Taking a deep breath, I blew out the candles on my cake.
‘Happy birthday!’ my partner Peter said, wrapping his arms around me.
Aged 34, I couldn’t believe how much I’d overcome.
Living with lupus since I was 14, I was in and out of hospital as my immune system attacked itself.
Now, there was lots to be excited about though.
Pete and I were due to marry in July 2018, just before my 35th birthday.
But five months before the wedding, I fell pregnant.
Pete’s daughter from a previous relationship, Kaydence, seven, was so excited to have a sibling.
But at 16 weeks, my lupus flared up, and two weeks later I collapsed and was rushed to hospital.
‘Your organs are shutting down,’ the doctor told me.
‘I’m getting married in six days’ time,’ I cried.
Looking down at my bump, I knew the next thing the doctor said wouldn’t be good news.
Our little man, who we called Noah, wasn’t going to make it. Devastatingly he grew wings that day and heaven gained another angel.
Amid our grieving, we called our family and friends and postponed our wedding.
Then my specialist broke more bad news.
‘Another pregnancy could be fatal to both you and the baby,’ he said, explaining my lupus was too severe for me to carry a bub.
Shattered into a million pieces, I struggled to accept the fact I would never be someone’s mummy.
Eventually, I got the courage to rebook our wedding for March this year.
One day, I was feeling unwell so I decided to take a pregnancy test.
As the two pink lines appeared, I took another test – but those pink lines came up again.
‘Pete!’ I cried, rushing into the bedroom,
Half asleep, he took the sticks from my hands and his face dropped. I knew what he was thinking.
Would we relive what happened?
With weekly check-ups, the progress of my baby and my health was watched closely. Amazingly, everything went well and Pete and I found out we were expecting a little girl.
But at 22 weeks, our princess’ development slowed.
Put on hospital bed rest, my blood pressure soared to 272 over 180.
‘If you progress with the pregnancy, you’ll be jeopardising your own life,’ the doctor warned.
‘It’s our last chance to have a baby,’ I said, squeezing Pete’s hand.
With tears in his eyes, he nodded.
‘You know your body better than anyone,’ he said, trusting me to keep fighting for myself and our baby.
But a week later, I was struck down with severe pre-eclampsia.
‘You’ll have a stroke if we don’t deliver her,’ the surgeon said.
‘She won’t make it if you take her out now!’ I begged. ‘I can’t lose another baby.’
We were supposed to get married in a few weeks too.
It was like deja vu.
I was prepped for surgery, but with a final plea they agreed to hold off and I was wheeled back to my room.
I just need to make it to 24 weeks, I thought, knowing she had a higher chance of survival then.
Postponing the wedding once again, I lost hope that
I would ever walk down
But the important thing was our precious girl.
Opening my eyes one morning, I saw Pete standing in my hospital room holding balloons reading ‘24’.
‘We made it,’ he said.
Laughing, I felt a wave of relief wash over me, but that night my condition continued to deteriorate.
Unable to keep fighting my lupus, my body was shutting down.
‘Hollee, you will die if we don’t deliver her,’ the doctors urged.
So following an emergency caesarean, we welcomed Skylah into the world, when she
With Pete by my side,
she made two perfect little squeaks before she was whisked away to the NICU.
‘She’s perfect,’ Pete cooed.
Weighing just 475 grams, Skylah was placed inside a plastic bag that mimicked
a womb, to keep her warm and protect her from the outside world.
Two days later, I was finally allowed to see her.
She was covered in wires and tubes, but it was love at first sight. Then I noticed something else.
‘She’s see-through!’ I cried.
So premmie, her skin hadn’t even developed and
I could see straight through her
and out the other side!
We even watched her little heart pump through her clear skin.
‘She’s like a gecko,’ I said.
Her tiny hand was no bigger than my pinky fingernail, but she was absolutely perfect.
The next few months were touch and go as Skylah was fitted with a colostomy bag and monitored due to her underdeveloped lungs.
Slowly, she began gaining weight, and three months later we had our first cuddle.
While we were in hospital, we even planned our wedding for a third time.
After 172 days in hospital, we took Skylah home.
Now she’s six months old and 4.3 kilos, and doted on by Kaydence.
Dressed in pink, Skylah was the most beautiful flower girl when we finally said ‘I do’ in September this year.
Our love gave us the strength to never give up and we have the perfect princess to show for it.