Here, Kylie Angwin, 38, tells the story in her own words.
'I￼t’s a boy!’ the sonographer smiled, looking at the grainy image on the screen.
My partner Chris, now 40, and I were at our bub’s 20-week scan. Although I’d barely started to show, our precious son already had two nicknames.
‘Cheeky Monkey’ because at nearly every scan he’d managed to hide from view, and ‘Lucky Seven’ as Chris and I had been through six rounds of IVF and fell pregnant on our seventh.He was our miracle! But after breaking the happy news, I noticed the sonographer’s brow crease.
I tried not to worry as I drove back to work, but then my phone rang. It was my obstetrician. He’d just seen my scans and, like the sonographer, he seemed concerned.
‘You have something called an incompetent cervix,’ he explained to me.
It sounded horrifying, but I had no idea what it meant.‘At any point, you could go into labour,’ he added.
It turned out my cervical tissue was so weak it could open any time. Could my tiny baby even survive if that happened? I panicked.
‘We can put in a stitch to keep your cervix closed,’ he said.
I’d do anything to keep my Lucky Seven safe. So, the next morning I went into theatre for an emergency procedure to hold my baby in place. To keep the pressure off my cervix afterwards, I was prescribed bed rest.
One Friday, at 24 weeks, I felt something in my tummy like period pains. I had friends who were mums who’d experienced the same thing, so I wasn’t too worried.
I’ll just take it easy, I thought. But after lying down all the next day, my back burned, each spasm making my eyes water.
Waking up on Sunday morning, I was still in agony. ‘We’re calling the hospital,’ Chris said, concerned.
In tears, I explained my symptoms over the phone. ‘Come in right now,’ the nurse said.
As Chris drove, I began to notice a pattern. The cramps would take hold, then abate… Every six minutes, I realised in horror, checking the stopwatch on my mobile.
I was in labour!
By the time I was rushed into the birthing suite, I was fully dilated. ‘We have to take the stitch out,’ a doctor said. With no time for an anaesthetic, it was excruciating.
Then, a humidicrib was wheeled into the room. Inside, there was an impossibly small hat and a sandwich bag, which is used to keep premmies warm. ‘Am I having my baby today?’ I asked a nurse, petrified. ‘Not necessarily,’ she said.
Just in case, I was injected with steroids and put on a magnesium drip to help with my baby’s lung and brain development. If my boy did survive, he might have brain damage or cerebral palsy.
Gritting my teeth through each contraction, I prayed that they would stop. ‘Right buddy, we’re going to stay in here for as long as it takes,’ I said, rubbing my bump.
After two long nights, I sent Chris home to get a proper sleep. But in the middle of the third night, my bub’s heartbeat suddenly dropped. ‘We have to get him out immediately,’ my obstetrician told me.
Chris was by my side as I pushed, delivering the umbilical cord. But no baby. Devastatingly, the umbilical cord had no pulse. ‘I’m so sorry, Kylie. You’ve lost your baby,’ my obstetrician said. After 96 terrifying hours of labour, my Cheeky Monkey was gone before I’d even met him.
Quickly, the room cleared out to give me privacy as I gave birth to our sleeping angel.
An hour later, at 6.56am, my boy, who we’d decided to name Oliver, came into the world. Exhausted, I didn’t even have the energy to cry. Then something unbelievable happened…
‘There’s a heartbeat,’ the obstetrician said. My baby was alive! But he still wasn’t breathing.
Tiny and pink, Oliver was gently tucked into the ziplock bag and whisked to the NICU, Chris by his side. At just 780g, he was the length of a corncob and his eyelids were still fused shut. A tube was helping Oliver to breathe and wires snaked across his paper-thin skin. Still, he wiggled his tiny arms furiously.
‘I knew you were a fighter,’ I told my boy.
Determined to defy the odds, Oliver finally came home four months later. Weighing 2.9 kilos, he had the cutest chubby cheeks.
Two months on, he wore a tiny suit when we married.
Now two, Oliver is the cheekiest monkey around! Despite a slight speech delay, which we’re working on, he is absolutely perfect. He really is our Lucky Seven. And I truly am the luckiest mum alive.
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