A first-time mum was told to say her final goodbyes to her tiny baby after she gave birth at 24 weeks – before she made a miraculous recovery.
Sarah Donaldson, 28, started suffering stabbing pains when she was just 24 weeks pregnant – but was told by medics they were ‘growing pains.
But she had actually gone into labour 16 weeks early – and gave birth to her daughter, Kiara, as she sat on the toilet at home in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs.
Kiara, who is now 15 months old, had a bleed on both sides of her brain and her lung, and due to her low oxygen levels, mum Sarah and her husband Paul, 30, were told to say their goodbyes.
But against all the odds, Kiara pulled through and is now a happy 15 month -old.
Sarah, a customer services advisor, said: “The thought of losing our baby and having to say our final goodbyes was agonising.
“Paul and I were trying our best to keep it together and stay strong, but in the back of my mind I didn’t think we would be taking her home.
“Our eyes were glued to the machines hooked up to her whilst holding her tiny hand thinking ‘please don’t leave us.’
“I had a smooth pregnancy up until I suddenly gave birth. I couldn’t wait for Paul and I to have a family of our own.
“But at 24 weeks, I had concerns as I was in agony, I knew something wasn’t right, we went to pregnancy assessment unit but we were sent away with ‘growing pains’.
“About ten hours passed and Paul rang 111 again and as he was on the phone I went to the toilet.
“I felt like the gravity was pulling me down as a gush of water came out – I thought it was urine as I felt better straight away.
“I shouted to Paul to tell him the pain had finally gone, but within seconds, it returned, and I realised I was about to give birth.
“Thankfully, Paul was already on the phone to the emergency services who arrived in about three minutes, but I already had Kiara in my arms.”
The couple initially thought their baby was stillborn as she was swollen and bruised – but after warming her up using towels, she began to show signs of life whilst they waited for the ambulance.
She adds: “She didn’t come out screaming, Paul and I thought we had lost her until she made a weird little noise.
“I began rubbing her back to stimulate her breathing and thankfully the ambulance had arrived.
“They took her straight to the hospital and we followed behind, when we got there, I had a quick look at her and then I didn’t see her again for three hours as they were doing scans and tests.
“I was surprisingly calm as it was all happening so fast, I was in shock.
“She was in the NICU and we prepared to say goodbye as her oxygen levels weren’t high enough and she was so tiny.”
An oxygen reading of 95 to 100 per cent is a normal for a healthy baby, but Kiara’s was at 56 per cent.
Medics told the parents if it didn’t increase that she would not survive.
Miraculously, Kiara’s levels went up within one hour but the parents were then informed a bleed was affecting both sides of her brain.
Sarah added: “The first 48 hours of Kiara’s life were a rollercoaster, something good was always followed with something bad.
“We didn’t know if we would ever take our little girl home, I was preparing for the worst but also trying to be positive.
“It was so hard seeing her in the incubator with wires everywhere and not knowing if she is going to pull through all night.
“At night-time we could hear all the other babies crying, but we didn’t have ours.
“We were distraught, but we tried to stay positive and prayed our little girl will make it through.
“She had a stage two bleed on one side of her brain and stage four on the other, we were warned she might have a weakness on the right side of her body.
“I had already been through so much heartache as I endured four miscarriages before finally falling pregnancy with Kiara.
“After four long months in the NICU, and two weeks after her due date, the staff were thrilled to finally allow us to take her home.
“It felt like we were stealing our own baby as we had been there for so long with the constant support of the neonatal team.
“She has to have physiotherapy to make sure she reaches milestones, and is still monitored every few months at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital for after effects of the brain bleed but she is doing brilliantly.
“We cannot thank the paramedics, the NICU and the staff at Alder Hey enough for saving our babies life and helping our little fighter through the toughest and longest four months of our lives.”