Given the opportunity to write an article for Kidney Kids about our son Liam and his very eventful life thus far immediately posed one question: How do I even begin to condense the events of the past three years into a readable article? So much has happened in such a short space of time. So here goes…(and I’ll try to be brief!)
Half way through our first (and up until that point, perfect and uneventful) pregnancy saw our world turn upside down in the space of an hour.
The 20 week ultrasound showed that our baby had renal reflux and, of more concern at that point, an unidentifiable mass just above the left kidney, possibly a tumor. So, having breezed into the radiology centre and then staggered out an hour later, feeling shocked and dreadfully afraid, we knew that life would never quite be the same again. All we could do was to take things week by week. So, with lots of tears, lots of concern, lots of focus on positive thinking, lots of scans (9 in total), we got to 36 weeks and following an induced labour, on Waitangi Day 1999 our precious son Liam arrived. And what an arrival it was. The birth was the easy part – the hard part was the crucial weeks and months that followed.
After two days at National Women’s with Liam in an incubator in NICU (at 7 lb 3 oz looking very much the giant amongst all the other premmie babies in the unit) we were transferred to Starship where things began to get pretty scary. Looking back at our first night in Starship I really wonder how we coped. Crying myself to sleep on a mattress on the playroom floor of 24B, 48 hours after giving birth and with a butt full of stitches is certainly not my idea of ideal. The two nights following that Graham and I were put up at Ronald McDonald House which is a wonderful facility. From then on Liam and I were in the same room and Graham was keeping things running at home (and doing a lot of travelling).
It was a long month before we could finally go home and a lot happened in that time. To cut a long story short, the month involved many tests: from blood tests, x-rays, MRI scans, MCU’s and ultrasounds, to DTPA’s and EDTA’s at Auckland’s Nuclear Department (complete with IV line in Liam’s poor little head because they couldn’t get a line anywhere else). Plus numerous cysto-urethroscopies to open up the blocked post-urethral valves that were causing the reflux. Not to mention the endless attempts at trying to breast feed, struggling to keep IV lines open, learning to pick up and cuddle a baby with so many wires and machines attached to him.