As friends and family gathered on Sun 17 August for her baby shower, Vicki Le Poidevin brushed off her stomach pains as Braxton Hicks. After all, she was only 29 weeks pregnant.
Little did she know, 24 hours later she would be giving birth to her first child, Troy.
‘I thought I’d still be in work for 9am,’ said 30-year-old office worker Vicki.
When she woke the morning after her baby shower and was still in pain she called the hospital and was advised to pop in and get checked. Along with her cousin who was over for the weekend, they headed up to the PEH.
‘When we got there I was taken into a private room which I thought was strange. It was when I heard the specialist arrive that I started to panic,’ said Vicki.
While she took in the news, her cousin called Vicki’s husband Wayne, 33, a window fitter, who arrived at the PEH within minutes.
‘I couldn’t believe it, it was so unexpected, completely out of the blue,’ he said. Vicki said suddenly the room was full of people, specialists, midwives and paediatricians.
‘Neither of us wanted to ask the question but we wanted to know, was our baby going to die? You don’t even want to say the words but it was definitely going through our minds. All these people were potentially going to save my babies life,’ said Vicki.
Troy was born at 8.07pm, weighing 3lb 4oz.
‘He came out completely dead silent and was rushed into the corner. I didn’t really know what was going on,’ said Vicki. Troy had difficulty breathing and had to be intubated, he was rushed to the neonatal unit, with his dad by his side.
‘We went from a room full of people to no one. We didn’t see Troy again until 11.30pm.’ The next time they saw him, he was in an incubator with tubes and lines attached everywhere.
‘He fitted in the palm of my hand. He was so tiny and had a huge nappy on that had to be rolled down but was still only a size zero. I said to myself, if he makes it through the night, we’ll be ok,’ said Vicki.
Troy exceeded all expectations. Within 12 hours he was off the ventilator and within two days he had been transferred into a hot cot. It was while Troy was in the neonatal unit that the couple were first made aware of the Priaulx Premature Baby Foundation. They were given a baby box containing, among other things, hand-knitted clothes and blankets, toiletries for mum and a handcrafted Dannii bear silver photo holder made by local jeweller, Becky Rowe.
Troy’s bear sits proudly in his room, clutching a photo of Vicki and Troy with midwife Eilish.
‘She saved my son’s life but to her she was just doing her job. Without the team, we wouldn’t have a family.’
After almost a week, Vicki was well enough to go home. ‘It was horrendous leaving hospital without my baby. No mother should have to go through that.’ Going home was a bittersweet experience.
‘The house was full of flowers and balloons, but we didn’t have our baby. We cried and cried.’
Troy continued to improve, but they suffered a setback when one of the ducts in his heart opened. At five weeks old, his weight had plummeted to just 3lbs and he was transferred to Southampton General Hospital for an operation
‘We felt so helpless, we couldn’t do anything for him,’ said Vicki. The operation took place on Monday 22 Sept, Wayne’s 33rd birthday.
‘The PPBF set us up in their flat in Southampton which made such a huge difference to us, they were fantastic. We were lucky really, I can’t even imagine how difficult it would be if you were in Southampton for any longer,’ said Wayne.
They were told there was an 8% -10% chance that Troy would not survive the operation – but if they didn’t operate, his condition meant he could drop dead at any point.
‘I asked the surgeon to look after him and he said he would look after him like he was his own,’ said Vicki.
The operation began at 9am and was due to last for two hours but complications meant Troy was not out of surgery until mid-afternoon. It had been a huge success and within three days they were back at the PEH in Guernsey, where he continued to improve.
On Tuesday 13 October, after a total of eight weeks (57 days), Troy was allowed home.
‘We felt like we were moving out of home, we’d been there for so long. The staff had become our family. We were leaving the security of the people who had kept our child alive. People don’t realize how special this team are.’
Vicki and Wayne said the support they received from the Neonatal team, supported by the PPBF, as second to none.
‘The work that Jo and Andy Priaulx do, because of their own experience, transformed ours and we will always be so grateful to them,’ said Vicki.
From the ’comfiest chairs in the world’ to the breast pumps they could borrow, the hot cots and the home from home that they stayed in, in Southampton, Vicki said their experience would not have been such a positive one without the support of the PPBF.
‘We will always be so grateful to all the people who helped us become a family.’