Worcester mum and dad Katie Curtis and Matt Waite, whose daughter Mary spent 102 days being cared for at Worcestershire Royal Hospital’s Neonatal Unit after being born more than three months early, spoke to Observer editor Rob George about their experience….
BRAVE Mary is the second child for both Katie and Matt who each have children from earlier relationships.
Katie’s eight-year-old son and Matt’s nine-year-old daughter were due to be joined by a new baby sister this autumn but the Worcester couple were soon faced with a very different set of circumstances.
The city mum’s waters broke on May 30 when she was 27 weeks pregnant, more than three months short of her due date.
Mary made her appearance into the world some four days later after an emergency caesarian section at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital, she weighed just 2lb 9oz.
After being ventilated and placed in an incubator, the brave little fighter slowly made progress and moved from intensive care, into the high dependency unit before finally making her way into the nursery room.
The tiny bundle of joy underwent three blood transfusions and phototherpay for jaundice during her first few months of life.
She has been diagnosed with chronic lung disease due to being so premature, pulmonary valve stenosis and has an open valve on her heart.
Reflecting on the days after Mary’s premature arrival into the world, Katie admitted the couple found the experience hard to bear.
“We both found it so emotionally draining and frightening. So many machines, tubes, monitors and the frightening alarms,” she said.
“There was a point where Mary got an infection and she was tested for sepsis. Thankfully she didn’t have it.
“We had to take it one day at a time. Not knowing what we were walking into every day. Was there going to be any progress or was there going to be a step backwards.” Katie added.
The couple faced a further hurdle when during Mary’s progress she began to display signs of Down’s Syndrome or Turner Syndrome – a condition which affects one in every 2,000 baby girls and can lead to infertility in their adult years and leave them short in stature.
After three weeks of tests it was revealed Mary had Noonan Syndrome, a condition which can display unusual facial features, restricted growth congenital heart disease.
The diagnosis was hard to take her devoted parents and Katie admitted they struggled to cope with having Mary in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), let alone a genetic condition diagnosis as well.
“We had two other children to look after and also needed to get in to see Mary every day,” Katie said.
“It was hard to juggle our home life with NICU life. But the staff on NICU are fantastic and we are forever grateful for the care they provided to Mary.”
Nurses on the unit marked Mary’s 100th day on the unit with a card and a cake and Katie and Matt were finally able to bring their daughter home two days later on September 12, a fortnight after her original due date.
While still on oxygen, both Katie and Matt hailed their little fighter as a ‘strong little lady’ who is settling down to life at home with her family.
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