'Our other children kept us strong' - Louise's story

Louise, Gav And Georgie�S Story Hero

Louise's daughter Georgie was born at 24 weeks. Louise's family played their part in helping her through the experience.

Georgie was born at 24 weeks plus one day. I first met her when she was nine hours old, as she was being transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The second time I met her I thought it was to say goodbye. But Georgie had other ideas.

21 July was a normal, sunny day. The kids and I were going swimming and having a paddling pool party the next day, so we stocked up the food cupboard and tidied the house.

That evening I went to work as normal. Georgie had started moving a lot at 17 weeks, so much so that even my fiancé Gav could feel her. That day I hadn't felt Georgie move inside me as much as usual, but I thought it was because I’d been busy. I want to share this to raise awareness of how important it is to monitor your baby’s movements.

My back ached at work, but at 24 weeks pregnant pretty much everything ached. I got home, lay on the settee and moaned. I remembered I hadn't felt Georgie move so I decided to take a cold drink upstairs to bed and wait for her. Then I fell asleep, shattered.

I woke at 4am the next morning to a massive bleed. We feared the worst. I hadn't felt Georgie moving and I thought she had gone. The ambulance came. No one knew what to say. I was inconsolable. No one could tell me everything would be OK.

At the hospital the doctors were quiet as they scanned me straight away - and instantly sighed with relief as they found her heart beating away like mad! I couldn't understand why I couldn't feel her but the bleeding stopped and I felt fine. Not ill at all.

Then my waters broke. In shock, I had a panic attack as everyone waited for my labour to start. Meanwhile, the scan showed that part of the placenta was peeling away. I was put on a drip to replenish my waters and constantly made to drink. Georgie had enough water to keep going, as long as she stayed put.

At lunch time I had another massive bleed. The consultant wanted to deliver Georgie there and then but the bleed stopped. I was pumped with steroids to mature her lungs – I was given everything I could be given. I can't praise the staff at the Royal Surrey Hospital enough for the care they gave us.

The paediatric doctor came to see me. He explained that if Georgie came and didn't have any fight in her they wouldn't be able to resuscitate her as she would be too small. She would be taken to either Portsmouth or Chertsey as she was too small to stay at the Royal Surrey. I don't remember much more about the conversation – something along the lines of her having a 25% chance of survival.

At 9pm that evening the consultant who’d been looking after me came to say goodbye. Ten minutes later I had the worst bleed of all, but this time it didn't stop. I was so scared. Nurses shouted for him to come back and people filled the room, preparing me for theatre. Georgie was coming and there was nothing I could do.

The consultant said that to save me, she had to be delivered. I was so lucky that I was in the right place at the right time! If it had happened at home Georgie wouldn't be here today, and who knows what may have happened to me? I cry a lot and get upset thinking about it, and what could have been. I suppose it’s all normal though, for a NICU mum and dad.

Gav met Georgie two hours later, and I met her just as she was being transferred to the NICU at St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey.

Then came the hardest day of my life. I was blue lighted to St. Peter's as Georgie had taken a turn for the worse. She wasn't moving and had no brain activity. We had Georgie baptised, but we couldn't let Georgie go. The next day, she decided to fight on for us.

The next 18 weeks were a rollercoaster of emotions as Georgie fought for life. Steps forward and back. She didn't move until two days after birth. I owe everything to the NHS staff who saved her life. I think of them a lot, they were absolute miracle workers.

Our other children kept us strong – I don't know what I would have done without them, but the guilt we felt still lives with us now.

The guilt we felt leaving Georgie at night to go home with the other two was horrific. It tore me to bits. I had three children under four sleeping under different roofs. People had told me life would be hard with three kids all at home, but I just laugh at that now.

Then Georgie had her Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) closed at Southampton General Hospital. I met a Bliss volunteer there who was very helpful. It was nice to talk to someone who had been through it - the numerous blood transfusions, an infection, the whole rollercoaster journey.

I feel like I’ll never ever let my guard down with any of my children. I also felt scared of Georgie's first birthday. I’m not completely sure why, but to me it felt raw and not a nice day. I know that might seem a horrible thing to say, but it's the day I nearly lost her – well, one of many days. I wanted to take my family and just hold them tight, but I also knew it had to be a celebration. How can you be sad on your daughter’s first birthday?

But I know feelings like this will get easier in time. And it is so good to know that Bliss means I have support and someone to talk to if I need it.