My Miracle Baby
A miracle was born to this Mom. At only 24 weeks.
By Jaqui Polito
My husband and I were happily married and tried to have a baby for eight years – we were even on an adoption waiting list and were doing the monthly meetings to get to know the process of adopting.
Article originally in Parent24
Trying and trying
We were told we could never have a baby of own. My poor husband even asked me if I wanted a divorce so that I could go and meet someone else and have the baby I longed for.
But no, we were in this together. My mother-in-law fell ill and my husband went to Italy to visit her. On his return we fell pregnant almost immediately and at first I did not want to even think about being pregnant. Yet everyone else noticed the change in me.
At my sisters twin's christening they bought me a home-pregnancy test. I took it with about 12 people waiting outside for the results. There they were, the two lines showed up almost immediately – still I was not convinced.
On Monday morning I went past my GP and asked them to do a blood test. At about 11h30 I got the call to say it was POSITIVE. Still, I was not 100% convinced so I scheduled an appointment with my gynae and he confirmed, on the 12th of July 2004, that I was about 5 weeks along. We were ecstatic and could not contain the happiness of actually being pregnant and I cried!
I had a stunning pregnancy. I had no morning sickness and was just a little tired and craved food I usually do not eat. My body was adapting nicely and I did not look pregnant.
In October it was my grandfathers 85th birthday party and the entire family was there to celebrate. On the 24th of October, the Sunday, I woke up with wet all down my legs. I called my mom and even though it was 6am she said I should get to the hospital as soon as possible as this was not normal.
I did not have any cramping, but I just felt like I was weeing all the time. I kept a towel between my legs and we got to the hospital at about 7am. My doctor was on leave and the stand in doctor saw me. He immediately told me that my water had broken and that they would have to abort my baby.
We were devastated! I was then put on a monitor and a nurse came in to let me hear the baby’s heart beat – it sounded strong and like a thousand horses galloping and I recall it was 147 – which was a good sign. She then said my baby was a girl even though we did not want to know the sex as we wanted a surprise.
I was put into another room and eventually my own doctor arrived, but he did not even examine me. He just said that if I did not go into spontaneous labour in 6 hours they would induce me. I was horrified, my husband had also been told that if they leave the baby I could die.
By now my entire family had arrived and I fell asleep. When I woke up I was very calm – I knew I had to save my child. I asked my mom and sisters to get hold of all their gynae’s as I wanted a third and fourth opinion. My aunt’s doctor called my mom back and told her that they should put me onto an antibiotic in case of infection and that if I wanted to save my baby it would mean complete bed rest. I was prepared to do anything.
My doctor was not at all happy with my decision and he unwillingly put me onto an antibiotic – unfortunately I had to spend the next six days in this negative atmosphere and once the antibiotic was done I was discharged. I still remember when they took the last scan he did not even show me. I had to ask him to please print it out for me. There was only one nurse there that said I should follow my heart and things will be fine.
My husband took me home and we had to find another doctor to look after me. We live about 1km from Carstenhof Clinic and I called them to see who was their best gynae and I was referred to Dr. Burger.
We made an appointment and I was wheeled in on a wheel-chair – not knowing me, he assumed I was handicapped. He was not at all happy about what I was doing but he also believed in doing whatever is possible to save a baby.
I had a lot of reading material and knew that if the baby was under pressure then it would die so every scan we went for I double-checked. I still remember at one scan the baby was sucking its thumb and I just knew it would be fine. My husband absorbed all the negative info like the baby could be deformed, brain dead, blind etc etc. I never heard a single word I just saw the doctors lips move – I focused on all my attention on the baby and I knew it would be fine.
I also put all my faith in God’s hands and I spoke to him every single minute of the day. I was told to recall the baby’s movements and I would swear at God when I did not feel the baby and almost if a sign I would get a small kick back to let me know that it was still alive and okay.
Expecting the unexpected
On the 10th of December they gave me a surprise baby shower and it was very sad. We just put all the baby goodies into the baby room and locked the door - we were not sure what to expect.
On the 14th of December, Dr. Burger went on leave and referred me to his colleague Dr. Roussot. I was also receiving cortisone injections to strengthen my baby’s lungs every week, something I had read would help the baby even if it was born premature.
I was in high risk pregnancy and was making sure everything was in place. The hospital even sent a nurse to the house to give me the cortisone injections to ensure I stayed in bed rest.
On the 20th of December I had some bleeding and because the doctor was not sure he booked me into hospital for observation – on the 24th of December I informed the nurse that I had a strange discharge during the night and that I had a weird back ache. In the meantime I ate my breakfast and I was discussing the back ache with my neighbour and she still said she thinks I am in labour. I laughed at her and told I was only 24 weeks along – it could not be possible.
Then the midwife came to examine me and told me that I was already 3cm dilated! Everything happened so fast and I was prepared for an emergency c-section. I just asked that they wait for my husband to arrive. I was so unprepared and remember passing in and out of consciousness. My husband kept slapping my face to keep me awake.
They lifted the baby and I heard a small cry – which is all I wanted to hear to know it was okay and that it would be fine. I asked my husband what it was and he had to run back into NNICU to see – all he could see when it was born was it had ten fingers and ten toes, he was crying and he told me we had a beautiful baby girl.
I then passed out. Apparently I insisted they wheel me to my baby, but I don't remember any of that. I had a discussion with the head nurse and cried at the sight of my baby – I still do not recall any of that either.
My Miracle baby was born after 10 weeks in bed rest and was delivered at only 24 weeks.
The next day my parents arrived and I jumped out of bed as soon as the catheter came out. I showered and went straight to my baby, she weighed just 845g and was 24cm long – she was perfect.
We took three days to decide on her name and eventually it was decided - Gabriella. God’s strength.
She had tubes and wires everywhere and I remember thinking – WE MADE IT – I am now here to protect her. And I was there. I bathed her, watched her and we also did Kango Care which also aided her recovery.
She had 2ml of milk as her first feed and each day we rejoiced when it was doubled. Thank goodness my milk came in and I kept expressing to ensure she got the best from me. I was the happiest ever when she was eventually allowed to breast-feed and she took immediately. I cried and it was the most rewarding feeling ever.
After 62 days in NNICU we were allowed to take our precious miracle home – she weighed 1.6kg and was almost 2,5 months old.
I was overjoyed and we have never looked back. I continued to breast-feed for two years and today she is almost 5 years old and it still amazes me that this little being was conceived by us – she is more a part of me than ever.
I still take her to the paediatrician who delivered her and he is extremely happy with her progress. I have also taken her back to see the doctor who wanted to abort her at 14 weeks. I just told him that we choose our doctors, they do not choose us – they should let parents have a choice too.
I do counselling for prem mom’s now and no-one I have met has given birth at 24 weeks – they are all over 30 weeks and I remind them to stay positive as they should focus on their babies. It is also always in God’s hands.
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