I have spent the past 15 hours or so reading the touching story of Kayleigh. http://kayleighannefreeman.blogspot.com/ If you have a box of tissues and a lot of time, be sure to check it out. Kayleigh was born 12 weeks early on 23 June 2008 - exactly 3 months before Samara was born. Yesterday, she lost her fight for life.
Reading Kayleigh's blog has shown me that a blog is so much more than a journal. It has the potential to reach others. To help them through their own journeys in life. I have certainly been touched by this little girl who I didn't even know existed 24 hours ago.
While our journey hasn't been as heart-wrenching as the Freeman family's, it has been a difficult year. A good year too, but interspersed with a lot of anguish and whys. Maybe, by sharing our story here, someone else can be helped.
Please bear with me as I catch you up with the journey we have been on over the last 22 months. It may take me a while to catch up, but bear with me a while...
First, a quick intro. Michael and I have been together since high school. Our first daughter, Alicia (now 20) was born when I was just 19. Over the next 10 years, we had another 5 girls. Sara (17), Renata (16), Christiana (14), Bryanna (12) and Mahalia (10).
We have had our fair share of health issues along the way. Alicia spent most of her childhood in and out of hospital with asthma. Sara was a near-miss cot death, who had her first apnoea (stop-breathing spell) at 6 weeks of age. She was on a monitor until she was 11 years old. Renata was born with a small VSD (hole in the heart), and was in the NICU at 2 weeks with pneumonia. At 10 years she was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome, ODD, and Dyspraxia. Christiana is pretty healthy! YAY! Bryanna has Learning Difficulties, and most probably Aspergers Syndrome. Mahalia spent the first 2 years of her life very sick with breathing problems. She was on nebulisers 4 times a day. Then, at 2 she was diagnosed with multiple allergies. We modified her diet, and haven't looked back. Today she is able to eat a normal diet with minimal problems. Christiana, Bryanna and Mahalia were all preemies (36, 35 and 35 weekers)
All of our girls are/were homeschooled. We are a Christian family, and this is where my hope springs from that we can reach out and help others. Until 2008 we lived in our homeland of New Zealand. And this is where this journey begins....
July 18 2007. Renata, Christiana, Bryanna, Mahalia and I arrive at Brisbane airport. We have just embarked on a totally new and unknown journey. Michael and Sara have stayed in NZ another 4 weeks to finalise the house sale and finish up at work. We are going to stay with friends in a small town 4 hours north of Brisbane. Michael has no job to come to. All we have is a container full of stuff from NZ and some money from our house sale. We use this money to buy a caravan and a bus. This will be our home until whenever......
After 4 months with our friends, things were getting a bit strained (as things do when you throw 2 families together like that!). We need somewhere to go, but know no-one. The engine on our bus had died, so we couldn't even go on the road. We had thought Michael would have found a job by now. But we have no money, nowhere to go. I lost it at that point. But only for a couple of hours. The one thing we did know, was God had told us to move here, and he would find us a home. Through friends of friends, we had found somewhere to move by the end of the day. And so, the following week we moved a couple of hours down the coast.
During the 4 months we were there, Michael found a temporary job on the Sunshine Coast. So we found ourselves a rental house and for the first time in 8 months lived in a real house! We no longer had to stomp our feet and wave torches around watching out for snakes, spiders and toads on the way across a field to the toilet!! (Believe me, that was the biggest plus!)
2 weeks later, on Easter Weekend, I found out I was pregnant! After 9 years, it was a bit of a shock, but a happy one. At least, until the hyperemesis set in! The main thing I remember from that time was curling up on the floor of the public toilets at Nambour Hospital, for 5 hours while waiting to be seen. Not a good look! I had a scan at 10 weeks, and everything was looking good.
At 13 weeks I had a bleed. I was pretty terrified and rushed off to the dr. He thought maybe I had placenta previa. I had that with Sara, but it moved out of the way, and wasn't an issue. I figured that would be the case this time too.
WRONG. After another bleed at 17 weeks, I had a scan at 18 weeks. I was diagnosed with grade IV placenta previa. In my case, this meant that the placenta was sitting right over the cervix, and an additional 3.5cm over the other side. The OB told me there was no way I would be having this baby naturally, and would probably have a preemie, with my history. I was put on moderate bedrest, so spent my time surfing the net for info on placenta previa and premature birth.
At 26 weeks I had a bleed, and was admited to Nambour Hospital. (I should mention here, our lease on our house was up the next week, so we were in the throws of moving too!) I was given steroids to strengthen the babies lungs. The next night I had another bleed, so was put in an ambulance and sent down the the Royal Brisbane Women's Hospital.
I spent the rest of the night alone in a freezing cold birthing room. Not knowing if my baby was about to be born, or even where there was a midwife or dr if I needed them! Needless to say, I got to morning, and they transferred me to the maternity ward.
With the move coming up, Michael was too busy to get down to me straight away, but somehow, he managed to organise some help with getting the house sorted, and thankfully we had arranged storage for our stuff just a few days before. Our plan had been to rent a holiday house on Bribie Island just north of Brisbane while we tried to find a new house (by this time, Michael was working in Brisbane, and had been catching the train down each day). Then I was told, that I would not be going home for some time yet. On the Monday (the day we had to vacate our house) I would be transferred to Ronald MacDonald House until the baby arrived. And, to make things worse, they could only take Michael and I. They didn't have a bigger room available.
Suddenly we had to find homes for 5 girls! After some desperate phone calls, we arranged for 2 of them to go to our friends we stayed with when we moved over. The other 3 went to another friend who we had only just met. Thankfully we had gotten to know them well, and they were friends of friends. We cancelled the holiday home, and became officially homeless!
The next few weeks went by without too much trouble. Well, except that my weak joints were playing up big-time and I was in braces for my wrists, ankles and knees! A C-Section was scheduled for 34 1/2 weeks to try and avoid the risk of going into preterm labour at 35 weeks again. A scan at 30 weeks (see picture) showed that the baby's growth had slowed. Not enough to be alarming, but enough that it might mean moving the birth up to 32 weeks if things didn't improve.
Turns out that was a pointless worry. At 6am on 23 September, at 31 weeks and one day, I had a massive bleed. It took 5 minutes for a crash team to get to Ron's house. By then I was passing out from blood loss. You know on TV how they slap people across the face and tell them to stay with them? Well, they really do that!! LOL Anyway, the Ambo's arrived a few minutes later, and I made the massive ambulance trip 50 metres down the road! By the time we got to the hospital, I was going into labour. A decision was made to do an emergency cesarean. I was knocked out, and woke up several hours later, after a couple of blood transfusions. The first thing I thought when I woke up (having had 6 natural but excrutiating births) was 'why on earth would anyone choose a cesarean? It hurts like ^$%#!' Not a pleasant experience.
Anyway, Samara Eliana was born at 10.21am weighing in at 1500gm (3lb 30z). She was not breathing so was bagged, then ventilated and taken to the NICU. It wasn't until 4pm that I was vaguely with it enough to fake being well enough to go and see her! She was so tiny. Just like a little doll. The photo really doesn't do justice to her size. Her head and trunk could sit in Michael's hand with her legs hanging off the end. She is also looking plump here - this was just fluid, that drained over the next day or so, leaving her all skin and bones! This picture was taken by the NICU staff just after she had been set up with all her monitors etc.
To Be Continued...................