Gabriella was born at 24 weeks on 24 July 2013.
As I first wrote about just after she was born, from the very beginning of my pregnancy I’d had complications but I’d carried on as normal, still working and looking after my three year old son. Then at just 24 weeks into my pregnancy I started going into labour. I remember being so scared of what might happen, thinking that my baby was going to die and there wasn’t a thing I could do. The doctor came and checked me over and said he had to take me down to a labour room.
Then the doctor had said “No Melissa, we aren’t waiting anymore.” I remember both my husband and I fearing the worst, but at 3.50am Gabriella Hope was born at 24 weeks gestation, weighing just 1lb 10oz. I remember my heart sinking. The doctors and nurses told us that the next 24 hours were crucial, and so we waited patiently.
As a mother I felt like I had failed her, time and time again I would question what I did or didn't do. “Why is this happening to us? She didn't deserve to go through this”, I’d tell myself.
We had bad days and good days but it was breastfeeding that I found the hardest because it didn't matter what I did, I just couldn't provide enough milk for her. I felt as if this was the one thing I had to do and that I could provide and yet I couldn't even get it right.
It was a scary rollercoaster which at the time we thought would never end, and it’s an experience which we will never forget. It's draining physically, mentally and emotionally. As an ex-preemie parent, my advice for other parents who are going through having a premature baby is never give up. Have faith. Keep praying - babies are stronger than we think. Don't stop asking questions to the nurses and doctors, they are happy to help and explain. And lastly mums, don't give up on expressing milk – every tiny drop counts.
But almost three years on, Gabriella is doing great. More than great in fact, she is absolutely fantastic. She has caught up developmentally, and she has been discharged from the paediatrician, audiologist and physiotherapist. We can now thankfully say she has overcome the horrid start to her little life. The only health care professional she has appointments with now is the ophthalmologist – that’s for her eyes due to her having Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP).
Gabby is now a happy, healthy three year old. Just like any other child she has tantrums, she is independent, strong willed and very stubborn, and is very spoilt! She is also now at nursery which she loves.
We feel so very blessed to have reached this far, especially considering the percentages we were given when she was born. We are so thankful for all the support we’ve had from family and friends, and their prayers for our feisty little girl. We are also grateful for the hard work and hours that all the NICU nurses and doctors put in for our little miracle – she wouldn't be here without them.
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