It must bring unimaginable anxiety to a mother separated from her baby at birth. But it was a reality Kempsey mum Lindsay Simpson had to endure as her baby girl was airlifted away for emergency care just hours after she was born.
“I was left alone in the ward scared, wondering what was going to happen,” Lindsay told The Macleay Argus.
After a successful caesarean section delivery at Port Macquarie Base Hospital on March 18, 2018, Lindsay, a Type 1 diabetic, was taken to recovery for stitches, while baby Amelia was taken to the special nursery to address her low blood-sugar levels linked to complications from her mum’s diabetes. Little did Lindsay know, it would be three days before she saw her baby again.
“The plan was she would meet me in recovery to get the breastfeeding started – I couldn’t breastfeed with my first, so I really wanted to this time.”
But instead of being reunited with her baby, Lindsay and husband Kade were given the news that Amelia’s sugar levels had dropped to a critical low, so much so that she had started to turn grey, and would need to be emergency airlifted to John Hunter Hospital NICU Ward.
But due to low blood-oxygen levels herself and no available beds in Newcastle, Lindsay had to stay behind – helpless and afraid for her baby daughter.
“I was told I couldn’t see her because her condition was critical. I was in tears.”
Overcome and upset, Lindsay was eventually given permission by nurses to say a short goodbye before baby Amelia was rushed away to Newcastle. Lindsay’s only comfort was knowing her husband Kade was by their daughter’s side.
For 29-year-old Lindsay, sadly this wasn’t the first time she had been affected by a serious diabetes-related emergency.
Lindsay was first diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2002 at the age of 13, when her blood-glucose-level spiked to a critical high of 55mmol/L (mini-molecules per litre), sending her into a diabetic ketoacidosis coma where she had to be airlifted from John Hunter Hospital to Sydney Children's Hospital Randwick.
To put this into context, the normal blood sugar levels of a healthy person are between 4.0 to 7.8mmol/L, according to figures from Diabetes Australia. With critically high blood-glucose-levels of 55mmol/L, Lindsay was at risk of fatal complications. But thankfully, with emergency treatment her condition was brought under control.
After living with Type 1 diabetes for 16 years, Lindsay knew pregnancy would be more challenging for her than it is for most. She worked hard to balance her blood-sugars to ensure a healthy pregnancy gave the best start to her baby. But despite her efforts, “it completely went the other way,” Lindsay said.
After birth, baby Amelia’s blood glucose level dropped to a dangerously low 0.1mmol/L – escalating quickly into a race to save the new born’s life, while Lindsay waited… powerless to do anything.
Following a heart-breaking few days apart, Lindsay was finally well enough to be reunited with her daughter in Newcastle.
“After a week in hospital we were sent home to Kempsey,” Lindsay said.
“[We] are doing fantastic now and Amelia has no outstanding issues from low blood-sugars.”
Baby Amelia is now a happy and healthy five-month-old living in Kempsey with her mum, dad and adoring big brother Thomas, 3, who affectionately calls Amelia “my missy moo”.
It was a scary start to life for this little one and a time Lindsay won’t forget soon. Though it was a long and often uncertain time for the young mum, she is thankful for the support of her nurses and emergency teams who helped keep little Amelia alive.
Lindsay said living with Type 1 diabetes is a constant juggling act and the challenges it brings can be hard at times. But being part of local support networks and organisation such as the Macleay Valley Coast Diabetes Group, can help those seeking a community of others living with Type 1 diabetes.