Our early arrival
At just 30 weeks into her pregnancy, Carrie Naish naturally assumed she still had several more to go. Baby Sammy, however, had his own surprise planned...
Sammy was a honeymoon baby and my husband, Paul, and I were so excited at the thought of his arrival. I’d pictured the joy of welcoming our first baby in my head but the reality turned out to be quite different. I was just 30 weeks along when I suffered a severe haemorrhage caused by a low-lying placenta, and was admitted to hospital in a rush of panic.
I was terrified the haemorrhaging would trigger an early labour and, although he hid it to keep me calm, so was Paul. We knew the risks associated with premature birth and thought the worst. For six days running, I was prepped and gowned for a possible Caesarean, only to be told the baby was okay and they could hold off delivering him for another day. It felt like forever with nothing to do except worry, but on the sixth day I experienced the worst pain – which turned out to be a contraction – and was found to be fully dilated.
Sammy was delivered naturally in the end, but weighing just 4lb 3oz he was whisked off to the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU). I felt in shock after the birth and, although a nurse tried to reassure me, I had no idea whether my baby would make it through the day. Our little boy looked so fragile and pink all wired up, but I had an overwhelming sense that he was going to be okay. We had to force ourselves to think positively – the alternative wasn’t an option.
We were lucky not to have any major complications and Sammy, although still in the SCBU, was soon strong enough to breathe on his own. But every time he ‘forgot’ to breathe and the alarms went off, it was my heart that nearly stopped. The nurses helped me express milk and we spent hours practising the ‘kangaroo care’ technique. This is skin-on-skin contact that involved tucking Sammy inside my top to help regulate his breathing. It’s proven to be good for babies but it was therapeutic for me, too, and was the highlight of my day.
The hardest part was leaving Sammy at the hospital when I was discharged. I know most mums find the first few weeks tough, but I felt like a fraud walking around with a belly but no baby to show for it. I would run errands on the way to the hospital and people would assume I was pregnant and stocking up on nappies early. In fact, the only positive part of our ordeal was that I had time to recover and catch up on my sleep – by the time Sammy came home, a month after his birth, I felt ready to tackle motherhood.
We’ve taken Sammy back to hospital on several occasions with respiratory problems, but he’s proven to be such a strong little boy. To look at him now you’d never guess he was premature – he’s a good eater and has caught up with his peers in weight and height.
Sammy’s now two and attends nursery, which enables me to work part-time. I also fundraise for the charity Bliss, which is
for babies ‘born too soon, too small, too sick’, so that I can help other parents going through the same experience with their own little ones. I’ve organised a ball and a bake sale, raising £6,500.
Looking back, I’m amazed we made it through. Although our experience wasn’t easy, it made our family closer than ever – if we can get through the last couple of years, we can get through anything!