Sam came into this world on Friday 30th August 2002 after a very difficult delivery. It all started when the Nurse manually broke Lisa’s waters and gave her Oxytocin to speed up the labour. The pain for her was extremely intense from the outset and she had to endure this for the next 12 hours or so.
He got stuck in the birth canal and the Obstetrician had to intervene and assist the process using forceps and vacuum extraction, which looked barbaric to a first time father…and so unnatural! We were told afterwards that his heart rate had slowed down and they were concerned at the time, so wanted to get him out before there were any complications.
When Sam was eventually delivered, we were so relieved and thankful to have a baby boy in our lives. We didn’t want to know the sex of our first child prior to then but had chosen a name either way. He let out a cry, was cleaned up by the medical team and handed to Lisa all black and blue from the ordeal. He had a cut and big bruise on his forehead from the forceps but was alive and well.
I was given the opportunity to cut the umbilical cord, which would separate him from Lisa and give him his own identity. He was so tiny and resting comfortably, for the time being.
We were all taken back to Lisa’s private room at the hospital and left alone together as a family for the very first time. It was such a special moment and I couldn’t help but think ahead to all the times that we would share together, such as going to the park, riding bikes, kicking balls and generally having fun. I had looked forward to becoming a father for a very long time and it was now a reality.
Lisa stayed in hospital for six days, which allowed her to bond with Sam and also get some advice from the Nursing staff as a first time mum. They showed her how to breastfeed, change nappies, wrap him up tightly for sleeping and bathe him. Little did we know at the time, but he would have been in pain and had a thumping headache from being wrenched out during the delivery. Looking back now, he would only sleep on one side and has a flat head to prove it! His spine would have been out of alignment and thus uncomfortable for him to turn his neck the other way.
The Paediatrician would come around for their daily check-up and answer any questions that we might have. Being a private hospital we had a double bed in the room and I was fortunate enough to stay there for the whole time to experience it all. He said that everything was normal according to their standard testing procedures and was happy to discharge us. We took their word and were on our way.
We couldn’t wait to get home with our new bundle of joy. Our lives would never be the same, in a good way, because we had a new addition to the family that we could create many memorable moments with and have a positive influence over in some way. The nursery had been ready and waiting for months for Sam to arrive and it felt so good to finally have him in there.
I remember back to that time and how we would listen out for any little sound or movement and rush into his room like a flash to see if he was alright. As first time parents you tend to overdo it, but once you have a second or third child you lighten up! We would watch him sleeping so peacefully, in amongst the crying, pooing and vomiting, and would be thankful that he came into our lives.
Lisa joined a mother’s group at the local Maternal & Child Health Centre when Sam was just 13 days old. It was a pivotal moment in his life because we were able to see how the other babies were progressing. Everybody tells you not to compare your baby with others because they can all develop and hit their milestones at different times, but we were noticing that the other babies in the group were more settled and making eye contact with their mothers. We never had this with Sam. We noticed that he would not look at us directly, but rather be drawn towards light. His eyes would also dart back and forth as if he couldn’t focus on anything.
At six weeks of age we realised that things hadn’t improved. When Sam was eight weeks old it was time for his post-natal check up with the Paediatrician. He was very unsettled at the appointment, as it was bottle time. The Paediatrician didn’t seem to do a completely thorough check and when we brought up our concerns regarding his vision, he replied with, “It can take babies up to twelve weeks to focus”.
The alarm bells really started to ring when the Maternal & Child Health Nurse showed some concern with Sam’s sight whilst performing visual tests on him. We told her what the Paediatrician had said to us and she questioned his assessment. She said that she pays attention when parents have a gut feeling that something is not quite right, because nobody knows their baby like a mother or a father. She immediately jumped on the phone and called our Paediatrician, who gave her the number of a Paediatric Ophthalmologist. An appointment was made then and there…