27 May 2008

Chapter 1: The Big Day Arrives

At last, after 39 weeks of waiting our little man was on the way. Down to the Coombe we trundled at 8 in the morning on Monday the 10th of March 2008, and Cathal was born at 12.50 that afternoon weighing in at 3.95kg (about 8lbs11 in old money).

30 minutes old

I'll never forget the over whelming love and joy I felt, our perfect baby was with us at last. But hang on a minute, what is the midwife saying? She's concerned about his eyes and neck?
Ahhh, a paediatrician is being called, they'll sort all this out.
Excuse me? You need a second opinion? Why what's wrong.....
Enter a more senior paediatrician stage right.

And then everything came tumbling down, we were told that there was a very strong possibility that our son had downs syndrome and he could hear a heart murmur. My initial reaction was how could this have happened, I did everything right, no alcohol, ate well, didn't put on a huge amount of weight and I'm 28. I'm too young for this to happen, it's just not possible. But as I looked into his scrunched up little face, I suddenly saw what the midwives and doctors saw. He looked a bit different to other babies.

Before all this we had made the calls to the new grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends and work colleagues and so the word had spread. The "Congratulations!!!!!" messages were coming in thick and fast, and yet we were starting to realise that our lives had changed completely to the ones we had imagined we would have. My expectations for the rest of his life vanished in a puff of smoke. All I could think was that he will never be an architect, a computer whizz kid, never marry or have children of his own, will he go to school, will he live with us for the rest of his life??? So many questions and no answers.

I cannot praise the staff in the Coombe highly enough. They left us to come to terms with the news and bond with Cathal for awhile in the delivery room, and they arranged a private room for us on the maternity ward. I am so great full to them for their compassion and understanding.

We were brought down to the ward and shown our room. The head midwife then thought that Cathal looked a little dusky so she brought him up to the nursery under the pretence of giving him his vitamin K shot so as not to panic us. In the mean time Grandad J (Cathal's paternal grandad) had arrived-
sorry, baby's been whisked away to get an injection.
And then Nan P (Cathal's maternal nan) arrived-
sorry, Cathal is busy at the moment, he can't be disturbed.....
By the way, we have more news...he has downs syndrome. It's not confirmed yet, he needs a blood test to confirm it.
So we made the phone calls to tell the rest of the family the extra bit of news. But still the messages of congragulations were coming through from others.

Mr.B and Ms.C were still waiting to meet their new grandson and so Mammy and Daddy went in search for their little boy. I honestly thought we had hit the lowest feeling that could be felt, but there was worse to come. We were told that Cathal had gone very blue and the ward registrar had brought him straight to ICU. We followed him up to ICU to be told that he was getting checked and we could come back in 30min. More phone calls and some coffee later, we finally get to see him. He was in an incubator, stripped and sticky pads on his chest. His health was at risk, his tiny heart had not developed properly and he had to be monitored. The fear that set into my heart at that stage was overwhelming, to think that any thing could take him away from me shook me to the core. This news was worse than finding out about the downs.
They don't have the expertise to deal with heart problems in the Coombe and so he was transferred, only 9hrs old, up the road to Our Lady's Children's Hospital. Under the circumstances, I was also discharged, I wasn't going to spend the night alone without my baby or partner.

We are extremely luck to live 5 minutes away from both hospitals, and so we popped home for food. Two of our friends brought us supplies of chicken and chips, juice and moral support. We then followed Cathal up to Our Lady's and waited while the consultant examined him. He told us that Cathal has three heart conditions, complete AVSD, pulmonary stenosis and double outlet right ventricle. We were finally aloud to see him, and as I reached into his incubator to hold his hand and touch him, I just could not believe that anything was wrong. He looked so perfect, so sleepy, peaceful and warm. How can this tiny little person have heart defects and downs?

They must be wrong....


Lisamaree said...

He was way prettier than a lot of babies at 30 minutes old Mumma, you must have a very comfortable womb.
Welcome to blog world Cathal's Mammy, and welcome to the big world Cathal. Looking forward to hearing all about you. Love Hammie

Nick McGivney said...

Great to see you on board! I'll be keeping an eye on you lot, and anything we can do to share advice etc just holler. Cathal's a complete dote btw. Obviously comes from a superior gene pool!