Apparently the older you are when you start having children, the more traumatic it can be. We get used to a certain lifestyle and find it hard to adapt to the demands of a baby. The older we get the more inflexible we become, and the one thing you need when having a baby is flexibility.

My husband and I decided to start trying for a baby after almost 6 years of marriage. As a very routine driven person, who enjoyed a certain control in my life, it was something that I was quite nervous about. I was fortunate enough to fall pregnant almost immediately; and this was the start of our beautiful adventure.

I loved being pregnant and had a fairly easy pregnancy up until week 32.  I had however screened high risk for preeclampsia due to high blood pressure and a family history. But this was identified by week 12 and the risk was actively managed. My doctor gave me some warning signs to look out for, mainly high blood pressure and swollen feet.

After a long day at work at around week 32, I came home and had extremely swollen feet and blood pressure of 152/99.  We went straight to the labour ward and I ended up spending the night in hospital.  The following week I went for a scan and it was discovered that I had severe IUGR, which meant our baby’s growth was restricted.  A week later she still didn’t seem to be growing and the doctor decided that she’s better off coming out.

At 33 weeks and 6 days I went in for a cesar and our little Juliet was born. It felt like it all happened so suddenly – from the night I spent in the hospital, to lying on the on the operating table and holding Juliet for the first time.  We expected her to be small and to spend a couple of weeks in the NICU, but nothing could prepare me for being separated from my baby for three weeks. This was probably one of the toughest times of my life.

Juliet was born weighing 1.62kgs, 300 grams more than we were expecting.  She was healthy and did not need any oxygen, so our goal was just to have her gain some weight so we could take her home.

The most important thing the paediatrician said that I could do for Juliet was to give her my breast milk.  Juliet was still too small to take the breast, so I had to express and give her the milk through a tube and bottle.  While I was pregnant, I had planned on exclusively expressing my milk and bottle-feeding Juliet, so I was not too concerned about not being able to breastfeed.  After the first week, however, I started to have this desire to put Juliet to my breast. It was like my motherly instincts were kicking in. This feeling grew stronger by the day and every time I held her I instinctively wanted to put her on the breast. We decided not to breastfeed while in the NICU as it could slow down her growth if she could not latch properly. All we wanted at that stage was to bring our baby home.

During this difficult time, I was in regular contact with Emma, who was a constant source of support and encouragement. She advised me on expressing and reassured me that it wasn’t too late to breastfeed Juliet.

Eventually after 3 weeks in the NICU, Juliet weighed 1,92kgs and was taking 40ml of milk comfortably from a bottle. This milestone meant we could bring her home.  At home, I tried putting Juliet to the breast but had no idea what I was doing.  I decided to ask for Emma’s help in getting her to latch. I set up an appointment for the following week and was excited at the prospect of breastfeeding Juliet.  She gave great advice and gave me the confidence to trust my bust.   My biggest fear was Juliet losing weight and ending up back in the NICU because I wasn’t giving her enough milk.

I am pleased to say that at 13 weeks, Juliet now weighs 3.75kgs and is exclusively on breast milk. She has only one bottle a day, where daddy gets to enjoy giving her a feed.

Emma was so encouraging and supportive throughout and she took a keen interest in Juliet’s progress.  I will always remain appreciative of the special role she played during this time.  She is a passionate person who cares deeply. Everyone needs an “Emma” during and after their pregnancy and I’m so grateful I had mine.