The birth of our little miracle

When my husband Hein and I decided to start a family, I read everything there possibly is about what can go wrong during a pregnancy. I thought that to know about every condition that a baby might develop will prepare me mentally for it, but I never expected this.

On the 24th of April I had, what I thought was a regular check-up, at my gynaecologist.

The doctor discovered nine weeks before this that my baby, Heinrich, was underweight and suggested that I see him regularly so that he can monitor Heinrich’s weight. He was a bit baffled by the situation as I am not a smoker (never was) and drank only socially before my pregnancy.

I was 31 weeks pregnant and had been feeling Heinrich’s kicks for some time, but that week he was very quiet.

The moment we sat down in the doctor's office, he told me that I would not be able to have a natural birth, as Heinrich is too small. We then went to the sonar room and he rocked my world when he told me that I must immediately go to the clinic as he must deliver my baby.

Hein gave my hand a little squeeze and I had to swallow my tears. I had to lay in the maternity ward for about 30 minutes with a heart monitor on my belly so that the doctor could have a better idea of Heinrich’s heartbeat. The doctor told me that I must immediately be admitted and put on a cortisone drip and on oxygen.

I was crying when we left his rooms. At that moment, I was just praying that my son would be okay.

The admittance was another thing. The Neonatal ICU did not have another incubator with a ventilator for Heinrich's birth the next morning. There was a small possibility of an incubator at a clinic in Potchefstroom. The Lord answered our prayers when they came back with the news that somebody pulled some strings and that they would get an extra incubator with a ventilator from somewhere.

Around half past five, my gynaecologist came to check on the heart monitor and the sister informed him that there are some irregularities. He listened to Heinrich’s heart and then gave me another shocker - Heinrich’s heart rate is more irregular than before, he will have to do an emergency caesarean.

Here's baby Hein

After I was prepared, they wheeled me into the theatre and I received the epidural while my whole body was shaking from fear. I realised Heinrich was born when Hein started photographing furiously. I waited with baited breath for Heinrich’s first scream. It was probably only seconds, but it felt like an hour.

I finally saw Heinrich when Hein came back from the NNICU and showed me my beautiful little boy on the LCD screen of the camera. I could see him for myself and touch him only the next morning. Oh, so little, weighing only 890g. Not even two bricks of butter.

He was such a fighter. They took the ventilator off after two days and after a week they took away the oxygen and he breathed by himself. He was in the NNICU for 68 days and he was on a drip and heart and oxygen monitor for most of the time.

He had to receive blood infusions a few times because his liver and pancreas were still developing, but his heart, lungs and brain were normal.

After the emergency caesarean, my gynaecologist told us that my appointment was just in time - Heinrich would have been dead by the Monday if he was still in my tummy.

The week when he finally weighed 2kg, he was back on oxygen. It was another stressful time for us when we read that premature babies can die because of the RS virus. Two weeks later, on day 68 of his stay at the NNICU of the Anncron Clinic, I finally got the call that the paediatrician is discharging him.

Heinrich is 17 months this week and such a joy. He gave his first steps yesterday and we both were a bit tearful – maybe because we realise what an amazing journey we had with our beautiful boy this last 17 months.

When we look at his little body (now almost 10 times his birth weight), we sometimes have to remind ourselves of how small he was and how blessed we were that everything went so well.

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