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Part 2! Pregnancy number 2 equals premature baby number 2

02 October, 2014 6 comments Leave a comment

What a week this has been. To start with, I have been so unbelievably touched by the messages of support from you all. Hundreds of people have read my blog and the comments, shared stories and other brave women out there also talking about their experiences has been truly mind blowing. Thank you so much and please keep on commenting - it really does mean so much to me!

It's currently 2am as I write this quietly in bed next to my rock of a husband who has been SO supportive. I sometimes forget (don't we all!) that he is part of this and going through his own roller coaster of emotions, whilst trying to keep a brave face for me. 

Since the scan last Wednesday we have really switched in to 'caretaker' mode - speaking with family and friends about who can help on what day with Poppy whilst I'm in and out of hospital and how I'm going to get 45 minutes in to hospital each day when I can't drive after a ceasarean. Luckily for me I have been blessed with the worlds most supportive family and friends (not to mention I have the most amazing neighbours including my sister and business partner who lives 2 doors away!).

I made a decision last Friday that this week would be my last week of work. I work on a Monday and Tuesday and whilst normally I would love any excuse not to work (!) it did make it very real speaking to my boss on Friday and explaining my situation. Tuesday was slightly surreal, finalising any outstanding work and not really being able to go in to any great detail with colleagues as to when I'll be having this baby. I kept starting to explain how my placenta isn't functioning and quickly thinking how hideous this must sound to most people, so I condensed it to 'some complications'!

I also saw my blood pressure specialist on Tuesday who decided that whilst my blood pressure has started to go up only very slightly, given my circumstances he thought it was best that he started me on some medication to keep it as low as possible. He explained that there can be a side affect of possible drowsiness and feeling a bit 'out of it' for a couple of days until my body gets used to it and boy was he right! I woke up yesterday morning with a dull headache and by midday I thought I was going to fall asleep standing up!

Yesterday was a pretty big day as I had my next scan booked in and although I didn't feel stressed, I'm sure in fact I was.
I had a lovely start to the day being lucky enough to go with Lizzie, my sister and business partner in The Little One, to her obstetrician appointment. Lizzie is due 9 days after me (if I wasn't having P2 early!) and thankfully having what looks to be a full term pregnancy. Having said that, she has been suffering from pelvic instability and been in a lot of pain from the simplest of tasks such as walking or even just lying in bed. Listening to her speak with her obstetrician about such different aspects of a pregnancy made me realise just how different every woman's pregnancy is and how strong and resilient we have to be for every different roller coaster we are on.

Next stop for me was to meet my husband and head to my appointment with the doctor (who I didn't like but now do like!!) Straight up on the bed and after a quick discussion recapping last weeks scan and how many weeks I now am (30), he explained that all he was doing today was measuring the amniotic fluid levels again and the blood flow to and from the umbilical cord and brain. He wasn't going to measure the size of the baby (much to my dismay) because it was too soon to get an accurate reading but he assured me that he will definitely take measurements next week.
Straight away you could see the 'Swiss cheese' placenta appear with larger holes and more of them. He also showed us the white ring around each hole which is another sign that the placenta is failing.

Unfortunately the news wasn't great. My amniotic levels are now only just in the normal range, dropping from 11 last week to 7.2 this week. Apparently if they're over 5 it's ok and my obstetrician later told me that they also measure the deepest 'pool' of amnio to get a gauge and mine was 3.3 which is 'ok' for now. The second test was the blood flow level which had gone up so we were wrapped with that before quickly changing our minds after being told we want it to trend down not up because the test is measuring how hard it is for the blood to flow through and going up means it's getting harder. It was still in the 'normal range' but again only just. His feeling was that we should be ok for another week but was going to speak with my obstetrician about having a CTG scan to ensure the baby wasn't stressed half way in between next seeing him.

We walked out of the appointment fairly flat and thinking 'Oh Sh*t'. Let's just say the drive to the obstetrician was a pretty quiet one! Suddenly we'd gone from thinking we had a few weeks up our sleeves to now having a gut instinct that this tiny bubba could need to enter the world in as little as a week.

We got to the obstetrician and his opening always slightly sarcastic line (which I love!) was 'gee you're a trouble maker, aren't you!' We sat down and he recapped our scan and his phone conversation with the doctor that he'd just had. In a nutshell he wants to start putting a plan in place for the possibility of the baby arriving within the next two weeks. This means I have to go off the aspirin so my blood is not too thin when they operate, I had a steroid injection yesterday and am going back for another today to try and develop P2's lungs, and I have to go in to hospital Saturday to have the baby monitored for an hour or so with a CTG scan. If Saturday goes well then we head back next Tuesday for another scan to measure amnio, blood levels and P2's growth.
From there who knows!
We also had the discussion again about having to be sent to another hospital to deliver if I don't get to 32 weeks as P2 will need to spend time in a neonatal intensive care unit. I must say this is one thing that I'm not rapt about. It means I'll have a complete stranger delivering me (not to mention the fact it will be an awkward conversation with this person when I tell them I'm not happy with my first caesar scar and want it cut out and re-done!) and I'll be in a hospital that I've quite possibly never stepped foot in. But, on the important side, it will be a hospital very well equipped to look after our tiny P2.

My plan of attack for the next few days is to do things that I enjoy; having lots of fun times with Poppy, seeing friends and family (albeit low key catch ups!) and generally trying to keep my mind of what is to come.
I will also be packing my bags with tiny, specially designed nappies for premature babies (thanks Bidibots!), selecting pink and blue tiny outfits, and having serious talks with P2 about cooking for a bit longer!

Pregnancy number 2 equals premature baby number 2

24 September, 2014 9 comments Leave a comment

Yesterday I hit the 29 week mark of my second pregnancy and had a growth scan to see how we're progressing. As many of you know, and the reason for our starting The Little One, was because my first bub, Poppy, was a gorgeous tiny premature baby, weighing just 1.6kg and arriving 7 weeks early. This was due to pre-eclampsia and ultimately my already high (even when not pregnant) blood pressure. So there was always questions around when I had a second, would it too be a growth restricted, early baby.

Well the answer I found out yesterday was a yes. So I've decided to write about my experience moving forward, partly for me to talk about how I feel, but also to reassure others that you can do it again!

Ever since I've started to show (which wasn't until around 21 weeks), the comments I constantly get from people is 'wow, you're so small, you can't possibly be 24 weeks', or 'you're so lucky to be so small - I'd love to be that tiny'. Well actually you wouldn't in my case! Carrying the way I do, aside from the fact that I'm relatively tall and maybe just carry well, is a constant reminder that this baby might not be growing as it should be and I might yet again be faced with having a premature baby that hasn't had the cooking time it really needs to be given.

My initial scans were great, 12 week and 20 week scans both came back normal, with the baby measuring in at average size - great news! At 26 weeks I saw my obstetrician who measured my tummy externally using a measuring tape, from the top of the placenta to the bottom. You're generally meant to measure a similar size in centimetres to the number of weeks you are pregnant, i.e being 26 weeks pregnant, I should have measured around 26cm. I was only 24cm and whilst this is not dramatic, it was the first sign that things weren't tracking quite as they should be. My obstetrician then told me that he wanted me to have a growth scan at 29 weeks to gauge where we are at for the start of the third trimester, and where if things are going to go wrong, generally do.

Suffice to say, yesterday morning I sat at work with clammy hands and not being able to focus before my 9.45am scan. My husband met me at the hospital and upon arrival we were told that the doctor was running behind and we'd have a short wait. Just what I wanted! We focused on trying to find a boys name that we both like - still nothing! As we headed in to the scanning room, we were told that he would be just a few minutes. It was the same doctor I had my 20 week scan with and didn't particularly like as he didn't really talk much during the scan - always an unnerving thing. This time around however, he was great. We talked through my first pregnancy with Poppy and how everything looked great until around this time. He informed me that this scan was to measure key areas of the baby to see what size it is, as well as assessing the placenta to see how it was holding up.

His first measurement was of the baby's thigh bone, the largest bone in the body. In the bottom left hand corner a little green number came up with the number of weeks gestation the baby was measuring based on size. It said 26 w 4 d. Uh oh. Before he'd even said anything I new the bub was smaller than what it should be. He then measured the head with the same result. He informed us that the baby was small, but until he put it on the growth chart he wouldn't know just how small it actually was. He did reassure us that it didn't look too small, but was definitely on the smaller side.

The next tests were done on the blood flow to and from the umbilical cord and to and from the brain. What relief it was when he told us both were normal and great (although he did pause for a long time on the brain scan and I think I nearly jumped off the table down his throat to get something out of him!). Lastly, he measured the level of amniotic fluid in the placenta, again normal and music to my ears.

He then took a slightly more serious tone and started to explain to us that my placenta was looking very 'aged' for this stage of pregnancy and pointed out dark holes around the lining that had started to show. His description was that my placenta looked a bit like 'swiss cheese' - this actually made me laugh during a stressful time and from now on how I'm going to refer to my placenta moving forward! 'Swiss cheese' is not a great thing to have at 29 weeks though and means that the placenta is already starting to shut down, so things will only get worse, not better, hence we need to closely monitor how the placenta is functioning week by week. He explained that the key areas to monitor are the blood flow through the umbilical cord and to the brain and the level of amniotic fluid. If either of these start to falter, we will have no option but to remove the baby. Finally, he charted the size of the baby against the growth chart per week. Our gorgeous little bub sat well under the lower percentile, at between 3-5%, currently weighing about 1kg when it should be about 1.4kg.

As distressing as it was to see this, I asked him to chart the size of the baby if it continued at this growth rate to 33 weeks and it came in at 1.6kg, the exact same weight Poppy was when she was born. Seeing that, I knew that although tiny, 'P2' as we call the bub, would be ok as we've done this before, know what to expect, and came out the other end with a strong, healthy, beautiful little girl who has more attitude than I'm sure I ever did!

Seeing my obstetrician directly following the scan, he reiterated what the doctor had said and told me that we're now just going to have to monitor myself and the baby until we feel we're at a point where it's more beneficial to have the bub out than in. The next step now is to see my blood pressure specialist next week, followed by a scan the day after and of course if I feel any abnormal symptoms (baby not moving, headaches, dizziness, puffy ankles etc) to ring my obstetrician immediately. 

My feelings today having slept on it for 24 hours are positive ones; I know I can do this - I've followed the exact same path before; I'm grateful that the blood flow and amniotic fluid are still at normal levels; and I'm even more grateful that I have my obstetrician, my blood pressure specialist and my (new found friend!) the doctor who is going to manage my scans moving forward, all on my team. Don't get me wrong, it is extremely daunting and I hope and prey that 'P2' will have nice strong lungs and no complications when it comes out, but I've found the best way to manage my concerns is to look at the positives, which is what I'm going to do.

The final positive is that unlike last time, this time I have plenty of tiny, premature baby clothes, beanies, mittens, nappies, wraps and beautiful blankets to dress my tiny bundle in when it arrives!

 

Arrival of a premature baby from an Aunty's perspective

18 June, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

I remember very clearly what Kirst & I were doing the moment she got the phone call from her doctor advising that she needed to come in to see him ASAP- we were charging around Chadstone like crazy ladies, shopping for all the fun things for the impending arrival- onesies, nappies, cute little outfits, blankets - you name it, we were buying it (as well as all the not-so-fun-but-necessary-things - maternity pads, nighties & very large underpants!). Kirsty was about 32 weeks pregnant and hardly showing at all. Her doctor had advised she had extremely high blood pressure/ pre-eclampsia and was at high risk of having a stroke- so was I at this point, standing in the middle of Target, overflowing shopping trolleys, miles from the car! As always, Kirst took it in her stride & didn't panic (we even went through the checkout as we decided we couldn't waste all those hours shopping & not come home with anything!).

Unprepared & somewhat nervous, Kirsty & Hayden headed out to see the doctor that afternoon. It was at this point that he told them that their bundle of joy world be arriving early, 7 weeks and 3 days early to be exact. He sent them straight to Freemasons Hospital, advising she would be booked in for a c-section the following day. Again, Kirst took it in her stride, and knew it was the best thing to do for herself & her little bub.

Early afternoon on the 12 January 2012, the gorgeous little Poppy Louise Munroe was born. She was so small and precious, weighing a tiny 1.67kg. I'll never forget the first time I saw her, so little in the humidicrib. At this point we knew she'd have to stay in the Special Care Unit at Freemasons for at least a few weeks. I must say, I remember admiring the strength & positivity of both Kirst & Hayd in light of this news. They were both amazing. Over the next 5 days or so, Kirst also stayed in hospital as she needed to recover from the c-section & be with Pops.

I was off work at the time, so I delayed my return for a month so that I could spend time with Kirsty and my brand new niece Poppy. As Kirst had a caesarean, she was unable to drive for a few weeks, so I happily drove her in to see Poppy every day. I must say whilst the circumstances were not ideal, it was one of the most special times of my life. Being her first child, Kirsty was learning so much from the amazing nurses in the Special Care Unit at Freemasons hospital. The love and care that they have for all the babies in the SCU is unsurpassed, they really are very special people. We would spend the whole day in the hospital (usually with a picnic lunch break in the gardens over the road, which was lovely!) Kirsty (and I) learnt all about feeding, sleeping patterns and routines, bath time, kangaroo care (very important for a premature baby) and much more from the nurses. It was their experience, care and expertise that made it that little bit easier for Kirsty and Hayden to leave Poppy in their care. After all it was the best place for her to be.

As the aunty of a premature baby, I wanted to do everything I could to support Kirsty and Hayden through this time - do everything possible to help make life easier for them. I was fortunate to be able to take the time off work so that I could be there whenever Kirsty needed. For those of you looking for ways to help (with perhaps more limited time) – sometimes just being there for the parents of premature babies is enough. Go to the hospital with them, keep them company, cook a few meals. Just be there for them if they need a laugh, or cry, or just someone to listen to.

It was during our time in the hospital that Kirsty and I came up with the idea of The Little One. Mum and I had been all over town looking for clothes small enough to fit Poppy. When we did find a store that stocked premature clothing, there was very limited choice, with most stores only stocking up to about 00000 – we were looking for 7 or 8 0’s. It was quite challenging to find just a few outfits. The idea of stocking everything a premature baby needs all in one place, including clothing, pacifiers, nappies, wraps, blankets, gifts, toys, even gifts for mum, seemed like the best way we could put our personal experience to use to help other parents, family and friends of premature babies. Thus The Little One was born!

The smell of the Special Care Nursery

28 March, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

Earlier this week I went back in to the Special Care Nursery at Freemasons Hospital to drop some brochures in to Robyn and the girls in the Maternity Ward. 

As I stepped out of the lift, I was hit with the smell of the ward. That gorgeous smell of new baby mixed with cleanliness, fresh flowers mixed with hospital disinfectant.
Immediately I wanted to cry. These were happy tears though. The time I spent in the Special Care Nursery was one of mixed emotion; initially extreme sadness at having to leave Poppy the day I was discharged from hospital, to over time becoming happiness as I made the journey in to the nursery each day to be with my baby girl and learn from the nurses, or angels as I like to think of them.

I was surprised just how emotional I was, especially after 2 years. As Robyn guided me in to the Special Care Nursery, I saw new parents bathing their babies and then I heard the gentle voice of May who watched over Poppy for weeks on end, and again I wanted to cry!

She was extremely busy, with five sets of twins along with three or four single bubs, but she made the time to come and see pictures of Poppy and comment 'wow, where has those two years gone!'.

I was one of the lucky ones. I went home each night knowing my baby was healthy and simply needed to fatten up a little. This is not always the way for parents of prem babies & my heart goes out to those parents who have to bravely leave their sick babies at night.

I have spent the last few days thinking about the Special Care Nursery and those amazing women who we entrust the lives of our precious beings. Without them, my life as it is right now would be very, very different.

So as I sit here writing this, I want to thank all the special 'angels' out there, tirelessly comforting, saving and nurturing our beautiful children. Whether you have a full term bub or a tiny early bub, remember to think of those caring for our babies and show them your gratitude - they are an amazing group of people.

Specialised premature nappies, Bidibots now available at The Little One

26 February, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

We are thrilled to announce that the fabulous range of Bidibots nappies are now available at The Little One!

When I first saw these nappies I was gobsmacked as to how tiny they were. The smallest size reminded me of two breast pads attached together - that's how small it is!

Unfortunately Bidibots nappies weren't used in hospital when Poppy was born, and after meeting Seona, founder of the Bidibots nappies and hearing about the damage to hips that a newborn nappy worn on a prem baby can cause, I knew straight away we needed to make these nappies available to all parents with premature and small bubs.

Thankfully most NICU and SCN's around the country now use Bidibots nappies in their units, and we're rapt that we now offer the medium (750g - 1250g) and large (1250g - 2kg) size for parents to use on their bubs when they head home.

Bidibots nappies were designed by the fabulous Seona Emanuelli, an amazing NICU nurse who has an extensive background in Neonatal / Paediatric Intensive Care. Seona saw a need for a nappy that was designed specifically for the needs of a premature or small baby whilst in hospital so set to making this happen. After consultation with nurses, parents, physiotherapy teams and doctors the Bidibots range of nappies was developed.
The nappies have higher absorbency for less handling, sits under the umbilical cord for easy access points, includes hook and loop fastener to decrease risk of tapes sticking to babies skin, a narrow groin for optimal hip positioning, increased leg elasticity for decrease risk of leakage and a wetness indicator for parents and nurses.

Thanks to caring, dedicated people like Seona in our NICU and SCN's, our premature and small bubs now have some of the key products required to give them a great start in life.

 

Milestone Baby Cards have arrived!

22 January, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

The much anticipated arrival of the beautiful Milestone Baby Cards is finally here!

Milestone Baby Cards are beautifully illustrated cards that you can use to capture bub's milestones in their first year. For example, the first few weeks of bub's life is so exciting, so each week there is a card that you sit next to bub and take a snap to show their progression. Or why not take a happy snap of bub when they first sit up or get there first tooth! The best bit about the cards is that they have a little spot at the top of each card to record the date, so you also have the key dates recorded. 
My girlfriend Jane had the great idea to frame the cards and use them as artwork in bub's room. Such a fabulous idea seeing as the illustrations are so divine.
The Milestone Baby Cards concept came from a Dutch mum Gemma, who wanted to capture the key milestones of her son Mikkel. She wrote a little dated note and took a photo of him to mark the occasion. She continued to do this with other key milestones, quickly realising how special the photos were she was taking and hence came up with the idea of creating a range of beautifully illustrated cards to capture key milestones.
We hope you enjoy creating a series of special milestone memories for your bub!

Our first ever post!

22 November, 2013 0 comments Leave a comment

We are SO excited to officially launch The Little One! What has been almost two years of planning, thinking and talking and LOTS of hard work, we've finally come up with a collection of products that we think are just perfect for premature and small babies. We've had a lot of fun searching for all these gorgeous products and we hope you love them all as much as we do!

Our vision from the beginning has been to bring all things premature to one location to make life easier for you. From gorgeous clothing, toys and blankets, to nappies, pacifiers and gifts for mum, we hope you find what you're looking for, and hope it will bring you lots of joy.

Kirsty, Lizzie & Pops xx