milk wasn’t in! So we continued in those first few days in a tired daze adjusting to life as a family of five.

Fast forward a few months and Dylan was still screaming, had poor weight gain and he had developed a stiff neck. I had postnatal depression and after I broke down on the children’s ward and begged them to help me, he was eventually diagnosed with a severe silent reflux and cow’s milk protein allergy. He didn’t reach his milestones and was reffered for physiotherapy. Our physio was amazing, so kind and patient. She at times, commented that his development appeared slower than expected but reassured me it was probably due to the fact that he had been in pain for so long. She was confident that he would catch up. We rejoiced when he learnt to lift his head up, celebrated when he learnt to sit and he was discharged from her just after his 1 st birthday. His development still wasn’t at a comparable level but he was improving and the pediatrician decided to keep him on surveillance.