“I thought she wasn’t going to make it but she did – it was a miracle” – Leaine’s story

Leaine's baby Zara Grace in NICU, with wires attached to her

Leaine shares her experience of giving birth to her daughter Zara Grace at 26 weeks and four days, after developing severe pre-eclampsia.

Having IVF, I thought the hard part of becoming pregnant was over. I felt I was lucky for my first cycle to work the first time.

Fast forward 26 weeks and four days - I became very unwell at home. I was taken to hospital on the 20 December where I was told I had developed severe pre-eclampsia. I knew bits about what this meant but I was under no illusion of what was about to happen.

At the time I thought, “this will be fixed - I will be going home and everything will be fine”, but I thought wrong.

Around half an hour after I had been examined I was told that I was on the borderline of having a stroke and that my baby was also becoming so distressed. This is when I was told I was going to have to deliver my baby. I remember thinking, “no - please just let me hold on for at least another week or even two”, but things started to worsen.

Leaine's baby Zara Grace, at home and sitting up

Four hours after I had been brought to the hospital I was rushed for an emergency C-section and Zara was born within minutes. It was the most surreal feeling - I can’t remember much of it - only her small cry as they lifted her out.

Zara Grace was born weighing just 590 grams (1lb 5oz). I didn’t get to hold or see her. I wasn’t sure if she was okay - all I know is that she was taken to NICU and that’s where the long journey started.

During four months of being in the hospital, Zara was 40% intubated, then extubated to CPAP to high flow. She had 14 blood transfusions and developed NEC, CMV, and sepsis alongside numerous lung infections. At times I thought she wasn’t going to make it but she did – it was a miracle.

After 138 days in the Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital in Belfast, we finally got HOME!

Our girl is now seven months old (four months corrected). She weighs 11lb and is doing amazingly at home surrounded by all her family who waited so long to meet her!

I really wanted to share my story for two reasons: one is to give hope to anyone going through what I did, and two is to thank every nurse, consultant and hospital staff member at the Royal Belfast who gave my girl every chance possible.