Baby steps
The unexpected arrival of their baby at 25 weeks left this couple reeling. Read their story here. 

When Tanya Moodley began experiencing abdominal pain just 25 weeks into her pregnancy she thought it was just part of normal pregnancy. “This was our first child and we were very excited. We had wanted to have a child for a long time. It felt like a miracle from the start, but I was naïve about what was going to happen later on. In my mind it was all going to work out perfectly; I was going to have a normal birth and breastfeed without any problems. All the signs up to that point showed everything was well,” she says.

Trust your gut 

“But when the pain didn’t go away and I started bleeding, I knew something was wrong,” she says. Tanya and her husband, Davy, went to the hospital where their gynae did a physical exam and a scan and confirmed everything was in order. But the pain escalated through that night and her instincts told her allwas not well.

“I woke up early the next morning but I was so weak I could hardly move. The pain was intense and I could feel the baby moving down into the birth canal. I knew I was in labour, I knew the baby was coming,” says Tanya.

“He was crowning in the car and I kept saying to Davy, ‘Drive faster, drive faster!’ Although we were only ten minutes away from the hospital, it felt like the longest drive ever. I closed my eyes so I couldn’t see how far we still had to go until we got there. 

No time like now

“We arrived at the hospital and I stood beside a pillar in the entrance and shouted for someone to help me. I had to keep my legs together to keep the baby from coming out.”

It wasn’t until the staff of the maternity unit saw the baby’s head that they realised Tanya was in an advanced stage of labour. The baby was delivered straight away, with one push. “I looked at the faces around me in the delivery room and I saw expressions of sorrow and regret. They looked at Davy, who was distraught and very emotional. The looks implied ‘I’m so sorry for your loss.’ I put my head up and I saw a tiny blue baby. We were overcome with sadness and anguish, thinking that he had not survived, and seeing his little body lying still without any movement.

“Everyone was quiet, and the pause in conversation felt very long. Then out of the blue this sound came, like a gasp. Kyle had taken a breath. Our despair turned into hope.” Kyle had arrived 15 weeks early, weighing just 700 grams. Tanya suffered a placental abruption, where the placenta (which is the source of nourishment for an unborn baby), becomes separated from the uterus. The actual cause of the condition is unknown, but Davy recalls: “It was a very painful and traumatic experience – Tanya experienced labour pains for more than 24 hours.”

“The gynae wrapped Kyle in a hospital gown and a nurse took him and ran to Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), where they resuscitated him. They worked on him for an hour in order to stabilise him and he had to be put on life support for day and a half,” says Tanya.

“The doctors gave him a 50 percent chance of survival. He’d been starved of oxygen and we were warned of the possible complications that could arise in the days ahead, like heart and lung conditions and brain bleeds. The first 48 hours were crucial. ‘Don’t get your hopes up. Expect the worst,’ said the doctors.

“I cried so much when I saw him – he looked so tiny and underdeveloped. He had a drip in his head, and a feeding tube through his mouth into his stomach and two other cords attached to his tiny little feet. Kyle’s birth was a lifechanging experience and it put things into perspective for us. I held onto my faith – not the stats and science – based and on that first breath, which I believe was him saying, ‘I’m here for a purpose, I am going to fight to live. I am going to hold on to hope. It’s my time.’

“We were totally unprepared for Kyle’s arrival. We hadn’t thought of names, done the shopping, or got his room ready or anything. I was depressed those first few days, I blamed myself, and thought if I had done this or that maybe things would be different.

“But I also knew I had done everything to keep fit and healthy, I have never had alcohol or smoked in my life, so it felt unfair that my baby was suffering. “But I had to put things behind me. I never looked back, I thought about what my baby needed from me. He needed to draw strength from us.”

Heart of gold 

Kyle spent his first three months in the NICU and has had two heart surgeries in his short life. “From the beginning we knew we needed to prepare for complications. After a few weeks Kyle became very ill and the cardiologist picked up some problems. The first was the congenital heart disorder PDA (patent ductus arteriosus), where a connecting blood vessel (that is open when the baby is in the womb so that blood bypasses the immature, non-functioning lungs) fails to close at birth. Kyle had to have the gap closed surgically when he reached a kilogram in weight. Kyle was one month old and weighed 900 grams when this procedure was done.”

The second surgery, which was done when Kyle was seven months old and weighed just 3kg, was to open a chamber of the heart that was too small.

Kyle has six-monthly checks with his cardiologist and his third op, to close the hole in his heart caused by an atrial septal defect (ASD), is planned for whe nhe reaches 15kg. “The journey has been very stressful and an emotional rollercoaster. Good news and happy moments of bonding always preceded bad news from the doctors, nurses and specialists. Fear, nervousness and despair were common emotions that we experienced together with pride, joy and hope,” say Tanya and Davy. “Our mantra became: ‘Where there is life there is hope.’ Wenever stopped believing everything would turn out perfectly.

“The day we brought him home for the first time was the best day of our lives; our house finally became a home.”

A helping hand 

Touched by the Moodleys’ story, the Discovery Health Concierge team reacted to their situation and founded the Premmie Concierge Project, which aim sto assist and support parents of babies in the neonatal ICU and beyond.

“Discovery provided us with immense support during this time through the Concierge team. They constantly phoned to check in on us. They were always willing to assist, support and provide any information we required. In addition they emailed us a list of helpful links and articles. A pleasant and heartwarming surprise was when they sentus an information pack, which included a comprehensive book on dealing with a micro-premature baby,” says Davy.

“We received personal care with Discovery, we felt we had somebody to partner us in this journey. They covered all the costs of the NICU and surgeries from our hospital benefit as Netcare Sunninghill Hospital is part of Discovery’s network. Hospital accounts are not something you want to worry about at a time when your newborn isliving from day to day,” he adds.

Although he still has heart defects and is gaining weight slowly – Kyle,who celebrated his second birthday on 7 February, is an energetic and fun-loving little boy. He loves playing with his toy cars, trucks and buses but his favourite pastimes are snuggling up to mommy, playing with daddy and chasing after his cat, Bizzy.

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