My baby boy, Hugh was born via C-section. But when he was handed to me I jumped.
“What’s wrong with him?” I asked.
Everyone laughed at the silly woman all drugged up, but I just knew something was wrong. Everyone assured me that he was fine, his purple feet and hands were apparently normal and his bird-like chest was nothing to worry about. I’m a worrier at the best of times, but my gut was telling me to watch this one.
In the days that followed Hugh’s birth, I soaked up every moment. I was enjoying some time out from my two and four-year-old children, and knew the peace and quiet wouldn’t last.
On the fourth day in hospital, our paediatrician told me that he could hear a heart murmur in Hugh. He wasn’t sure how bad it was, but he’d need some follow up testing in the coming months to rule out anything major. My gut was still telling me that something was wrong, but my doctor didn’t look too worried so I tried to follow his lead. His breathing seemed off to me, but when monitored, he was fine. Still…
In the two weeks after bringing Hugh home, I took him back to hospital twice. I just couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong with him. Each time I was sent away. I was told the blocked nose and congestion he had developed was just a cold, I was assured he was fine but I felt physically sick. I was told to “calm down,” but my gut instinct was to persevere.
At around three weeks Hugh had started sleeping through the night. He was sleeping a lot and I found it hard to rouse him to feed him. My GP agreed with me (finally!) that something wasn’t right. We were seeing the cardiologist that afternoon and he suggested we mention any concerns to him. My heart broke. I was satisfied that someone could see what I could see, but I was terrified.
By time we saw the Cardiologist that afternoon, Hugh was very sleepy and very pale – in fact he was grey in colour. The Cardiologist told us that his heart rate was 277 BPM, he was in SVT (very fast heart rate) and in heart failure. The cold diagnosed in hospital days before was in fact heart failure.
We were met at the Emergency Room by our paediatrician who swiftly moved Hugh into Resus to try and save him. It was almost impossible to get a line into his collapsed veins, and a bag of ice was smothered over his tiny face to shock his heart back to a normal rhythm. My husband counted twelve people in the room. Twelve people working on my tiny boy. Again, my heart broke.