“I knew from the way the medical team were acting, they were very worried too”
Last summer, we looked after parents Sophie and Dave while baby Alfie was treated at The Trevor Mann Baby Unit in Brighton. Sophie had gone for a check-up when the midwife realised both mummy and baby were in imminent danger. With Sophie’s condition worsening by the minute, Dave began to realise there was a high chance he would be saying goodbye to both his wife and his son. Here Dave tells us about the scary time that followed and their stay at the Brighton House.
Guest blogger: Dave Stone
We visited our midwife for a routine antenatal check-up and found that my wife Sophie had a very slightly elevated blood pressure and small traces of protein in her blood sample. The midwife wasn’t overly concerned as it was very hot that week, so it could have been dehydration and Sophie had no alarming symptoms. Fortunately, the midwife got us back in a week later just to recheck. Sophie’s blood pressure was through the roof and rising at 196/115 and her urine sample showed very high amounts of protein. That was on the 26 July and we didn’t go home for over three months.
The midwife immediately sent us to our local hospital, The Princess Royal in Haywards Heath, where a team of medical staff were awaiting our arrival. We had to drive there - we now realise every second was vital and the midwife didn’t want us to wait for an Ambulance.
We were now realising that Sophie had sudden and very severe pre-eclampsia, and although seemingly fine on the outside, she and Alfie were both in imminent danger of losing their lives.
The medical team injected Sophie with a steroid shot to help Alfie’s lungs develop and other medicines straight into Soph’s veins to help his brain. It was becoming obvious he was going to be born that day and I felt there was no way he would survive as he was still just under 26 weeks.
Sophie was eventually transferred to Brighton Hospital after hours of trying to bring her blood pressure down. I could see she was visibly getting more and more sick by the minute. At the hospital there was a lot of action and staff rushing around as they desperately tried to get Soph stable. We were asked to sign consent forms. Alfie was going to have to be born as he was in distress and his heart rate not strong.
I sat there in a total daze watching Sophie die before eyes. I’d never seen anyone die before but I could see she was deteriorating very fast and I knew from the way the medical team were acting, they were very worried too. I thought about how I was going to go into where she works and tell them, “She’s never coming back”. I had resigned myself to losing Alfie and after losing Jessica three years ago, I knew I could get through trauma like that, but how would I cope with losing Sophie and Alfie?
Sophie felt differently to me. She didn’t realise the seriousness of the situation and how dire her condition was. She looked over at me and said she didn’t see why I was looking so worried but if she could have seen what I could, then she would have understood. She was writhing around on the bed, sweating, groaning, looking greyer by the minute; she literally looked like death.
We were both incredibly scared and anxious and Soph started to realise how serious her condition was. She said, “As long as I get to see Alfie before I go and I can see that he’s ok - that’s all I want.” She felt she knew he would be well looked after.
After what seemed like a lifetime, we were both rushed through to theatre and Alfie was born at 10.19 pm weighing 1lb 4oz. He was rushed straight up to The Trevor Mann Baby Unit and Sophie was taken to recovery where they continued to try and stabilise her blood pressure over the following days. She was still very poorly and couldn’t go and see Alfie.
The nurse came in one morning and said she would call the Ronald McDonald House to see if they had a room for us. We both looked at each other as if to say, “What the heck is she on about, food is the last thing on our minds!” We had never heard of Ronald McDonald House Charities before. We knew McDonalds supported a charity but never in a million years did we think it was parent accommodation. It turned out that Ronald McDonald House Brighton would become our home for the next three plus months, and what a brilliant place it is.
We were overwhelmed by the House, it was lovely, so welcoming and homely. The team there were very friendly and Deputy House Manager Martin made us feel welcome straight away. It was spotless and so tidy, and we would soon meet the legend that is Madge the Housekeeper - what an awesome lady!!
We are so incredibly grateful for it, as the next few months would bring stress, emotions and exhaustion like we could never have imagined even existed. So we know it's hard to stay positive in these situations, but we are proof you can literally get to the end of the line yet still things can turn around.
We are so pleased that we were able to keep the family close during this most difficult time and thrilled that Alfie is now one year old and a very happy little boy.