Real Life: Baby Ser­ena’s fight to sur­vive be­ing born pre­ma­ture

Af­ter the two lines on a home preg­nancy test showed pos­i­tive, Eu­line Reid (35) was over­joyed that her prayers of hav­ing a baby had fi­nally been an­swered – but when her lit­tle girl was born se­verely pre­ma­ture at just 24 weeks, the real test of faith and ho

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FIVE MONTHS INTO Eu­line’s mar­riage with David in 2014, she learnt that she was ex­pect­ing. There were no early signs of preg­nancy, but a home preg­nancy test con­firmed the odd feel­ing she felt one Sun­day af­ter­noon in Jan­uary.

Even though the cou­ple was over­joyed, there was no heart­beat. Doc­tors de­ter­mined that the preg­nancy was ec­topic – the em­bryo was stuck in her right Fal­lop­ian tube, which had erupted. This left her with only one func­tional Fal­lop­ian tube.

EC­TOPIC PREG­NANCY

“My ec­topic preg­nancy left me gut­ted. I had no idea how I was go­ing to turn this test into a tes­ti­mony. All I was armed with go­ing into this war with my­self was my faith, cou­pled with my lust for life.”

Many morn­ings Eu­line would put up a façade to get through the day and her fam­ily had a tough time un­der­stand­ing what was wrong with her.

“I was an­gry and ir­ri­tated by ev­ery­one. I would break down af­ter each bap­tism ser­vice at church be­cause I too would have wanted to wel­come my baby into God’s king­dom,” she re­calls.

“I re­sented my­self and blamed my­self for not tak­ing spe­cial care of my body and for al­ways giv­ing my ca­reer pref­er­ence above any­thing else that mat­tered.”

TRY­ING AGAIN

Af­ter her or­deal, fall­ing preg­nant be­came a fo­cal point. It seemed as if pray­ing for a mir­a­cle was all in vain. Dur­ing the lat­ter part of 2016, be­ing on a course of

ovu­la­tion tablets proved fruit­less.

In April 2016 Eu­line un­der­went la­paro­scopic surgery to re­move scar­ring from the pre­vi­ous preg­nancy. It was then that her gy­nae­col­o­gist ad­vised that they do a hys­teros­alp­in­gogram (HSG) to de­ter­mine if the re­main­ing Fal­lop­ian tube was blocked. It turned out that the tube was fully func­tional.

Dur­ing Eu­line’s strug­gle her sis­ter, Lee-ann, was her sound­ing board. Af­ter another com­plain­ing ses­sion one day Lee-ann brought her to book. She said, “God has given you two chil­dren al­ready. One of your own, and your step­son. Should you not be grate­ful for the bless­ings you have al­ready?”

Af­ter a lengthy con­ver­sa­tion she urged Eu­line to list her de­sires and to leave it in God’s hands.

AN­SWERED PRAYERS

Eu­line still de­sired to fall preg­nant. She wrote the name of her baby and her birth year on a piece of pa­per and stuck it on her desk at work.

Baf­fled col­leagues would ask her if she was preg­nant, to which she re­sponded: “No, but I will be preg­nant in 2017.”

On her birth­day in April 2017 her prayers in­ten­si­fied and by the end of April the cou­ple learnt that they were in­deed 4-5 weeks preg­nant.

“I was happy and ex­tremely joy­ful. We man­aged to get through the first trimester suc­cess­fully.”

MED­I­CAL EMER­GENCY

At 24 weeks Eu­line in­stinc­tively felt that some­thing was not right. She felt heavy, as if the baby was push­ing down on her blad­der. On 19 Septem­ber David and her mother rushed her to the hospi­tal with in­tense pain.

At the hospi­tal her gy­nae told her that she was 2cm di­lated. Her pla­centa had rup­tured, caus­ing her to go into labour. Her baby girl was on the way.

“The doc­tor gave me two op­tions. One was to take a chance and re­move the baby. Be­fore he could ex­plain what the sec­ond op­tion was I told him to take the baby out.

“All I said was… Dr Pot­gi­eter, take her out. God is faith­ful,” and he did. “I knew the odds were heav­ily stacked against my baby.”

THE BIRTH

Ser­ena Hope Reid was born at 08:30am weigh­ing a mea­gre 770 grams. Min­utes af­ter her birth she was trans­ferred to the neona­tal in­ten­sive care unit (NICU). Here, lit­tle Ser­ena spent the first 105 days of her life fight­ing to sur­vive.

Ser­ena’s pae­di­a­tri­cian, Dr Lu­cia Singh, in­formed the cou­ple that their daugh­ter had suf­fered haem­or­rhag­ing on the brain. She had had a grade 3 and 4 bleed.

“The prog­no­sis was dev­as­tat­ing. One op­tion was to take her off the ven­ti­la­tor and al­low things to go their course, but we were not ready to let go. We kept hop­ing and left her on the ven­ti­la­tor.”

The Reids had to be clear on what they wanted the med­i­cal staff to do if their daugh­ter were to “crash”.

“David and I knew if they had to re­sus­ci­tate her that it would af­fect her fu­ture qual­ity of life so we elected not to have her re­sus­ci­tated. This was by far one of the hard­est de­ci­sions we ever had to make.

“Deep down we knew God had given us this per­fect lit­tle girl with the per­fect heart, lungs, ab­domen, hands and feet and we would not want it any other way but to re­turn her back to Him if she was not des­tined to walk this earth.”

HOPE AGAINST ALL ODDS

One evening while cry­ing about Ser­ena’s prog­no­sis, David asked Eu­line why she was mourn­ful when their baby was alive and all her or­gans were func­tion­ing.

“On that day I de­cided to wipe my tears and to join my daugh­ter and my hus­band in the fight for her sur­vival.”

David also re­minded her of a vi­sion he re­ceived months be­fore the cou­ple fell preg­nant with their mir­a­cle baby.

Ser­ena re­mained in a crit­i­cal con­di­tion and had to be mon­i­tored ev­ery hour on the hour. Dur­ing her stay in NICU she was treated for jaun­dice, brady­car­dia and strug­gled with her feeds. Af­ter three weeks she was taken off the ven­ti­la­tor and a nasal prong was in­serted. The fol­low­ing month she man­aged to breathe on her own.

“Net­care’s breast­milk co­or­di­na­tor, Linda Pre­to­rius, made it pos­si­ble for me to hold her for the first time on 4 Oc­to­ber. It was an over­whelm­ing mo­ment and it gave me the courage to con­tinue our jour­ney of hope.” There­after Eu­line ad­min­is­tered daily kan­ga­roo care. She was up­dated about her daugh­ter’s progress ev­ery day.

GOD IS FAITH­FUL

On 4 Jan­uary 2018 the cou­ple cried tears of joy when Ser­ena was fi­nally dis­charged from hospi­tal – on her ex­pected full term due date. Brain scans re­vealed that there was no ac­cu­mu­la­tion of any mass on her brain.

“To­day I can truly say that I have seen and felt grace. When I think of how far we’ve come I know for sure that God is present in our midst.

“He came in the form of fam­ily, friends, churches and prayer groups. My baby is home… she’s home.” YB

THE DOC­TOR GAVE ME TWO OP­TIONS. ONE WAS TO TAKE A CHANCE AND RE­MOVE THE BABY

Fighter: Ser­ena spent 105 days fight­ing for her life in the NICU at Net­care Gar­den City Hospi­tal in Jo­han­nes­burg.

Mile­stone: The cou­ple was over­joyed when Eu­line could ad­min­is­ter kan­ga­roo care while Ser­ena was in hospi­tal.

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