This is a guest blog post by Adam Hickmott, founder of the Stories of a Dad website. Make sure you check out Adam’s website for more great blog posts like this one!
This is a story about the toughest time in our lives, Chelsea, I, and our family had to try to over come a monumental mountain, as you will read as the story goes on the human body no matter how small is an incredible thing. If you are affected by anything you read please get in touch via the contact us page, we’ve been there. It’s not easy.
So here goes..
Most women get to enjoy a pretty sound pregnancy, forty weeks is the standard gestation period for human beings, some go slightly longer, some finish sooner, the latter is what happened during our pregnancy.
Our son Bobby was born at thirty-one weeks, he weighed 2 lbs 5 ounces, and was so small he could fit in the palm of my hand. Many parents will know where I’m coming from as many have been through what we went through.
So, rewind to early December 2010 we found out Chelsea was pregnant. We were ecstatic, overjoyed, scared.. At the time we were both 20 years old, living together, and both working full-time jobs. This would be life changing!
At first everything was normal and going great, we had told our families and they were happy for us. Then, just as we got to the starting line ready to begin our nine month journey to parenthood, Chelsea began experiencing some peculiarities, so we sought medical advice. We had been in the hospital since 7pm, after countless tests the news came with a shattering blow, the doctors were 90% sure we had lost our baby..
We were told we would have an emergency scan next week to determine if we were still going to be parents or not. However, there was still a 10% chance and that was all the hope I needed. We left the Accident and Emergency department at Maidstone Hospital in floods of tears, hand in hand. Me and Chelsea walked towards the exit, as the automatic doors slid open what greeted us couldn’t have been more biblical. A snow storm, a thick white blanket of snow. It was 1am.
A few days later we received our scan appointment.. Christmas Eve! Of all the days it could have been, it fell on Christmas Eve. It was either going to be the best Christmas or the worst, but that was out of our hands..
We arrived at the hospital apprehensive, we looked up at the sonographer, with our sore, blood-shot eyes as she called Chelsea’s name. This was it, the moment of truth..
There he was.. A beautiful 6 week old cell formation, with a heart beat! Yes! Chelsea was indeed still pregnant, 10% is all we had to hold onto as we walked into that room and we came out beaming.
Fast forward 5 or so months to a routine midwife appointment at the GP surgery, Chelsea had been feeling under the weather, but just put it down to general tiredness. This was not the case, our midwife had noticed something so she ran a few tests.. “You need to make your way straight to the hospital”, “Okay?” We panicked. Chelsea was showing signs of pre-eclampsia. This was not good. We spent 3 days in hospital not knowing a single thing. Until Friday came around, and Chelsea got taken for a scan. A couple of hours past and frustration began to boil, why are they not telling us anything? What is the problem?
Eventually we were told Chelsea was to be transferred to a specialist hospital that could deal with situations like these. At this point it sank in.. We may lose our boy.. again! I needed to express my sadness but also remain strong for Chelsea, and for our baby. I walked for a while and then found the hospital chapel, an empty, echo filled room. I took a seat and let a few tears roll away, at this point the padre came across and asked if she could help. I declined. I told her my name and Chelsea’s name and that our unborn son was in effect being starved of everything he needed, then I left. As I walked away the padre closed her eyes, clasped her hands together and sat quietly. When I returned to Chelsea the ambulance crew were ready to transfer her to the specialist hospital. Blue lights all the way.. This was no joking matter. I rushed home and packed everything I thought we’d need and then drove the 20 miles to the new hospital almost as fast as the ambulance.
After a very emotional few hours, we were fully informed and aware that our son would be born, tomorrow..
Chelsea stayed at the hospital and I slept on my brother’s sofa not too far from the hospital. Morning came and I’d over slept, only to be woken by my niece, poking me on the face. I jumped up and rushed to the hospital, with time to spare, I got suited up into scrubs and we were ready for theatre.
With Chelsea laying on the bed prepped and ready, the surgeons began their work. Chelsea was given very strong anaesthetic and began asking the trained, skilled doctors for liposuction ‘while they were down there’.. A little light humour in an otherwise petrifying situation.
Bobby was so small that at first they couldn’t find him.. Surgery started at 11:19am and our son was born at 11:25am. 6 minutes was enough time for Chelsea to sing a stunning rendition of Aloe Black’s ‘I need a dollar’.
We were shown our son for 2 seconds, wrapped in a towel, looking a little like E.T. then immediately he was gone, taken away to the Intensive care unit and placed on a life support machine that provided his tiny lungs with oxygen.
It would be another hour until he got to meet me and 24 hours before he met Chelsea..
Walking through the maze of long white, brand new hospital corridors I eventually made my way to the ward where he had been taken. I arrived at his bed side, the sounds were overwhelming, alarms pinging, oxygen hissing, wires everywhere, but as my eyes focused past all of those things. I saw a tiny person who I immediately fell in love with.
The nurse asked me if I wanted to hold him, ‘of course’ I said instinctively, although my heart was pounding, my hands shaking, I held him. I introduced my self, and told him I loved him and would protect him.
This was the first of countless visits to that ward.
Once Chelsea had recovered, we would sit down by his incubator for hours on end, trying to be the best parents we could be through two small hand holes in the side of the plastic box. Eventually tubes came away, monitors were turned of, and the time we could hold our baby was extended, but all of these restrictions had taken their toll.
Milestones had been surpassed, first feeds were had, first baths had been and gone, Bobby’s progress was brilliant. 47 day since he was born, it was time to leave the hospital and come home, he weighed just over 4 lbs.
We’d been home about 2 weeks when I began to notice Chelsea was struggling, I had started a new job the day after Bobby came home, so Chelsea was at home with Bobby until I finished. I didn’t know it yet but this was my biggest mistake.
You concentrate all of your attention on your new-born child that sometimes you miss certain things about the people closest to you. Because Chelsea was bed bound for the first couple of days after birth, and then she had to be the best mummy she could be through an incubator, she had lost that connection with her child, the fundamental connection of a mother and her child.
Chelsea would have panic attacks, and not want to be alone with Bobby, we would argue, she just couldn’t bond. Which is when I realised, she was suffering from post natal depression, she had been thrown in at the deep end with a child she barely knew.
It is important for partners and those close to realise these signs very early on as it could have catastrophic results. Luckily for us, we were able to get help, much to Chelsea’s resistance, but in the end she accepted what was happening and allowed her self and me to help.
I took almost a year off of work to look after Bobby, and Chelsea went back to work part-time, it was this decision which in essence made Chelsea the mum and woman she is today, it gave her the freedom to grow and also made her fall back in love with her son who she had lost more than once.
My father gave me a piece of advice, which really stuck with me, he said “When ever you get home from work, always give Chelsea a kiss first.. Show her you love her just as much as your baby.” This piece of advice had visibly positive affects it really did work. It was something so small that always gets over looked. You forget about each other when you have a child.
Fast forward to now and we have a little boy who has just started primary school, we have had 3 house moves, countless holidays, and we are still very much together, very much a family.
Which is why I have to hand it to Chelsea, what an incredible woman, to go through all what she has, and still be able to manage a huge retail store, keep our home as nice as it is, have the energy to get Bobby to school each morning, and still have time to love us two boys as much as she does. She is a phenomenal human being who has achieved greatness. She will always have my respect and I am honoured to call her the mother of my child.
Moral of this story, is don’t forget to show you love each other as well as love your little ones.