Arabella was born in the early hours of 10th February 2021 through an emergency c-section. Up until that day every scan and every appointment had shown no issues, deemed a low risk pregnancy and it was expected to be a totally normal birth.
I don’t remember much apart from lots of medical staff talking quickly and they seemed to be concerned. Craig was told hurridly to collect his things – thinking that the moment was here. He was told that things weren’t okay and the situation was extremely serious and they were doing all the could.
Craig later told me that he was taken onto a dark and empty ward, asked if he would like the equivelent of an oil tanker’s worth of tea, and told both me and the baby were in capable hands but the baby’s heartbeat had dropped dangerously low. It’s such a shame when you can’t remember the truly amazing staff by name but everything was laid out very clearly – it just couldn’t sink in. There were no real updates, just a continuous loop of “we’ll try and find out”.
Eventually Craig was told that I was fine but our baby girl was really struggling and needed to be rushed to NICU immediately. We later found out that my placenta had ruptured and it was luck that we were in hospital and hooked up to the machines. The moment that will haunt him forever was been told that she would soon be coming by the room very quickly, surrounded by a dozen or so medical staff, and they will stop outside for five seconds in order for him to see her. It should’ve been the first sight of our baby that he wanted to remember forever, but instead it’s something he wishes he could forget.
Our baby, still with no name, was assessed by Embrace, part of Sheffield Children’s Hospital’s specialist team. She was transferred to an hospital 20 miles away who were better equipped to deal with her case. Luckily I got to see her for the first time just before she was transferred after coming around from the general anesthetic.
The staff at the hospital were nothing short of amazing. We were given a room to stay in, and were allowed to stay with our baby, who we had since decided to name Arabella, even though Covid rules were very strict. Everything was laid out to us as clearly as possible and not in a patronising way. The staff knew there was nothing more important to us, so keeping everything as simple as possible was a must. They explained exactly what HIE was as we had never heard of it before, it was scary facing an unknown world and being told the diagnosis is often a waiting game to see how the individual is affected.
We soon realised how lucky we were. It didn’t seem like it at first, but surrounded by babies who couldn’t even be touched by their parents hit us hard. People were in far worse situations.
Arabella’s scans were positive, and the outlook promising and thankfully that outlook continues to this day. She is a beautiful, cheeky, smiley, loud and curious one year old who can’t get enough of her Mummy, Daddy and a small hairy creature who she keeps being told is actually called a guinea pig.
Nothing happened as planned on the day of Arabella’s birth, we are still learning today about HIE and how we can support our beautiful daughter.
We have many complaints about Arabella’s, and indeed my, level of care and that is going trough the rightful process, but the majority of the staff, especially at the specialist hospital, were truly remarkable and the absolute definition of what the NHS stands for. It’s difficult to talk about it still, but everytime we see Arabella smile or hear her giggle, a tiny piece of the past is put to bed.