The story of our beautiful daughter, Sienna Grace Cooney, began at around 7am on the morning of the 27th March 2014, when I was exactly 31 weeks pregnant.
I woke up with slight pain all over my stomach, but it was nothing that I thought was out of the ordinary. I put it down to stretching or growing pains, which I’d been getting a lot of throughout my pregnancy.
I left home for work (my first day in a new temp role in the CBD!) and arrived at 8:30am. By 9:30-10am I was getting quite strong shooting pains across my lower stomach, which I thought must have been Braxton Hicks contraction pains.
From then on, the pain got progressively worse and was coming and going in waves. At 11:30am, after speaking with my husband, I knew something wasn’t quite right and I decided to call my obstetrician Dr Guy Skinner. His midwife asked me a few questions, then she told me that I’d better come in for a check-up.
The office I was working for were very kind about it, they gave me a cab charge so I could get to the hospital, then one of the girls who I had only known for a few hours walked me down to a waiting taxi. I even told her I would be back that afternoon after my check-up!
By now my pains were a lot worse and were coming and going every couple of minutes, but I still didn’t realise these were contractions. On my arrival to St Vincent’s Private Hospital, Dr Skinner performed an exam and a quick scan of our baby to see what was going on.
From then on, my world changed forever.
My obstetrician’s next words were something along the lines of: “You’re in established labour and you’re going to be having this baby a lot earlier than expected – but don’t worry, she will be just fine.” At this stage we were both unaware of the reason for my early labour and I went into complete shock. It wasn’t until my postnatal check up 6 weeks after Sienna was born, that I was told I had had a Placental Abruption, due to having a Bicornuate Uterus.
Because of the dangers surrounding a placental abruption, coupled with the fact that our baby was lying transverse, I was told I would have to undergo an emergency c-section. I was whisked up to delivery suite and everything started happening very quickly. I was still getting painful contractions every few minutes and I was told there would soon be lots of medical staff in the room, so not to be alarmed.
My anaesthetist administered a spinal block to prepare me for the caesarean and then my husband Kieran, who had just made a mad dash across Melbourne from work, was by my side – just in time to witness our tiny little daughter enter the world at 1:17pm.
She was just 43cm and weighed a tiny 1450gms (3.19lb).
She let out a little cry and from then on, we just knew she would be a fighter. The Special Care Nursery at St. Vincent’s Private Hospital don’t usually take babies younger than 32 weeks gestation, but because she was a reasonably healthy birth weight for her gestation and wasn’t too unwell, the doctors decided it was best to keep her close to me while I recovered in hospital. At 31 weeks, I was told Sienna was their youngest ever baby. She spent her first few days on high-flow oxygen, an oxygen saturation monitor, heart rate monitor and IV fluids. She also went under UV lights to help with correcting her jaundice.
To see her with all the tubes and monitors was initially very confronting and overwhelming. Our little girl progressed quickly though and was taken off all these monitors within the first week of her life. The only tubes she had left were her nasal gastric tube for feeding (as she was too little to know how to suck yet) and her sleep apnoea monitor (which alarmed if she forgot to breathe in her sleep – this is pretty common with premature babies). She was incubated until she reached 1800 grams to ensure she stayed warm enough while she learned to regulate her own temperature. Every few nights the Special Care Nursery staff did her weigh in and we would always call to find out how many grams she had gained. When she finally weighed in at 2 kilos, it was an exciting day! Sienna could now be migrated from her incubator to an open bassinette.
A couple of days later we were able to give Sienna her very first bath. She was getting better at sucking her milk down and she eventually progressed to independent ‘suck feeds’, meaning her nasal gastric feeding tube could be removed. It was so nice to see her beautiful face without tubes for the very first time! A few days later, her paediatrician Dr. John Mills called to let us know the amazing news. I’ll never forget that phone call. I was told that Sienna was doing incredibly well and if it continued, we would be able to take her home that very weekend. I almost burst into tears ~ happy tears of course! :)
As expected, our precious little girl did continue to make amazing progress, so on Sunday 4th May 2014, we brought our little girl home. Sienna’s Daddy and I had sat by her side every day, held her tiny hand, fed, changed, bathed and loved her through each gram gained and every wonderful milestone, until finally, after 38 long days, she was strong enough to come home.
We couldn’t be prouder of our little girl and she continues to delight us both every day. Sienna Grace, you are Mummy & Daddy’s little miracle and we love you more than words can express.