Bec and Dean Murray were just a ‘normal’ South Australian couple who were expecting a baby – Little Oscar Murray. They had no idea he would be a premature baby and no idea of how their lives were about to change.
Sunday 26 July 2015 started off as any other day. It was calm at home as a pregnant Bec slept, and there was no cause for any concern. However, things took a quick turn as the day went on.
“I had woken up that morning with a slight pain in my back. Initially I thought it must have just been the way I slept, so didn’t think too much more about it. Then we had friends over for lunch, and by the time they left I was in a lot of pain. I just couldn’t get comfortable – I tried to lie down and have a shower but the back pain just seemed to get worse. My husband Dean told me to ring my Obstetrician so I eventually did, but got no answer. I then rang the local hospital where I was planning to deliver the baby and they told me that I needed to head into the Women’s and Children’s Hospital immediately. I just assumed this was protocol – that they’d check me over and then I would be on my way back home. However, once we arrived at the hospital it was evident things were moving along quite quickly.”
Bec and Dean received news that they were not prepared for.
“They checked me, said I was 3cms dilated already, and that I would be having the baby prematurely by 3am the next morning. I burst into tears – I was scared, in denial and definitely not ready to have a baby yet. But things just had to carry on. They gave me a steroid shot to help baby’s lungs, something to help slow the contractions, and then took me straight up to the delivery suite. Dean was taken for a tour of the NICU. Then, we waited.”
“The next morning we still didn’t have a baby. I was relieved and thought that meant I could go home…ha, no chance of that! They moved me again to the Antenatal Ward and told me to rest. 24 hours after I arrived at the hospital, I was given another steroid injection and had a tour of the NICU – which was such an eye opener (but I was still in denial!). Things had settled down and Dean went home on the Monday night. We weren’t as stressed. But of course, when I woke on Tuesday, I was having contractions again.”
“I called the nurses and the Ob checked me over. That’s when I found out I was 5cms dilated and going to have the baby.”
“I needed to have an Emergency Caesarean as baby was in a breech position. As hospital staff prepped me I called Dean and let him know. As soon as he arrived I was ready to go, but I have never been more petrified in my whole life! At 11.41am on Tuesday 28th July 2015 at 29+2 weeks we welcomed Oscar Hamish into the world weighing a tiny 1220g. I immediately thought the worst as he didn’t make a sound, but once they carried him over to me I felt so much relief. He was tiny but perfect! They took him to the NICU where he got settled in his new home.”
“On day 3 I was finally allowed to have my first cuddle and he was just precious! Leaving the hospital to go home on day 5 was definitely the hardest part.”
“It was completely gut wrenching, like nothing I’ve ever felt before. I can’t even describe it but it was awful.”
“Like every prem journey it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Oscar – he was born with an inguinal hernia and needed it operated on before he left hospital. He also had severe reflux which didn’t make the whole feeding thing easy, as he vomited constantly. I also got mastitis a number of times from expressing which ended up with the hospital admitting me and giving me IV antibiotics several times as well”.
The road ahead
“After 77 days in hospital and on his due date – 12th October – Oscar came home. With the feeling of complete joy was also the feeling of anxiety. Oscar had been on monitors 24/7 for the past 11 weeks. It was daunting but over time we adjusted. When he left hospital, it became apparent that Oscar was choking on his milk and he even turned blue a couple of times. We took him back to his Neonatologist who referred him to a Gastroenterologist. They then performed a number of tests on Oscar. He was aspirating on his milk so he needed to have moderate thickener in his liquids. It was like clag glue!”
“Just after his 3rd birthday Oscar was able to come off the thickener and now drinks liquids like everyone else. Oscar turned 5 a couple of months ago and will start school next year! He stills takes medication for his reflux every morning and has asthma, but he is thriving. He meets all of his milestones and is becoming a confident, determined young man. We are so proud of him.”
Bec and Dean will be taking part in the Walk for Prems 2020 virtual event – an annual fundraiser for Life’s Little Treasures and awareness-spreading event.