Our sugar baby

My lit­tle girl was the size of my hand…

Chat - - Fashion - By Char­lie Fer­ring­ton, 31, from Bil­ler­icay, Es­sex

The first time I heard her heart­beat at my 16-week scan, I cried.

‘That’s our baby!’ my part­ner Ross, 32, said. I could feel my own heart rac­ing, I was so ex­cited.

Then last April, when I was 23 weeks, I started to bleed.

‘What’s wrong?’ I asked at Basil­don Univer­sity Hospi­tal.

‘It looks like you have a low-ly­ing placenta. It’s nor­mal and your baby is fine,’ I was told.

But the bleed­ing con­tin­ued – and, from 24 weeks, I was in and out of hospi­tal.

By Easter week­end last year, the bleed­ing had stopped but I felt a trick­ling down my leg. But it wasn’t blood! ‘That can’t be my wa­ters, I’m not due for another three months!’ I pan­icked.

‘Let’s get you checked,’ Ross replied, tak­ing me to hospi­tal.

Doc­tors at Basil­don told me my baby was in distress.

My wa­ters had bro­ken and she needed to be born now. It was all a blur. I met the sur­geon and, be­fore I knew it, I was be­ing taken for a Cae­sarean.

Next thing, our baby girl was here.

She didn’t cry and was whisked away be­fore I could even hold her. ‘Is she OK?’ I wept. ‘She’ll be fine,’ Ross said, try­ing to re­as­sure me.

This wasn’t how I’d imag­ined giv­ing birth to our daugh­ter.

I’d planned a wa­ter birth and had booked classes to pre­pare – but those didn’t even start for another three weeks.

We hadn’t even de­cided on names or bought all we needed!

Our baby girl had sim­ply come along far too early… I longed to see and hold her. But, while I re­cov­ered from surgery, I had to wait. The next 24 hours seemed to last a life­time.

Fi­nally, at 9am on 17 April, I set eyes on my pre­cious girl. ‘Hello, beau­ti­ful!’ I cried. I ac­tu­ally felt like my heart might burst.

But the big­gest feel­ing was the shock at how tiny she was! No big­ger than my hand. And she only weighed 830g – which is just 1lb 13oz.

Less than a bag of sugar.

Her lungs hadn’t had a chance to fully de­velop. And doc­tors were strug­gling to reg­u­late her blood pres­sure. So she was trans­ferred to The Royal Lon­don Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal for spe­cial­ist care. But I was still re­cov­er­ing, so stay had to stay in hospi­tal. I hated be­ing apart from her. Two days on, I was dis­charged and we were fi­nally re­united.

The Sick Chil­dren’s Trust pro­vided me and Ross with a place to stay at Steven­son House, which was a god­send.

Ross and I stayed by our lit­tle girl’s bed­side as she fought to stay alive.

Even­tu­ally we set­tled on the name Eva, as it means ‘liv­ing one’ in He­brew.

‘Now you’ve just got to live up to your name,’ I told Eva, will­ing her to get stronger. The days passed slowly. It was tor­ture watch­ing Eva with all these wires and tubes com­ing out of her.

She looked like a tiny, pre­cious bird. So frag­ile.

As the weeks passed, she slowly be­gan to get stronger.

And soon her weight in­creased to around 2lb. ‘She’s a fighter,’ a doc­tor said. Then, three weeks be­fore her due date, in June last year, Eva was al­lowed home.

She was still be­ing tube-fed due to re­flux and needed to be on a ven­ti­la­tor.

Poor Ross and I were on eggshells at home.

With­out the se­cu­rity of doc­tors and nurses, Eva only had us to rely on. It was a scary thought. But we soon set­tled into our roles as par­ents.

Af­ter be­ing home for six weeks, we took her to The Port­land Hospi­tal.

There she was slowly weaned off the ma­chines and tubes.

And, within two weeks, she was breath­ing and eat­ing nor­mally.

‘She’s eat­ing!’ I said, tears prick­ling my eyes.

Our baby girl was go­ing to be OK!

Now Eva is a year old and is ab­so­lutely thriv­ing.

I do still have to pinch my­self to be­lieve how far she’s come.

And to think that she weighed less than a bag of sugar at birth!

She’s such a tough lit­tle cookie. And proof that the best things re­ally do come in (very) small pack­ages!

We set­tled on a name: it means ‘liv­ing one’ in He­brew

Look, no tubes! Eva was weaned off the ma­chines and came home

So frag­ile: like a tiny baby bird...

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