The miracle baby ‘tricked’ into life: Anti-abortion mother who published photo of her dying premature baby has healthy child at last… with drugs that duped body into delaying labour It is the moment mother Emily Caines feared she would never experience – the ‘lion’s roar’ of her baby’s vital first cry. After she had lost two babies because they were born prematurely, doctors went to extraordinary lengths to ensure baby Lennox would survive. One year earlier, she had delivered her tiny daughter Adelaide at 24 weeks, a baby who tragically lived for just one hour. Despite her overwhelming grief, Mrs Caines allowed a photograph showing Adelaide struggling for life to be published, because she felt so strongly that abortions should not be carried out on babies of a similar age. Other babies born so prematurely have survived, which she believed made ‘a mockery’ of the law allowing abortions until the start of the 24th week of pregnancy. Before 24 weeks, they are not legally considered ‘viable’ – despite recent advances in neonatal care. Doctors had told Mrs Caines that, due to physiological reasons, any child she conceived was unlikely to survive. Her cervix was so short that it would be a miracle if her womb could hold on to the baby long enough – meaning it would probably die after another extremely premature birth. But now Mrs Caines, 26, has realised her ‘impossible’ dream of becoming a mother, giving birth to Lennox at 32 weeks last December, with her husband Alastair beside her. Lennox’s birth came not only after the heartache of losing Adelaide, but also their first baby Isabelle, who was born at 23 weeks in 2011. But thanks to medics at Southmead Hospital in Bristol, the result this time has been triumph instead of tragedy. Describing the moment Lennox erupted into life, Mrs Caines said: ‘Isabelle never cried and Adelaide’s cry was very weak but Lennox’s was like a lion’s roar. ‘We just burst into tears because we finally believed he really was going to be OK. It was amazing.’ Thriving: Young Lennox with mother Emily Caines, who now feels ‘totally blessed’ She said: ‘There were so many times when I thought, “I’m never going to be a mum, ever. It’s not meant to be.” ‘After Isabelle and Adelaide, we asked ourselves, “Are we going to put ourselves through this again? Are we going to put ourselves through potentially another loss?” ‘But we just had to give it another go. I just couldn’t give up.’ Mrs Caines and Alastair, a 29-year-old security guard, subsequently started IVF in March and she was implanted with the embryo in April. Crucially, her obstetrician Professor Tim Draycott used medical techniques designed to ‘trick’ her body into avoiding an early labour. At 12 weeks, he put in a cervical stitch to give her womb more support. And at 14 weeks, he started giving her extra doses of progesterone. Explaining why he administered extra progesterone, he said: ‘Progesterone is hugely higher in pregnancy than at other times. This helps to keep the uterus muscle quiet and probably helps reduce inflammation too, so there’s nothing driving it to contract before it should. ‘But we think some women don’t have enough progesterone in pregnancy, so the uterine muscle sparks off. We know that if we give this medication, it reduces the chance of early labour by about 50 per cent.’ Other precautions included prescribing aspirin to help maintain a healthy placenta, as doctors believe a breakdown triggered her miscarriage of Isabelle, and regular screening. And in a highly unusual move, Mrs Caines also spent over a month in hospital when she reached 23 weeks, so medical staff could do everything possible to stop the baby arriving early. Nurses scanned her every 48 hours to monitor the baby and – crucially – measure if her cervix was shortening. If it was, that drastically increased the risk of contractions starting. Thankfully, she did not go into labour – and a week after being discharged, she enjoyed a baby shower party with friends at home in Yeovil, Somerset. She said: ‘It was a huge milestone because I’d lost both my daughters before my baby showers.’ But soon afterwards, her waters began to leak, raising the risk that Lennox could contract a potentially fatal infection. As a result, Prof Draycott and colleagues decided it would be safer to get the baby out rather than continue to 36 weeks, which had been the target delivery date. Before the birth, Mrs Caines was injected with steroids to boost Lennox’s lungs to help him breathe independently after birth, which had been a major concern. It paid off too and he needed no help breathing from his first breathe. Mr and Mrs Caines married on September 8th 2012 in a villa in Portugal. This day was the anniversary of Mrs Caines’ first daughter Isabella’s birth and death Five days after the birth, Lennox was transferred from Southmead’s specialist neonatal department to Yeovil Hospital, and he was discharged at three weeks. But his mother admitted: ‘Even now, I feel like Lennox is on loan because it feels too good to be true, that he is actually here. He is now 9lb 1oz, though, and doing great. He’s got some catching up to do, but he’s even started smiling.’ She added: ‘I tried to thank the professor but there weren’t really the words to convey what he has done for us.’ Prof Draycott said he was ‘no cleverer than anyone else’, but had the good fortune to work at Southmead, which has one of the safest maternity units in the country. Looking back on her two earlier births, Mrs Caines said she could not understand how Isabelle could have been legally aborted. ‘Isabelle was born at 23 weeks and called a miscarriage, and Adelaide was born one week later and called a neonatal death – but both my daughters looked exactly the same to me,’ she said. ‘We found the term miscarriage to be offensive. But what really hurt was knowing that this country permits babies like Adelaide and Isabelle to be terminated. I am not opposed to late abortions on medical grounds – if there is something seriously wrong with the baby, or if the mother’s life is at risk. ‘But personally I believe that if an abortion is for social reasons – just because you’ve been lazy with contraception – then I’m 100 per cent sure the 24-week limit is too high. We live in an age where the technology is available to keep a baby alive who is born at 23 or 24 weeks. ‘I know only too well we can’t keep all of them alive, but we can save some. So I think it’s wrong that babies can be aborted when they reach that stage. In my opinion, the limit should be lowered to 16 weeks, because four months is long enough to make up your mind if you want to keep the baby or not. ‘A baby is a baby from the moment you see a blue line on the pregnancy test. I saw Adelaide and Lennox when they were embryos, because they were both conceived through IVF, and to me they were already babies at that very early stage.’ Survival rates among babies born in England at 24 weeks have jumped in recent decades. While only 35 per cent of those admitted to neonatal care survived in 1995, 47 per cent did in 2006, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal in 2012. But only a quarter of those who survive birth before 24 weeks escape major health problems. Emily and Alastair Caines fell in love in the agonising weeks after she lost her first daughter Isabelle More recent research has found higher survival rates among those born in highly specialist units like Southmead. And the BMJ figures are now almost a decade old – meaning there may have been further improvements in survival rates since then. At around the time that paper was published, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt caused consternation by saying he thought the abortion limit should be cut to 12 weeks. He let slip in an interview: ‘Everyone looks at the evidence and comes to a view about when they think that moment is, and my own view is that 12 weeks is the right point for it.’ His comments caused uproar among ‘pro-choice’ campaigners, who labelled him a ‘hard-line anti-abortionist’, but also from doctors. They said that there was no evidence for halving the time limit and that many abortions were carried out after 12 weeks for sound medical reasons. However, other senior Conservatives have also backed lowering the limit, with Home Secretary Theresa May suggesting 20 weeks, and former Culture Secretary Maria Miller saying it is ‘common sense’ because ‘the science has moved on’. Almost 16,000 abortions in England and Wales – nearly a tenth of the annual total – are performed after 12 weeks. Of those, 2,500 are carried out after 20 weeks but before 24 weeks. Mrs Caines said her newborn son bore such a strong resemblance to Adelaide at birth that she felt he had brought part of her with him. ‘My heart will always be broken for Adelaide and Isabelle, but Lenny has helped me to heal,’ she said. ‘We feel totally blessed now, because we know that there are so many people who will never be in our shoes. We know how lucky we are.’ Ends.
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