Layla's Story, 28 Weeks   

Despite feeling physically well at 28 weeks pregnant, Miracle Mum, Sarah was told she would be dead by the afternoon if she didn't have an emergency C-Section. The road ahead was challenging but filled with hope and triumphs. Sarah she shares her story below. 

"Our first pregnancy (the first grandchild on both sides of the family) was complete smooth sailing right up till 25 weeks when my blood pressure suddenly started to rise. Despite feeling fine I was brought in for monitoring. As my blood pressure continued to rise and the medication wasn’t working, daily blood tests were ordered and protein checks in my urine. Again, levels were rising but I still felt ok. 

Then, one night I had raging pain in my chest. I thought it was a heart attack. I was pacing the halls of the maternity ward in tears thinking I was dying. However, this soon got better and I was ready to go home to bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy. I felt fine but I had one final lot of bloods taken before I packed my bags ready to go home.

Suddenly, in burst a team of doctors explaining I would need to deliver that day or I would be dead by the afternoon as my kidneys were failing. I remember saying “No thanks, I’m fine, she’s only 28 weeks”. However, they weren’t asking, they were telling. And because I was at a private hospital that couldn’t deliver a baby earlier than 32 weeks, I was transferred to the local hospital next door. 

The rest is such a blur, mainly due to PTSD and blocking a lot of “that” out. I do remember various doctors coming in and explaining life expectancy and being shown graphs of survival rates... what the hell was going on?! Survival rates... she may not survive? This was all while I was hooked up to a cocktail of medications including magnesium sulphate which sends you loopy. 

I was in the waiting bay of the theatre room awaiting my c-section. I had to go under general anaesthetic as there wasn’t enough time for an epidural. Just before I went under I turned to my husband (who I fought to have in the delivery room with me) and I heard a nurse tell him, “Say goodbye to her, she may not ever wake up.”... then I was under.

I spent a week in ICU and didn’t meet our baby girl until day two when a beautiful midwife wheeled my bed into the NICU just so I could see her. I remember crying and saying “where is she I can’t see her” as my medication was effecting my vision due to it being so strong because of my risk of stroke. 

But she was there, our girl Layla Rose, named after the epic Eric Clapton song. 

The next 11 weeks came and went. They were hard, triumphant, and just plain s**t! Three steps forward, two steps back became our motto, but we got through. She was meeting milestones with a few minor issues along the way. We moved her back to the private hospital at 32 weeks mainly due to the fact it was nice and small. The nurses there were amazing. They treated Layla like their own little dolly, playing dress ups in the teddy bear clothes she just fit into. I would arrive at 6am every morning with pumped milk and leave at midnight each night to “rest”.

We were needing home time and needed to have some final checks with the paediatrician, who we luckily booked the day we transferred - oh my what a guy! Dr Lonergan was the cream of the crop and the most beautiful down to earth man you could hope for in a kids’ doctor. He wanted to get one further brain ultrasound which was routine for a baby that gestation.

The night before we took Layla home he came into the SCN and sat us down and said we found something on her brain scan. He then started to cry telling us she had Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL). In laymen’s terms she had brain damage due to the white matter of the brain. She would most likely be diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and they weren't sure how it would affect her - she may never walk or talk and could have learning difficulties.

The room was spinning and I thought I would vomit. But this beautiful man sat there with a tear in his eye and said 'I’m so sorry you thought the worst was over and you were getting out of here unscathed'. Matthew and I cried that entire night. We felt so sorry for Layla, this innocent little babe. 

It was hard. I spent most of my maternity leave at hospital and therapy appointments, but I was determined to help my baby achieve the best! With lots of highs and lows in between she’s now seven! 

She was indeed diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, but she talks non-bloody-stop, she walks and wears an AFO (ankle-foot orthosis )but also swims, plays netball (and is great at it!) and recently started gymnastics. She’s sharp as a tack, loves school, loves reading, loves her family and friends and has a zest for life like no other. There are still many challenges along the way but we couldn’t be prouder of our little Layla girl."

Thank you Sarah for sharing such a touching story.   

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