'You never never imagine you will be one of those statistics' - Leigh-Ann's story

Leigh Ann's Story Hero

Leigh-Ann developed severe pre-eclampsia during her pregnancy resulting in her baby arriving at 33 weeks via emergency c-section.

My husband and I had been trying for a baby for nearly two years and had begun the process of fertility treatment with the NHS. In May 2015 we finally got pregnant without any intervention and were excited to welcome our baby in January 2016.

In October, I began to develop severe pre-eclampsia and was hospitalised. For nearly two weeks my baby and I were monitored and put on countless amounts of medication. Nothing would stabilise me enough to carry on the pregnancy for much longer. I was finally given steroids to help the baby’s lungs develop because the doctors feared that he would be on his way pretty soon.

The worst part was that the baby was perfectly safe and happy - it was me that was deteriorating and this made me feel incredibly guilty. I was on drips to stop me from having fits and on the High Dependency Unit so I could be observed 24 hours a day.

After holding on for as long as possible, it was decided delivery was the only way to stop my health from declining any further. On 23 November our son Jenson was born at 33 weeks via emergency c-section weighing just 3lbs 10oz. The c-section was performed at three o’clock in the morning to save both our lives after I had become delirious and had begun to hallucinate.

We finally had our precious son yet the circumstances meant this was no call for celebration. This was the beginning of Jenson’s battle for life.

For a while after his birth I blamed myself. Why has it happened to us? You hear stories about babies being in special care but never imagine yours will be one of those statistics.

The first time I went to visit Jenson the nurse opened the side of the incubator for me to put my hand in and touch him. All he had on was the tiniest - yet still way too big for him - nappy. His skin was like silk and as much as I wanted to hold onto him forever I wanted them to keep him safe tucked inside his little cocoon.

It was the hardest yet proudest moment of my life. I was finally a mum and he was really here. Our brief introduction was worth everything in the world to me. I felt at my worst yet seeing him made everything better.

Two days later, I went up to visit him again. The nurse asked me if I wanted to hold him. I thought this was a strange question to ask someone with a three-day-old baby who still hadn’t cradled him in their arms. Of course I wanted to!

This was my first hold of my precious bundle. I was so nervous. All I wanted was for him to be safe and here I was taking him out of the one thing keeping him protected. It was so surreal yet so amazing. The nurse placed him on my chest and I stayed perfectly still taking in the moment. Unbelievably as he settled down we watched his stats level out, it was wonderful. The nurses explained how he’d feel safest with me as he was so used to hearing my heartbeat.

He was so small, so fragile and so amazingly beautiful. I didn’t want to leave him. I sat there for what felt like an eternity talking to him, explaining to him what had happened, telling him who people were and who was waiting to meet him when he could come home. He stayed so peaceful, taking it all in.

I stayed in hospital for a week after the birth, going up to see him every day. Every day I felt better but I wasn’t completely happy about it because I knew once I was discharged I’d have to leave my baby behind in the hospital.

When I got home there was a pile of cards and gifts waiting for me but the thought of opening them seemed impossible. They got pushed to the side until our little man was ready to come home with us.

One day, I was home preparing to make our daily trip into the hospital when I had a missed call and answer phone message telling me not to panic but to ring the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) as soon as possible. I thought that something must be wrong and I felt dizzy as I made the call. To our relief we were told that because Jenson had reached a certain point and was pretty much stable he was now being moved out of the University Hospital of Wales and transferred to the neonatal unit at Prince Charles Hospital Merthyr. The thought of my little boy being even further away from us broke my heart.

I remember it being the most horrendous weather that day and the thought of him being driven all that way in the back of an ambulance without us there was unbearable. We drove up to meet the ambulance but by the time we had arrived, Jenson was already settled in his new incubator and was being cared for by the most wonderful nurses we could have wished for. We were relieved to know that Jenson was safe and we knew the next time he was moved we’d bring him home.

For two weeks we made the journey every day up to the hospital to stock our little man up with milk and to have some special bonding time. Our time there seemed to go so fast. We were able to do his cares and change him, take him out of his incubator and feed him.

By the second week our little man was off the feeding tube and being bottle fed. Not having any more tubes or plasters attached to him felt amazing. His weight was slowly creeping up and every day I got more excited about him reaching his goal weight so that he could be discharged.

Jenson was eventually moved out of his little incubator and into a tiny cot in the nursery at the neonatal unit. Going home was becoming more of a reality as we were told this was the last stage before discharge. He was doing so amazing with no real setbacks and we were able to give him his first bath.

On 11 December the nurse asked me to bring an overnight bag and going home clothes for Jenson. This was the moment we had been waiting for. I sat there and cried.

On 13 December, after staying the night with Jenson in our own little room, he was finally discharged. He was three weeks old and weighed just over 5lbs and was absolutely perfect. We were now on our own - it was time to become the parents we had dreamed of being for all these months.

Jenson is now 21 months old and you would never know he had been so tiny and fragile at the start of his life. He has the most amazing personality and is growing into the most incredible little boy. He is everything we could have ever wished for and more.

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