A couple whose adorable baby turns seven months next week told how he joined a very exclusive club of ‘little fighters’ when he was born twelve weeks premature.
Weighing a tiny 2lb 7oz – equal to a large bag of sugar – baby Oscar defied predictions for babies born at 28 weeks, and has grown into a healthy and happy boy.
Louise Rewse, 30, had a textbook pregnancy until the week before delivery, when she developed a pounding headache.
The Information Manager went for a scan and received the all-clear, but began bleeding a few days later and was taken into surgery. Oscar was then born via an emergency C-section at 9pm on April 30.
Biomedical scientist Edward Rewse, 29, said that the traumatic experience began when he, ‘ironically’, wasn’t feeling well and came home early from work.
Speaking to mark World Prematurity Day today, Edward, of Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, said: ‘About 10 minutes later, Lou called me and said she’d just started bleeding and everything spiralled from there.’
Blue-lighted to hospital, scans revealed Oscar was in distress, as ‘his heartbeat wasn’t very strong and he was sluggish.’
From there, Louise was whisked for a C-section. But, when Oscar was delivered, he needed immediate resuscitation and specialist care, so was taken to a separate hospital (Addenbrookes, where Edward works) right away.
‘Lou was still recovering from surgery, so I went with him and slept in the parents’ room,’ said Edward.
‘He is our first child and nothing could have been more normal up until this point, so it was a massive shock for us.’
Kept in the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for seven weeks – where he was given oxygen, fed through a tube, and at one point treated for a bleed on his brain – luckily, Oscar pulled through.
And, after a few more weeks building his strength at his local hospital, he came home at the beginning of August.
Recalling their terrifying ordeal, Edward said: ‘A day after he was born, Oscar suffered a bleed on the left side of his brain. It was the most devastating news.
‘I’d spent the night in the family room, barely sleeping, and had been told to go home and get some rest.
‘But my mum, who’d come over to give me a hand with the dog and to look after things, woke me up in tears and broke the news.’
The new dad also wanted to praise staff at the hospital, who organised for Louise to be transferred to Addenbrookes and – when she was well enough – to stay alongside Edward.
The couple became one of over 600 families every year to be given free accommodation near their child’s hospital bedside by the Sick Children’s Trust charity, an initiative they say helped them massively.
Edward said: ‘We stayed at Chestnut House, just two floors below NICU, which was a godsend, as it meant we were only moments away from Oscar.
‘For the first few weeks especially, he was still incredibly ill. We were told several times by doctors to prepare ourselves for the fact he might not survive.
‘But he always pulled through and the nurses told us, “twenty-eight weekers are always real fighters.”‘
It was clear from the get-go that Oscar was exactly that, with Edward adding: ‘He was quite feisty from the word go.
‘He would pull tubes out when he’d had enough of them and even took his own ventilator out – and was breathing fine without it – for a while.’
‘But there would be highs and lows, where he could do without something for a while and would then go downhill and need help again.’
Thankfully, he’s now doing well, eating and drinking just fine and starting on baby rice.
‘He seems really healthy and is a cheeky, happy baby,’ said Edward. ‘He’s even trying to giggle.’
Doctors have warned the couple that, despite Oscar’s remarkable progress and fighting spirit, he will have sustained some unavoidable brain damage.
Edward and Louise have taken this in their stride, but are hopeful about his current progress, as he’s not showing any ‘obvious issues’.
‘We can’t get too excited, as there’s still potential for this to change,’ continued Edward.
‘There could come a point when his brain tries to make a connection and he can’t do it because it’s damaged, but we will work with that if and when it happens.
‘The fact his consultants say they would have expected to see something by now could be brilliant news.’
While Oscar – who now weigh 13lbs 2oz and is slightly smaller than a six-month-old baby – did not take to breastfeeding, he is fine bottle feeding.
He also loved skin-to-skin contact in hospital, and has bonded completely with his parents since being home.
Edward said: ‘It’s hard to believe how close we came to losing him now.
‘He only cries if he’s genuinely in pain, he sleeps well and is a dream really. He’s such a chilled little guy.’
For more information, or to donate to the Sick Children’s Trust Christmas appeal, Home from Home, visit the charity’s website.
What is World Prematurity Day?
World Prematurity Day – which takes place each year on November 17 – is a global movement to raise awareness about premature birth and the impact it can have on families.
Baby charity, Bliss, says it ‘is an opportunity to raise awareness of premature birth and work with partners around the world to prevent it.’
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