Full Name: Remi Wood-Mkandawire
Birthdate: July 1, 2016
Gestational Age at Birth: 34 Weeks
Favorite Book or Toy: Rubber Duckier Toy
Following a visit home to London (which I deliberated for months about taking while pregnant), I arrived home feeling jet lagged and decided to reschedule my 20-week ultrasound for 4 days until after the weekend. During the ultrasound, I was informed that I was in preterm labor and was sent directly to St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital for admission. My 2-year-old daughter Noémie, whom I had never left even for 15 minutes, was screaming in the corridor of my OBGYN’s office because “Mummy had gone into a room without her” (despite being with my visiting mother-in-law) to speak with the doctor about my results. The awful news, backed by the screams of my daughter, will stay with me forever!
My husband collected my daughter while I went alone to St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital, where I sat completely confused and upset. This is when I first met the amazing Dr. Karlter who introduced me to the unknown world of pre term labor. He informed me that my cervix was at just 0.9 (compared to an average healthy 4-4.5). I was in complete shock, but after some discussion, he agreed to send me home on strict bedrest with a re-scan 5 days later. No lifting, running, walking, exercise or movement at all. Basically, all the things I had been doing over the weekend, which I would not have done had I not rescheduled my appointment! I was so angry and upset with myself, despite the doctors telling me it wasn’t caused by something I did.
Bedrest at home with my 2-year-old was difficult and frustrating for her, but it gave me time to fly my mother out to care for her over the next 13 weeks. Nothing could prepare me, however, for the mental stress of the coming weeks.
On admission to St Joseph’s, I felt so alone, my world had blown apart. I felt so much sadness for my unborn baby and unbelievably devastated for my daughter. I also punished myself for flying long haul and overdoing it in previous weeks and worst of all feeling I had let my healthy baby down.
In the morning, one of my amazing nurses brought me a High Risk Hope (HRH) goody bag. It was so uplifting. I read all the stories of other women who had similar experiences which really helped change my mindset. It was a complete emotional rollercoaster and setbacks were tough, but my nurses and doctors were amazing. I stayed positive, kept myself occupied with a daily routine and ticked off the days on my calendar.
Missing my daughter’s milestones was so hard and feeling distant from my husband whom could only visit a couple of times a week was tough, but my nurses and techs were amazing and kept me going.
There were days when the contractions kicked in and filled me with dread, then the panic and fear that swept over me when I realized 28 weeks was a realistic birth gestation expectation based on my cervix length and the shocking reality of the statistics. However, after a few near misses, the doctors let me go home on bed rest at 33 weeks. 5 days later at 34 weeks, Remi Gabriel Wood-Mkandawire was born on July 1st, 2016 weighing 6lbs.
Remi was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and required assistance with his breathing and jaundice. He did great, came off C-Pap after 2 days, and we took him home 4 days later.
I cannot thank all the staff at St. Joseph’s enough. The fetal medicine doctors were fantastic, I am eternally grateful to you. A huge thank you to the OBGYN’s, the nurses, NICU nurses, techs, cleaning girls, and canteen staff, all of which made an impact on our journey.
The HRH bag is so much more than a bag of goodies. It was knowledge, which helped me process information that frightened me. It was hope through the stories of other women who had experienced preterm labor. It was comforting to see the pictures of other babies that were happy and healthy against the odds and inspiring to assist me to remain positive and structured. HRH knew what I needed before I did. The supply bag reminded me of Mary Poppin’s magical bag of everything “Practically perfect in every way”. Regularly if I needed something I would find myself wondering if “the bag has it” and sure enough it would!! It gave me a smile every time. I thank HRH from the bottom of my heart for all your amazing work, the small difference you’re making is so HUGE!