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
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.
“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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.