My pregnancy was a healthy one. My baby was thriving, and all the bits and bobs involved in the growth and development of a healthy child were occurring perfectly. My 20-week scan confirmed just that.
However, just two weeks later, at 23 weeks and one day, I found myself 2cm dilated and taken straight to the delivery suite at the University Hospital Wales.
To this day the reason for my premature delivery is unknown.
We were advised that if our child was born, she would be considered a late term miscarriage.
The insertion of an emergency cervical stitch, to attempt to keep the baby inside the womb, was ruled out. It was too early to administer steroids and magnesium to mature her lungs and brain.
Our daughter Edie was born at 23 weeks plus 4 days gestation. She amazingly made it through the delivery but was born severely bruised, with a heart that was barely beating and with lungs not yet compatible with air.
She came into the world in “poor condition”, unable to make a sound. She could fit into the palm of the doctor’s hand. She weighed 580 grams (1lb 4oz).
My love for her was all consuming, overwhelming and matched only by my fear of losing her.
At birth she was resuscitated and immediately taken away from me. We were advised that Edie’s survival was highly unlikely and for months we lived on a minute to minute basis, where she could slip away at any instant.
Edie battled through a bleed on the brain, pneumonia in her underdeveloped lungs, collapsed lungs and chronic lung disease. She required breathing help for 15 weeks.
She fought numerous infections and bouts of sepsis. She received multiple blood transfusions, an endless list of medications and endured countless blood gasses and the insertion of lines and tubes into her tiny body.
An open PDA valve in her heart caused quite significant heart problems. At 12 weeks old, and still 5 weeks early and weighing a tiny 3lb, she underwent a lengthy operation for retinopathy of prematurity, a potentially blinding condition.
At the NICU you see things you can’t un-see, hear things you’ll never forget and regardless of the outcome, you will remain forever different.
I can continue to list all of Edie’s medical problems whilst at hospital but she somehow managed to pull through, even at times when doctors seriously considered the discontinuation of her care.
There is nothing like the heartache of watching your child fight for their life and knowing they could lose the fight at any minute. Even if they win, their future may not be bright.
Edie came home a week before her due date, after 16 weeks at hospital. Her survival is remarkable. The fact that she is very healthy, both neurologically and physically, is just incredible. But having to go through such trauma to get to this point was soul destroying.
We know just how fortunate we are and that not everyone is as lucky as us. We know because statistics tell us so but more personally, we’ve witnessed first-hand, the terrible tragedies of other families who were at the NICU at the same time.
That is why I support the amazing work that Borne is doing to find answers to premature birth. Women should be able to experience motherhood without the pain and anxiety that comes with prematurity.