When it comes to childbirth, having a premature baby is one of the biggest worries that an expectant mother can face. While medical science has advanced considerably in recent years and improved survival rates, unfortunately, some babies are simply born too early to survive, despite the best efforts of the doctors.
Each country has its own law on abortion limits – the period of pregnancy up to which a fetus can be aborted. This is determined by the chance of survival if the mother were to give birth at a given stage of the pregnancy.
The rationale behind this is so that no fetus with the potential to survive has their life needlessly ended. However, on occasion, some babies born before this limit can beat the odds and survive.
One of these miracle babies was born last year, just one day before the UK’s abortion limit of 24 weeks. The baby in question, a girl, was so small and underdeveloped when she was born that her brain could be seen through her skin.
Weighing a mere 1lb 2oz, the baby, who is now named Hailie Dillon, had a collapsed lung, and didn’t breath for seven minutes after she was born.
Hailie’s mother Cheri Price, now 22 years old, then had to wait for an agonizing 18 days before she was allowed to hold her daughter, who was born on February 23 at James Cook Hospital, Middlesbrough, England, last year.
Cheri, who is originally from the Isle of Wight, said, “When Hailie was born, it sounds bad to say it, but she looked like a red alien.”
“She was still in the fetus stage and she didn’t look like a baby at all – we couldn’t believe she even survived,” the mother-of-three said.
“From birth, she was put in an incubator and we couldn’t touch her – but we could see all the veins of her brain through her red skin.”
Cheri started having contractions in January 2017, but because she was so early on in her pregnancy, her local hospital said that they weren’t equipped to deal with it. To give her baby the best possible chance, she went to Darlington, Teesside, to give birth.
Already a parent to two children, including 11-month-old Jack who she shares with her boyfriend Timothy Dillon, 32, Cheri went to Middlesbrough so that Timothy’s brother could help them with childcare while they dealt with their new and extremely unexpected arrival.
In order to get to the hospital, Cheri was faced with a grueling 300-mile journey. This took eight hours by car and ferry while experiencing contractions on February 6. What a grueling journey!
Despite having experienced such premature contractions, Cheri did not give birth, and, two weeks later, she was sent back to the Isle of Wight because it appeared that she was going to be over 24 weeks pregnant when her baby was born.
“We just thought we would take the chance at a larger hospital – and we were closer to relatives so they could help with childcare for Jack,” Cheri said.
“I was discharged – but then my waters broke while I was watching (British soap opera) Hollyoaks two days later.”
Now that Hailie is a year old, Cheri said of her daughter, “I’m so proud of her, what we’ve been through and what she has been through has been horrendous.”
As Hailie did not have enough time to develop in the womb, her eyes were still fused together when she was born. She was then faced with the possibility of losing her sight because her retina was not developing properly.
After numerous specialist hospital visits and a diagnosis of stage three ROP (Retinopathy of prematurity), her sight was amazingly saved. It really is incredible what modern medicine can do for the most vulnerable among us.
During this time, Cheri and Timothy were forced to spend three months living at staff accommodation at James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, while their tiny baby grew in strength at the hospital.
Then, on June 19, 2017, Hailie was finally allowed to go home with her parents. This was two days after her actual due date.
It’s a miracle that the baby has survived, but understandably, mom doesn’t want to go through anything like this again.
“Timothy is definitely getting the snip now – I’ve said no more kids, he now has four kids, two from a previous relationship, so that’s it now – he’s agreed,” Cheri said of their miracle baby. “Hopefully next year he can treat me to somewhere away from hospitals.”
We would like to wish Cheri, Hailie, and their family all the best for the future.
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