Baby Jude was born on 7 June 2011, weighing just 3lb 4oz. Here is his story, written by parents Paddy and Kerrie.
In May, Kerrie was admitted into Birmingham Women's Hospital due to absent bloodflow through her umbilical cord. Soon after, Kerrie and I were shown around the neonatal unit to try and help us deal with what would happen when Jude was born.
Jude was born at 12:05pm on 7 June weighing 3lb 4oz. He started crying and we were relieved and overjoyed. I visited him an hour later and he was struggling to breathe. When I got there he was on a machine called C-PAP to help him to breathe. I was told to return in 40 minutes and they would be able to give me a clearer indication of his situation. I walked out a broken man and realised then that my little lad was poorly. Kerrie at this point was back in the HDU (High Dependency Unit). I visited her and tried to be as positive as possible even though inside I felt like crying!
I went back to the neonatal unit as instructed and his condition had deteriorated once more. The blood gases he had taken were poor which therefore meant he was placed on a ventilator. This for me was heartbreaking. We were given a photo by the nurse, at which point I asked how he was and what was happening. Her reply was simply: "it is up to him now".
This was not the nurse being cruel – she was being honest and helping us understand the full extent of the situation. Jude was being given 60 BPM (breaths per minute) and was under the UV light because of jaundice. He was as stiff as a board, long and skinny with beautiful jet black hair. The doctors and nurses were great. I split my time between Jude and Kerrie; we tried to keep each other positive. All we had was hope and we prayed to God that he would pull through.
I went to visit him later on and he was gradually improving, reducing the amount of oxygen he needed and his BPM came down through the day. The doctors took constant blood gases and he was monitored along with all the other babies. You just cannot underestimate the fantastic work these people do, day in, day out.
Kerrie was still in HDU and should not have moved, but somehow convinced the doctors/nurses to let her see Jude. She was wheeled down in her bed and got to talk and hold his hand briefly. She was able to see him once more that day. Jude was by now nil by mouth, he had suspected septic and inflammation of the umbilical cord, his tummy was distended and shiny and he went on a course of antibiotics. He had drips and canulas coming out of his arms and legs, protective glasses over his eyes and the ventilation pipe in his mouth. This was so different to what I thought it would be like.
I stayed at the hospital all night and again split my time between Kerrie and Jude trying to get some sleep along the way. Her monitors were going off because her SATs were low and her blood pressure was playing up; with Jude the alarms were going off constantly.
Jude's condition improved overnight and the doctors took the decision to move him off the ventilator and onto the C-PAP machine later that afternoon. Kerrie and myself spent most of the day with him – she was in a wheelchair by then but was still very sore.
Through all this, the nurses and doctors were always willing to answer questions and be as helpful as possible. We sat with Jude until about 11pm that night, talking to one of the nurses before I took Kerrie back to her bed. I visited Jude later on that night and his condition had deteriorated again. His breathing was shallow, his colour had drained, he had become limp and at approx. 3am after a poor blood gas, he was re-ventilated. This was a shock and felt like a kick in the teeth. Here we go again, I thought. Jude was on the ventilator throughout the 8th June and luckily continued to make good progress, gradually reducing the BPM that the ventilator was giving him.
On the 9th June, we spoke to the doctors and they made the decision to pull Jude off the ventilator and also insert a long line so that he could start to get some much needed calories on board. At some point during the day, Jude came off the ventilator and went onto a machine called Bi-PAP. He also came off the UV light, and we could take his glasses off and see for the first time his beautiful face.
By the 10th, Jude was back on C-PAP and progressing really well, although we were always thinking… what if he goes back again? Kerrie was now walking and trying to express milk so she could do anything that may help him. His breathing was still very quick and sharp but he was doing it all himself. He had to go back under the UV light but it was not for long.
The level of care these babies receive is amazing, and all the nurses are wonderful and so helpful and informative. They give you hope – not false hope, but they help you understand why things happen and are always asking how you are, and introducing themselves and explaining what is happening.
They understand that it's your baby and how you are feeling.
On the 11th, I was the happiest I had been since Jude was born. They took him off the C-PAP machine after he was trying to pull it out of his mouth – a very angry little man but knows what he wants! He also ripped out his arterial line in his arm. We prayed that he stayed as he was… he did!
We were so lucky. Over the next few days we were able to do more for him: we could wash him, change his nappy and dress him. For Kerrie and I this was brilliant and the nurses were so thoughtful and helpful. They showed us how to do it and eventually we were able to get him out for a cuddle.
Between the 11th and the 15th, Jude progressed really well and put on some weight. We were with him all the time and had made friends with another couple. We found out on the 13th that Jude would be be transferred to Coventry Walsgrave Hospital on Wednesday 15th. The seven days from when he was born to the point he was moved felt like a million years – he had been through so much but came through.
Kerrie was discharged on the Monday 13th and we were given a flat above the hospital because we were from outside the area – you cannot believe how good these people are.
It is a fact that without the staff, the care and the expertise at Birmingham Women's Hospital, our little boy would not be here today. Myself, Kerrie and Jude are indebted to them for the rest of our lives and there will never be enough thank-yous that can be said to show the way we feel about them.
From the day Jude left Birmingham and got sent to Coventry ;) he went from strength to strength! He started feeds again and was in HDU until they were able to take out his long line. We were shown how to gravity feed him and continued to do his cares. Like Birmingham, the facilities and staff were first class. We got to know the staff and for us it was so easy to settle in. Once Jude had his long line out, he was moved to special care where the nurses and nursery nurses were ultra-helpful in helping us become parents to Jude. We were shown how to feed him, bathe him and just generally look after him.
We were lucky enough to take him home on the 7th July. We are so lucky we live in this country and are given the level of care we did. Kerrie was told she would never be able to have children but due to the expertise, care and dedication of the staff at Birmingham and Coventry, as well as the fight and determination and sometimes super stubbornness of Jude and Kerrie (he definitely gets it from his mum) we have been able to reach our dream of being a family.
To Birmingham Women's and Coventry Walsgrave: thank you from the bottom of our hearts!