<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/one-more-time/”>One More Time</a>
well, connected to the prompt!
A VERY HAPPY DAY
I wonder how many of my readers know that today, November 17, is ‘World Prematurity Day’. Well for those of you who would like a happy memoir from me for once let me tell you why it means such an awful lot to me personally.
On a day in May 1990, after recovering from a prolonged bout of influenza, my wife and I were able once again to resume our usual, normal and lovely ability to make love. A few weeks later we went on holiday and were just settling down to a drink at the bar before dinner when my wife took a sip and screwed up her face. “God this stuff tastes awful”, she said, and could not face any alcohol for the rest of that evening.
As we were going to bed she suddenly had a thought. She hadn’t had a period for a while and, being 43 years old to my 48, neither of us even thought she could be pregnant. But that wake up call made her do some maths and she was seriously wondering if she could be. We had been together for some 18 years by then and always wanted a child but it just never happened. So we cut our holiday short, returned home, saw our doctor, did tests and things and the greatest news was true. She was expecting a baby.
The next twenty one weeks were spent with the usual chaos of hospital check ups, getting matternity clothes, planning the nursery, choosing names and everything an expecting couple enjoy so much. But then something went wrong. My wife started getting stomach pains. They got worse and eventually at 22 weeks she was diagnosed with appendicitis. From then on for more than a week the doctors did everything they could to treat it and protect the baby; but to no avail.
On October 17, 1990, from the scan photos we knew we were having a son, after giving her all sorts of drugs and doing everything in their power her waters broke. I signed a form to let them give experimental drugs to the baby to help his breathing and at 2.02pm they had to perform an emergency Caesarean section with little hope that the 23 week old baby would live. We had decided to call him Benedict and the chaplain baptised him as the doctors were removing him from his mother.
I lived in that remarkable place in my wife’s room for eight days while they fought to save both of them. Ben was so small he did not stretch from my finger tips to my wrist. My wife had had to have major surgery, as an abcess on her appendix burst, and was not able to visit the special care baby unit for the first week of his life, while I spent the time between each of them. But we had been very fortunate in our doctors and the care that was possible by then. Against all the odds he would not give up and we visited him every day for more than three months when he was at last fit enough to come home. Even then it was a trial as he was wired up to alarms and things to alert us if his breathing pattern changed. The little so and so seemed to realise that pulling on a tube, and thus waking up mummy and daddy, was the highlight of the night. Not ours! But let’s jump forward to today.
Our little Benedict was hardly ever any trouble through two schools and two universities. Indeed at sport and academically he was very bright and ended up with two degrees and no visible side effects at all from his prematurity except highly over-developed hearing. Last year he got married and is now working in various capacities on several committees that plan and help the health service and ‘Bliss’ the UK’s national charity of the newborn. But the really great thing about today is the appearance on Amazon of his first e-book on medical history called ‘Boxes, Bubbles and Babies’. The links to this are:
It is written as a short, highly informative yet entertaining history of the care of premature babies like himself, and was inspired by his study in university laboratories of the drug which saved his life at birth.
I said at the start that this was a happy memoir, as the whole of his life has been, and I get special pleasure from knowing that everything we and the medical profession did for him against all the odds is now worth so much more than just the effort everybody who cared for him put in. I hope those of you who read his book enjoy it, and remember all premature babies and their needs. Today especially!