This post is an extract from, Danny's Birth Story
(Danny) was born by emergency C-section at 4.47 pm on Friday 18th April. It was "Good Friday" in many respects!
He weighed 7 lb 11 oz.
While the photo above was taken, I was still in recovery on my own (well without my family around me!), Dave was on the phone to (what felt like!) all of Milford Haven telling them our happy news!
A very proud Dad!
A very proud Dad!
I felt so tearful and alone, I had loved Dave putting my precious baby next to me for cuddles and it was heart breaking when they both went away. From a high...down to so low. Nowadays Dad/Birth Partner and baby get to stay with you in recovery.
When I came out of recovery, Dave was still on the phone. Mum, now a proud Nanny, told me how my baby hadn't stopped "talking" from the moment he was born...if only we'd known what he was trying to tell us.
He was gorgeous. I couldn't stop looking at him, cuddling him, smelling him, talking to him, singing to him. I had skin to skin contact and tried to feed him with help from the midwives. He would latch on, feed for a few sucks then tire and sleep. We thought at first he was tired from the birth.
Eventually, all my visitors had to leave. Dave went off to "wet the babies head", and Mum and Aunties to celebrate and make plans too.
I was alone with my baby. I was in a ward on my own, and couldn't yet feel my legs etc after the c-section, so I had to ring the buzzer for them to pass my baby to me or to put him into the cot etc. They were happy with his feeding initially as he was latching on for twenty minutes at a time, but I still felt he wasn't feeding fully.
During this time, I sang to him, "Your Song", "Eternal Flame", "Hush Little Baby" and "Rock a Bye Baby". I spoke to him in a quiet voice, telling him all about his family and how loved he was etc. I felt so sad and lonely that Dave couldn't be there with me though.
Then, my baby was unsettled, I felt like he was still hungry but couldn't feed. The midwives again assisted me to feed him. He still kept crying and grunting. They said I needed to rest and said they would settle him for me.
He was gone ages, so I rang the buzzer. A midwife came to me, my baby was fine, she said, but he was struggling to feed and breathe, which is common in newborns, so they were going to put him in the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) to help him breathe and feed for a while.
While this happened, and I was alone, my heart aching for my baby (I had only met him a few hours ago, but from now on it would always feel strange to be away from him) another baby was born (now a school friend of Danny's). It felt strange to be there without my baby, while this new Mum and Dad cuddled their baby.
The midwives told me to rest as I would need my sleep in the morning, but I couldn't.
In the morning, I congratulated the new mum. I was now so worried about my baby. Why wasn't he with me? I couldn't wait for Dave or my family to arrive. The Sister kept asking me when he was coming, I said sometime this morning.
I was told, I could go see our baby once Dad arrived, so now I was desperate for Dave to arrive. I asked them to ring him for me and they said they had been trying all morning.
I expected him to arrive, and ask how I was and I would explain calmly about how our baby was OK but had to go to SCBU. But NO.
Dave rushed in the ward, SHOUTING, "What the hell's happening?!" I'd been missing my baby but had convinced myself he was OK and that I should keep calm. Now I was worried.
The hospital had not been able to get hold of Dave (he was out buying baby gifts, balloons etc), so they had rung my Mum. They told her they had to get hold of Dad ASAP. Something was seriously wrong, but they could not tell her if it was me or the baby, so my poor family all had to rush to the hospital not knowing what was wrong, how serious it was and who was ill, myself, the baby or both?
Next thing, I'm being lifted out of my bed into a wheelchair, still in my bloodied nightgown and surgical stockings. But, at last I am going to see my baby.
As it happened, SCBU was being rebuilt when our baby was there, so it was temporarily in a very small, dark room (almost like a large cupboard). In contrast to the dark room, in a well lit and heated cot, there was our baby. Our innocent, natural baby, now full of wires, keeping him alive. Breathing for him and nourishing him. We couldn't cuddle him. All we could do was stare at him, hold his hand, talk to him and ask why?
The nurse took a polaroid of him for us to keep.
The nurse took a polaroid of him for us to keep.
Then the doctors and Sister came in. They cleared their throats. They explained that they didn't know what was wrong with our baby. They said it could be liquid on the lung or a hole in the heart, but our baby would have to go to Cardiff for more tests. Sister advised us that it was extremely important to name him straight away.
I wanted him to be named in some way after my own late Dad, David (also making him named after his own Dad and Great Grampy) and Dave was a huge fan of the Wildhearts bass player, Danny McCormack, So that was him named: Daniel (Danny) David Evans-Critten.
The team from Cardiff came down within hours to pick Danny up. As he needed so much life saving equipment and the transport team with him, no family could travel in the ambulance with him. We had to say goodbye yet again to my baby.
One of the nurses was pregnant and I just remember thinking I hoped nothing like this happened to her baby when he or she was born. I hoped nobody else would ever have to go through what we were going through.
My sister kindly offered to drive us to Cardiff. The ambulance driver gave us directions to the hospital which was a two and a half hour journey away and advised us not to follow the ambulance, so we wouldn't get upset if the emergency lights were turned on etc.
Less than twenty four hours post c-section, I had to discharge myself from hospital to be with my baby. I was in so much pain, as obviously Danny needed all the attention, so I didn't get the topped up pain relief I would get with future c-sections.
Mum recalls now, that I was white as could be. Due to the worry, the pain or maybe a mixture of both; when we were nearing Cardiff, the pain got excruciatingly worse. Sitting hunched in a car for two hours had not helped me at all. I couldn't wait to get to the hospital to see baby Danny again, but I also needed to get out of the car for a bit and use the services.
We laugh now in hindsight, at the sight that people at Cardiff Services saw that day. A hunched over, white, tear stained little me hobbling to the toilets...still in my bloodied nightie, surgical stockings and slippers! Because all thoughts were on my poorly baby, these things did not matter at the time.
In Cardiff, Danny was diagnosed with Hypo plastic Left Heart Syndrome. Due to the severity of his condition, he was transferred to Birmingham Children's Hospital, where he had his first major open heart surgery. At three weeks old, Danny was well enough to be discharged from hospital, and came home to Milford Haven for the first time. He continues to have his operations at Birmingham.