Until this point I’d felt like I’d kept things together. Even when we were being told she had such small odds of surviving pregnancy I felt like everything was going to be ok. It was at this point that I started to have that knot you get at the bottom of your stomach.
There wasn’t any parent accommodation available at Southampton hospital so one the drive down we were desperately trying to find somewhere to stay. Success with the premier inn. Southampton is a really good hospital but so completely different to what we were used to. We felt like a fish out of water. They have a lot of older surgery babies in their ICU so we could hear babies crying which you didn’t get at the JR as they all tended to be ventilated. Gwen seemed to have coped with the transport relatively well so after checking on her we left her for the night and went for a big glass of wine.
Day 25 – Surgery day. after having a day for them to get used to Gwen, run tests on her and make sure she was strong enough for the surgery. So surgery day. Thankfully all done on the ICU ward and nice and early in the morning. When he came out to tell us that the surgery had gone well I’ve never been so relieved. She was still paralysed from the surgery & they would keep her that way until she’d been transported home and she was on medication to ensure her blood pressure remained high enough after the ligation but she was ok. She was a stubborn little madam even then as later that afternoon she was already trying to move despite the paralytics. The JR didn’t have any empty beds in the ICU so we were in for another stay.
Day 26 – Helen and Claire arrived in the neonate ambulance to take us home. I could have hugged them. Funny how you start thinking of the JR as home. Gwen’s oxygen requirement increased a bit when she was moved into the travel incubator but she seemed to settle a bit after a while. They said we could head off now and they would meet us at the hospital. We headed back to the car to drive north leaving Gwen in their incredibly capable hands. Not long after they called to say they were waiting a bit longer before leaving as Gwendolyn’s blood pressure was a bit low so needed some more medication. Around 1830 they left Southampton hospital. It was getting to late evening so Jon and I picked some fish & chips (excellent chippy in Headington) & went to sit on the bench outside maternity. Not long after my life went into slow motion. Now there are 2 neonatal ambulances at the JR but when I saw one blue lighting up to the door I just knew it was Gwendolyn. We headed over there & they were so so calm taking her out of the ambulance & shepherding us in. On the journey back Gwendolyn’s blood pressure had crashed, her heart rate had increased tremendously & she had a temperature. Rather than turn back to Southampton they’d spoken to the consultant at the JR, & they’d made the decision to bring her home & blue light her all the way. When we first went in we sat in the ICU waiting area while they assessed her but it was literally less than a minute before one of her doctors was coming out to get us so we could see her. I then saw the most incredible people spring into action, all over this tiny little baby. In my time in the RAF I’ve seen some incredible teamwork in some horrible situations but this was on a different scale.. Gwen had severe hypotension and they were trying to work out why with the medication she was on, whilst treating her for the signs of infection she was showing. Her blood pressure was so low it couldn’t be read with a cuff, only with an arterial line. They talked us through it all and I think by then, knowing us, they knew understanding the medical side would help us process what was going on. It looked like it might be sepsis and they were having to place a new long line into her scalp. By the time we left that night her blood pressure was coming up again. I think that night we went home for about 4 hours sleep and a shower & change of clothes. Just to try and prepare ourselves for what might happen the next day.