Our sugar baby
My little girl was the size of my hand…
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...