Our baby, Pippa Affleck, nicknamed “Plum,” arrived into the world on March 4, 2021 weighing 5 lbs., 10 oz. Our birth experience, as occasionally happens, did not go according to plan. However, despite the painful and terrifying moments, we look back on our experience with overwhelming gratitude for the care and support our family received. So many people played a role in ensuring that Plum and our family had the very best care possible.
We had planned on having our first child at home with the help of a wonderful team of midwives. However, during my pregnancy, it was determined that the baby was measuring small, and so I was referred to AGH for periodic Ultrasound examinations.
During the last appointment, which was scheduled in my 41st week, the Ultrasound Technologist observed low amniotic fluid. Without letting on that anything was of concern, she suggested we go upstairs to the Birthing Centre, and walked me up to make sure I was OK.
Once on the unit, I was attached to a fetal heart monitoring system. It was determined that, because of the low fluid, we needed to deliver as soon as possible. It was then that I had to make a difficult decision on my own—to go to Ottawa to deliver or stay at AGH. Unfortunately, Angus hadn’t been able to attend the Ultrasound appointments because, with COVID restrictions, he wasn’t allowed in the Hospital. I immediately called him when it was determined that things were not right.
I decided we’d stay in Almonte. Although nothing was going as planned, from the moment I arrived at AGH, everyone had been unbelievably caring and supportive. In hindsight, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Very quickly, staff decided to induce me and, thankfully, by then Angus had arrived. It was during this time that one of the nurses saw that Pippa’s heart rate was dropping rapidly. It was clear that we needed to get her out quickly, and so the care team decided to perform an emergency Caesarean.
Angus joined me in the OR as we waited for the first signs of our baby Plum. After all of the drama and fear, the sound of her first cry was a moment neither one of us will ever forget. Swiftly, our midwife placed her cheek against mine in a beautiful moment that allowed us to connect before whisking her off for some skin-on-skin time with Dad while they completed the surgery.
It turned out that our problems stemmed from a condition called Intrauterine Growth Restrictions (IUGR), so despite having an average head size and length, Plum’s weight was significantly less than usual for a baby of her gestational age. We still don’t know why this occurred, but we do know that it was the incredible care of the AGH team that brought our baby safely into the world. Words cannot describe our gratitude to the team for their care, diligence and hard work in ensuring that Plum stabilized, and that I was safe in my recovery.
In the end, we spent five days under the watchful eyes of the amazing staff and physicians as they developed a plan to allow her to gain weight and thrive. Every staff member took such wonderful care of our girl, expertly swaddling her, helping us with feeding, giving her a first bath or simply being there to make us feel welcome and safe. Each day, Angus and I gained more confidence with how to care for our beautiful little Plum. Although there was a lot of concern about her being so small at first, thanks to the plan established by the nurses and midwives, she has continued the amazing progress she was making in the Hospital and, after four weeks, weighed eight whole pounds!
Having benefitted from the new Ultrasound machines, lights in the operating room, baby scales, and mattresses (all funded by the Foundation), we also want to thank donors for their support. Through this experience, we’ve learned how much donations mean to both the Almonte Hospital and Fairview Manor. Support from community members make possible so much of the equipment that staff used while caring for us.
That’s why we’re writing to ask you to join us and make a donation to the Hospital and Manor this spring. We have learned that you just never know when you’ll need our Hospital. And when you do, knowing that the staff and physicians have the best equipment with which to care for you is such a comfort.
We’ve decided to become monthly donors. That way we can spread out our donation, giving a bit more than we could all in one shot. Also, with ongoing donations, the Foundation can better plan for the future. Please join us and become a monthly donor too. We can’t think of a better way to thank everyone for the help and care we received. If becoming a monthly donor isn’t possible at this time, please make a one-time donation. Everyone can make a difference by providing some support.
On behalf of our little family, thanks for your support of the Almonte General Hospital and Fairview Manor.
Stay safe and best wishes from the Affleck family,
Nicki, Angus and Pippa “Plum”