death by paper cut

{May 10, 2015}   The 1st Week, The 1st Mother’s Day

A week ago on 1 May 2015, all I had was the hospital’s baby monitor in the Labour Ward to know that Emma was doing alright. Her strong and steady heart, beat through the night while I awaited her arrival by caesarean section. I was to get some rest before the operation but I couldn’t help checking the monitor every hour or so to reassure myself that Emma was hanging in there. Perhaps hanging on for dear life.

My water broke that night – one month early – which meant that she was to be born premature. By then, this didn’t come as a surprise because a week earlier, the gynae alerted us at what was supposed to be a non-eventful check-up that Emma’s growth had tapered off between 33 to 35 weeks, the amniotic fluid had decreased and most critically, the placenta had started degenerating… too early.

We understood what that meant.

We were to observe the situation for one week and highly likely arrange for the early delivery between 2 May to 9 May. It all hung in a balance – on the one hand it was important for the baby to develop as much as possible in the womb, but on the other hand time was running out because the placenta was shutting down.

The situation forced itself however when my water broke – Emma had decided it was time. With the hospital bag all packed, we calmly gathered some final items and made our way to the hospital.

From the time I was warded, the momentum at the hospital was set by the healthcare professionals. All I had needed to do was follow their lead and trust their good hands. I was given a jab of steroids to clear Emma’s lungs because at this point of time the baby’s lungs are still filled with fluid. The professionalism and attentiveness of the nurses was impressive. Their prompt response to my every need really did help to¬†ameliorate anxiety.

The operating theatre where the caesarean section was to take place felt like an elaborate visit to the dentist. Because I knew the gynae and his medical team fairly well there was a lot less unknowns to fear. The administration of the spinal anesthetic was smooth and I managed to remain lucid the whole time. With her father suited in sterile garb and watching the procedure by my side, all I needed to do was wait for Emma to emerge and cry. Because of the complications of the placenta, we didn’t know what to expect. Fortunately the pediatrician standing by gave us the all clear. Although she was small, weighing a mere 1.96kg, she was doing fine and did not need further observation in the NICU.

Both of us were discharged 3 days later. Our challenge now is to ensure Emma’s steady and continued growth to help her catch up with full-term babies. Every day with her is a new reckoning of her miraculous resilience. I was further informed by the theatre assistant recently that her umbilical cord was thin and small – like the placenta, it was not functioning optimally. In fact, the cord snapped even before the placenta could be removed. We were so close.

Although a wee little one, Emma is very much loved by so many of our friends and family. Her grandparents especially have been unreservedly showering their care in very tangible ways to help her newly minted parents kick-start this journey. For which we are immensely grateful.

This year, I celebrate Mother’s Day with Emma turning one week old and surpassing her birth weight by 140 grams. From tomorrow, our new family will settle in a new routine with our day revolving around her feeds, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

3 to 5 May 2015 - Gleneagles 16


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