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Where should I begin?

Where should I begin?

We were waiting for Sion to be born and on the morning of 29 Sept 2022 contractions started.

So we showered and ate and drove to the hospital. I was in labour for almost 12 hours but Sion didn’t want to decent into the birth canal, so I had an emergency C-section at about 17:00 that night. We were so in awe of this little boy, weighing at 3.925kg. But nothing prepared us for what was coming. And it was probably best that Sion was born via C-Section.

The next morning the paediatrician came to tell us that he couldn’t find the femoral artery pulsing in Sion’s legs and that a cardiologist would come by. And he did. I was alone when I got the news that Sion has a restriction or coarctation of the aorta, and if we don’t operate now, Sion will go into heart failure.

Immediately all of those happy feelings were replaced by fear.

Everything was set into place, a helicopter was arranged to pick Sion up and I wouldl be discharged immediately. Sion and I were supposed to be discharged only 3 days later and after barely 24hours we were discharged.

The helicopter came to get Sion and my husband and I also drove up to JHB to be with Sion.

Sion was admitted to the Netcare Sunninghill hospital. We got to JHB at about 22:30 that night, and Drs Kenny Govendragaloo and Mamatuba were waiting for us. They informed us about the path ahead. We spent about 5mins with Sion before we had to leave. My heart outside my body…

We only had 3 visits a day of about 30 mins.

In the meanwhile Sion received medicine to keep a part of the aorta open while waiting on surgery.

On Monday, 3 October 2022, Sion was wheeled into the OR, first to receive an angiogram to find out the extent of the problem and afterwards he went in for his operation. It was the longest hour ever! (I am reliving every feeling as I am typing here).

We received a call from a social worker and while waiting spent some time with her - preparing us to see Sion, what to expect and just to get to know us better.

After Sion’s surgey, Dr Schürmann met with us and informed us that everything went well with Sion and that he now had to recover. It was really tough to see Sion like that, tubes coming from everywhere, being sedated and on oxygen, having a central line, tubes in his naval, his arm. Wow. Wishing I could take his place (and finally understanding what it means be willing to offer everything up for your child).

Over the course of the week with every visit there were positive changes in Sion. He was slowly weaned from sedation. He had to start breathing on his own and get stronger. Every morning we met with the day nurse and at night, the night nurse. Very important people to keep an eye on your child.

I started to pump breastmilk (how “unnatural”, I was supposed to be breastfeeding) to prepare for the moment that Sion will be able to start drinking. It was tough, I had to get my mind in the right space.

On Sunday morning, 9 October, I got a phone call: “Dear Mrs van Heerden, your baby is discharged, you may come and get him!” Wow that was great news! Sion made it!

We took clothing (in which he was supposed to go home in) and went to fetch our boy!

Both of mom and dad were feeling a little dumb - what should we do and when. But Mother Nature and instinct is a wonderful thing. It was so good to hold Sion in our arms and to be able to take him home to Bloemfontein!

We made friends along the way, meeting parents with terrifying stories about their children.

Feeling so so grateful for having had medical aid, for knowing there is a hospital like Sunninghill and that there are doctors with the knowledge to help our baby!

It was a very rocky and unnatural start, but we made it!!


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