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The Story of Winnie: PPROM, Chorioamnionitis + NEC

Thankyou Shannon for sharing your story and helping to raise awareness of premature birth. Your bravery in opening up is helping to support others through their own journeys, and that is truly inspiring. Winnie would be so proud of you.  

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My pregnancy with Winter was a dream, every scan & appointment was perfect, we were both healthy, it was a low risk pregnancy & I considered myself lucky everyday to have such a good experience as a first time mum.

On Saturday December 4th, at 30+3 - my water broke at 2pm. I’d had 2 growth scans that week because she was measuring a little small & a follow up appointment with the OB, everything was great, so I was sure I had just wet myself & waited for it to go away, but it didn’t so we headed into the hospital at around 5pm. They tested the fluid & it came back positive as amniotic fluid. The plan was to try keeping her in for a few weeks with antibiotics & steroids. I was mostly upset that I was being poked & prodded & put on bed rest, I wasn’t dilated or contracting, at no point did it occur that I might be meeting my baby very soon… I was only 30 weeks, what did a baby even look like at that size? 

My hospital doesn’t deliver babies before 34 weeks & doesn’t have a NICU, so I was being transferred to a bigger one about 45 minutes away. My contractions started in the ambulance, except the paramedics assured me I wasn’t in labour. Once at the hospital the emergency nurse quickly called the OB who confirmed I was 3cm & my contractions 2 minutes apart. “You have tested positive for an infection called Chorioamnionitis, it’s caused by your water rupturing, both you and baby are in danger & she needs to come out now.” I was taken to the birth suite where I was 7cm & too late for an epidural. With every contraction I cried & begged them to make it stop. I was sure I was going to die. Brad held my hand & I was so grateful for him but I wanted my mum more than ever in that moment. Just after midnight I needed to push & she was born at 12:34am, weighing 3lbs 7oz & crying vigorously.

Mum meeting her premature baby for the first time after delivery

She was taken to the NICU after they let me hold her for about 30 seconds. Due to COVID, we couldn’t go into the room together so I met our baby alone. She was tiny, on CPAP covered in cables & tubes, she was being given antis for the infection. I could barely even look at her it hurt my heart so much, I asked to be taken back to my room. I held her on day 3 & Brad on day 5. My first time holding her I listened to a family say goodbye to the baby next to her with only a flimsy privacy screen between us, & Brad’s first hold the baby on the other side coded. We were traumatised & terrified of what we would see/hear every time we walked in. We alternated seeing her & felt heavy when we left every day. I struggled with my milk supply & the lactation consultant made me cry about it. I laid in the dark every night pumping, crying for the baby I didn’t have. She wasn’t mine, she belonged to them. 

She was thriving & everyday she improved. After 2 weeks she got moved to our local hospital, she came off CPAP & out of the isolette, we could go in together & finally be involved with her care. We woke up on Christmas Eve excited to see her, the nurse said she could have her first bath. Before we headed in I got the worst phone call of my life. Winter had an infection in her stomach that potentially required surgery & was being transferred, we needed to head in urgently. I didn’t understand, she was fine when we left barely even 12 hours ago? We raced in and I cried the whole way. I walked into the Special Care Nursery to see her bed surrounded by nurses who looked like they were going to cry, machines everywhere, cords all over her. We followed them to the next hospital, her third one where she was put back on CPAP & back to NICU. She had developed Necrotizing Enterocolitis, an infection that causes her intestinal tissue to die. The doctors kept telling us based on her X-rays they expect to see an extremely sick baby, except Winter doesn’t seem sick. She’s hungry, she’s as active as a prem baby can be, she looks fine. This scared me realising if we had her at home we wouldn’t even know that she’s deathly ill. 

Mum's hand holding onto Premature Baby in isolette

It’s now 4 days after she was taken to the new hospital, she’s off antis & eating again. I have no idea when she’s going to come home or what the future holds for us, but I’m waking up each day feeling more positive. 

I didn’t even know babies could be born so early, I don’t know anyone who had a prem baby or a baby in the NICU. It’s a lonely, isolating experience. Brad & I wonder often why this is happening to us, why this is happening to our sweet girl. We will never know the answer but I think it’s made us all so resilient, I didn’t think I could ever be this brave but truthfully it’s because Winter is brave & inspires me daily. It breaks my heart that my mum & dad haven’t met her yet, she’s nearly a month old. But I’m so grateful to have found Miracle Mumma, I don’t feel so alone now. 

Mum having kangaroo cuddle with premature baby

Premature Baby with CPAP mask laying on back in isolette in NICU

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