If you have been around my blog for awhile, you know I have nine children. What you might not know is that seven are my little miracles. During my third pregnancy, the doctor phoned at 9pm. I needed to come to the hospital as soon as possible. Routine blood work had shown antibodies to my baby’s blood. Unsure how or when I developed these antibodies, the most likely event was the birth of my second child. Some of my baby’s blood must have mixed with my blood. I received Rhogam after the birth to prevent these antibodies forming however, the dose may have been inadequate. The baby’s blood was Rh D positive and mine wasn’t. My body recognised it as a foreign substance and created antibodies to fight it.
I would have these antibodies for the rest of my life, putting at risk the health of any future babies. These antibodies would now cross the placenta, attacking and destroying the red blood cells of my unborn babies. This can cause severe anaemia and death before or shortly after birth and would mean high-risk pregnancies.
On the strong advice of my doctor, my husband took permanent measures to ensure we would have no more pregnancies. Each child he produced would be Rh D positive due to his blood type and we were told any more babies would most likely die. How we ended up with nine children will be the topic of another post 🙂
Today marks the day that my eighth child was born, and he really is one of my little miracles. Four years ago Elijah was born at 12pm on 12/12/12. Pretty cool, hey?
During an ultrasound at 16 weeks gestation, Elijah was diagnosed with fetal hydrops. His Rh D positive blood was being destroyed by my antibodies. Although I had battled this condition in all but 2 of my previous pregnancies, it had never occurred so devastatingly early before. Elijah was very near death.
My doctor took me into a little room while the midwife handed me some tissues. He said I had a choice – let nature take its course and my sweet baby boy would likely pass away in a week or two, or he could attempt to save my baby’s life by giving some much-needed blood through an Intrauterine Transfusion (IUT). I think my doctor said he had not attempted to save a baby this sick so young before, but that he was willing to give it a go. It’s so hard to remember clearly when your heart is in your throat and your emotions are all over the place.
A Fighting Chance
It didn’t take long for me to tell my doctor that if there was a chance of saving this little life, then I would like to try. As it was nearly 5pm, my doctor and his team scrambled to organise an emergency IUT for the baby and an infusion of Intravenous Immunoglobulin (IVIg) for me. I had three of my other children with me. The awesome nurses of Mater MFM entertained and fed them while all this was going on. We were in the hospital for almost 8 hours.
As the doctor inserted a needle through my womb into Elijah’s tiny abdomen, it was evident that his life was extremely compromised. Elijah’s heart was not coping very well with the procedure. A small amount of fluid was removed and 8mls of donor blood was transfused, less than originally planned. For the next 5 hours, I received Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg). We held our breath to see if Elijah would survive.
Our family relocated to Brisbane for the remainder of the pregnancy. I received weekly IVIg treatments and my doctor and his team monitored Elijah’s condition closely.
After 22 weeks of IVIg therapy, Elijah was born at 38 weeks gestation, weighing 2409g. Like six of his siblings before him, Elijah was admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) after birth. His bilirubin levels were dangerously high, which can cause brain damage and other severe side effects. Elijah was placed under blue phototherapy lights for two weeks until his bilirubin levels were consistently dropping and in the safe zone. He was discharged from the Mater NICU at 2 weeks of age, suffering no ill effects from his fight for life – except a cute little dimple just below his hip, a puncture mark from the IUT needle.
Despite his battle for survival before and after birth, Elijah is one delightful little monkey. We have had a blast over the past four years with this little man and look forward to celebrating his birthday with donuts for breakfast and a dinosaur cake for afternoon tea. Blessed.