Hello everyone. I am really sorry about my haphazard information sharing this week.
It was a bit of a set back, when, having waited a few shaky hours after Ari was born til we were sure he was at least going to survive, I started the ol' mobile, only to discover that the SMS I had saved with all the appropriate numbers only stored the first number. I spent about 20 minutes I didn't have entering new numbers but many people who should have heard straight away didn't. I'm sorry.
Anyway, the word has slowly leaked out and I hope no one was too badly offended by my shabby work.
As you've probably heard, things were pretty tough for the little lion from the beginning. Although it wouldn't be fair to describe the labour as easy, Sarah and the little lady, as she was then, gave the midwives and I no clue as to the mayhem that was about to unfold. Here's my story... (Ari will be writing to his Thong team mates when he gets home, hopefully some time this week, in what I imagine will be pretty colourful language, and I'll put that on here too.)
After an early morning of slowly moving around the cliff looking distracted and occasionally projectile vomiting, Sarah called the hospital and told me it was time to go. We got to the hospital close to 10am without much drama, and walked in, pausing for contractions. Soon we were in the birthing room, and being looked after by Jill, a midwife with a really patient observant low-energy style that worked well for us.
Sarah had a bath for a while, but soon we were back in the main room and there we stayed for around 6 hours of increasingly hard yakka. Now, I'm not going to be forensic in my level of detail here, but it is worth mentioning that there was an interesting period when Sarah thought it was game on and time to push, but the midwife reckoned the cervix wasn't fully dilated and pushing needed to be delayed. That lasted more than a little while. Not pushing under these circumstances is more difficult than it sounds.
Around this time, we were joined by another midwife SallyAnne, who was too jolly by half for mine. The midwives were subtly preparing a tag team shuffle as Jill's shift unfortunately ended around 3.30. To her credit Jill stuck around until 4.40 but eventually had to go.
The trip down the birth canal went from 3pm until 5pm and that was a hard hard road. Sarah was suffering through the contractions and eventually I did ask about pain relief, only to be told 'Most mothers are putting the gas away about now.' I suppose given how strong and determined Sarah is, it is no surprise that she did it without help.
Around 5 we were joined by a third midwife, Vita, who kept a low profile while SallyAnne coached Sarah through the final stages. This really was a remarkable bit of management, and if Sarah does take to the field in Perth in November, Southside owe thanks to SallyAnne.
Before long SallyAnne declared the head was out, and then her expression changed, and she cleared the baby's mouth of meconium. Now, I didn't know there were ten people in Katoomba hospital, but within 30 seconds the room seemed full of people. In no time the baby was out, cord clamped and cut (by me) and the baby whisked to a trolley with overhead heat lights surrounded by people. It was only then we noticed he was a boy. Much more important was that he was white as a sheet, not moving, and as was soon obvious, not breathing.
His head was also extremely elongated and even crooked, with bruising and blood on one side. To my overwhelmed eyes, this was connected to the other symptoms, and it was then completely inconceivable to me that he could survive. I was devastated but could do nothing except hold Sarah and tell her how well she'd done.
The young doctor assisted the baby's breathing (he had no name) with a bag and mask and before long he started to breath on his own, but with extreme difficulty and with no apparent inflation at all on one side. Slowly the limbs became animated. At around 10 minutes a paediatrician arrived and took over, and his first decision was to move the baby to another room. Neither Sarah or I had touched the baby at this stage.
As I emerged from the birthing room to follow the baby, I caught sight of my mum, who had followed her instincts and had ended up somewhere she might be needed. She took most of these first photos on her phone.
Katoomba hospital didn't feel equipped to give him the necessary care overnight, so, though he was stable, the chopper was brought out for the flight to Nepean. The Katoomba paediatrician and the transferring doctor (the chopper is its own hospital administratively) conferred on the X-rays. Various ominous scenarios relating to the lung condition were slowly discounted.
Sarah was being her usual incredible self, physically and emotionally. Soon after birthing the placenta and having a clean up, she was walking around the hospital trying to follow the discussions about the baby's health and sneaking little pats. There were no beds at Nepean for Sarah so she would have to stay in Katoomba. Just before the baby was loaded into his chopper hospital, Sarah was given a quick hug before a gut-wrenching farewell. Since he'd taken his first breath, this was the only moment he stopped crying. That moment meant a lot to us. The baby was really alive and it clearly felt its mother's love and responded to it. Letting him go took a lot of strength from Sarah and we both released some emotion for the first time then.
I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep without seeing what was happening to him, so that meant a drive to Penrith and then back to Warrimoo. My mum did the driving which was great as I was beginning to lose it.
Arriving at the neonatal intensive care (NIC) was extraordinary. I can only describe it as an oasis of calm and protection. I wouldn't wish my recent week on anyone, but seeing the NIC has impressed upon me that humanity is not doomed yet. The care, altruism, science and teamwork of these ordinary women keeping little hearts beating in the middle of the night was very reassuring. I called Sarah to tell her the news that our baby was stable and well looked after.
In the morning, I fetched Sarah from Katoomba and we went down to the Riff.
The first couple days were difficult, as he could not be fed. Nonetheless, it has mostly been up and up, with the big exception of Thursday morning, when he had a seizure and was medicated. Indications are that this was related to the initial distress. There were other issues related to blood type, but these have not been serious. We are waiting for further test results regarding the initial distress but outwardly the signs are all good.
The latest is, he is feeding well, including on the boob, all medications have been stopped, and finally yesterday the various monitors have been removed and we got to bath him.
With any luck, Ari should be home by the end of the week.
Thank you for all your kind wishes and flowers.