I just remember sobbing all night, thinking "why me?" - Lorna's story

After a smooth pregnancy, Lorna's full term daughter unexpectedly needed to be resuscitated. Her daughter, Neive, was diagnosed with HIE and had to spend time in NICU. Here, Lorna tells the story of the birth, the worries she and her family faced, as well as Neive's recovery.

It was the morning of 17th June, four days over my due date, when I woke up to my waters breaking. I instantly phoned my partner to tell him to come home from work, as it was finally time to meet our girl.

We drove to hospital with my mother, who was also my birthing partner, with every emotion going through my body. With the intense contractions already starting and the nerves of being a first-time mum sinking in, the vision of holding my daughter in my arms in a few hours and hearing her first cry made the pain from the contractions bearable.

However, at 21:20, I didn’t hear the cry that I had always imagined. Neive was placed onto my chest by my midwife, who soon realised that something was wrong. Neive was then taken away from me while I was still in the birthing pool, unaware of what had happened.

I had a wonderful pregnancy (minus the sickness) but health-wise, everything was perfect. She was always measuring at the correct size and had a strong heartbeat, so we weren't prepared to have a full term baby who needed to be resuscitated.

My dad and in-laws were in the waiting room outside my birthing suite. When they saw the midwife run out and place my perfect daughter onto all the machines to save her life, I couldn’t even begin to imagine how that made them feel.

The midwife finally came back into the room to help me out of the pool and inform me as to what had happened. They told me that my daughter's umbilical cord had been wrapped around her neck twice and it had caused her to stop breathing. I was told that she had been taken up to the intensive care area on the neonatal unit.

I never imagined that this is how my birth story would be when people asked. I always thought that I would have the most perfect birth and I would be able to tell my friends and family that Neive was born, and she was a healthy 7lbs 5oz bundle of joy, when in fact she was in a critical condition and I hadn't yet seen her.

It was 2:10am on 18th June, the birthday of Neive's father, when the nurse knocked on our room door to tell us we were finally allowed to go and see her. Walking to the ward I was numb; I didn’t know how I was going to react when I saw her hooked up to all the machines with wires coming out of her, but when I did, I was in awe of her beauty. Her eyes were wide open and alert. I knew that she was going to be okay and she was going to come out of this strong.

When we got onto the unit, this is when we were told that the bubble wrap material around her body was in fact cooling her, to protect her brain from anymore damage that might happen. Neive was diagnosed with Hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE) meaning that her brain didn’t receive enough oxygen at the time of birth. For the next 72 hours, Neive’s body would be cooled to around 33 degrees and then rewarmed over a period of 12 hours.

That night we went back to our room and I just remember sobbing all night, thinking "why me?" Why couldn’t I have had that perfect birthing story like I had imagined? The hospital moved my partner and I into the family room, away from the sound of the newborn babies crying, to ease our pain slightly. For this I was very grateful. Later on that day, both my parents and my partner's parents, along with our siblings, came to visit us, in our large family room, awaiting to hear from the consultant who was looking after Neive. This is when the devastation hit.

As my partner was opening his birthday cards from family, the consultant informed us that Neive had a big seizure after we had left, and that the chance of her being severely disabled was highly likely. The consultant told us that after Neive would be warmed, they would then do an MRI on her brain to see if any damage had been done and to determine the outcome Neive would have.

Fast forward to 27th June, 10 days after Neive was born, when my partner and I were driving home from visiting Neive. We had a phone call from the hospital to tell us that Neive's MRI showed no signs of brain damage - NOTHING!

We both just screamed and drove straight to my parents' house, shouting in joy that she was okay. We went from preparing ourselves that we have a high chance that Neive would be severely brain damaged and thinking about how the future will be so different to what we had imagined, to finding out we can now bring Neive home and that so far nothing is showing that she has any damage.

The consultant had made a few appointments for him to see Neive's progress. When it was the 10 month check-up, the consultant's jaw dropped to the floor. With Neive walking into the consultation room, blabbering on, with her cheeky attitude, he couldn’t believe that the little baby he thought had a chance of maybe never walking, is proving him wrong. He was "astounded by her development".

This year Neive will turn 6 and every year on her birthday, I can’t help but wonder how different this day could have been. I am forever grateful for the doctors and nurses who helped us to be able to celebrate every birthday with her.