my LIFE CHANGING story by JO DIBSDALE {part 1}

JO & PAM 1

In our very first ‘Your Story’ Jo Dibsdale shares her amazing life changing story

Prepare to be inspired and moved

“HI MY NAME’S JO AND I’M 36… I’ve been with Shane for just over 18 years and married for 14½ of those years – I know, child bride, right?! I’ve been with him for half my lifetime… scary!! Haha!

We have three handsome boys: Archer who will be 13 in October {and going on 21 – typical first child}; Mason is my quiet achiever {almost classic case middle child} and he’s eight and a half; and the light of our lives, Fraser, will be five in October as well – and he’s the typical but oh-so-not typical third boy!

We live in Kerang, a small-ish country town three and a half hours north-west of Melbourne and have been here for just over eight years. We made the tree-change and bought a pub – every man’s dream – but the business partnership we were in didn’t last, country life wasn’t for them, so we got out of the business after a few years. However, for us we liked the lifestyle of raising three boys in the country, so we decided to stay.

Okay, so we had a pretty life changing event that happened on the 21st October 2009, but we just didn’t know it immediately… We had a scheduled C-section booked for the 21st October as we knew ‘bubs # 3’ was breech – little did we know that was the least of our worries…

The caesarean wasn’t without hiccups – I had a bit of a heart issue on the table and had to keep coughing to apparently get my heart pumping back into rhythm! It was all a bit of a blur! The anaesthetic didn’t really agree with me and I just didn’t feel “with it” whilst everything was going on, so when they first showed me our baby, his face didn’t really register to me and I put it down to the drugs, etc.

Archer, our eldest, was a natural birth, all 9lb 10oz’s of him and the second he was out, he was the spitting image of Shane. Mason, our second, was also a natural birth, and a whopping 10lb 9oz’s of him and when he came out I swear I had just given birth to my father-in-law… haha!

So when my little, (and I say little because he was only 8lb 11oz – well, that was little for me!), Master Fraser Wilson Dibsdale first came into my line of vision, I just couldn’t see the resemblance to the other boys, or any of us for that matter.

The other two had whopping great heads full of black and brown hair and this little man had a mousey brown colour, but nothing on top, just around the sides – as if he was a 60 year old man, who was balding on top. He was already wrapped up so I couldn’t go through the routine of taking my time and counting his little fingers and toes, and just going over every inch of him as I had done with the others. It would actually be another day or two until I really got to have my first proper cuddle with him too and that still breaks my heart thinking about that too.

I actually remember Shane saying that he thought that there was something wrong with Fraser’s eyes, but I just shot him down. {Sorry honey, you were onto something!}

The delivery room was a bit of a blur and it took a while for them to finish fixing me up. Fraser and I were wheeled down to our room – me on a trolley and him in a humidicrib. Apparently because he wasn’t delivered via the birth canal, he didn’t have the “natural” compression and therefore had some fluid on his lungs, so was having trouble maintaining his oxygen levels – again, never thought to ask any further questions in my Endone / Voltaren haze…

Mum, Dad, Archer, Mason and three of my best friends – Mel, Al & Annie, were all there to greet us as we wheeled by. A lot went on in our room – cuddles with Fraser, nurses and doctors checking in on us both – a lot of conversations that I cannot remember. They were hooking me up to ECG machines to check on my heart and then I remember the anaesthetist coming into my room and squatting down and holding my hand and telling me what went on, but I have NO idea of what he said. Like I said, the drug haze was very surreal…

Mum, Dad, Mel and Al all left to go back to Melbourne and Annie went off to work. I remember Mum being a bit hesitant in leaving (mother’s intuition) as she’s always been with me for a bit longer after the births of our boys but I reassured them all was OK and loved that they were here for the main part. The rest of that day is a bit of a blur, a few visitors but again, I never really asked what was going on with Fraser.

The next day my doctor came in and wasn’t happy with how Fraser was going. His oxygen sats were still very low and he wasn’t looking for feeds, etc – I was just happy to get sleep after having a baby! She came in and said that she wanted to transfer us to another larger hospital so that he could get checked over by paediatricians and run some tests and they could do some more tests on me. Alarm bells started ringing a little… “What was wrong”, “Is my baby OK?”, “Am I OK?” She said something to the effect that they want to check his heart and breathing and that was it. So I trusted in my doctor and that’s what we were doing.

Time isn’t really a factor here because I honestly lost all sense of it – I’m still not 100% sure that I’m re-telling my story right…

They organised an ambulance transfer for Fraser and I to go to Bendigo and a nurse was going to travel with us as well. My doctor wasn’t happy that I wanted to go in the ambulance as I’d just had the caesarean but there was no way known that he was going anywhere without me – that I was certain about!

Shane and I had a brief discussion that Fraser and I would just go to Bendigo, he’d stay in town for the boys and then come down the next morning after he’d dropped them off at school – easy. I’d be right, right?

So bundled into the ambulance with Fraser hooked up to oxygen, me doped up on the pain meds and off we go, lights going and travelling at 140+ k’s. Little light bulb moment goes off for me so I ask the nurse who is monitoring Frase, what sort of tests will they run when we get there? She doesn’t make eye contact with me and just says, they’ll check his heart, check his lungs… and they’ll run some genetic tests too… “What sort of genetic tests I ask?” and she says “Down Syndrome” Now when someone says something like that to you, instantly you want to study your child’s face, but I couldn’t get to see his face. I was sitting in the jump seat at the end of the trolley and he was facing away from me and there was no way I was going to be able to stand up, in an ambulance travelling at 140+ kilometres and look at his face. So for the next 40 minutes in that ambulance those words just swam around my head.

We get to Bendigo and out jumps the paramedic and the nurse and they whisk Fraser off to SCBU whilst the driver helps me gingerly make my way out of the ambulance and into the hospital… eventually they offer me a wheelchair but only after a hospital staff member mentions that I should probably be in one…

By the time we get up to the Special Care Unit, Fraser is surrounded by all sorts of very professional types studying him and talking amongst themselves – they knew why we were there, and I was still yet to look at my baby’s face again. Eventually a lovely female doctor comes ove to me – I mean who am I, just this shell of a woman, sitting in the Special Care Unit, in a wheelchair with her suitcase beside her whilst a swarm of doctors talk about my baby – and says to me, “So you know what we’re looking at?” I just stared blankly back at her and shook my head, and answered with “No.” “Trisomy 21” she continues further. I just shake my head again and shrug. I had NO idea what they were “looking at”. No one had told me anything.

All I wanted to do was look at my baby, hold my baby and take him home. This was not where I pictured myself being 24 hours after my precious baby’s birth.

So after the doctor’s shock wore off, she went back to the swarm, said something, then they’ve all turned around at various stages and ogled me, almost with a look of “how did you not know?” I remember the special care nurses wanting to get me onto the ward and into my room, so that they could get me something to eat so I could take some pain meds but I didn’t want to leave Fraser there with everyone poking, and prodding and staring. I eventually went to my room, a private room (don’t think they thought I was up to sharing) and the midwifery nurses started fussing over me. They made me eat a sandwich and gave me the good drugs. I think this is when I decided to call Shane to let him know what was going on…

So I pick up the phone and start talking to Shane, letting him know how the ride was and where Fraser was and where I was. Mentioned that they were going to run tests, heart, lungs, etc and for a little bit mentioned nothing about what diagnosis the doctors had said – in my mind, they had it wrong. What would they know?

This was my child, he was going to be perfect. The other two were, what would they know?”

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Joanne’s story…

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