Thirteen was our lucky number – Lata’s story

It took thirteen rounds of IVF, a difficult pregnancy and six weeks on the SCBU for Lata to bring her baby girl home.

After twelve rounds of IVF, we finally had our first positive result on our thirteenth attempt – it was a miracle! We found out we were having twins and were so excited. But unfortunately, we lost one of our girls along the way. I was suffering from hyperemesis gravidarium, severe nausea and sickness in pregnancy, and ended up in hospital, having to be fed through a tube and be given transfusions and put on IV drips.

I went home with a food tube in, but at least my little girl was fine. I got to 20 weeks pregnant just about, though I had to spend a lot of that time either in hospital or on bed rest. After my 20-week scan, I was told I needed to be scanned every week by a specialist and meet with a consultant because Lara, our little girl, appeared to be very small and I had some blood flow issues. Having already lost one of our girls, I was so anxious.

Then, at 30 weeks pregnant, after a couple of days of severe hyperemesis, I felt my waters break as I went to get dinner. We went straight to hospital, and by the time we got there, my clothes were covered in blood. I was given steroids for my baby’s lungs and then, when my infection markers came back as high, I was taken straight to the delivery suite where I had to have a c-section.

A doctor from the neonatal unit was so kind – he explained the whole process and told me not to worry if my baby didn’t cry or things I saw upset me. My heart was beating so fast as he talked. After surgery, I just lay there praying, wishing, hoping and then… I heard a cry. A cry! But when it stopped, my heart stopped with it.

I couldn’t see my baby or what the doctors and nurses were doing. I just wanted to get up and see if she was okay. The first sight I had of my daughter was through pictures the midwife took of her on our phone before she was swiftly rolled past me straight to the SCBU.

I was getting messages of congratulations but all I kept thinking was that I hadn’t even seen my baby and I didn’t know if she was okay. When I was wheeled over in my bed to see Lara, she looked so tiny in her incubator that it scared me. But then I saw a lovely knitted blanket in her incubator and that she was holding a little octopus, and for some reason, the octopus reassured me that she was okay, she wasn’t alone.

Still, I wouldn’t leave her side; I couldn’t. If I closed my eyes, I had horrible nightmares about something bad happening to her. So I stayed with her.

At first, I felt guilty and jealous because the doctors and nurses knew how to take care of my baby better than I did. When I did finally got to hold her, covered in wires, I sat there frozen – she was only 2lbs and I could see her bones as her skin was still see-through. Over the next few days as I got to know the nurses, they guided me on how to hold her, change her nappy and I soon felt happier that I could help take care of her.

The SCBU became our home. I felt like my baby was protected and safe there, because she was constantly monitored, so I didn’t want to leave. After six weeks, we were finally told we could go home. Home? What was home? I hadn’t been there since Lara had been born, and we had nothing prepared.

The nurses felt like our family; they had saved my daughter’s life. I cried my way out of the SCBU and stayed up all night on our first night home, watching her breathe. As soon as I thought she was too quiet, I picked her up and held her until she went to sleep.

I am still affected by what happened with my pregnancy, labour and our time in the SCBU. Each visitor, hospital appointment, cough and cold still makes me anxious. But I have found daily walks and keeping busy helps me cope, and I set myself a weekly schedule to make sure I do both.

To parents in neonatal care, I would encourage you to take time out: the doctors and nurses are amazing and they will take such good care of your baby. So when you feel sad, step out and get yourself a cup of tea. Also, don’t be afraid to talk to the nurses or ask them any questions you have – they have so much love.

Lara is still smaller than all the other babies we know but although she doesn’t follow the same footsteps, she is so advanced in some ways, and she’s still our miracle baby.