Shontai's Story, 23 Weeks

Miracle Mum Kathy shares Shontai's story

“Shontai was born in 2010 at 23 weeks and weighed only 530grams. She spent over 16 weeks in hospital, finally coming home on her actual due date! Next month Shontai will be celebrating a very big milestone moment... turning 12!

I was 22 when my partner and I fell pregnant. We were so nervous, didn't want to get our hopes up, as we had been through so much, losing 12 pregnancies prior. I was seeing a specialist (high-risk clinic) for all my antenatal appointments when I was diagnosed with MTHFR. Unfortunately also the rarest form of it. Requiring Clexane injections daily, 5mg folic acid, and special doses of vitamin B6 and B12.

It was Christmas 2009 when I was at the Parabanks Christmas parade when I suddenly felt wet. So, instantly I headed for the lady's room, that's when I realised that I was bleeding. I immediately went straight to the hospital, where I was told that due to being still in my 1st trimester, there's nothing they could do and let nature take its course. I went completely numb, thinking that I was losing yet another baby.

Thankfully the bleeding slowed down, and when I went for an Ultrasound, the technician easily spotted our baby's heartbeat. We were so happy that our little bundle of joy was still with us. They kept me in for a 24hour observation at the Lyell McEwin Hospital, and then was sent home.

I suffered severe morning sickness that seemed to last ALL day up until I was around 17 weeks. So when we had our Morphology scan at 18-20 weeks, I was feeling really good and started to really enjoy being pregnant for the first time. Experiencing all the unexpected was somewhat exciting.

I was 23+2 and it was around 11:30 pm when I started feeling a bloated constipated feeling which was very unusual as I'd never had this feeling before. It wasn't long, around 2-3 minutes and the feeling started to go away.

This continued on and off for hours until I woke up at 6:30 am, only being 23 weeks and 3 days, the pain was intense, I knew something wasn't right. Instantly I called my mum and she was at ours about 20 minutes later to take me to the hospital.

Heading to the Lyell McEwin Hospital these pains were getting more intense and my mother told me that I'm labour, and I just needed to relax. Upon arrival at the hospital, a midwife noticed me within seconds and raced for a wheelchair, then I was taken to the labour ward.

Being only 23 weeks and 3 days they tried to stop the labour but unfortunately, the labour kept progressing. I was then rushed via ambulance from Lyell McEwin Hospital to the Women's and Children's Hospital where they had a NICU ward and also a spot available for my little girl.

On the labour ward, everything was happening so fast. I had doctors coming in from all departments and many from the NICU needing to talk and explain things to me. This is when I was told my baby had a maximum of 20% survival rate, then had to make the hardest decision to get the doctors to do everything they could or to just let her be, in my arms once born.

With knowing all the medical issues and problems that our daughter could potentially have I made the decision and wanted the doctors to do everything they possibly could to save her.

It wasn't long after that, at 4:25 pm my waters broke. It happened all so fast and we welcomed our baby girl Shontai-Lea into the world at 4:35 pm. Weighing just 530grams (dropping to 460 grams) and just 28.5cm long, she was only either inhaling or exhaling every 30 seconds, her skin was transparent, her eyes were still sealed shut.

She was placed on a breathing machine that was breathing for her. It would register when she was breathing and would let her do this herself until she stopped, then the machine would start breathing for her again. With several scans and tests, the doctors discovered that Shontai also had a severe brain bleed and a hole in her heart.

Shontai was given medication to close her heart ductus, but could only have this once, if it didn't close itself with the medication it was going to be open-heart surgery to close it. Thankfully this medication worked and she didn't need surgery.

The doctors and specialists did daily tests on her brain and were overwhelmed when we were told that the bleed is getting smaller and smaller, then about a week later we had one last brain scan, we were so relieved that the bleed is now that small they aren't worried or concerned about it anymore.

Over the coming days and weeks, Shontai made steady progress and was on bubble CPAP to help her breathe which was amazing, one step closer to coming home. The months passed by and finally, I was told they would be moving Shontai to Lyell Mcewin Hospital, where she would stay for 2 and a half weeks before finally being discharged and able to come home.

Total hospital stay was 16 weeks and 4 days, amazingly we were able to take her home with us on her due date.

Being discharged on oxygen was such a struggle at first but after about 3 weeks were confident and things felt somewhat normal. Shontai was taken off oxygen just before her 1st birthday which was the best gift we could have had for her 1st Birthday.

Being diagnosed with severe chronic lung disease we were told Shontai will struggle with physical activities as a child and young teenager. Thankfully we have been so blessed. Shontai turns 12 next month and is loving sport”.

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