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Rachel's story

17 November 2014

Blog post by Helen Jones

When my daughter Rachel was born at 28 weeks in 1991, weighing just 2lb 11oz and doctors told me my baby wouldn’t survive, but in 2016 I will watch her graduate with a medical degree and I will be the proudest mum in the world.

My pregnancy went like any other until I reached ten weeks when I started spotting. At 19 weeks I went for a routine hospital appointment, where the doctor told me I would have to remain in hospital for a couple of days, although I had no idea why.

I went home two days later but soon returned by ambulance when I started haemorrhaging at four o’clock in the morning. I had a condition called placenta praevia, where the placenta lies unusually low in the uterus and can cause excessive bleeding. I was told that there was nothing doctors could do and to prepare for the worst. I was even placed on a ward with other women who had suffered miscarriages.

But my little Rachel was a fighter, and she was determined to make it out alive. I was bed and wheelchair bound for ten weeks and I had to have a blood transfusion every week or so. I was constantly told that there wasn’t much hope for her, and was even talked to about organising a funeral.

I was terrified. To be surrounded by women going through miscarriages was devastating but I had no choice other than to keep going and stay strong. Despite my waters breaking at 25 weeks, Rachel held on until 28 weeks when she was born by emergency caesarean.

Amazingly, she suffered from relatively few complications after she was born. She was oxygenated for 12 hours and was then on CPAP for four days, but after seven weeks and weighing 5lb she was allowed home.

It was a very scary time, all I wanted to do was mollycoddle her and protect her from the world but my two year old son had other ideas! He had clearly decided that she needed toughening up, and the best way to do this was to regularly hurl toys at her head!

Growing up she has had very few problems, she wears a hearing aid and was placed in a special needs class at secondary school, but was soon moved after she excelled in all her work.

Ever since she was born she has had a real zest for life, and if she wants something she will go all guns blazing to get it. She is currently studying for a medical degree, and even took a year out to study an extra degree in Pharmacology. She’s a real daredevil and loves any kind of outdoor pursuits – she was even president of her university’s Wilderness Expedition Medicine society.

She continues to amaze me every single day, and I can’t believe she was that same tiny baby who weighed 2lb 11oz when she was born.

I would have loved to read stories like mine when she was born, they would have given me hope in a very dark time.

My thoughts will be with all the other mums this World Prematurity Day.


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