Parents tell Estelle Ellis about their baby’s fight for life after premature birth
AHOLIDAY to Cape Town turned into a much longer stay than anticipated for a Port Elizabeth couple whose baby boy was born 14 weeks early.
In hospital for 11 weeks, little Taylor Jordan Aiken finally arrived home this week – three weeks before his due date.
A few weeks after Taylor was born at 26 weeks – weighing just more than a kilogram but putting up a fight for life – his mom and dad sat in a Spur near the hospital and cried.
“I still feel really sorry for the waitress. She did not know what to do. We had just got news that he was getting better,” Sergeant Marc Aiken of the Walmer police said this week.
He and his wife Jill were on holiday in Cape Town in August this year and were shopping at Canal Walk when her water broke.
“I went to the bathroom when it happened. The next thing I knew Marc got worried and he came into the ladies’ bathroom to see what was going on.”
Jill was hospitalised at Netcare’s Blaauwberg Hospital, where Dr Ricky Dippenaar, the doctor who delivered the youngest surviving infant on the continent – at 22 weeks –was practising.
Taylor was born on August 14 through an emergency C-section, weighing 1.45kg. His due date was November 18.
“I just wanted to hear him cry and he gave a small soft one. Until that moment we expected him to be stillborn,” Jill said.
“Dr Dippenaar said Taylor was struggling. He said he had a 50% chance of survival. He had a bleed on his skull and an infection,” Marc said. “I just freaked when I first saw him,” Jill said.
“She ran out of the room in the wrong direction,” Marc recalled.
Their son was so tiny that his hand would fit into his daddy’s wedding ring. For the next 60 days that Taylor spent in an incubator his mom and dad would pray for him every night.
He needed three blood transfusions.
“We prayed the same prayer that my mom used to pray for me.”
When they got the news that he was improving, they were sitting in the Spur. “We were just sitting there crying,” Marc said.
A week or two later Jill got to touch her baby for the first time. “I was so nervous. I put one hand on his head and the other on his bum.”
It would be three weeks before she could hold him for the first time.
“For weeks, when he was struggling I couldn’t console him. It was the best feeling in the world [to hold him] ” she said. “I just started crying and one of my tears fell on his head.
“We used to fight about whose turn it was to hold him.”
Taylor needed a hernia operation but after that he only needed to get strong enough so that his parents could come home after their unexpectedly prolonged holiday.
“One day I walked into his room and he was a bit lazy to drink his bottle. We had a serious talk, the two of us. He looked at me like he was promising to drink enough,” Marc said.
Eventually, after 71 days in the hospital, he was discharged.
“The nurses were crying when we left. God has been really good. We got to experience the overwhelming kindness of strangers. Taylor is a real blessing,” Jill said.