I went across to my close friends last week. She is five months pregnant with her first baby. I realised whilst I was talking to her that I still hadn’t told some of my closest friends about what happened to Lenny in the first few days of his life.
I realise now, nearly three years on, that I hadn’t told that many people. What happened to him deeply affected me emotionally and has meant, until recently, that I always believed that I had to try extra hard to be a good mum to Lenny and to always put him first. Sometimes this was to the detriment of those around me and to the detriment of marriage and my other friendships.
Someone very recently suggested that this blog might be the place to cleanse myself of this story and move on from it. So here it goes.
I had an absolutely fantastic labour with Lenny. I have been known to say that I actually enjoyed it. I knew that every single push meant that I was one step closer to meeting my little boy, an event that I had been highly anticipating for quite some time.
I was so confident following Lenny’s birth that I discharged myself from hospital just 6 hours after his birth. I preferred to get home and settle in and, to be honest, I felt really well and too excited to just relax there in hospital. I couldnt wait to show off mine and Scott’s amazing creation to the whole world and welcomed the onslaught of constant visitors through our door.
Lenny had breastfed brilliantly in hospital on a couple of occasions. Although I wasn’t a breast feeding crusader, I wanted to try for a couple of months and see how I got on.
When we got home Lenny would not breast feed. I suspected it was because of the amount of activity through the day. I was a little worried so when the midwife came the following day, Lenny would have been around 24 hours old at this point, I mentioned this to her and that I was concerned. I had tried him numerous times through the night but he still hadn’t had anything. The midwife checked my attachment and routine and she said it was perfect. I asked at that point whether I should just get a bottle ready – as I have said I wasn’t a crusader and just wanted to do what was best for my baby. The midwife said this was unnecessary and encouraged me to carry on trying. In fact she made me feel as if I was just some anxious nutter when I showed concern. She said he would be absolutely fine if he hadn’t had anything from me until the following days lunchtime, by which time he would have been 48 hours old.
A doctor came out to do her check and I was again told to follow the midwifes advice and not to worry. Although at this point Lenny had developed a little shake which I didnt like but was told not to be concerned about. My sister came later that day and Lenny still hadn’t breast fed. We got the steriliser out and the milk that I had already prepared and decided to make him up a little bottle. I had spoken to the midwife connected to my doctors at that point and she was brilliant and told me to follow my own feelings. She suggested that I knew better and if I was concerned then I should take some action.
Lenny loved the 1 oz and had another straight after. However, later on that night he developed a little rash and the shakes got worse. I wasn’t happy and even though Scott told me i was probably being paranoid, he was obviously relying on the opinions of the experts which had seen him that day, I decided I immediately wanted to take him to hospital.
Ilkeston hospital were absolutely terrible. The GP there suggested all was well and that the rash was nothing. I wasn’t happy and asked for Lenny to be referred. Off to the QMC we went.
The QMC were brilliant. When we got there and I explained what had been going on they set to testing Lenny straight away. It was discovered that his blood sugar level was very low and he was exhibiting symptoms which could have been heart related. I was told his stats were dropping and that he might need oxygen. They called for a Specialist to come down to take blood tests. It got very busy and it was absolutely horrible to see him screaming whilst they were sticking needles in him to try and get blood. I was told he might need a feeding tube or a lumbar puncture test. The Specialist couldnt tell me what was going on because he was too busy dealing with Lenny.
I had to leave the room because I couldnt deal with it. I completely broke down in another room with Mum because I thought I was losing my little boy. I was so torn between trying to pull myself together and needing to be in the room for Lenny.
The Specialist managed to get the blood tests and spoke to me and Scott to tell us that the main priority was to get him feeding. The more he took the better his blood sugar levels got. They were taking heel pricks tests every half an hour to check them. Luckily no infection was found and me and Lenny were admitted into hospital for the night.
This was 3am in the morning, mere 36 hours after having Lenny. I was in my pyjamas, no clean clothes, no bed or anything. I had to feed Lenny 2 oz every hour, that was taking approximately an hour each feed. They were coming every hour and doing a heal prick test to monitor his blood sugar levels and to check there were on the increase. My phone battery had run out so I felt very alone. I remember walking around the ward with Lenny in arms sobbing my eyes out. I knew there was nothing I could do to help Lenny – he needed to feed and only he could control that.
I was told the next morning that I would have to stay in for a few days. But Scott joined us around 9am and Lenny really started to turn around. I was told about 1pm that Lenny’s blood sugar level had increased enough that we could go home provided that we were very careful about feeds, ensuring that we woke him three hourly for feeds.
The scariest part of the whole story is that I was told by a nurse in the night that Lenny’s blood sugar was so low that if I had waited the amount of time the midwife has said, i.e. until he was 48 hours old, then Lenny would likely have gone into a coma and we would have lost him. The Specialist has told me that it was my instinct that saved Lenny and gave me the prompt I needed to take him for medical assistance. The shake that he had exhibited was down to his lack of sugars.
I complained about the midwife and the doctor. I was told that that Midwife would be retrained. This was only after they had tried to tell me that this advice would not have been given to me. Luckily for me she had written this advice in my notes so I had the ultimate proof. I think she should have been fired but I didn’t have the energy nor the emotional strength to insist upon it.
You wouldn’t believe the impact that this event had on my life. I blamed myself for a long time, thinking that I should have known better and got him to hospital earlier. I now know that it was my instinct that saved him and more importantly I was told by two health professionals that he was fine – that should have settled my mind but didn’t.
Every single feed of Lenny’s young life was a nightmare. I was so stressed if he left even 1 oz in the bottom of the bottle. I think I have spent a lot of time in the last 2 years not letting anyone but me have control of anything to do with Lenny – even Scott. I always believed that everything had to be a certain way to make sure he was ok. I always felt like something else was going to happen to take him away from me. I have sacrificed myself, my marriage and my friendships to make sure that I am always here for Lenny, and that I didnt have to trust anyone else with him. This has meant that me and Lenny have a fantastically close relationship and one which I would not change for the world, but………….
The unsung hero in this story is Scott. The main detriment was to him. He is, and always was, fantastic with Lenny. I didn’t allow him to have a say on anything but he stood by me and kept being a fantastic dad. I feel like finally, nearly three years on, I am starting to relinquish some control and it feels so much healthier. My marriage has taken a massive backseat as I am always in mother mode. Now I am a mother first but I am also aware that I am a woman and a wife and thats important too.