On February 21, my sister Ebony gave birth to a healthy little boy, my nephew, Arlo Andrew Smith.
The family, including I, waited in anticipation throughout the day to hear of the new baby’s arrival, but when the phone call finally came, there was more news — of a kind we weren’t ready for.
Arlo was delivered through natural birth at 3.09pm.
His birth came with difficulties for him and his mother.
Arlo was born with the umbilical cord double-wrapped around his neck and wasn’t breathing.
The hospital staff helped Arlo to breathe and finally his lungs opened and he took his first breaths.
Ebony, worried about her little boy, had haemorrhaged due to long complications during her pregnancy.
She was rushed straight to the operating theatre where she received not one but two blood transfusions.
Her partner, Scott, father of Arlo, was left to look after the new baby for three hours and wait for her return.
This is not where the problems had started for Ebony.
From early on in the pregnancy, Ebony was a frequent visitor to Benalla Hospital with dehydration, constipation and asthma.
From week 26 she had started to spot bleed and continued to move in and out of hospital for the rest of her pregnancy journey.
Her first trip to Melbourne’s Royal Women’s Hospital had her home for three days before Christmas on strict bed rest, only to be flown back on Christmas Eve with a bigger bleed than before.
She stayed in the hospital for two weeks.
Finally home, she rested and us girls threw her a Peter Rabbit-themed baby shower.
During this home stay, the family made sure Ebony and Scott were ready for bub’s arrival by setting up the nursery, picking things up from lay-by and helping to keep Ebony focused on getting to a minimum of 30 weeks of her pregnancy.
Ebony hit 33 weeks and returned to hospital after yet another bleed, and this time the Wangaratta hospital was confident to keep her and there she stayed under observation for a week.
On release, she was instructed to return weekly for scans and check-ups.
Ebony didn’t make it to her first check-up though; she was driven back by ambulance that morning to the Wangaratta hospital, and was to stay there until the full term of the pregnancy.
It was only the night before that we had been working on her beloved maternity photos.
All this time, Ebony had not had a definite answer about why she kept bleeding, and was told that sometimes women can bleed the whole way through their pregnancy and still deliver a healthy baby.
And Arlo is a happy, healthy baby.
It was only through the drama of Arlo’s birth that the doctors and nurses found their answers. Ebony had insufficient placenta, which had caused all the issues throughout her pregnancy and left her haemorrhaging once Arlo was born.
All up, my sister spent more than two months in hospitals across a total of nine visits.
Words can not explain the panic that went through our veins every time the phone rang at an odd time, late at night or early in the morning, informing us that Ebony was back in hospital.
We, Ebony’s family, are so lucky that both Ebony and Arlo are still with us and are now doing well post-birth at home.
Madeleine Caccianiga is a News journalist.