Sheila Bhatti was just 16 weeks pregnant when her water broke, but the 24-year-old mother didn’t discover this fact until her 20-week scan at Hillingdon Hospital in Uxbridge, England, Daily Mail reported.
Bhatti described the realization, “At first it was just tiny amounts, but a few days later I woke up in the night to find my pajama bottoms were wet through.”
At the hospital, the midwife detected the baby’s heartbeat but had a difficult time seeing the baby on the ultrasound screen, Bhatti said.
“Then she told me that my waters had ruptured, and at first I was relieved because it meant I hadn’t lost my baby,” she said. Bhatti continued, “The doctors told me they were certain my baby couldn’t survive to a viable gestation and that I should consider terminating there and then. I couldn’t believe it.”
Despite the doctor’s advice, Bhatti chose life. As is the case with many mothers, hearing her child’s heartbeat made Bhatti realize that she wanted to try everything possible to save her baby.
“I loved my baby already and I couldn’t terminate,” said Sheila. “And when my baby continued to cling on despite having been given a less than one per cent survival chance my husband Wahab agreed that where there was life there was hope.”
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After a month of bed rest and close observation, the baby was nearly 24 weeks old, which is generally considered the point of viability when a baby can survive outside the womb. Bhatti moved from her home in Southall, Middlesex to the Queen Charlotte and Chelsea Hospital, a place better able to handle situations with premature babies, according to the report.
Finally, Bhatti went into labor at 28 weeks and 5 days. But another problem surfaced. Because of an infection, her cervix wasn’t opening. She had an emergency Caesarean section, and delivered a 2-pound baby boy.
Daily Mail reported on the baby’s journey after his birth:
‘It all happened so quickly,’ says Sheila. ‘I knew at last my baby was a boy but at first, I didn’t know if he was alive. We named him Rayyan, which means ‘wise’, as he was already beating the odds of survival.
He was whisked down to the neo-natal intensive care unit.’ Sheila didn’t get to see him until 5.30pm when Wahab, 29, wheeled her down to the unit.
Doctors told her that although Rayyan needed help breathing, his heart was strong. The next 48 hours would be crucial.
‘I was so shocked when I saw him for the first time,’ she says. ‘He looked so tiny, like a baby bird, and his skin was translucent and covered in wires. Still I was delighted to be a mum and spent every day sitting next to his incubator, willing him to be strong.
Bhatti could not even hold her son until a week after he was born, he was so fragile. She said he felt almost weightless when she finally got to hold him. Babies born prematurely have a better chance of survival outside the womb now than ever before, but there are still many risks involved.