The Miracle of Baby Arthur & His Incredible Mother Phoebe
Images by Bec Zacher
Overcoming life threatening HELLP syndrome & saving baby Arthur
One New Years Eve, 2016, our son Arthur entered the world at only 28 weeks gestation. He was not placed lovingly into my waiting arms as I had always dreamed. Instead, in an emergency operating theatre filled with medical staff, he was quickly whisked away by doctors to be treated in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. A quick glimpse of my baby was my only interaction with him on the day he was born.
My husband and I had gone to the hospital when I experienced some abdominal pain. I was worried that I was overreacting but since we had already experienced 2 miscarriages we wanted to err on the side of caution. Hours later, I was diagnosed with severe HELLP syndrome, a life-threatening pregnancy complication. We were told that the only way to stop the progression of the fatal syndrome was to deliver our baby immediately via emergency caesarean.
I was able to see Arthur in the NICU the day after he was born. He weighed 1010g and I couldn’t believe how small he was. I sat and watched as he slept in his incubator. The rise and fall of his tiny chest was rhythmic due to his ventilator. Countless tubes and lines seemed to cover his tiny body. It would be two weeks before he was stable enough for me to hold him for the first time.
Arthur was cared for in the NICU by the incredible neonatal staff at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital for the first 2 and a half months of his life. The NICU staff were like our family while Arthur was in hospital. I will never truly be able to express my gratitude for everything they did for us.
This experience has been the most difficult and challenging of my life. It has left me with emotional and physical scars that I will continue to carry with me. I have had to come to terms with the abrupt ending to my pregnancy. I have had to grieve for the loss of the natural birth experience that I had so desperately wanted. I have had to cope with the fear and stress of having a baby in the NICU.
But this experience has also left me with so much to be grateful for. I have a healthy, happy baby. A little boy that has given me a whole new capacity to love. A love that is overwhelming, unconditional and seemingly endless.
Living this experience also reminded me how lucky I am to be surrounded by loving friends and family. It has helped me discovered a whole new level of love and intimacy with my amazing husband. I did not know that I could love him even more than I already did. But as we sat together next to Arthur’s incubator, day in and day out, for months, I realized that there is nothing that we can not face together.
I have no picture perfect photos of Arthur as a newborn baby. All the photos of those first few weeks were taken through the incubator, with Arthur looking tiny and fragile. I have no happy photos of sitting in a hospital bed with my baby in my arms. That is why having these photos taken by Bec is so special. I want to remember this time in my life. I want to be able to reflect on how far Arthur has come. My first year of motherhood has not looked like what I had always dreamed it would. But it is our story. It has made us into the family we are today, and I want to remember us just the way we are.
Words written by Phoebe Shields. Images taken by Bec Zacher.
Thank you so much for sharing this incredible story Phoebe and Joe. He is such a miracle baby and there must be so much joy holding him in your hands and looking back on the very rocky journey you had together in those first few months.