I couldn’t wait for my perfect Christmas present – my newborn baby boy…
By Nancy Stout, 32, from Clevedon, Somerset
I held tightly onto my partner Leon’s hand in excited anticipation. We were about to meet our baby for the first time.
‘I can’t wait to see him or her,’ I said, grinning.
Me and Leon already had a son together, Knucky, and falling pregnant with our second child was a blessing.
But, as the sonographer checked out the 12-week scan images, there was a problem.
‘Your baby is fine, perfectly healthy,’ he assured us. ‘But, your placenta is blocking the way out of your womb.’
Suddenly my excitement turned to dread. My pregnancy with Knucky had been a dream, but this sounded serious.
Then, a doctor came in and gently explained that I had a condition called placenta previa.
‘Don’t worry. This happens to quite a lot of women, and we’re very used to dealing with it,’ he promised.
‘What will happen?’ I asked, nervously.
I was told I’d be booked in for a scheduled caesarean, if the baby couldn’t be delivered in the usual way. But there was still a chance that the placenta could move out of the way in time.
I clung on to the hope that the problem would sort itself out. And, in the meantime I busied myself preparing for our baby’s arrival.
After all, as the weeks passed we were getting closer and closer to Christmas. According to my December due date, our baby would arrive just in time to celebrate with us.
Eventually, at 37 weeks I was admitted to St Michael’s Hospital in Bristol to make sure I could deliver our baby safely.
We’d found out we were expecting another boy, but unfortunately my placenta was still in the way.
I was wheeled down for a caesarean, and I was still awake as the doctors numbed me from the waist down.
But, when my baby was born to the terrifying sound of silence, I knew something was wrong.
‘Why isn’t he crying?’ I asked, desperately.
Before I could get an answer, medics crowded around me.
‘We’re putting you to sleep,’ were the last words I heard. Then, everything went black before I could even set eyes on my son.
The next thing I knew, I was waking up in a hospital bed. Leon explained everything.
‘You’ve had two operations, they couldn’t stop you bleeding,’ he said, his voice wavering with emotion.
I found out doctors had given me six units of blood to save my life.
It wasn’t just that my placenta was in the way. It was actually stuck deep into the lining of my womb, another condition called placenta accreta.
So, as my baby was born I’d severely haemorrhaged. But, despite hearing this, it wasn’t me I cared about. It was my baby.
‘Our son…?’ I uttered to Leon, willing it to be good news.
‘He was resuscitated but he’s being looked after in intensive care now,’ Leon said.
I felt like it was a Christmas miracle that I’d been saved, thanks to the amazing gift of donor blood.
Now, I hoped and prayed that a Christmas angel was looking over my boy too. We decided to call him Thor.
To make sure he got the best specialist treatment, Thor was transferred to Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton. He was only 5lbs 10oz.
I was allowed just five minutes to meet my baby for the first time, before saying goodbye to him. Beneath all the tubes and equipment, he was perfect.
I desperately wanted to build a bond with him, but I had to stay in hospital to recover myself.
Every day Leon travelled over an hour between both hospitals, supporting us both. And, every day I handed over a special gift for him to deliver to Thor. My breastmilk.
A nurse had suggested it would be a good way for me to start forming an attachment to my son, despite the miles that separated us.
So, after half an hour with me Leon would hit the road to take the milk to Thor.
‘He’s doing so well,’ Leon would update me. ‘Your milk is definitely helping to build his strength.’
Then, when I was finally discharged from hospital on December 23rd, I went straight to Thor’s bedside.
For the first time I was allowed to hold my baby, and from that magical moment he started to thrive.
A nurse put it down to my special Christmas present.
‘He already knows you’re his mummy, thanks to your milk,’ she smiled, as I cradled my son in my arms.
Spending Christmas Day in hospital wasn’t the happy family Christmas at home that I’d imagined, but seeing my baby get better was the best gift that I could have had.
By the end of December, we got to take him home.
Now Thor’s nearly two and he’s completely healthy. I thank my lucky stars every single day for the precious Christmas gifts that saved us both.