Written by Clare Hunt

My first pregnancy

I fell pregnant with my second child early 2006 and was so excited. My first pregnancy was amazing and I loved it …. I didn’t eat a vegetable for almost 9 months and couldn’t cook a meat sauce so hubby didn’t get any spag bog (his fave) for a while!!!! Apart from a little indigestion I pretty much loved every minute. The second time round with my preemie pregnancy however was pretty much the opposite.

Woman holding her pregnancy bump. Photography credit: Vivienne Guy
Woman holding her pregnancy bump. Photography credit: Vivienne Guy

My preemie pregnancy

The second time round however was pretty much the opposite. I think I spent half my day everyday down the toilet the morning sickness that never went!!!! And as for the indigestion, well I had a large bottle of Gaviscon in any bag I took out with me. Then at a routine 16 weeks blood test I had a phone call from the midwife informing me that I needed to go to the University College Hospital (UCH) as I had Anti K antibodies in my blood…. yes I did think, “what did she just say”???

This was almost 13yrs ago now and the Anti K antibodies was not as well known. A simple explanation; it’s all about blood flow between you and baby and it can cause anemia in the unborn baby. They can do a fetal blood transfusion but we never got to that point .

So over the following months I had to go to my local hospital for a blood test one week then the following week off up to London to the UCH then the following week the blood test then the following week UCH. This is how I spent the next 3 months as well as all the normal doctor & midwife appointments.

Due date vs actual birth date

My due date was 7th October 2006 but my little monkey decided that she wanted to make an appearance on Saturday 26th August 2006. We had been to the UCH on the Wednesday 23rd August where they did a normal scan. It took a lot longer (they could measure the blood flow to the baby’s brains which I find amazing!) I was then told that there was no rush but I needed to have my little monkey by the end of the week!!!

Premature baby Alice
Premature baby Alice

Soooooo off to my local hospital for more tests etc. I was booked in for the Saturday to be induced. Saturday in Hospital my mum came to stay to look after my other daughter. Once hubby had dropped me off I sent him to work! By lunch time they had decided that they would not induce me but I would have to have an emergency C section… To be honest my heart sank I had really wanted a natural birth like my first but it was the best thing for the baby. Nothing really prepares you for an emergency C section or a preemie pregnancy.

There was a lady on the ward with me. I really wish I could remember her name as she was amazing. She came and chatted to me went through what would happen. She was on baby number 4 and had had c-sections with 2 but I can safely say she was the reason I didn’t go into blind panic.

C-section delivery

The little Bullfrog (as she was later called) was delivered on Saturday 26th August 2006 weighing 5lbs 11oz!!!!! (yes a whopper). Me & hubby got to give her a kiss and she was whisked away only to return with in seconds as she had stopped breathing. I was pretty out of it at this point but I think she had an apgar score of 3 or 4. The Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, Essex was amazing my monkey was resuscitated and was whisked off to SCBU within minutes. 

Now the waiting in recovery, mainly I remember just being freezing cold. Alice, our little munchkin, ended up having 4 blood transfusions. My hubby went to see her a few hours later but I didn’t get to go and see her until the following morning. She looked so tiny her weight dropped to 4lb 5oz but she had a lot of fight in her and slowly she started to gain weight.

Premature baby Alice gets to come home
Premature baby Alice gets to come home

We were so very lucky with all the staff in SCBU (Special Care Baby Unit) and on the Maternity ward as they were amazing and Alice was by some miracle only in SCBU for 2 weeks! One thing I remember clearly was when we were told, in SCBU, that we could dress Alice I had to go to BHS and get some premature baby clothes (they were still big!). 

Going Home!

I was told when we were taking Alice home for the first time that there may be some brain damage but they really wouldn’t be able to tell until she was around 2 years old. I know that if I had been a first time mum I would have panicked but Alice just went from strength to strength and is now a wonderful 12 year old that you would never guess was that tiny at the beginning.

NICU to now. Photograph of a premature baby girl in her incubator and a photograph of her aged 9.
NICU to now

I did get Alice under the Child Development team, she started to walk at age 2yrs , and she did have speech therapy for a couple of months when she started to talk. She now loves helping me in my Business making Marzipan Sweets me & my husband decided that after the interesting journey we had had with Alice that we would not have any more children which for me was really hard but to be honest the best decision that we made as we have two amazing girls, one of which would not be with us today if the staff at The Princess Alexandra hadn’t have been so amazing …. 

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