Two years ago our sons were born, Tapiwa (We’ve been given) and Tatenda (We thank you).
They came way ahead of schedule at just 26 weeks of pregnancy. Their birth weights were 820g (0.82kg) and 890g (0.89kg).
The doctor said that they were too small to survive the trauma of normal child birth so that meant that my wife would have to deliver by a Cesarean operation.
We had just been to the doctor for our last GP check up when my wife noticed some water a few days later. The doctor told us that everything was in order and after the six months assessment (24 weeks) her checks done and we’d only need to report to our chosen delivery hospital.
Seeing the water was a bit of a surprise but we thought it was a minor thing and reported to our chosen delivery hospital for an assessment. My wife was booked in after two days of assessment, they noticed that there was some pelvic dilation and so she was actually in labour.
Fearful that the pregnancy was too early, we were transferred to a larger hospital which had better facilities to handle pre-term babies.
On assessment, it was confirmed that my wife was in early labour and that the babies would have to be delivered early since the water had partially broken.
We were faced with all types of emotions and anxieties. We had not prepared to receive pre-term babies. Actually we were still trying to come to terms with the fact that we were going to have twins, let alone that early.
We were put on schedule for a Cesarean operation as the doctors feared that the babies might not be able to survive the trauma of normal child birth. As we waited for the theatre call up, it just seemed like we’d have to wait all day as nobody came to call us.
We just sat in prayer and communion, anticipating what was going to happen. At almost 10pm, we were told that the theatre was almost ready for us and we were supposed to get ready to be moved to the operating room.
A few minutes later my wife’s labour contraction started intensifying, and within a further few minutes, at around 1030pm that night, we welcomed Tatenda by normal delivery, and within 5 minutes or so, Tapiwa arrived.
The medical staff raced to receive and stabilise the babies, albeit surprised that they had arrived naturally in such quick succession. They were extremely small, the smallest babies I had ever seen.
They were immediately rushed to the intensive care incubation section of the hospital. My wife and I were left in awe as the doctors did everything necessary to stabilise them.
The 820g and 890g babies would spend the next two months in hospital under close monitoring until they gained weight.
Early Days After Birth
There are a lot of complications that can happen with babies that small and we were notified of the risks. The babies were kept in strict and extremely sterile hospital conditions where only parents, medical staff and grandparents could see them.
During their hospital stay, symptoms of jaundice surfaced and were successfully treated. They were on oxygen support for the greater part of their stay until their lungs were strong enough to sustain them. One of the babies developed lung swelling and had to be operated on while in incubation.
Eventually, the mother was asked to come and stay in the hospital full time to ‘kangaroo care’ for the babies. She would place them against her chest and wrap them up like a kangaroo baby so that she would transfer body heat to them and thereby help them to grow faster and get accustomed to outside conditions.
Gaining weight slowly, and starting off with milk meal intakes of about 2 ml per feed, they eventually reached 1.6kg and were certified ready for discharge, but still to be closely supervised and monitored at home.
Whew! What a blessing it was to finally leave the hospital and have them home. We had literally become hospital residents. I would go there three times a day in between office engagements and my wife was staying there almost full time, only coming home if she needed to grab supplies or rarely to catch up on sleep.
We handled the pressure gracefully mainly because we were just so thankful that the boys were responding well to medical care.
After they came home, we had one major incident for each of the babies where they stopped breathing in the middle of the night and the mother and I had to resuscitate them a couple of times using CPR at home and on the way to the hospital, where they were stabilised and treated for respiratory infections with four days of hospital monitoring for each child.
What a humbling experience for the both of us to have carried them and come down this far now.
Today, they turn 2 and they are now big healthy and blissful boys, running around the house and causing huge messes. We thank God ever so much for the blessing of them and for carrying us through this experience.
A big thank you also goes to the Neonatal Staff at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital (South Africa) for their great and graceful work on our kids.
About The Author
Desmond Mapfumo is a Mindset Coach, Startup Builder and Consultant. He is the Founder and Contributing Editor For Inspiration Media Publications. Inspiration Media is member of the Rebirth Group, which he also founded and leads as the Chief Executive Officer.