PROM Christmas baby joy thanks to Facebook
Proudly posing by the tree with her bump last Christmas, Davinia and her husband Mido beamed for the camera. Already they could not wait for their first proper family Christmas together.
But just days later tragedy struck when Davinia’s waters went at 21 weeks and she was told their son would die.
But having been sent home to miscarry Davinia found hope in the most unexpected of places – Facebook.
Unable to imagine this Christmas without him the heartbroken mother posted about their plight on a Facebook page. She was stunned to receive messages from other mothers giving her hope and advice and instead of giving up, set about saving her baby herself.
Doctors warned it was futile and said there was just a 2 per cent chance of her baby surviving and even if he did he would have severe brain damage and disabilities. But Davinia did not give in and logging onto Facebook daily, she instead followed the advice on the page about premature rupture of membranes (PROM).
Faris was born at 28 weeks weighing just 2lb but fought on to be discharged with a perfect bill of health. He is now a perfect – utterly gorgeous – seven month old and his mother says she owes her Christmas miracle to Facebook.
By Kelly Strange
With my arms around my new husband Mido and son Isaac, nine, and my growing bump protruding in front of me, I beamed widely.
‘Smile!’ Mum said as she took the picture on her mobile. ‘Oh, that’s lovely!’
And as she showed me the photo of all three of us stood in front of the glittering Christmas tree, Isaac in a flashing santa hat, I had to agree. We looked every inch the perfect family.
‘Next year will be even better,’ I said, handing mum back her phone. ‘Because then you’ll have another little grandson to fuss over.
I was 20 weeks pregnant and couldn’t help but imagine what next year would be like when our son Faris was born.
‘Best Christmas present ever!’ Mum chimed in.
I’d married Mido, from Egypt, last December and just six months later, discovered I was pregnant. I already had a son, Isaac, nine, by my ex but we’d longed for own baby and were over the moon.
At 16 weeks we learned we were having a son. We were so excited. We decided to call him Faris. It meant ‘knight’ in Arabic.
And we really couldn’t wait for our little knight to arrive. We were counting down the days to his due date on 15 May.
But just two weeks later, I was getting dressed for work – Mido had already left – when I felt a popping sensation followed by a trickle of fluids…had my waters gone?
I tried to stay calm. It was too, too soon. I was only 21 weeks and two days.
Taking a deep breath, I dialled NHS Direct for advice.
‘Can you feel the head of the baby or the umbilical cord?’ the operator asked.
Umbilical cord? ‘No, no I can’t!’ I panicked.
I paced the lounge carpet until an ambulance arrived to rush me to (Ipswich) hospital where I was wheeled into a curtained cubicle.
Eventually, the doctor came to see me. ‘Yes, your waters have definitely broken,’ he told me. ‘You really need to terminate your pregnancy as soon as possible.’
He warned that I would go into labour with 48 hours and deliver a stillborn baby. It was simply too early for my son to survive.
Terminate? It was unthinkable. ‘Isn’t there something you can do?’ I begged. ‘Anything?’
But being below the 24 week threshold meant Faris would receive no help. Again, they advised me to terminate.
‘You’re young, you’re fit and you’re healthy and you can try again,’ the doctor said. ‘I’ll give you ten minutes to think about it and we can book you in for a termination today.’
But my baby was six months old. I could feel him moving inside me. How could I just decide to end his life?
‘Absolutely not,’ I told them. ‘I don’t need ten seconds to think about it, let along ten minutes.’
‘I’m sorry, but I really must urge you to do the right thing and end your baby’s life,’ he pressed.
I broke down in tears. I hadn’t even been given a scan. How could they be sure what my fluid levels actually were?
Reluctantly, they agreed to carry out a scan. It showed that I had lost some fluid but was still within the healthy range. But as I lay on the bed afterwards, more fluid ran down my legs. I was beside myself.
‘Please, can’t you do something?’ I begged.
But they told me that it was out of their hands…and that they were going to discharge me now as they needed my bed and there was nothing they could do.
The consultant explained that it would take between 24 and 72 hours for nature to take its course and I went into labour. I was told to go back to work and continue as normal until I miscarried.
Distraught, I left the hospital in a daze with water continuing to trickle down my legs. It was so degrading. I felt sick that someone could be treated like this.
Back home, I took the antibiotics the hospital had given me. Because my waters had gone and I hadn’t miscarried or given birth, I was at risk of infection. I called my GP who agreed to sign me off for two weeks. If I was going to miscarry my child I wanted to be at home.
I stayed in bed, scared that every movement might trigger labour. I just wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Faris. Then I remembered seeing a post on Facebook from a friend whose sister’s baby had been born very prematurely. I decided to contact her. I needed to speak to someone who might understand how I was feeling.
She directed me towards a Facebook group for mothers like me who had suffered PPROM ( pre-term ruptured membranes) – Little Heartbeats. As I read page after page of heartbreaking stories like my own, tears prickled. Here were other mums who really knew what I was going through, what emotions I was battling.
I posted about Faris and was stunned to start receiving advice from other women urging me not to give up.
Until then I thought there was no hope. After all, that’s what I’d been told by the doctors. But now I was speaking to other women with firsthand experience telling me that there might be. I was shocked.
The page had been started by a mother whose baby had died and she had since set it up to raise awareness and give help and support to others after learning that more could have been done.
Now I knew there was a chance – however slim – I knew I could never give up on him. The group made me believe that I didn’t have to just sit and wait to miscarry. Mido agreed. ‘He’s our son,’ he said. ‘It’s our job to look after him.’
Soon, I was flooded with advice and support from other mothers on the page. Unable to imagine Christmas without my baby, my mind was made up.
I turned my back on the advice of the medics at the hospital and instead used the Facebook page to start creating my own care plan, which included total bed rest, drinking lots of water and eating lots of protein.
I still had to return to hospital every week for them to check my baby’s heartbeat and my bloods for signs of infection. Every time I worried: would I have lost him.
But even though a scan showed that I had no measurable fluids whatsoever, his heart still beat hopefully on the screen.
Still though, I was pushed towards a termination. My consultant warned that my baby would still be born too soon and told me how he would likely have brain damage and cerebal palsy, be blind, deaf and even be born with club feet…. what’s my more baby was stuck in the breach position, unable to move due to me having no amniotic fluid.
‘I’ve made my mind up,’ I told them. ‘I’m fighting for my son’s life because he’s unable to.’
‘I really would advise you rethink,’ they repeated, as if they hadn’t heard me. ‘This is not a viable pregnancy.’
Only as I remained in bed, logging onto facebook daily for help and support daily, Faris was proving them wrong week after week.
It wasn’t plain sailing. I suffered several infections and spent both my birthday and Valentine’s Day in hospital, yet despite everything my son’s tiny heart still throbbed away.
And then finally, we reached 24 weeks – the date at which my baby was now viable and could be helped at birth.
‘Please can you write in my notes not to ask me for a termination again,’ I announced at my next scan.
I spent the next three weeks still tucked up in bed, shunning medical advice for daily messages of support from strangers.
Only then, in the middle of February, my infection markers were high and doctors suspected I was in labour.
Armed with knowledge from the Facebook group that had supported my every step, I knew to request steroids for the lungs in preparation for the birth, even though at first the doctors refused saying that it was a waste of money.
I continued to log in daily until Faris – who had been given just a 2 per cent chance of making it this far – was finally born at 27 weeks 4 days.
It wasn’t an easy birth. He was delivered by emergency C-section weighing just 2lb 2oz and had to be resuscitated three times. He didn’t breathe for the first ten minutes.
I was very poorly too. The first thing I did when I came round was look expectantly at Mido…
‘He’s alive,’ he nodded.
My heart swelled. Thank God. He was still with us.
‘Your son is very sick,’ the consultant warned me. ‘We’re not sure that he’ll survive.’
But I believed – as I had all along – differently.
Faris was transferred to two different hospitals the day he was born and I joined him there the following day, having arrived by minibus as no ambulances were available.
I felt extremely sick but willed myself to get better quickly. My son needed me.
Faris continued to surprise. After five days in intensive care on a ventilator he was moved on to oxygen.
‘We’re very pleased with his progress,’ the consultant admitted.
It felt like a victory, of sorts.
After two weeks in a London hospital he was transferred back to our local hospital and I was discharged but refused to leave his side.
Over the coming weeks Faris survived seven blood transfusions and a bleed on the brain. Through it all, my Facebook family continued to support me.
Eventually, at 70 days old, I was allowed to bring him home. It felt such a momentous occasion. As I carried him through the front door I felt so tremendously happy.
The day before Issac’s ninth birthday he was deemed strong enough to breathe unaided and came off oxygen. It was a huge milestone. He’d defied all the odds.
Now Faris is eight months old and doing so well. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Facebook saved his life. Everyone had given up on him and I was being told to, too. Thanks to my Facebook family I realised there was a glimmer hope and they got me through the worst time of my life. I’m now counselling other mums who suffer PPROM via the same Facebook page.
Looking back, I’m just glad I trusted my instincts – and the advice of other mums who’d been there. Without them, I’m certain I wouldn’t have my little boy today. And thank goodness I do, because he is amazing. He wakes up laughing and has everyone smiling. He’s meeting all his milestones and we’ve just found out that thankfully he doesn’t have cerebral palsy. He’s a true little miracle and a bloody gorgeous one too.
This Christmas will be absolutely magical and I can’t wait. But no present could ever top what I’ve got – a wonderful family and a healthy little boy.