To inspire you to share your baby’s story, here’s the story of our son Joe (or at least a bit of it…)
My husband Andy and I spent much of 2013 fundraising for Tommy’s, the pregnancy and baby charity, who fund specialist research into the causes of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth. We undertook our Triple Run Challenge – the Great Manchester 10k, the Great North 10k, and the Great North Run – and we set up an online auction page called Bids for Babies. We received many kind donations of lots for our auction and together with run sponsorship we raised over £1100 for Tommy’s.
The reason we were spurred into action, and the main reason I chose to support Tommy’s, was my unsettling experience of pre-eclampsia in the latter stages of my pregnancy with our son Joe, who is now three.
After a problem-free 36 weeks, my midwife discovered my blood pressure was too high and I had protein in my urine – classic signs of developing pre-eclampsia. The next day I was admitted to hospital and was put on bed rest and medication for the best part of a week before the doctors didn’t want to risk leaving it any longer and I was induced.
I understood so little about my condition when I was admitted I didn’t realise that any deterioration could mean having seizures, organ damage, placental abruption or any number of complications related to the high blood pressure which could mean losing my baby or my own life.
I had my blood pressure checked every couple of hours, even through the night, and had daily monitoring of Joe’s heartbeat and movements to ensure he was doing OK. I even underwent an ultrasound scan to estimate his weight, as he was going to be born small for his gestation – they just needed to know how small in case he was going to need special care. It was a scary time.
At 8.44pm on Thursday 16th September 2010, Joseph was born, weighing 5lb 9oz – tiny but perfectly formed, with a full head of hair and a good pair of lungs. I think I was in a state of shock as he was placed on my chest; I just remember shaking and not quite believing he was here. My plans for a relaxing water birth had gone out of the window. Joe’s heart rate and my blood pressure were being constantly monitored throughout and I had a drip attached to force my contractions along. During labour my blood pressure had spiked so high I was immediately given IV drugs to bring it down before I was allowed to even get up, about four hours later.
I spent the next four days in hospital to ensure the pre-eclampsia had subsided and my blood pressure was under control. Joe was so small that even ‘tiny baby’ size sleepsuits absolutely swamped him. His hospital bracelets kept slipping off his ankles as his little feet were so tiny. He needed feeding every three hours and was supplemented with formula, and I was woken like clockwork day and night by the nurses so he didn’t miss a feed. None of this had been the way it was planned.
But I was lucky. Joe was strong and healthy and we were able to take him home none the worse for his less than ideal entry to the world. I took medication for another six weeks before my blood pressure was back to normal.
The story for too many women does not end as happily as this, either because of pre-eclampsia, or for any number of other reasons babies are miscarried, stillborn or born prematurely.
Setting up Bids For Babies enabled us to raise awareness of pregnancy complications and raise money to help fantastic causes. Most recently we have supported Tiny Lives – the charitable fund which provides much needed financial support to the Special Care Baby Unit at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle upon Tyne. The SCBU is based in the hospital where Joe was born so was a very important local charity for us to support. Although Joe was strong enough that he didn’t need special care when he was born, we aimed to raise money to help those little babies who do need it. We both participated in this year’s Great North Run, and Joe did his first ever Mini Great North Run to win his own medal, which he was very proud of! You can visit our fundraising hub on Just Giving.