Baby Rhianwen Rees, born weighing just 2lb, has had a “rollercoaster” life so far, according to her mum.
Born 13 weeks early via emergency Caesarean and weighing only 2lb 4oz, Rhianwen has suffered two collapsed lungs and two brain bleeds.
Parents Jessica Hamblin and Ryan Rees, from Abergavenny, were finally able to cuddle her 10 days after her birth at the Grange University Hospital near Cwmbran, South Wales.
24-year-old mum Jessica, said: “I was at home when I started experiencing blood loss and pain. I spent from May 2 in and out of the Grange under observation. On May 25 at 5pm my waters broke, triggering an infection, which was the ultimate decision in bringing my daughter into the world. She was born on May 26”.
“I was very frightened. My partner was in work so I went into my emergency C-section alone. It all happened so quickly that I wasn’t able to inform anyone what was about to happen. The staff were able to call my partner’s work so he was there when I woke up”.
“Ryan was devastated he couldn’t be there for her birth. He’s been my rock throughout it all, keeping all of us together. He’s had his own share of worries and scares himself but over all he’s been fantastic and has really taken on board everything that comes with having a tiny baby”.
Ms Hamblin’s first baby, Oscar, now four, is looking forward to meeting his little sister, was also born seven weeks early. Although there were no major complications, he had an 11-day stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Ms Hamblin also said that she expected issues this time around, given her previous premature birth.
She said: “Apart from this pregnancy being very short, it all seemed normal. I had plenty of scans to monitor the baby after Oscar’s birth”.
Ms Hamblin, whose partner Ryan, also 24, said “The staff at the Grange have been fantastic. They have been very transparent about everything to do with our daughter’s care and conditions. They are very supportive of us as parents and include us in all aspects of her care”.
Rhianwen, who was moved from NICU to the special care baby unit on 25 June, was immediately intubated after her birth. Three days after, she suffered two serious brain bleeds and a collapsed lung. She recovered from the collapsed lung but suffered another one several days later. Her brain bleeds were an ongoing condition, however they slowly corrected themselves after careful monitoring from NICU staff.
On 22 June, all breathing support was removed and Rhianwen began breathing on her own.
Ms Hamblin said: “It’s been very difficult. There’s been a lot of smiles, tears and fights but we know she’s in the best place and getting the best care. It’s been difficult with our little boy as we have to split our time”.
“We know what she needs to achieve in order to come home including gaining weight and establishing feeds but when this happens depends on Rhianwen […] From what we know she’s recovering well from her issues”.
Ms Hamblin went on: “He [Oscar] is upset he cannot visit the ward currently due to restrictions but loves seeing videos of her. He thinks she looks just like a normal baby with the tubes as he knows this is what he looked like”.
“Our families have been very supportive and have helped us massively in ways we cannot begin to explain! From helping us with childcare, support for me after surgery, even helping with money for the fuel, they have all been a massive help. They cannot wait to see her when she comes home”.
“But clothes for such a small baby are hard to find, and when you do, the choice isn’t that great”.
Right To Life UK spokesperson, Catherine Robinson, said: “These wonderful stories of premature babies going on to survive are becoming almost common-place. How long will it take our lawmakers to re-examine our cruel abortion laws that permit abortion even after the point at which babies are able to survive outside of the womb?”
“Of course, babies who cannot survive outside the womb have the same dignity and worth as the babies that can, and their lives should not be ended either. But the fact that more and more premature babies are going on to survive undercuts one of the main reasons given for our current abortion law”.