At 21+2 weeks into my pregnancy, I had PPROM (Preterm Premature Rupture Of Membranes) – in other words my waters broke.  

I was told by many doctors that I would go into labour imminently and that my baby would not be resuscitated as he was not yet viable. After a week in hospital with no signs of labour, I was sent home on bed rest. I leaked amniotic fluid constantly. My son seemed to be growing well at scans but he never had more than 0.8cm of amniotic fluid around him (average is 12-20cm). Apart from going to the Trauma Unit at the hospital for checks. I laid in bed for 9 weeks.

My labour came quickly and my son was breech. Doctors prepared me for a section, however, it was too late, he was coming fast. A few big pushes later and my son Tommy came into the world. I had prepared myself for the worst. The most important time for lung development is between 19-24 weeks gestation and the amniotic fluid is vital to help the lungs mature. Although Tommy was born at 30+5 weeks, there was a very high chance his lungs could have been the size of a 21 week old foetus, and therefore was not able to support his body. As Tommy was born, he let out a tiny cry. To me it sounded like a roar. Our baby boy had arrived.

The next 48 hours were very scary. Unfortunately, Tommy’s lungs were causing concern and both collapsed. He needed two chest drains to remove fluid from his lungs and was ventilated. He was on an oscillator which made him vibrate to prompt the vessels in his lungs to open more. Finally, he was on the highest dose of nitric oxide to treat pulmonary hypertension. Tommy was gradually weaned off everything as he grew stronger. He was left needing CPAP for 6 weeks until he started on low flow oxygen. The rest of his NICU stay was uneventful. Tommy needed to learn how to feed and to grow. Eventually after 54 days of NICU we found ourselves having oxygen installed in our house and preparing for our son to come home so we could be a proper family.

My advice to new parents on the unit is look after yourself emotionally and mentally. Take time out, even just a few minutes, to check in with reality and be normal again. Spoons are an amazing resource for supporting families, use them as much as you need. Tommy is now 4 years old. He is no longer the special care baby he once was. He is funny, clever, naughty and brilliant. He has no lasting health effects from the PPROM or his time in NICU.