Faintly, there came a voice – a soft, masculine voice whispering, chanting. I had the vague sensation of choking on something and of a dream slipping away from the edges of my consciousness. The voice grew louder, the chanting taking shape, forming a sound I recognised – my name.
“Stacey, Stacey wake up, wake up now Stacey. Stacey, you have a new baby boy!”
I have a new baby boy.
I opened my eyes and looked around. The labour room – the room where everything had happened so fast. I was back there, but this time there was only me in the room, me and the gentle presence of who I would later find out, was the anaesthetist from my operation. I allowed my eyes to focus, before looking at him, letting him know that I was fully awake.
“How are you feeling?” he asked.
Stupidly, I croaked out the words, “I’m fine thank you”, when in reality I was far from it. I was in pain – a lot of it. My whole body was swollen from the anaesthetic and I was shaking, uncontrollably from the morphine I’d received. That, and the lack of baby.
“Where is my baby?”
“He is fine. Right now he is in the Neonatal Unit – your partner is in there now with him. You will be able to see him soon. Please, for now, get some rest. Everything will be explained to you.”
What would be explained to me, was that upon his birth, it was confirmed that my son had Oesophageal Atresia. This was found out, by inserting a tube down his oesophagus and x-raying where it sat. Unfortunately for him, it sat in a pouch, high up in his chest, instead of passing down into his stomach. My baby would not be able to feed. There was no way for him to get anything into his stomach. This news I was expecting to some degree. What I hadn’t counted on, was the second piece of new.
My baby had no anus.
There’s no polite way of putting it really. My son was born without the means to allow faecal matter to exit his body. It couldn’t go anywhere! This completely spun me out and all sorts of questions, raced around in my head. Not only could my son not feed, but he couldn’t poo either. How on earth was he going to live? You can’t really heed your doctor’s advice and rest, when you know that your newborn child may die without the proper treatment.
Yet I had no choice. I couldn’t see him yet. He was undergoing various examinations. A plan of action was being written and I didn’t have the faintest clue about what was going on. I hadn’t even had time to think about myself. I hadn’t yet seen my baby and all I wanted to do was to hold him close to me, and keep him safe from the pain and upset that he was about to face. All I could do though was wait. Wait, bed-bound, feverish and weak.
I didn’t sleep that night. I had gone from frozen and shaking, to a raging temperature. I couldn’t move, let alone get out of bed and the one thought in my mind, was of him. Finally, after 24 hours of his birth, they allowed me to be wheeled in on my bed to see him. I remember it as if it was a dream, floating along the corridor the clinical scent of the hospital in my nostrils, through big, blue, double doors into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, along another, shorter corridor into a dimly lit room and around a corner, and then…and then to my son.
The instant I saw him, the dam that I had built behind my eyelids burst and the tears pushed forward, in an uncontrollable torrent. Here was my beautiful, vulnerable, baby boy. So alone he seemed in that little plastic box – wires attached to all of his limbs, drips, tubes, bandages – it was so much to take in. Wheeled up beside his incubator, I was desperate to shelter him within my arms and, at last my wish was answered.
It was one of the single most memorable experiences of my life – made all the more memorable for what would follow.
That would be the first and last time, that I would hold him in my arms, for a while. The tube in his nose, would become part of every day life for us – a tube used to suck the saliva his mouth created, away from his oesophagus, preventing it from building up in his pouch and overflowing into his wind-pipe and into his lungs. It would be a vital part of his next four months in hospital, a simple thing that protected him from drowning in his own saliva and yet causing him pain at other times.
That night, they wheeled him into my room, all cosy, covered up and sleeping in a travel incubator. He was about to be sent to Bristol – where he would have vital surgery to fit a feeding tube, directly into his stomach and to create a stoma, which would enable his body, to rid itself of waste. Both would be temporary measures, to keep him alive while he got stronger, bigger and better able to cope with an even bigger, complicated piece of surgery that would await him and eventually get him on the road to recovery.
The following morning, 5 am to be precise, would see me struggle out of bed and on to my feet for the first time. I would push myself to use the toilet after the extraction of my catheter. I would determinedly shower, despite the blood all over the bathroom floor and the wound from my c-section gaping and weeping fluid. I would refuse the stretcher that would carry me to the vehicle, that would take me to where my son was waiting and where I would meet the wonderful surgeon, who would care for him for years to come. The one thing that occupied my mind, was to get there for him – to sign the papers that would give the go-ahead for his operation and to be there for him when he woke up.
I needed him to know that his mother would not abandon him, that I would be there by his side, no matter how much I was hurting myself. What I didn’t realise, was just how much I would be hurting and how isolated I would feel, being away from the people who I would need the most, to get me through it.
Please come back next week, when I will tell you about how me and Big Bro really did overcome those problems, along with his most crucial operation and as always, I welcome all of your comments.
If you are interested in reading the previous posts on our story, you may find them here: