Tommy's guest blog, 22/02/2017, by Gemma
Myself & my husband Luke got together in 1997 and got married in 2002. Basically we were in no rush to have children and focused on our careers, education and on our home. We were childhood sweethearts.
In 2009 we decided to have children. We got pregnant easily and were over the moon, we told our close friends and family and everyone was pleased and excited for us. We were due in Oct 2009.
Everything was going well and we had decided to find out the sex if we could. We had the nuchal scan which showed some unusual antibodies but no professionals seemed concerned. We had our 20 week scan at our local maternity hospital in Banbury, we knew something was wrong as the sonographer was very apprehensive. She told us that we needed to go to the more specialist hospital, the John Radcliffe in Oxford to be re-scanned. So the following few days were a little fretful but we were looking forward to another scan.
The following Tuesday we went to the John Radcliffe and the consultant started the scan, he stopped unexpectedly and said "I'm sorry this baby has died". I remember the words so clearly.
I burst into tears and remember my first worry being a hospital stay - silly really how you deal with the shock. I remember asking Luke if he'd heard the doctor - we both just cried and held each other for a while. We were then ushered into a small room - we call it the 'bad news' room now, just off the maternity unit. Luke had to go and make a few hard phone calls to our employers and family. We were then seen by a midwife / doctor who explained the procedure and gave us options.
A few days later I took some medication and Noah was born (vaginally) at lunchtime on 11th June 2009. We hate him being called a miscarriage. They were not allowed to tell us his sex as he was before 24 weeks. The nurse was very kind and said just look between his legs.
He was fully formed, perfect, just very small. We spent all afternoon with him saying our goodbyes and taking pictures.
We had visitors - as if we had had our baby- very surreal looking back. We decided to have Noah cremated and had a service for him.The whole experience still haunts me but we've both just got better at dealing with the hurt. We decided to have a post mortem on Noah to help us understand what happened. We had an appointment at the hospital to see a consultant who gave us my diagnoses of anti-phospholipid syndrome- basically blood clots had built up in the umbilical cord and cut off Noah's supply.I was devastated and had a lot to learn about my condition. I have the pregnancy related condition.
We had decided to try again to have a baby and fell pregnant unexpectedly quickly and was due in April 2010. I was going to be cared for by the Silver Star Unit at the John Radcliffe Hospital.Now knowing about my condition we knew that it was likely our next baby would be born prematurely. I was prescribed fragmin, daily injections and a low dose of aspirin and was closely monitored.
The pregnancy was going well and we were over the moon at 20 weeks to be told we were having another boy.
We allowed my mother to come to this scan and her and Luke had a little tear. We had a scan/ check up appointment at hospital between Christmas 2009 and New Year 2010 and the consultant advised me to not return to work in the New Year as I needed to control my blood pressure; (my condition makes me more prone to pre- eclampsia) and come for more regular check-ups. We returned to hospital on 7th Jan for what we thought was a check-up but I was admitted as I had early signs of pre-eclampsia and the umbilical cord issues had started.
They basically kept in me in hospital to help me get a far as possible safely in this pregnancy. They closely monitored the resistance in the cord.
I hated it to start with, being away from Luke, friends and home comforts but realised how dangerous pre-eclampsia can be for myself and the baby. I was in hospital for three long weeks, the consultants monitored my every move. We knew the baby would arrive soon and were introduced to the Neonatal Unit and staff. We also spoke with Neonatal consultants who discussed the baby’s outcome with us. We had a few false alarms - I had to keep calling Luke at work and say they are going to deliver me tomorrow.
They managed to get me to exactly 28 weeks pregnant and on 29th January 2010 was born Finnley David Froude. He weighed 1lb 4oz. Tiny.
He was born via c section and was whisked off to the intensive care unit. Finnley lived for 18 weeks on the NICU, we became part of the furniture. He also spent some time in HDU also. He came across many huge hurdles during his short life, life threatening infections, ventilation, chronic long disease and much more.
He was a true fighter but sadly lost his battle on 3rd June due to an infection that stopped his heart.
We had calls from the hospital that night and drove to hospital about 4am - the drive was horrible. Not knowing what was happening. We arrived to find them performing CPR on Finnley, which they had been doing for some time. A consultant took us aside and gave us the bad news. They'd fought long and hard to save him, which we are thankful for but we had to make the decision for them to stop. Finnley was brought to us wire free about 7.30am and we said our heart breaking goodbyes.
We were devastated. Shocked.
We had to call family who had begun to arrive and we spent the rest of the day/ eve sorting his belongings and saying goodbye.
The staff in the unit were also devastated as they all got to know him so well and his feisty character.
Everyone knew him and us. It had been our second home for such a long time. We have photos and a memory box of that day.
Finnley's funeral was 29th June and was such a hard day. I still remember the hearse pulling up to our house and thinking I couldn't do it. His coffin was so tiny.
We are very grateful for the 18 weeks we had with Finnley too and decided whilst with him that day that we'd fundraise in his memory for SSNAP who support the sick new borns at the John Radcliffe. We have raised over £86,000 since Finnley's death. It's kept us going through difficult times. We still keep in touch with a few families and staff that were in the unit at the same time as us which is nice.
After going through Noah and Finnley myself and Luke decided not to try again for children although we changed our mind in late 2014 and decided to go for it again.
We knew it wasn't going to be easy and not having time on our side now we thought we'd better hurry. We researched into everything that could help me be pregnant longer and we had some pre-pregnant appointments with the Silver Star team. As usual getting pregnant wasn't difficult for us and on the second cycle I was pregnant again. Oct 2015. We saw Silver Star who prescribed a higher dose of fragmin - injections twice a day and adcal which was a newer researched drug to help with blood pressure.
Baby Froude 3rd was due 24th June. We had everything crossed to get as far as possible. We were happy but apprehensive.
We decided not to tell people until we couldn't keep it secret anymore - although we did tell a close network of friends and family. We decided to have a 4D scan around 16/17 weeks and found out the baby's gender - they confirmed another boy.
We decided in the way home from that scan his name would be Henry.
We had lots of check ups with Henry and things were looking very good until about 28 weeks when my blood pressure started to rise and the consultants needed to regulate it with stronger medication. The Silver Star team then closely monitored Henry’s growth and umbilical cord flow. I was eventually admitted on Tuesday 3rd May with high blood pressure. I was 32 weeks and 4 days. We asked to speak to someone from the NICU to prepare us for life with a baby of this gestation. It was pleasing to hear how high the survival rate was. I had a growth scan that week and they estimated his weight to be 4lb 2oz.
The consultants decided to deliver Henry on Friday 6th May 2016 at 33 weeks gestation.
They said he was a good weight and didn't want to risk us running into any complications with cord restrictions. He weighed exactly what they'd estimated too. Henry Clarke Nicholas Froude (Clarke was my maiden name & Nicholas is Luke's Brother who passed away nearly 45 years ago) was born at 2.32pm via c section. Luke was first to hold Henry due to my health. Henry came to visit me in the recovery ward as I didn't come round until 6-7pm that evening and was too ill to move.
We all had a lovely cuddle on my hospital bed. Magic.
Henry was taken to HDU where he was later put vapatherm to stop him working too hard to breath - no oxygen just pressure. The consultants double checked him for infections via lots of heel pricks and he was clear so they decided to take the breathing support off. Which we were pleased about as Finnley's past history with that gave us a bad feeling as he never came off any support.
As Henry didn't have any support he was able to go in a cot and be dressed - all very emotional things as never had this with Finnley. I did shed a few happy tears.
Then the big news after 2 nights in HDU was he was going to be moved to the LDU - we were so happy but emotional too. Henry only spent 12 nights in the LDU and learnt to breast feed in this time. We knew a lot of the consultants, nurses & other support staff in the Unit too from Finnley’s time in hospital which was nice. Henry did amazing which we are very grateful for. We did bring him home tube fed but he took to breast feeding so well it didn't stay in long.
Henry has gone from strength to strength and is now nearly 16lb! He's such a happy baby and in the correct clothes size and is progressing well with food and nearly crawling.
He's amazing and we can't thank Silver Star for their help and support to help us have him. Henry has a big fan club and lots of our charity fundraiser supporters love to keep up to date with his progress.
He really is our miracle baby! Dreams really do come true. Henry loves looking at pictures of his older Brother and we will ensure he knows all about Noah and Finnley.
Without Noah we would have never had Finnley and without both our Angel babies our rainbow precious little man Henry wouldn't be here today. We love them all.