A family day out ended with me giving birth - Hannah's story

Hannah's Story Hero

Hannah was so happy when she found out she was pregnant with her second child. Unfortunately, during a family day out at the local park she collapsed without warning, and ended up having a c-section at 27 weeks. Here, she tells her daughter's journey through neonatal care.

My story began in 2015 when I discovered I was pregnant for the second time. I was so happy, and I had already planned to have a home birth, just as I had done with my first daughter - who was now five years old and so excited to become a big sister.

Unfortunately, everything didn’t go as smoothly as I hoped.

I experienced many physical problems during my pregnancy, some days I couldn’t even leave my bed. At seven weeks, my scan showed a large mass which turned out to be a blood clot - a blood clot that was positioned right beside my growing baby. I was worried, but I was reassured as the doctors had seen that many times before.

At my 20 week scan, I was so happy to find out I was having another little girl. From then on everything was going perfectly, my baby was growing just as she should be, and I began to feel energised. Until the 6 April 2016, when my life changed forever.

A family day out at the local park ended with me fighting for my life in the back of an ambulance after I collapsed without warning.

All of a sudden I couldn't feel anything. I had suffered a severe haemorrhage which resulted in me losing three litres of blood and going into shock. I was told my baby would be born that day. I couldn’t understand what I had done so wrong to deserve what I was going through. I did everything right during my pregnancy.

I had no idea that babies were even able to survive at 27 weeks, so all the way to the hospital I was convinced that my baby had died. It wasn’t until I felt a strong kick as if she was telling me she was okay that I thought otherwise.

The doctor had two minutes to save both of our lives. He managed to perform the c-section and remove her in less than a minute. I will forever be thankful to them for saving our lives. Little did I know, that was only the beginning of a very difficult journey.

After a week of recovering in a hospital bed, I was allowed to travel from Dundee to Kirkcaldy, where my baby, Elina, had been transferred. I didn’t want to see her, I was absolutely terrified of seeing a tiny soul wired up to a life support machine, with a fate that remained unknown.

I was then transferred from Dundee to Kirkcaldy, and then to Edinburgh during her treatment. Eventually I plucked up the courage to enter the neonatal ward. I immediately broke down when I saw my 2lb daughter lying there and felt powerless to help her. I remember making eye contact with fellow mothers who were also crippled by fear at the sight of wires and alarms.

I couldn’t cradle my baby in my arms and run home with her the way that I wanted to. My health suffered greatly over this period. I took around four months to be able to walk unaided.

There were mothers being discharged with their healthy and happy babies. I’m not an envious person, but when I saw healthy babies and their happy mums, I was so consumed with jealously and bitterness.

Elina spent six months in hospital. Not only was she premature, she developed an inoperable meningitis-filled abscess in the centre of her brain just before she was allowed to come home.

When the abscess was found, we were told her chances of survival were slim. Operating was not an option because of where it was located, so instead she was given an intense course of antibiotics.

After a gruelling six weeks, an MRI was done to see if her abscess had reacted to the antibiotics. Praise all the staff and lords that it did. She made a full recovery, and I was allowed to take her home with me.

I felt so useless, my body was supposed to protect her and instead it had failed.

My daughter has been left with mild cerebral palsy and is now monitored by a great team of health professionals in Ninewells Hospital.

I am so blessed that Elina was able to survive her ordeal, but I can’t explain what it feels like to hear that your baby might not make it, or the guilt I sometimes still feel.

Despite the tears and anger, the lessons I’ve learned and the strength I’ve gained through such a difficult experience is priceless.

Would I go through it all again to have my daughter? Of course I would.

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