British couple Jordan Wilson and Ashley Challoner hoped to spend a relaxing week in Italy in December before going home to prepare for the birth of their first child.
But their plans were turned completely upside-down when their daughter arrived 15 weeks early while they were still on vacation.
The Daily Mail reports Matilda Challoner was born on Dec. 3 weighing 1 pound, 6 ounces, less than the weight of an iPad. Born at 25 weeks, Matilda was just one week past the legal abortion limit in England.
Earlier this week, doctors determined that Matilda was well enough to travel from Italy back to her native England. She currently is staying at the Rotherham General Hospital, and her mom and dad said they are not sure when she will be well enough to go home.
“We are over the moon. I can’t believe she is coming home [to England]. It’s all we have hoped for,” Wilson said.
The 26-year-old mother from south Yorkshire said her pregnancy was unexpected but not unwanted. When she and her fiance, Ashley Challoner, decided to take a short trip to Italy, Wilson said she had no indication that there was anything to be concerned about with her pregnancy.
The day after arriving in Italy, however, Wilson said her water broke. They rushed to a nearby hospital where doctors tried to stall labor; however, they found that Wilson had an undetected infection in her placenta, according to the report.
Matilda arrived on Dec. 3 after spending just 25 weeks in the womb. Her parents said they chose her name because it means “battler.”
During her first few weeks at the Italian hospital, Matilda lived out her name by battling through a number of health complications. According to the report, she spent several weeks on a ventilator before she could breathe on her own.
Early this week, the British parents received unexpected good news from a phone call.
“We got a call from the insurance people, who said the doctors had been in contact with them and said Matilda was well enough to fly,” Wilson said. “This was the first we knew of it. The news was amazing.”
The whole family now is back in England where Matilda will remain in the hospital until she is well enough to go home. Her parents said the ordeal has been stressful, but they also have experienced many joys. They said they already are dreaming about taking their daughter back to her birth place some day.
Recent technological advancements are helping more premature babies like Matilda survive and thrive.
A Duke University study published in 2017 reported that babies born at just 23 weeks gestation are surviving outside the womb at a greater rate than ever before. Researchers examined 4,500 babies between 2000 and 2011 and found a “small but significant drop in fatalities for babies born between 23 and 37 weeks gestation,” as well as a decrease in premature babies manifesting neurophysiological problems, the Daily Mail reported.
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Late last year, the journal Pediatrics highlighted a baby girl in the United States who survived after being born 21 weeks and four days after conception. The girl, who now is 3, is believed to be the youngest premature baby to survive.
Cases like these are prompting calls to change abortion laws in the U.S. and England to reflect the new viability lines. Previously, 24 weeks generally was considered the point of viability. Abortions are illegal after 24 weeks in England and in a number of American states.