Throughout the 9 months of pregnancy all was well. Every scan, every test, every appointment nothing was amiss. At our 20 week scan we found out we were having a girl, we choose the name Ella.
On the 10th May 2010 I still had 6 days to go, when I woke up in the early hours realising I was in labour, I managed to stay at home controlling the pain until just after 10am. After arriving and settling at the hospital I was told I was only 3cm dilated so been here before with my first daughter 11 years ago I thought I had plenty of time before finally meeting Ella. No she had other ideas, about 1.15 in the afternoon, 3 pushes and lots of gas and air she was here.
Ella was placed on my chest for a few seconds when the midwives realised something was wrong, they got Jai, Ella’s daddy to pull the emergency cord, she was whisked off me and all I remember seeing was blood running from her nose. The room filled with loads of doctors and nurses, I remember asking why aint she crying, what’s happening, my baby, but nobody answered me. I saw them working on Ella at the side of the room, chest compressions, blood transfusions, oxygen…. I wanted answers. I was crying, my partner and best friend were too even my mid wife. I kept looking at the clock, i thought the worst she must be gone, gone with the angels its been too long then after 45 mins I heard someone say we have her, she is with us.
‘She’s gorgeous’ Jai said as they whisked her away in an incubator, I couldn’t stop shaking, sobbing what had happened?? I did not care she was here she was alive and surely they were only taking her to special care to watch her for a short while whilst I got sorted.
We couldn’t be more wrong after a few hours we were able to go down stairs to see her but the news was not good, We weren’t prepared for what we saw. Our baby was covered in wires galore, attached to all sorts of machines. We were took aside by a consultant and told Ella had been dead for 25 minutes, she had suffered HIE Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy grade 3 so she could have extensive brain damage, But the fact our baby had come back to us I was not worried about caring for her with disabilities, she was here that was the main thing. Still there was more, she was critical, could pass away at any time she needed to be transferred to another hospital ~The Rosie at Addenbrooks Cambridge for Cooling. A treatment which can help with oxygen deprivation.
We knew nothing about the treatment and were told it’s still in trial period but Ella met all the criteria, all we could do was put all our faith in the doctors and go with what they were saying. We let her go in the ambulance and followed on after. All I had was a picture of my baby as I sat in the back of the car in shock, a massive knot in my tummy, re living the last few hours, the doctors words going over and over in my head. I held tightly to my phone because the transfer team were going to call if any problems en route .
In Addenbrooks, Ella was placed in the NICU surrounded by monitors, tubes and wires, her major organs were failing and her life hung in the balance. ‘prepare yourself’ the doctor warned Jai and I ‘ we could lose Ella at any time’.
Ella was wrapped in a special blanket filled with fluid which cooled her body from the normal 37 degrees Celsius to 33.5. She would be kept at this temperature for 72 hours to give her body a rest and hopefully reduce further damage to her tiny organs and brain. Ella was given Morphine to ease her pain along with lots of other various drugs, she looked so peaceful until she let out a little shiver…it broke my heart a mummy’s instinct is to keep there baby nice and warm and here my baby girl lay freezing cold.
The following evening, I was lay awake in the relatives room when something told me i had to go to her. Jai and I rushed to the ward where the nurses were about to remove Ella’s ventilator for the first time, to see if she managed to breathe alone. I feared the worst I couldn’t watch, as i stood outside the room I waited, then there was smiles, she did it…my baby took her first breath on her own. A good sign we were told.
After 72 hours it was time to slowly warm her up 0.5 degrees every 30 mins…a big risk in itself she could have seizures at any time and again we were told we could loose her. But she had come this far, I was sure she would keep fighting. That’s exactly what she did, when we went to her bed side the next morning the cooling machine had gone and Ella was lovely and warm. She was showing all good signs and had won her fight. We were transferred back to Peterborough special care baby unit were Ella continued to show good signs, and at 5 days old we got to have our first Cuddles.
Each day was another step forward, coming off all the machines, starting to make a noise, feeding and then the MRI scan showing no signs of brain damage. with the emergency over and Ella doing as she should be I had time to reflect on why this had happened. It turned out my placenta abrupted and Ella had bled to death as she was born . The fact that she is still with us is a miracle and the cooling treatment had saved her from brain damage.
She is now 2 year 5 months, during her first year and a half Ella underwent physiotherapy as a little behind with physical development and showing signs of right sided tone weakness but following her second birthday she was signed off from all medical care with 100% clean bill of health.
I went to the press with our story and set up a facebook page to raise more awareness of this treatment, and support others. Without it I believe Ella would not be the little monster she is today.