‘You have placenta failure, which is why the baby’s development is behind,’ the doctor said.
The placenta is vital to the baby’s growth and development. It meant the best case scenario would be a premature birth.
Or, devastatingly, at worst, we’d lose the baby.
I could also develop pre-eclampsia, which was potentially life-threatening.
All we could do was hope that our baby would stay in long enough to grow to a viable weight.
I was heartbroken. Tom and I hadn’t planned to find out the baby’s sex, but now I was desperate.
‘I need to know what I’m fighting for,’ I told the doctor.
‘It’s a girl,’ she said.
Back at home, I broke the news to Tom.
‘I always wanted a girl,’ he sobbed.
‘We have to stay positive for her,’ I said.
From then on, I had weekly scans to assess our bub’s weight and development.
She was getting slightly bigger, but it still wasn’t enough.
Sitting on the couch with Tom one day, I felt our baby kicking.
‘I know what we’re going through is horrible, but look, she’s fighting,’ I said, placing Tom’s hand on my bump.
‘That’s amazing. Our girl isn’t giving up,’ Tom beamed.
Then, at the 26-week scan, we were told she’d reached 500g, which was the minimum viable weight medics would resuscitate.
‘Tell me your understanding of the baby’s chance,’ the doctor said.
‘She’ll be stillborn or severely disabled,’ I
‘It’s so much better than that,’ she smiled. ‘From what we can see, your baby’s chances of surviving and thriving are much higher.’
I was suddenly hit in the face with hope.
Now our girl had reached this weight though, it wouldn’t be long until she’d have to come out.
‘Any longer and it’ll be a huge risk to both you and the baby,’ the doctor said.
We were given the option of boosting the baby’s lungs with steroid injections to help them grow.
‘We’ll then scan you every 48 hours to check progress,’ the doctor added.
It was a no-brainer.
‘We need to give her the best chance possible,’ I insisted, and Tom agreed.
I phoned work to tell them I was officially on maternity leave.
Then, over the weekend, a nurse injected me with the steroids.
But by Friday’s scan, things had changed.
‘Your body is going into pre-eclampsia,’ the doctor told me. ‘We’ll give you medication to bring down your blood pressure, but it won’t be long until the baby has to come out.’
The next day, I was regularly monitored.
By the evening, my blood pressure had rocketed and our girl was showing signs of distress.
‘We’ll have to do the C-section now,’ the doctor said.
At 26 weeks and five days, I was wheeled into the birthing suite and the procedure began.
Everything seemed so surreal until suddenly Tom urged, ‘Belinda, look up.’
Ahead of me, was a tiny, blue, screaming baby.
I felt an instant rush of love.
‘Lyra, she’s definitely a Lyra,’ I said, testing out the name we’d picked.
Weighing just 519g – about the same as a tub of butter – our teeny bub was ventilated and put in an isolette.
‘She needs some help breathing at this stage,’ a nurse explained.
Five days later, I finally got to hold her.
She was still hooked up to machines as she was placed onto my chest.
I felt a warm glow as little Lyra snuggled into me.
Still so small, I could slip my wedding ring over her wrist!
‘I can’t believe she’s here,’ Tom said, staring at our baby girl in awe.
There was still a chance Lyra wouldn’t make it.
She needed four blood transfusions and was in an isolette for the first 75 days of her life. But our little fighter didn’t give up.
And after 120 days in hospital, we finally got to take her home.
She was still hooked up to oxygen for another few months, which gave her body a chance to grow.
Now nearly two years old, Lyra is a sassy tot who lights up the room.
She has defied doctors.
Our little legend is meeting all her milestones and brings so much joy to our lives.
I’m so proud of our thriving girl and her determined attitude. ●
For more, see this week’s that’s life! – out now!