Different hospital, same story…

img-20151018-wa0002-1There we were – four days after we had finally gotten to bring our little beauty home – running around the house like lunatics trying to make the place look presentable before the public health nurse arrived to check on Ruby. Myself and Andy both looked like zombies. We were only getting about one and half hours sleep (if we were lucky) between Ruby’s naps. During the day it wasn’t too bad as my parents were living next door, so my mam was in and out all day long helping out. But night time was torture. Ruby would wake and I would get up to feed her. I was breastfeeding, so unfortunately Andy couldn’t help in this department. Between the two of us we would try and wind her. Andy would then change her. We would all go to sleep and the process would start over again. I was probably getting maybe an hours sleep each time. I was still worried about Ruby and I had some anxiety every time I had to put her down to sleep. I spent most of my time watching her sleep and checking her breathing. Which was still really rapid from the *TTN and the previous day I had noticed that her feet were going blue again. At the time I just put an extra pair of socks on her thinking her feet were just cold – surely it couldn’t have been the **cynosis that she had after the birth, the hospital had said she was in the all clear.

So the health nurse arrived and checked Ruby out. I had to fill her in on Ruby’s condition after the labour. It was then that I mentioned to her about Ruby’s feet being blue the day beforehand, and the fact that her breathing was still really rapid. So she checked all of these things out for herself. Even though she was good in all other departments, the nurse wasn’t happy about her rapid breathing and blue feet. So she sent us off to my doctor in order to get a letter so that we could bring Ruby to Crumlin’s Children Hospital. She suggested that we waste no time in doing so. I quickly packed a bag for Ruby and phoned the doctor, who sent us immediately up to Crumlin.

I couldn’t believe it. Four days home and we were already on our way back to the hospital with her. I had no idea what to expect. She was seen very quickly once we had filled any required forms out. She was only 11 days old at this stage, so they didn’t want to leave her in the waiting area where she might pick up an infection. At about 5 pm we were brought into a small observation room where she was once again hooked up to a pulse-oximeter, which is a machine to monitor oxygen levels in your blood. We were told to count how many breaths she was taking in every 60 seconds. It was a long wait, with lots of doctors and nurses checking her out, but she was eventually admitted to one of the wards shortly after midnight. Only one parent was aloud to stay, so since I was breastfeeding I stayed. Andy had to drive all the way home to Kildare as there was no availability in the Ronald McDonald House.

That night felt like it would never end. There were no mother and baby rooms left on the ward we were admitted to. There was just one cot available in a room with another very sick little baby (the nurses spent the whole night coming in and out to tend to that little baby, he seemed so sick). As there were no mother and baby rooms free, I had to sleep on a reclining chair beside Ruby’s cot. As well as the machine to monitor Ruby’s oxygen levels, she was also hooked up to a respiratory monitor to make sure that she didn’t stop breathing at any stage. Twice during the night the breath monitor went off to indicate that she had stopped breathing. I was sleeping both times (more like dozing) but I got such a fright, because when the machine goes off, all the nurses on the ward just dropped what they are doing and rushed to which ever machine is going off. Thankfully it wasn’t anything serious, she had just stopped a little bit longer than what was normal. They kept both of the monitors on for Ruby’s entire hospital stay. The breathing monitor only went off one other time while we were there. But you can see why I had some anxiety when it came to putting her to sleep!!

The next morning, the doctor assigned to Ruby came in to have a chat with me. She spoke to me again about the TTN and cynosis she had when she was born. She explained that the TTN normally lasted about 3 days after birth. Since Ruby still seemed to be suffering from it, she wanted to run some tests to ensure she had no hidden problems that could be causing her trouble. She also explained that her feet were more than likely blue due to her breathing being a little bit more laboured than normal. So over the next few days Ruby was scheduled to have a mountain of tests. I can’t remember all of them, but some included a chest x-ray, heart echo, blood tests and loads more. It was four days worth of tests.

Later that day, at about lunch time, we were moved to our own mother and baby room on the same ward. I was so happy – I don’t think I could have managed another night sleeping on a reclining chair. I basically didn’t get any sleep the night before – I got such a fright when the breathing monitors went off that I couldn’t relax enough to nod off to sleep. So I really needed some kind of a normal bed to get even a small amount of sleep. Including Ruby’s cot, the new room consisted of a pull out bed with pillows and a blanket for me, a sink and TV. It felt like luxury compared to how I had spent the previous night. The only down side was that the room was like a fish bowl. Glass on very side. Understandable, as it was a children’s hospital, so the nurses would need to be able to see into and gain access to all the rooms. But not so great when its situated right beside the nurses station and you are trying to breast feed – I felt like I was being gawked at the whole time. The second day, I was also told to start pumping again. So again, I started pumping like a mad woman. But unfortunately, after we came home I wasn’t able to establish breast feeding again on my own, so I kept up pumping and fed Ruby breast milk from a bottle. Truth be told, this was the beginning of the end for my milk supply. But more on that in another post.

The next few days were a mixture of sheer exhaustion, lots of coffee, scheduled pumping, endless shows of tipping point on the TV and lots of worrying. Poor Andy would stay until about 10 or 11 pm, drive home, and was up again the next morning for 9 am. I spent so much time in the room with Ruby that the nurses used to have to make me leave so that I could get a coffee and some fresh air. It was so hard to leave her, even for the shortest amount of time. But finally on the fourth day, once all of the tests had been done and all of the results were clear, we were told we could take Ruby home. They found nothing wrong with her that could be causing her to have rapid breathing. The doctors said that it was either just the way that she was breathing or the TTN was just taking longer to go away. They said if she ever had breathing difficulties where she was struggling to breath to bring her back in, but they were confident that she would be fine. It was like a big weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Her breathing did settle, but it took a few weeks. But it took more than a few weeks for my anxiety to go away every time I had to put her to sleep. To be honest, that anxiety is probably still there a little – she’s 18 months old now and I still use a video monitor when she sleeps! But it keeps me at ease and Ruby’s none the wiser with the monitor in the room.

I have to say a huge thank you to the staff in Crumlin Hospital, they really were great. They do such a fantastic job, not only looking after very sick children, but the parents too! Thankfully (and touch wood), Ruby hasn’t had any issues with it since. Besides the odd cough or cold, she’s been great! But it was a very scary start. Everyone has their own birth story to tell and while there are stories more serious than Ruby’s, it was still a very stressful and traumatic time for both myself and my Andy. Especially as first time parents when every is new and scary anyway!

Until the next blog,

Orla The Irish Mammy x


*TTN – Transient Tachypnen of the Newborn: A respiratory problem that can be seen in newborns shortly after delivery. It can last up to three days and is caused by the slow absorption of fluid in the lungs. This fluid makes taking in oxygen harder and the baby has to breath faster to compensate. (Www.stanfordchildrens.org)

** Cynosis – When parts of the body turn blue because oxygen cannot be carried around the body efficiently. 


Ruby’s Birth Story – Part 3

There I was, sitting up in my bed with my mam to the left of me and my future mother-in-Law to my right. Ruby was sleeping in her little crib just beside my bed and Andy was down in the cafe getting me a much needed coffee. I remember feeling so utterly and unbelievably tired. I had never felt anything like it before and I couldn’t begin to imagine how I was ever going to recover from the ordeal of the pervious day and night. I ached all over, I could barely move and to be honest, I still felt a bit out of it. Like I was in the twilight zone. I must have really looked out of it too, because my mam had just said that she thought I was in shock!! But no, I was just feeling like I had been hit by a brick wall. But soon enough, visiting time was over for the morning. Everyone left and made their way down to the cafe for lunch and left me to eat mine and get some much needed rest. So after I finished my lunch (which was really awful – as was all the food we got), I fed, changed and put Ruby down to sleep and rested for a while.

During this time the nurses were in and out to check my stats and drip. I was still on the medication that I needed to help my uterus contract normally and once that was finished, I was due to start on another antibiotic because of my temperature spike during labour. A student baby doctor had already routinely been in to check on Ruby twice that morning. Both times it was mentioned to him about Ruby’s blue arms and legs, which seemed to be getting worse. But he kept saying that it was nothing to worry about. But I had a gut feeling that something wasn’t right. I was still having no luck with breastfeeding and any formula I was giving her wasn’t staying down. So later in the evening, when a nurse from my diabetic team came in to tell me that Ruby’s blood sugars were all normal, I mentioned my concerns to her and what the other doctor had said. She said to leave it with her and that she would see if a more senior doctor would come and take a look at her. So most of the evening went by with no visit from anyone besides the on duty nurses to routine check my blood pressure etc. I remember saying to Andy that I think they have forgotten about Ruby. But eventually at about 6.30 or 7pm, a doctor popped in. She spoke to both my self and Andy about our concerns and took a quick look at her. She explained how she wanted to take her down to a small examination room at the end of the ward so that she could have a better look at her. So she took Ruby off to be examined and told us that she would be back to us with any findings that she might have. In the mean time, my sister and my dad arrived to see Ruby. I kept telling them that she was only gone for an examination and that she would be back soon. Little did we know that it would be another week before they would get to meet her! So at about 8pm the doctor arrived back to the ward, without Ruby. At that point, she explained that she wasn’t receiving enough oxygen throughout her body, which was causing parts of her body to go blue. So she had sent her up to the high dependency unit and that we could go up and see her at 9pm once they had her set up with oxygen. I remember that I started to shake really badly all over, like when you are really cold. I think it was shock or something. When you have a baby, you abviously hope and pray that everything will be ok. But I didn’t really think that something bad would actually happen.

We both got such a shock when we went up to see her. I wasn’t expecting her to be in an incubator. She had a feeding tube in her nose and wires coming out of her everywhere. I wasn’t allowed to hold her. I just burst out crying. I couldn’t stop. There was a nurse there explaining everything to us. I didn’t hear a single word. Thankfully Andy is an EMT and was able to explain it all to me the next morning. We weren’t allowed to stay very long. So I went back to my bed and Andy had to go home as visiting hours were long over. I cried myself to sleep. The next morning I went up to the ward as soon as I had my morning check up, along with Andy who came up extra early. When we got up to the ward there was a new nurse there named George. He explained everything to us in a little more detail. Ruby was started on an antibiotic during the night. He said it was just precautionary in case there was an infection and they had taken blood samples so that her blood cultures could be checked. She would stay on the antibiotics until the results came back. He had also been giving her some sugar water too! He asked if I was breastfeeding, and if I was that I should start to pump as she wasn’t to be taken out of the incubator. He said that I needed to get as much of my colostrum into her as possible. It didn’t even occur to me that I could pump when I was first having problems with feeding her. So I was sent down to the shop to buy all the equipment needed to use the pumping machine on Ruby’s ward. And so I started my extremely scheduled pumping regime. And apparently,  I was producing a huge amount of colostrum. It was like my body knew that Ruby really needed it. And once she started to get it, she really started to improve. The only way I could feed her was by standing beside her incubator with one hand inside holding up a tube which was attached to her feeding tube. So over the next few days I pretty much spent all of my time with Ruby. I would go straight after my morning check up and not return until about 9pm. After that I spent the night pumping every 2/3 hours. I was a women on a mission. I really wanted to breastfeed, and since I couldn’t, I was going to give pumping a damn good try. And it turns out I had a massive supply. In the meantime, the nurses on my ward noticed that I had kind of gone missing. On the third day there was a phonecall up to Ruby’s ward asking if I was there. Of course I was. I was asked very politely to come back to my ward. They said that it was obviously ok for me to be up with Ruby, but just asked that I come back for my other three check ups.

img-20151018-wa0010On the third day we got confirmation that Ruby’s blood cultures were all clear. So she was taken off antibiotics and we could now hold her to feed her. It was amazing to be able to hold her again. We were told that if she handled being held for longer periods, that she would be taken out of the incubator and brought into the special care baby room which was next door. And of course my little lady did just that. So on the Monday morning we went into the new ward. Her oxygen levels were still being monitored with a device and she had a feeding tube in still. But later that day we were told to try her on a bottle of breast milk – which she devoured. From that night on I was told to try and establish breastfeeding. That first night was a disaster. I came up to the ward every three hours and each time was an utter fail. The midwife on duty wasn’t a great help either. It seemed like if Ruby didn’t latch on straight away, that she told me to stop and go back to bed. I was so disheartened.  I tried all through the next day with the same results. Then, at that nights shift change, I happened to be there trying, and failing miserably at feeding Ruby. The new on call nurse came up to me and stopped me straight away. For starters, I was holding her wrong and I had no support pillow. She brought me out one and started to show me a few different feeding positions. She was so lovely and reassuring. This was exactly the type of nurse I needed. By the next morning she told me that I had inverted nipples, especially on the right. And that Ruby had a severe case of tongue tie, which makes feeding really difficult. So I was told to try using nipple shields the next time I fed Ruby. As soon as the shop down stairs opened I got some. I won’t say that they worked straight away, but by lunch time we had both mastered the art of breast feeding. I was delighted! We were told that Ruby could go home on Thursday 20th – 7 days after she was born. But before we could go, we had to be shown how to give Ruby a bath and we had to attend a first aid class.

img-20151018-wa0006The whole time Ruby was in the high dependency and special care baby wards, the doctors had been very vague about Ruby’s condition. It was like they weren’t fully sure what was wrong with her. They never really fully gave us an explanation. The nearest one we got was – “she is failing to thrive outside of the womb”!! It wasn’t until I got her hospital release papers that I discovered she was suffering from *TTN and **Cynosis. TTN is only suppose to last about 3 days but for some reason Ruby was still having problems with it for a number of weeks after delivery. I have to say though that the staff in the Coombe Hospital, especially in the high dependency wards, were amazing. There was one nurse we dealt with the most, George. He was fantastic. Absolutely amazing at his job. He was so reassuring and so good with the babies. He explained everything so clearly too and had no problems answering any questions that we had. I don’t think I’ll ever forget him.

So at 3pm on Thursday 20th of August, we got to bring our little beauty home. I was terrified to leave the security of the hospital, but happy to get home and start our little family together. I was so exhausted that I slept the whole way home with Ruby. Once we arrived home, we were greeted by our parents, brothers and sisters and their kids. They had balloons and banners everywhere, and my mam had gotten the biggest and tallest baby hamper I had ever seen! It was such a wonderful reception to arrive home to. I wish I could say that we had no more hospital visits. But Ruby had one more hospital stay ahead of her. Something that I will write about in my next blog. I hope that you have enjoyed reading Ruby’s Birth Story and I really hope that I haven’t turned anyone off having babies! It really is a wonderful experience!

Until the next blog.

Orla the Irish Mammy x

*TTN – Transient Tachypnen of the Newborn: A respiratory problem that can be seen in newborns shortly after delivery. It can last up to three days and is caused by the slow absorption of fluid in the lungs. This fluid makes taking in oxygen harder and the baby has to breath faster to compensate. (Www.stanfordchildrens.org)

** Cynosis – When parts of the body turn blue because oxygen cannot be carried around the body efficiently. 


Ruby’s Birth Story – Part 1


Tuesday 3rd August 2105, a day I remember well. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. I never thought anyone’s feet, let alone my own, could swell up so much. I had traveled down to Waterford for a weeks holiday with my parents, sister and her children. A quiet little holiday before Ruby Rose arrived into the world. We choose to go to Waterford simply because it was far enough away to create the feeling of a proper holiday but near enough for Andy to get me to the hospital should Ruby decide to arrive earlier than expected. I wasn’t due until August 26th, so no one really though we’d have any problems. Little did we know.

I had been experiencing slightly blurred vision the previous two days before hand, but thought nothing of it as my eye sight is fairly rubbish anyway. But then with the expansion of my feet the morning of the 3rd (they were literally as big as hobbit feet!) I began to worry a little bit and decided I’d should mention it to my mam, who immediately thought it was preeclampsia – meaning you can suffer from high blood pressure and apparently hobbit sized feet! So I spent the next day or two with my feet elevated as much as possible, with the hope that the swelling would go down. I was due to go home on Friday the 7th for a routine doctors appointment so I decided that I would just mention it then.

So Friday morning came and myself and Andy headed back to Newbridge for my appointment. At this stage the swelling was alternating between very swollen to not quite swollen, but it never really went down. At this stage my feet were really beginning to hurt, especially when walking and it felt like the skin on my feet was being stretched to its limit. Needless to say, my doctor took one look at me and confirmed preeclampsia. She also did some tests which showed protein in my urine. So I was  quickly shipped up to the Coombe Women and Infants Hospital in Dublin with a doctors letter. I was seen fairly quickly and a number of tests were done and some checks on Ruby. I was told that I would have to be admitted to do a 24 hour urine check to confirm preeclampsia. Even though they were pretty sure I had it.  But before I could be admitted my consultant had to come and check me out. This was at 7pm. I was sent out to a waiting room to wait there until he came. He arrived shortly after 12.30 am and didn’t even assess me. He just looked at my chart. This was extremely frustrating as I was waiting in a tiny room that fitted only four chairs in it. I had no where to put my feet up (which were now so swollen that they looked purple and I could no longer walk on them without help from Andy). I was also exhausted. By the time I got into a bed, it was between 1.00 and 1.30 am.

7am the next morning, I was woken and told that I needed to start the 24 hour urine test. As it was over the weekend I finally had a confirmation that it was definitely preeclampsia on Monday 10th at morning rounds. I had to spend most of my time with my feet elevated to help bring down the swelling which had started to travel up my legs to my knees. They also had to monitor my blood pressure very closely.  To top things off, my 37 week baby bump was measuring at 42weeks! It didn’t really help that I’m only 5ft and I had a large fibroid just outside my womb. Depending on where they are positioned, fibroids can make a baby bump bigger than it really is. Just to be sure, I was sent off for a scan to make sure there was no excess fluid. With everything thing that had happened so far, this really didn’t help with my nerves. But luckily, the bump was all baby. She was measuring very big, and tall. Her stomach measurements were a bit bigger than average – due to my gestational diabetes. So they began to talk about induction. I was a bit gutted as I really wanted to try for a natural birth (even though everyone kept telling me that I wouldn’t be able for it!).  I really wanted to be able to move around and try different positions and only wanted to use gas and air. Andy even had a €100 bet with me that I would beg for epidural – I made him a counter €100 bet that I wouldn’t need one. Mostly because of the idea of having to put a needle in my spine! The idea really terrified me! I also figured that if my sister can push out two babies with just gas and air that so could I. But it wasn’t to be. Because of the gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, I had to be monitored at all times during my labour. So I spent most of that Tuesday and Wednesday trying to get my head around the induction and what it entailed. I also spent much of my time bouncing up and down on a pilates ball that one of the midwife’s gave me to use – to help to encourage the baby’s head to move down and into the correct birthing position. I had no idea when I was going to be induced, I was just told it would happen at some stage.

On the Tuesday morning, during rounds, I was given a sweep by one of the female doctors on my medical team. To see how “favourable” I was – I had no idea how painful it would be. I remember thinking after it, that if I can’t handle that, how will I ever handle labour! But the doctor was lovely and explained that I was already starting to dilate and that things were looking good. But I still had no confirmation as to when I was to be induced. I had thought that if I was lucky, I’d be called on the Thursday or Friday. But 6.30 am on Wednesday morning I was woken up by one of the midwifes on duty and told that it was time. I got such a shock that I started to panic about trying to pack my bags for the delivery suite and I was worried about how long it would take Andy to get up to the hospital from home. The midwife calmed me down and assured me it would still be a while before everything kicked off. So with her advice, I waddled off down the corridor to my delivery suit. I rang Andy and filled him in on the situation. He told me that he would be up at the hospital at around 10am. Things would just be starting to kick off by then. Safe with the knowledge that Andy would be with me by the time any pains would start, I ate the breakfast that was brought to me, tried to keep myself as calm as possible and let the nurses set me up for the day ahead. But you will have to wait until part two for he rest of that story.

Until the next blog.

The Irish Mammy x