In the morning, I went to work as normal. Kasey was still in the birth suite, she had monitors connected for her and more monitors on her tummy for the baby. They'd taken some blood tests during the night and the results had come back.
I had a phone call from Kasey around 10am, telling me I need to come to the hospital. She'd mentioned that she's really sick and that the staff and OB are worried. I jumped in the car and drove to the hospital. I had to get my way up to the birth suites during the COVID lockdown which I tell you what, proved to be a challenge. Once I finally passed the checkpoints, I saw Kasey. She was pale, had monitoring everywhere, still in her pj's and desperately wanting a shower!
Maybe 15 minutes after I saw her, our OB came into the room and she briefed me on what happened over night. What started as high blood pressure and pain had evolved during the night and morning to preeclampsia. Her liver function went from normal range (0-25) up to 600! The OB had made the decision that we will be having our baby today.
What a feeling this was, on one side I was scared, nervous and really concerned and the other was joy, happiness and fulfilment. Everyone was concerned for our baby being born at 25 weeks & 3 days and being a tiny baby could prove too challenging. The estimated weight of him was 440 grams by ultrasound.
Theatre was booked for 3:30pm.. then 5:30pm.. maybe 7:30pm? Unfortunately there were higher priority patients requiring the theatre and Kasey was stable enough to wait it out. I thought to myself that maybe it's a sign that it's not meant to be today? After all, the morning scan showed improvement with the blood flow.
Eventually, the OB came into Birth Suite and said we are going to have this baby and just like that, the brakes are off, the sides of the bed are up and we are wheeling Kasey to theatre! I couldn't control my feelings! I was shaking, absolutely petrified. It's actually happening! My wife is being wheeled to theatre to have emergency surgery to save her life! The what-if's started creeping in and like I do, I start bombarding the nurses and OB with questions.
The reason why Kasey was taken to theatre for an emergency c-section was due to preeclampsia. Her latest blood test taken just a couple hours before go-time had returned a liver function of over 1,100. Her liver was about to shut down and Kasey will be on the transplant list! It was this that made the rush to theatre happen.
Why? Why was this happening? Due to an insufficient placenta, as our baby was growing, he was drawing so much nutrients from Kasey that it wasn't able to be provided causing her body to start shutting down, her liver was the first organ failing.
Down the corridor and into a lift, we go from the 5th to the 3rd floor, through a door and an air-lock and all of a sudden we are at the door to theatre. The pre-surgery questions start and they escort myself to a change room to get into blue scrubs.. the fastest I've ever changed clothes in my life I think.
I walk into theatre and it's smaller than I imagined. It's maybe a 6x8m room, with not a whole lot of equipment. Definitely not like the TV Shows or Movies. None the less, we get Kasey out of her bed and she sits on the surgery table. The staff bring a brace and its in front of her. As she's sitting up, they hunch her forward and rest her head the brace. A local anaesthetic needle is put in her back and after 10 minutes a larger needle goes in, this was a nerve block for the c-section.
Then she's straight on her back and the blue tarp looking sheets come out and they use liquid to sanitise the tummy for surgery. They put the sheet up so we can't see what's going on and the anaesthesiologist, or 'Nick' sits next to Kasey's head.. we start talking whilst the surgical team prepare. Nick was polite and filled us both with some confidence. He talked us through what was happening. A nurse asked me if I'd like some photos/videos whilst I stay with Kasey and I took her up on that, but first I turned my phone to aeroplane mode to prevent any calls/texts whilst in theatre.
Before long, the tummy is open and our son is about to be born. I remember the words of the OB as she was pulling out our baby, "he's smaller than we expected." My heart sank, I looked at Kasey and I told her I'm just going to look over and see how it's going.. bad idea!
I stand up and peak over the sheet to see my poor wife's tummy open, a red opening in the middle of the table.. I see a thin opaque cord coming out and down towards her legs. I draw my eyes lower and saw my son for the first time, laying on Kasey's legs, being encouraged to breathe. I should mention that there was a whole team of about 6 who were in the corner of this small room, they were from there Monash Children's Hospital - Newborn Team. These highly skilled people work in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or NICU.
There was about 3 people around him and he was brought to life. I don't know what came over me, I saw this tiny, tiny little human, about the shape & size of a kids Barbie doll, connected by this tiny, thin, almost clear cord. I couldn't believe my eyes, I remember saying, "Oh shit, he really is little." I sat down and looked at Kasey and I remember telling her, he's really little babe. By now, he's alive, breathing, and moving slightly. Nick, who was sitting next to us thought Kasey might not get to see him and he may go straight to the NICU team. He seemed to be really surprised at the size of our son. I mean, everyone was shocked, but he instilled panic by telling us that they're probably going to take him straight to the NICU team.
However, our OB said no, she will see her baby, "Drop the curtain!" They unpinned this blue curtain enough for Kasey to be able to lift her head forward and see her son for the first time. The OB lifted him up, a bit like Simba from the Lion King. They locked eyes for perhaps one-second and then he was taken away to the NICU team in the corner, the fight for life had started!
Kasey began to cry and all the emotions she'd been bottling up over the journey and in recent days had bubbled over. After a couple minutes, we'd calmed down some what and I told her I'm going to see our son. I walked around the operating table and into the corner and what I saw was absolutely frightening!
I saw this tiny, tiny boy, with all his fingers and toes, inside this plastic bag and a oxygen mask on his face, that's right, his whole face! The smallest mouth & nose piece covered his entire face. I remember seeing him breathing and the team said he was ok and congratulated me. I said thanks at the time, but looking back, I didn't do a thing. Kasey, the OB and them themselves needed the thanking. I felt like a by-stander.
I was given the opportunity to 'cut-the-cord' even though it'd already happened, they left it long so I could cut it. What a strange feeling, cutting through that. I spent maybe 5 minutes looking at him, watching him whilst the team stabilised him. This took a long time..
Kasey was stitched up and moved to her bed and wheeled into recovery, our son stayed in theatre. I stayed with him and watched this absolutely incredible thing called 'life' start right in front of my eyes. That was our son, this is our creation right here in front of me. It took the NICU team 46 minutes to decide that CPAP wasn't going to be sustainable due to him tiring. So they intubated him in theatre. Intubate means to put a breathing tube down the throat and into the lungs and a machine will to the ventilating (breathing) for him.
After an hour of life, he was stable to move. They put him in this transporter cot with so many monitors hanging off it, it was crazy. I stopped by recovery to see Kasey and tell her what was happening. They wheeled our son to recovery so Kasey could see him again before we went to the NICU, after all she's only seen him for one second! After a quick look, we were off. Walking down the passageways and up a lift, back to level 5 and over a bridge that joins the Monash Adult and Children's Hospitals. I remember a nurse who was walking with me, carry this yellow specimen bag. I asked what was in that, she replied its Kasey's Placenta. It was going to be sent to pathology for testing to try and learn why this happened. I thought it was so strange to be walking around with someones placenta.
We make it to the Monash Newborn and walk into the NICU. That experience of walking into a place that you know has really sick babies is overwhelming to say the least. There were a lot of staff standing around this particular room - there are 2 wings, there's a Special Care and a NICU split in half, identically like wings on a butterfly. The NICU has 2-berth side rooms and at the back is a 4-berth room. That's where the sickest babies go and naturally, our son is wheeled straight into it. As we walk in, I see 4 distinct areas for cribs and I see about 10-12 staff, all in gowns and some have these steel procedure trolleys with equipment and medical stuff.
As they wheeled him next to his crib, I see about 4 or 5 of these procedure trolleys all in a queue to his crib. The team said to me they're going to move him into his crib and start working on him, they offered me a seat but I couldn't see much so standing I did. It was a standing room anyway by the looks of it. They moved him into his crib, changed over the breathing machine and started working on him. By the time they weighed him, they had so many deductions he would've weighed almost nothing.. the number came in.. 374 grams is his official birth weight. His length is 28cm and his head circumfrence is 20cm. Next time you visit the supermarket, pick up 2 blocks of chocolate and that's about it.
All the equipment such as the breathing tubes all have a measured weight and they deduct them from the total weight of a baby, leaving a net-weight which is the baby weight.
He was one of the smallest babies ever born at Monash. One of the staff members spoke to me and told me a lot of medicines are going to be given to him and he may need some blood products too. You'll need to sign some documents but for now we are happy with your verbal consent, to start treating him. I remember my reply vividly, "...give him what ever he needs."
I spent about 90 minutes with him, watched each pair work on him with whatever was on their trolley, then move out for the next pair to work on him. Eventually they closed the lid and turned on the humidity crib. As he was so premature, his body is unable to self regulate body temperature. It was time for him to rest and the nurses to start recording his data to help treat him better. I get out of the scrubs and say goodbye before I started the walk back to the ward where Kasey was resting. A nurse asked me if he had a name yet? I said I haven't decided on one yet. The walk back to Kasey I thought about names the entire time, couldn't decide. I arrived at Kasey's room and when I opened the door, she quickly hung up her phone.. she was speaking to her mum, stressing out. She said, "How is he? Whats going on? I've been trying to call you!"
At this moment, I realised that my phone was still on aeroplane mode and no one could contact me! I told her that everything was ok, he's breathing on a ventilator and the team have him stable. I then showed her a couple photos of him and then she asked me what his name is?
We had 3 short-listed names, but I didn't want to commit to a name until I saw him with my own eyes. I said that to the NICU staff when asked if he had a name, that I couldn't decide. But during that 500m walk back to the ward I guess I came to a conclusion.. Bodhi. His name is Bodhi James Brooks. Kasey was so happy as that's the name she really liked. She had a smile from ear-to-ear! We called our family to tell them and everyone was so happy he was ok. We all knew he was in for one hell of a fight, but we had the faith and were so happy to become parents for the very first time regardless.
I finally could shower and wash the stressful day off, the midwives had set up a pull-out couch for the night, which was not comfortable at all but to finally be horizontal was a gift. It's about 1:30am and I finally close my eyes.. not for Kasey though, she watched me sleep for 4 hours before waking me up to go check on our son.
5am sees me walking back down the passageways and into the NICU to see Bodhi and receive an update on his condition..