In May 2012, Marie Delanote was pregnant with her fourth child but wasn’t expecting her arrival for another four months. However, at 23-weeks her water broke and she was rushed to the Basildon hospital in England.
Maria said, “I thought I was fine, but when I got up and went to the bathroom and my baby came out – it was extremely dramatic. I didn’t expect it to be an early birth at all because my three other pregnancies were all full term. I had been quite ill just a couple of weeks before, I had a very bad throat infection around 21 weeks pregnant, which turned into streptococcus A. Then ten days later I lost my mucus plug and I started wobbling – just three days later, my waters broke.”
Upon arrival at Basildon, Maria discovered that the hospital wasn’t equipped to care for babies younger than 27-weeks. Thankfully though, they did give her an injection that helps babies lungs develop quicker if they are at risk for premature birth. Then they transferred Maria to Portsmouth Hospital, which was two hours away.
She said, “I thought I had to go to the bathroom- I thought I had been blocked for several days but unconsciously had not wanted to let go because of the baby. There was a mirror in front of the toilet and as I looked up, I saw this tiny little head between my legs, so I knew what was happening. I pulled the emergency cord and within seconds, the midwives and the neonatal intensive care unit were there. Two of the midwives supported me while the third one helped to deliver Eloise. I didn’t feel anything because she was so small. She was as big as my hand, she fitted on my hand – she was really, really small. Luckily I was in hospital because she was given to the doctors within seconds and they put breathing tubes in her.”
Maria’s daughter, Eloise, weighted a tiny one-pound when she was born and
picked up streptococcus A and B from her mother. Marie said, “She was infected by the streptococcus A and B, because in the meantime I had also developed streptococcus B. So, as she came out and we weren’t prepared, she picked that up too. She was pus-covered, she was smelly, she made no attempts to breathe and she also had two small bleeds in her brain – it didn’t look very positive.”
Remarkably, after four months in the hospital Eloise was well enough to go home but stayed on a portable oxygen tank for breathing support. Marie said, “She was on home oxygen but an incredibly small amount – 0.02 of home oxygen so a very low flow. But that’s because it was in September and autumn was coming, so they took no risks. It was quite difficult because a small baby is attached to oxygen anywhere you go. You have a bottle underneath your pram and everyone is looking at you and wondering what’s wrong with your baby. She was on that until April – a month before her first birthday and then she just came off it.”
Now Eloise is a healthy two-year-old girl. “She sailed through for a baby who had given birth ill and so early. One in ten who are born that prematurely are healthy and have no long term problems, but she wasn’t just premature, she was also ill when she was born. Most children born at this age have chronic lung disease, but she has been followed up by the NHS incredibly well,” said Maria.
She concluded, “These Micro Preemies [babies born before 26 weeks gestation] are also at the risk of major eye problems, blindness, healing problems, growth problems and development problems in movement. But the specialist told me even when she was one year old that she’s a miracle. She went to nursery when she was one year old and she has had no more coughs and colds than any other children. I saw the specialist in Romford six months ago and she has fully caught up with her age group, which is a miracle for that kind of baby. I’m 100 per cent convinced that it was the co-operation between the spiritual and medical. She’s very special. All of my children are special to me but when you go through something like that, it makes them extra special.”