Blog post by Kieri Dainty
It was a surprise for my partner and I when we found out we were pregnant. We’d expected it to take years as I have various medical complications. We felt like the luckiest people alive and couldn’t wait to share with everyone that we were expecting our little snowflake on Wednesday 8 October, 2014.
At week 18, we decided to head to Snowdonia for a weekend, after both being busy at work. Everything up until then had been completely normal with the pregnancy, but our world was turned upside down when my waters broke. We rushed to Bangor Hospital and the doctor said that there seemed to still be quite a lot of water there and baby’s heart rate was normal. There was a chance I may go into preterm labour, so they kept me in for observation to see what happened and to make sure I didn’t have an infection. I was still stable the next day and was transferred to John Radcliffe hospital, which was closer to home.
However, after an examination we were told that it was likely that I would shortly be going into labour and would lose the baby. Being only 17 weeks and five days, my daughter had no chance of surviving.
Then the waiting started. By Wednesday nothing had happened so I was scanned. The baby’s heartbeat was normal but there was almost no water surrounding her. I was told to seriously consider my options and that if I didn’t go into labour within the next 48 hours I should consider terminating the pregnancy.
I remained stable for the whole week so I told the doctors that I wasn’t ready to give up. With no signs of infection I was allowed to go home where I rested as much as I could. My 20 week scan came and went, and despite being told that she had a less than 2 per cent chance of making it to delivery and being healthy, I kept going. As long as she wasn’t in distress I would continue to do so.
Over the weeks I was admitted twice and started to bleed. My third admission was at 23 weeks and five days where I woke in the night to find myself lying in a pool of blood. A friend rushed me to hospital but I was told I wasn’t in labour and she was still calm. It wasn’t until two weeks later I went into labour at 26 weeks. I’d gone into natural labour but I became ill very quickly and was rushed in for an emergency c-section under general anaesthetic.
Gwendolyn was born on Thursday 3 July weighing 2lb 6oz – a really good weight for her gestation.
After a difficult first 24 hours, she improved enough to be taken off the ventilator and moved out of intensive care and into the High Dependency Unit. However, she was finding it increasingly hard to breathe effectively, and was also diagnosed with a heart condition known as Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA). Her condition deteriorated to the stage where she had to be ventilated and went into renal failure.
With the extra pressure the PDA was placing on her lungs the decision was made to send her to Southampton for surgery. As they prepared her for the surgery one of the doctors had to come and ask us if they could shave her head as her veins were so small and delicate they couldn’t get lines into them so would have to use the blood vessels in the scalp. The surgery went well but on the journey back from Southampton, Gwendolyn went downhill very rapidly and had to be blue lighted back. to the hospital.
She was very poorly but to everyone’s surprise she made it through that night, and the one after, and started to improve ever so slightly each day. After two weeks they took her off of ventilation to see if she could breathe on her own with the help of CPAP (mild air pressure to keep airways open), and she did. Our tiny baby girl was breathing for herself.
We spent every day sitting by her incubator waiting for a cuddle or to feed her. Milestones such as the first breastfeed, her first bath and moving to a big girl cot felt like giant leaps forward, while her oxygen requirement felt like it was taking forever to come down. But a few weeks later, Gwendolyn was in the bracket for coming home on oxygen. The next two weeks flew by as the home oxygen was ordered and we were trained to care for her by the team.
After everything we had been through, I found myself feeling quite emotional at leaving the hospital to go home. For the past four months the staff had become family to us and I will never be able to put into words how grateful I am. They not only saved my daughters life repeatedly, but they are some of the most incredible people I have ever met.
Gwendolyn is thriving and at five months old (corrected) she is weighing in at a very healthy 14lbs 5oz. We’ve recently started her weaning and she is taking to it like a duck to water. Her oxygen hasn’t yet been able to be turned down but despite having bronchiolitis this winter her oxygen hasn’t been increased so we’re very positive for the Spring.
If you would like to read more about Kieri and Gwendolyn, you can take a look at their blog, Snowflakes and Daffodils
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