Story by Danielle Anna Seidl,
In February 2015, while living and studying in Munich, we found out I was pregnant for the third time. My first little girl was stillborn at 20 weeks, and my second baby was lost at 9 weeks. We had agreed this was our last attempt for a few years. Mentally and physically, it can take a lot from you as a person.
I stayed positive when we found out the news, and even prayed for the best possible outcome.
For the first few weeks of pregnancy, I had no problems at all and I thought this time it was going to be different. I was on bed rest from the word go, under the gynaecologist’s instructions, and I was not allowed to walk or go anywhere other than hospital visits.
Throughout my pregnancy, I had light spotting and little twinges here and there.
I felt my little boy kick for the first time, obviously while I was in bed, that’s the only place I could be! He made his first kick to let me know he was there on 9 May 2015, when I was roughly 16 to 17 weeks pregnant.
I was then told that I had to take progesterone as a precaution while I was in hospital, which I was for much of my pregnancy. The doctors that spoke English well enough would give me updates, though I often had to wait for my husband to come and translate for me.
I was told that I had gestational diabetes and had to inject heparin daily, which my husband did for me, and I was put on a special diet with less sugar. My husband had to wash me, carry me and lift me. He did everything I could not do, which was anything that would put any pressure on my cervix.
At 16 weeks pregnant, I was back in hospital, where I stayed until week 25. I had regular heavy bleeding and was told my cervix had a worrying measurement, and I needed a cerclage ring to be physically placed on my cervix to keep it closed. I was too far along to have the cervical stitch (according to German medical practice) and so I had to have the ring as it was less risky for my baby.
I was told that I was having a little boy, and again I was very hopeful it would all be ok. I kept a very positive mind. During the day, my husband had to leave to study, and I wanted him to as there was nothing he could do. In the evenings he came to visit and it lit up my day.
I just counted the days, and the kicks. At times I overanalysed every single movement and feeling in my body, as that is all I could do.
I looked forward to food, seeing my husband and then sleep, because sleep to me then meant one day further successful day along in my pregnancy, and a day closer to seeing my little boy.
I sang 'You are my sunshine' every day to my little boy waiting in my stomach, and told him how much his mama loved him and couldn't wait to see him.
I also told him to try and hang on that little bit longer.
I was due to go home on 9 July, but the doctor gave me a steroid injection to help strengthen my baby’s lungs, as a precaution if anything was to happen, and kept me in for another night. I was due the next dosage the following evening.
I was going to be discharged the next day. In the end, my little boy had other ideas.
Something did not feel right. I demanded to see a doctor and ended up having an internal examination, when I was told it was urgent and I had to be prepared for theatre, as the doctors were going to perform an emergency c-section. My little boy's gestational age was just 25+5 weeks, but his foot was coming through my cervix.
My amazing baby boy Lukas Matthias Seidl was born at 25+5 weeks, by T-Cut c-section, at 14.51pm. He weighed 810 grams and measured 34cm.
Before I could see him, he was taken to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). I was given strict instruction to be on complete bed rest due to my surgery, but I knew I could not wait any longer to see my baby. I wheeled myself in a chair from one side of the hospital to the other, where I finally saw my gorgeous baby boy.
Lukas did not open his eyes for the first few weeks, due to his prematurity, and I was not allowed to hold him for four weeks. I could only hold his small, beautiful finger. He had to undergo regular daily light therapy to help fight jaundice.
Lukas fought so much during his time in the ICU, he had bleeding in his head, and six pneumothoraxes, which were reducing his chance of survival due to his weakened chest and breathing. Incisions were made in his chest to drain the fluid from his lungs.
The heart rate and oxygen saturation monitors regularly went off. But he fought his way back up. Lukas was an amazing fighter and used his strength, regardless of his size, to overcome it.
Lukas left the ICU on Friday the 21st of August 2015, when he was moved to the early birth unit.
His next six weeks in the early birth unit meant a change from his high frequency breathing equipment to low flow, to CPAP, to ventilation. All such an achievement.
Lukas started out on 1ml of milk at the start and moved up to a bottle over many weeks. I expressed my milk due to complications of him latching onto the breast. I had to express and feed him through a bottle. This was his preference and I continued to do this for the next 14 months.
After so many hurdles and such a rollercoaster of ups and downs, Lukas left hospital after 102 days on the 20th of October 2015. This was the best day of my life, and I hope for Lukas it was his too!
Everything else in the future was easy in comparison to what we had to face back then. Lukas had a tough start into this world and he has a whole lot of history behind him. This history is what makes a person who they are. Lukas is my miracle. All odds were against him at the start but now he is a happy and healthy little boy and that is all we ever asked and hoped for. I hope this story can offer hope and inspiration to others that have faced hardships during pregnancy or having lost a child or having had a premature baby.
They are worth fighting and trying everything for.
Anything is possible in life, miracles can happen, Lukas is living proof. Never give up and try and stay positive. Life is not to be taken for granted, it is a truly remarkable thing, something to be cherished.
If there is only one thing you take away from reading our story, please take away hope.
The problem of premature birth in the UK needs to be addressed. Too many parents are currently enduring this anxious experience that can have a lasting impact.
Get our free app for parents of premature babies. It is the first of its kind in the UK. 'My Premature Baby' is available on all devices (phones, tablets).
I got to finally give my boy a cuddle and we held him and sang to him as he took his last breath.
All scans showed my daughter was perfect and that the placenta was fine.
"I hope our story gives couples some reassurance that there is light at the end of the tunnel because after 9 miscarriages we have our miracle on the way"
Born weighing less than a bag of sugar over twenty-one years ago, Harriet has come a long way to today, in her final year of University, writing her dissertation on premature infants.