Gemma Westguard story
PPROM at 13 weeks, Kyla born at 33 weeks
I wanted to share my story because our daughter is a medical miracle and she is only with me and her daddy now because not only did she refuse to give up, we refused to give up and my partner and my friend supported me in every way they could and I want to encourage other parents to do the same in a situation like ours or any other for that matter, babies are amazing and so resilient it's baffling.
Though our daughter wasn't planned me and my other half had an aim for the 12 week mark due to previous problems. Not long after finding out I was pregnant I'd had a bleed and been scanned, I was around 7 weeks at the time but thankfully everything was ok. I got to 12 weeks and had a scan, everything was fine and normal.
At 13weeks I'd again had a bleed as well as some watery discharge and was then sent to emergency gynaecology and scanned. The sonographer told us that my waters had broke, there was a tear in the membrane, though I didn't know why it happened, I knew what it meant. I was taken to a room to wait for a doctor. With my past difficulties, I immediately assumed it was happening again and broke down.
The doctor was a woman, she was cold and kept repeating the word miscarriage over an over. Though I kept fazing in and out, my friend was taking in every word as my other half wasn't able to be there as we weren't prepared for that. I wasn't told much, not even the name of whatever had happened to our baby but the main point she made was that our only options were to let nature take it's course or to have a termination. There was nothing they could do at all because of how early it had happened.
She told me that there was a small but very unlikely chance because of how early it had happened, that the tear would seal itself and my body would carry on producing amniotic fluid. There was no real cause for what had happened, but an infection was a possibility so they took some bloods and put me on anti biotics, though they never found evidence of an infection and we would never know the reason why it happened. It was, at the time, the longest two weeks of my life. During that two weeks my other half and a friend who were a massive support to me throughout my pregnancy, did lots of research and I leaked small amounts of fluid a few times.
The name of what had happened was PPROM, a premature rupture of the membranes. It can occur in 2% of pregnancies.
The two weeks had passed, me and my other half returned to the hospital, I was scanned and they checked to see if our baby had kidneys and whether there was fluid in her stomach, thankfully she did have kidneys and her stomach was full. She was growing normally but there was still no fluid showing on the scan. We saw two doctors that day, though they said they'd support whatever decision we made, they made it very clear what was going to happen, there was nothing they could do for me or our baby, it was just a waiting game. I was terrified and almost felt numb for a little while. We were told to come back again to see a fetal medicine doctor two weeks later, when I was around 17 weeks.
Two weeks went by and my bump wasn't very big at all, I hadn't felt a lot of movement. I became distant and very depressed, my friend and other half wanted to support me but they had no idea how to and I eventually went to see my GP. She was a support to me also, she was kind to me but she never sugar coated things for me, she knew I'd made my decision, I may have been in denial but giving up wasn't an option.
We went to the hospital to see the fetal medicine doctor, I told her I'd still been leaking fluid every few days. She told us this meant that even though the tear hadn't sealed itself my body was still producing fluid and our baby was growing relatively normally and at least trying to move and that this was quite a rare situation she hadn't personally ever seen.
We were terrified but it was the first time any doctor gave us any hope what so ever. It was a good sign, though our baby was still at major risk. She told us that I could go into labour at any point and if I did, unless our baby was past the 24 week mark, they wouldn't be able to do anything. She made us aware of the fact that she would be in the NICU because they wouldn't know untill she was born what condition she would be in and the likeliness I would have to have a csection as she was breech and she wouldn't be able to turn without sufficient fluid. She encouraged me to carry on drinking as much fluid as possible. I wasn't allowed to spend to much time standing or walking, no sexual contact and no baths. Though them telling me not to spend to much time standing or walking was not a strict order as such because eventually gravity would take it's course and I would leak fluid. I couldn't even take my dog for a short walk without the risk of leaking. All I could think about was that either i would have to watch our baby die or she would die inside me, so I saw it as, the longer the fluid stayed in, even if it was only an extra hour, it was extra time for our baby to benefit from that fluid.
From that point on, untill our daughter was born, every week I'd have bloods taken in the day unit and they would listen to our babies heartbeat and do other checks. Then every other week i was scanned and then saw the fetal medicine doctor afterwards. Every scan was like torture, I'd always leak not long before a scan so the sonographer would never be able to see anything properly and we only managed to get a few scan pictures. Slowly I started feeling our baby move an push, with the lack of fluid, it was very uncomfortable and sometimes painful. At 22 weeks we were sent to Kings Hospital in London. It was the most traumatic appointment we'd had. They knew nothing of me or my pregnancy. We were told that there was no hope and that we were being cruel for keeping our baby. The sonographer was so rough she caused the pressure to make me leak everywhere, my dress was soaked and afterwards all she did was ask 'was that you' when I replied yes, she said ok and then directed us to a private room to wait for the scan report, gave us the wrong scan report then eventually the right one and then told us we could leave. The only positive thing from that appointment was that we found out it was a girl. That was the lowest point for me, where I felt like giving up was my only option.
Because kings hospital couldn't do anything for us, the next couple of months it was a case of being scanned, having bloods and all my vitals taken once a week, thankfully I'd mostly see the same midwife who became a good support to me. The further along I got, the more fluid and more often I leaked, I had to sit on a towel and wear tena ladies. Around 23 weeks I was admitted to hospital to be monitored as I was showing possible signs of infection thankfully no infection was found.
This happened another 5 times all together throughout the rest of my pregnancy though it was never a long stay as there was nothing they could do for me but monitor me, 3 of them times they were worried I was going Into labour, multiple times I would go in if I felt lack of movement, even though she didn't move much, I still made sure to monitor her movement and drink ice cold water or play music to get her to move.
At about 28 weeks I was given steroid injections to help our daughters lungs develop quicker, though whether she had enough to survive we still didn't know and wouldn't till she was born and as she got heavier and I got bigger I began to be in more and more pain whenever she moved with lack of fluid I felt every single tiny movement, though at times, the pain was a blessing just to know she was ok. We then started to discuss with our fetal medicine doctor some sort of guideline plan for when I eventually went into labour, I wouldn't be able to give birth naturally as she was breech. We had also discussed the possibility that I may be able to get as far as possible though the doctor told us she was 'cautiously optimistic' as it was rare to get even as far we had with baby also growing as she should be. If I could, they wanted me to get to 35 weeks at which point I would have a planned c section.
At 29 weeks we had a tour of the SCBU and the NICU, what we felt was indescribable and I cried for most of the tour.
At 32 weeks we had the only positive scan of all of my scans. There were sufficient pools of fluid which meant though I'd been continuously leaking, fluid had managed to collect in places. At that point, I wasn't even holding fluid for a day so the fact there was a few pools was hope. Though later that day, I leaked the fluid. Around a week later, I began getting back pain and tingling in my legs as well as leaking blood and fluid. I went straight to triage and then to the antenatal ward to stay overnight thankfully with midwives who knew me and what was happening. Though I'd stopped bleeding they gave me another lot of steroid injections but around 6 in the morning the following day I started getting a few cramps but nothing to bad, an hour later they were getting stronger and I was bleeding again. I rang my other half and he was with me within the hour, just in time for a doctor to examine me and tell us I was 3cm dilated. We waited about fifteen minutes for a paediatrician who came and explained most of what we already knew but the main point being, our baby might be taken from us soon.
My midwife, who had become a massive support to me through out the last month or so of my pregnancy came back in and explained what was going to happen through out my c section and possibilities of what might happen after but more than anything she told me we could do it and to be strong, hugged me and held my hand. We waited another 20 mins and my midwife stayed with us the whole time, they took us to the labour ward, I saw a few doctors who explained various things and put a drip in my hand. We both changed and then before I knew it, doctors came to take us to the theatre. I was shaking the whole way and when we got into the theatre it was cold which made me shake even more, I couldn't stop crying, my other half held my hand and talked to me the whole time, just as scared as I was. There were nearly 20 people in the room, paediatricians, midwives, nurses, surgeons. After what felt like hours of painfully waiting and being petrified with one final pull they told us our baby had been born at 33 weeks. We waited nearly a minute for her to cry, the longest minute of our lives and my other half went to see what they were doing, demanding to know what was going on. I had a midwife talking to me to try and keep me calm whilst they were sorting me out and assessing our baby. She'd came out with her feet by her ears and her head a little out of shape. With 3 intubated breaths she started to breath for herself but assisted with CPAP, the paediatrician came over with the best smile and look of surprise on his face that I've seen in my life and said she was ok, he tried to wheel her over so I could touch her but I couldn't reach but I saw her and then they took her away. I waited for the most excruciating few hours of my life, my other half brought me a photo of her but that was all I could have.
Finally, they took me to see her though I was still pretty numb in the legs. I got to put her on my chest and hold her, not for long but long enough that all I could do was cry and tell her I thought I'd never meet her or get to hold her. They told us that she was ok, her chest and head scan was good, she had perfectly healthy lungs, the only issue was that she had talipes, both of her feet pointed the wrong way but the midwife said 'she is honestly a miracle baby'. And that's exactly what she is, within 5 days she came out of the SCBU and was put in the NICU, she was breathing completely on her own, she had no drip anymore, no anti biotics, no jaundice and no incubator, only a heated mattress in her cot. And her feet were already getting better! The midwives made a diddy ring for her head so they could start attempting to change the shape of her head slowly. Two days after that, she was put in the NICU nursery, the only things stopping our beautiful little lady from coming home was establishing breast feeding, her being able to maintain her temperature and getting her weight back up to her birth weight. The nurses in both units were amazingly supportive and understanding when I couldn't bear to leave her, fearing something would happen if I left but they encouraged me to go home to rest and gave me the number to ring so I could ring whenever I wanted to. At exactly 3 weeks old, she finally came home with us, weighing 4lbs 6oz, exactly her birth weight. The happiest and scariest moment of my life. We were petrified for twenty weeks but it was worth every single moment for our daughters smile and hearing her say mum and dad, something we never thought would happen.
Medical miracles are possible. Our daughter is proof of that. She is now 19months old, walking, talking, perfectly healthy and still so diddy! Kyla our diddy miracle and the strongest little person I know.