Ella’s Story

Ella’s Story

I had a textbook pregnancy. My labour started in the middle of the night and by 11am I was at my local hospital excited that I would soon meet my new baby. When we got to the hospital I was 3 cm dilated and they didn’t think my baby would come right away. The labour was going really well it was only towards the end that I needed a bit of gas and air. I suddenly felt this urge to push and within two pushes my baby girl was here. When she came out the midwife put her on my belly. She then asked my partner to pull the emergency cord.

The moment after my partner pulled the emergency cord loads of doctors and nurses came running in. They were treating her in the same room. I was crying and so were my partner and midwife. We all sat there crying and they were not telling us anything.

I could see them giving her chest compressions and then blood transfusions. After 45 minutes I heard them say ‘we’ve got her, she’s here.’ It was as if my life was on hold for 45 minutes. They transferred her to an incubator to take her to the special care baby unit. My partner caught a glimpse of her as they were taking her away and told me that she is beautiful. The doctors and nurses said that once they got her settled in we could see her.

After they left with our baby girl, Ella, they suggested that I should take a shower and get something to eat whilst we waited. Eventually someone came from the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) and asked how we would be feeding Ella, was I planning on breastfeeding or bottle feeding and if we were going to give her a vitamin K injection. This is the sort of thing that they ask every parent so we assumed that things were not so bad.

After about 3 or 4 hours they said we could go to see our baby. They did not warn us about what to expect or what we might see. I had never seen a Special Care Baby Unit. When I walked in it was as if I was watching something off the television – she had tubes coming out of everywhere and she looked poorly and pale. Staff were all around her; it was heart wrenching and horrible. But on the flip side I was happy she was alive and the machines were helping her.

Not understanding what was happening was the most difficult thing for us. Perhaps if someone had warned me about what to expect it would have been helpful. We were then told that she would need to be transferred to another hospital for further treatment. She needed to go to a hospital that had a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and could provide another treatment known as cooling.

Transfer and the first days

We panicked when we heard she was going to be transferred. We didn’t have a means to get to the other hospital (we didn’t get paid until the next week either) and we didn’t want for our baby Ella to be at another hospital on her own. I was still a patient and under care so we were not sure about leaving and we were concerned about where we were going to stay once we did get to the other hospital. We were eventually told that we could both stay on the ward at the hospital Ella was being transferred to.

Thankfully my sister in law was able to drive us to the hospital our daughter was being transferred to which was 45 miles away. The drive there was the longest drive of my life, even though it took us less than an hour to get there. All I had was a photo of my baby and my thoughts were what would I find at the other end?

Whilst I knew she was in good hands with the medical staff on the ambulance – they were so good to us explaining everything that they would be doing and why. They explained what the journey would be like and how they would care for her along the way. They were very reassuring for us.

When we got to the other hospital, I was really glad I had my partner and his sister. It was nice to have the support and others around me that could also take in what was being said. What they told me broke my heart. The consultant had taken us to a side room to explain that her whole body had failed and they would need to give her intensive care and cool her body.

That night I lay in bed and I put my hands on my belly. She was not in there or next to me, it was not right. So I went to her cot and sat with her. She was wrapped in a cooling blanket and instead of feeling warm to the touch she was cold. This was all part of the treatment to save her in addition to the ventilator and all the other tubes and machines that were keeping her alive. Whilst she was having the cooling treatment, I called her ‘my little Eskimo.’

The first few days we lived on adrenaline. We had access to a computer which was great so that I could keep in touch with family and friends. Knowing people were thinking of us was useful. My sister also came down to support us.

Every day was progress. There were lots of positive steps like the decrease in ventilation. The scary time for me was when they were going to re-warm her. They said this can be a dangerous time as she may fit. I didn’t want to be near her as they re-warmed her as I didn’t want to see any problems.

That night we went to the empty chapel in the hospital. I’m not religious but my partner is. We had passed the chapel before and he asked if I wanted to go in but people were always in there. The night they were re-warming her, the chapel was empty, we went in and for the first time I prayed. I just wanted my baby to be OK.

I did have all the confidence in the medical team. I didn’t go back to her cot until the next morning. When I did go in she was covered in a blanket. I had also brought a blanket to put on her. She felt warm to touch, she was alive and through the worst.

Transferring Back and Going Home

When she was 5 days old, I walked into the NICU expecting to do her care (nappy changing and face wash). I was greeted by the nurse and told that they were going to be transferring her back to the hospital that was closer to our home. We knew this was positive as it meant she was getting better.

When she arrived in the SCBU at the hospital closer to our home, she was warm and only on a feeding tube. That day I got to hold her for the first time. I sobbed and sobbed, I didn’t want to put her down. I held her for 2 hours.

Every day was positive. I didn’t want to leave the hospital; I wanted to improve to the next step. I needed to bond with her and get lots of cuddles. The night before we brought her home I was able to stay the night with her. I would’ve stayed every night if it meant I could be close to her.

It was amazing to bring her home; I just couldn’t take my eyes off her. After 11 days in the hospital, we are so grateful to the doctors and nurse and think the cooling treatment is amazing. 

Ella is now 11 months old. She is a happy little girl full of smiles. She is receiving physiotherapy and we have exercises that we do with her. Our attitude all along has been we don’t care what problems she may have in the future as long as she is with us. My only worry is that if she does develop any problems or disability is how other children would treat her. We will always love her no matter what we are just so happy to have her.