My partner Darren and I had just bought a house when we found out we were pregnant, we were quite shocked as we hadn't been trying, but what better way to move into a brand new house knowing it was the start of our future together as a family. It was my first pregnancy and so I bought all the books and loved every minute of being pregnant. Everything was going well until I noticed a watery discharge when I was about 22 weeks pregnant, but the books said a discharge was normal and some women prefer to wear panty liners, so I went and bought some and thought nothing more of it. However, 2 weeks later this discharge was getting heavier and smellier (even Darren could smell it when I walked past) Not a nice thing to talk about but it's a crucial part of the story. I just bought normal period pads and again, thought nothing of it (the books were saying that the discharge would be getting heavier, so it all seemed normal to me) until I was 25 weeks exactly and had a particularly bad discharge, so I called my midwife and was told to get to hospital straight away. We went to Gawler Hospital, where an ultrasound and other tests were done. The ultrasound was inconclusive so we were told to get another one done by Benson's Radiology the next day as theirs are bigger and can measure more accurately.

The ultrasound showed a lack of amniotic fluid, so I was seen by another doctor who told me that I was being transferred to Flinders Medical Centre as they were the only hospital with a bed available for the baby and was given a surfactant injection to help the baby's lungs. That was the only thing I was told, I didn't believe they would let me give birth so early, I thought they would try and keep the baby in as long as they could. So we went home and packed our bags and drove to Flinders. Completely unaware that the next 2 days would be absolute hell.

I was admitted to the birthing suite and had all kinds of tests done, they came back showing that I had a huge infection and was put on antibiotics straight away. Then we were hit with the news that my membranes had been ruptured for 3 weeks and that the baby had been surrounded by the infection and breathing it in for those 3 weeks. The next few hours passed in a blur of doctor’s visits and each visit we were given really bad odds. The baby only had a 5% chance of survival after birth and we had to make the decision to ventilate or cuddle?? We chose to ventilate, with no extreme measures. If the baby was as sick as they said we thought it would be selfish of us to keep her alive with no quality of life. The next day we were told the infection was so bad that they wanted to induce me to keep it localised to my uterus, if they opened me up it could go systemic and I might die... so I was hooked up to Oxytocin to induce the labour, the baby went nuts and kicked all night and every half hour they checked her heartbeat. I almost went insane, I could feel the baby and the heartbeat was so strong, how could they take her out of me and let her die?? After 18 hours, I hadn't gone into labour and so we were faced with another decision.

A termination tablet inserted into the vagina, killing the baby instantly and evacuating the contents of the uterus OR surgery. As my uterus was not distended I couldn’t have a low transverse c-section and needed a classical c-section (where they cut vertically) with a 20% chance of needing a hysterectomy and losing my uterus, and also the chance of the infection spreading and killing me...So it came down to me or our baby??? Choose!!! We just couldn't bring ourselves to go with the tablet option; there was no hope for our baby with that one so I was prepped for surgery. I had to have general anaesthetic because they wouldn't risk any of the infection getting into my spinal cord with a spinal block.

I was taken in at 1315; it was the most terrifying experience of my life. I didn't have Darren to comfort me, for the first time in 2 days I was all alone not knowing if I was going to wake up at all or what I was going to wake up to. They made the incision at 1331 and our precious daughter Layla Paige entered the world at 1333 weighing 650 grams. The doctors said that she came out squawking and fighting, so that was a positive sign.  She was given an Apgar of 8 at birth and again at 5 minutes, another good sign.

I am so happy that we chose surgery now, when they finally got into my uterus they found that Layla was surrounded by clean amniotic fluid, the infection hadn't yet penetrated the amniotic fluid. It was all still at my cervix trying to get in. Better yet, they were able to do a normal c-section and my uterus was fine and still in my body.

Our tiny Layla is a little battler and our NICU journey has only just begun, but we have our baby girl and she's a fighter!  Layla is now 7 weeks old and our NICU journey has been anything but smooth, she had to have surgery to close her PDA and it was her last chance of survival... She came through the surgery and is now 100% better.  We still have a long road ahead but can't wait until she comes home.

The staff of Flinders Medical Centre have been fantastic, I couldn't have asked for more hardworking, dedicated, lovely people.  I can't thank them enough for helping my baby girl through her battle for life.

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