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Baby Miraculously Survives Being Born At 24 Weeks And Weighing Just Over A Pound

Jessica Elliott/PA Collect

A woman has spoken out about her terrifying journey into motherhood after her “sassy little fighter" was born just one day after the 24 week legal abortion limit and only a year after she miscarried her sister at 21 weeks.


Jessica Elliott, 31, told how she still has flashbacks to the trauma of her daughter Storm's birth – and to the three months when she clung precariously to life in Evelina London Children's Hospital, a specialist neonatal baby unit attached to St Thomas' Hospital.

Opening her heart in support of Neonatal Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs until April 21, Jessica, who lives in Lewisham, south east London, with her sports consultant husband Kevin, 36, recalled her terror that history would repeat itself when her waters broke on 25 March 2018, at 23 weeks.

PA Real Life-Jessica Elliott

Jessica, who runs her own dance talent agency, said:

“I'll never forget that day. I felt as if I had wet myself. I got up out of bed and the waters just gushed out."
“I knew we had to get to hospital, but I was really scared because I also knew that our local hospital in Lewisham was not geared up to look after babies born that early."
“I rang everyone I knew and my friend, Denise, told me about a friend of hers whose baby had been born at the neonatal unit at Evelina London Children's Hospital and I knew that was where I needed to go."

PA Real Life-Jessica Elliott

Only a year earlier, Jessica and Kevin had endured the heartache of losing a baby girl, who they called Louise, at 21 weeks.

Jessica continued:

“The post mortem showed Louise was born early due to an infection, but when you have lost a baby with a late miscarriage, it takes the magic out of the next pregnancy."
“With TV shows like The Mummy Diaries and Keeping Up With The Kardashians, pregnancy is glamourised – it's all baby showers and celebrations – but when I fell pregnant again with Storm, I was just terrified right from the start."

PA Real Life-Jessica Elliott

Because of Jessica's late miscarriage, at 14 weeks pregnant she had undergone a procedure called a Shirodkar stitch, where doctors surgically sew the neck of the womb closed to try and keep the pregnancy in place until the baby is viable.

The mother is then monitored every week to check the cervix is not opening, which would trigger a premature labour.

And, despite doctors telling her she could still go about her busy daily life, Jessica was so scared she put herself on strict bedrest, to try and keep the baby safe.

PA Real Life-Jessica Elliott

“The days were very, very long," she said.

“Pregnancy becomes an ordeal in these circumstances, because you are just trying to reach the milestone of 24 weeks, when doctors see a baby as viable and will do everything they can to keep it alive if it is born."
“Then, 29 weeks is even better, because the chance of survival is so much higher."

PA Real Life-Jessica Elliott

“I didn't wash my hair for weeks, because I was trying to stay still. I ran my business from a laptop on my bed and I must have watched that film, Hidden Figures, about 50 times, because that was what was in the DVD player and I didn't want to move to change films."

After all this effort, Jessica was devastated when her waters broke so early and the doctors at her local hospital told her the Shirodkar stitch had to be taken out straight away to avoid infection.

They also agreed that she needed specialist neonatal care, so Jessica was sent by ambulance to the Evelina unit, which cares for more than 1,000 babies a year and has some of the best survival rates in the UK.


“The doctors there told me they would do everything to try and keep this baby in, but also asked if I wanted them to resuscitate if they were born at 24 weeks and I said yes," Jessica recalled.

PA Real Life-Jessica Elliott

She continued:

“We'd got to 23 weeks and four days, and a scan showed the baby was a good size for that stage."
“I also knew from all the reading I had done that premature girls do better than boys, and that Afro Caribbean babies do better than Caucasian. But we didn't know the sex of the baby at this point and we still hadn't reached 24 weeks"

The pregnancy never did reach that important milestone, but they had come so close that when Jessica went into labour, which lasted 12 hours, at 23 weeks – the Thursday before Easter last year – that the doctors said they would try everything they could to keep her baby alive.

PA Real Life-Jessica Elliott

“It all happened so fast," said Jessica.

“There were about eight members of the neonatal team in the room. We told them the baby's name was Storm and when she was born, she shot out into a plastic bag they use for premature babies."
“The doctors rushed her to a table in the room to start the treatment to support her breathing and I remember asking, 'Is it a boy or girl?' But nobody answered, because that wasn't the important thing right then."
“I thought, 'If there is a God in heaven, this baby will be okay.' Then I was told she had not been born in a good condition. I still hadn't seen my baby when she was whisked away to the neonatal ward. The whole thing was hell on earth to go through."

Storm was born on 29 March 2018, weighing just 1lb 4oz and for the next three months, her life hung in the balance.

PA Real Life-Jessica Elliott

During that time, she had 15 blood transfusions and even when she was well enough to leave intensive care, she was still not ready to go home, so spent another two months at the couple's local hospital in Lewisham.

“I was just so grateful that she was still alive and was in the best hands, but I was terrified all the time, because it felt like we took one step forwards and two back," said Jessica.

“The first couple of weeks at the neonatal unit were okay, but only because ignorance is bliss. We had no idea what we would all be going through to get Storm well enough to come home."

She added:

“The doctors and nursing staff were brilliant and gave us the information we needed, but they also looked at me in a certain way and made sure I understood it was early days and still touch and go."

PA Real Life-Jessica Elliott

“I had already got the chaplain to give Storm a blessing and the first time we had to go home and leave her there, when she was three days old I cried all the way."

For 119 days in total, the devoted mother travelled back and forth between their home and the baby unit, visiting her daughter.

Because she was born so premature, her lungs were underdeveloped, requiring her to be on a ventilator for five weeks, along with a hole in the heart needing a PDA ligation operation at 28 weeks.

Jessica said:

“I just thought, 'This is my life now.'"

PA Real Life-Jessica Elliott

On one of those days, Jessica heard the devastating news that two other premature babies being cared for at the unit, and whose parents she had grown close to, had died.

“I'm the kind of person who usually keeps my feelings to myself and you would never know there was anything wrong with me, but when I heard that news, I was having trouble expressing milk for Storm and suddenly, it all felt like too much," she recalled.

PA Real Life-Jessica Elliott

“I was sitting by the incubator and I couldn't stop crying."

The staff spotted Jessica's distress and suggested she had a session with Dr Rebeccca Chilvers, the lead clinical psychologist based full-time at the Evelina.

For Jessica, being able to talk openly about her feelings of terror and anxiety over Storm's chances of survival was a godsend.

“I was able to talk freely and openly to Rebecca. It was like a safe space where I could voice all my fears without upsetting or worrying Kevin or my mum, who were both going through this too," she said.

PA Real Life-Jessica Elliott

“In a situation like this, all you have is hope and that can be very hard to hang on to. It's really important you can speak about how you are feeling and even now, when we have had a happy ending, I get horrible flashbacks to the trauma of it all."

Fortunately, at 19 weeks Storm was allowed home and, now healthy and happy, she celebrated her first birthday last month.

“She is the best," said Jessica.

“She's really sassy and knows what she wants, and we already know she's a little fighter."

But for Jessica, the trauma of the whole experience is never far from the surface and she does not want to add to her family with another child.

PA Real Life-Jessica Elliott

She said:

“They say never say never, but the truth for me is no, never again."
“There are other options like adoption and surrogacy but for me, I am so grateful to have Storm and that's enough, so the truth is I won't go through all that again."

Meanwhile, Dr Chilvers is keen to raise awareness of the true extent of trauma experienced by mums like Jessica, whose journey into parenthood is so difficult.

Dr Chilvers said:

“Having a baby admitted to the neonatal unit has a huge impact on the whole family and it's vitally important they get psychological support to reduce both the immediate and the longer-term impact on their mental health and emotional wellbeing."
“Parents in this situation cannot wait weeks for a referral so being based in the Evelina unit means I can support them immediately, and they don't have to be separated from their baby."

Evelina London is celebrating its 150th birthday. For more information visit www.evelinalondon.nhs.uk/150

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When you know your kids backwards and forwards, this is the best tool in your arsenal.

Getting our kids to listen to us is not always the easiest of tasks. They're willful and stubborn, but we've got a mighty weapon they are rarely prepared for: reverse psychology. Getting them to convince themselves to want to do something against their own initial intentions takes some work and a whole lot of creativity, but a little sneaky manipulation goes a long way. Here are some clever parents' tricks that are definitely worth taking notes on.

Redditor u/LeanderD Asks:

Parents of reddit, what's your best example of reversed psychology on your kids that actually worked?

He Floated His Idea Through A Back Channel

Giphy

Wanted to name my boat. Anything I would think of was dismissed as stupid by my 13 year old son. After deciding on a name, I confided to a male friend my son liked. Made my friend suggest the name as though it was his idea. My son thought the name was perfect. Done.

calypsodweller

We Always Want What We Can't Have

One of my best friends through childhood used to be punished with no salad if she misbehaved. She cherishes salad now and would always try to eat as much as possible during school lunch. Coincidentally, her now husband used to be punished with no books, it had the same effect. I think it's hilarious that they'd be hitting the salad bar and library like some black market their narc parents couldn't reach hahaha.

cookiearthquake

A Deceit That's A Cut Above The Rest

Giphy

Don't know if this counts, but, at my high school (private, boys only) in the 1960's, they made a big deal about how long your hair was, and would occasionally order a boy to go home and "get a haircut".

I thought it was stupid, until years later, a master confided to me at a reunion that the policy was deliberate. The school figured we'd spend so much energy rebelling about hair length, that we would ignore other aspects of teenage rebellion. (Not?) Surprisingly, they were mostly right.

FrankDrakman

Damn! That's smart. Wow.

fangxx456

Oh they don't like long hair?

I'll show them. I'll grow my hair out as lon- what?! No I don't want to go "party"? I gotta try out this horse shampoo.

DankeyKang11

The Forbidden Book

Hi I was a victim,

There was a forbidden book that I was not allow to read on the shelf. My parents said I could only read it if I behave myself.

It was summer holidays and I was playing games all day (after 6 hrs of summer homework). One day I was home alone and had the opportunity to grabbed it. I read like half of it in one go. It was 5000 years of Chinese history.

Safe to say I was bamboozled.

oddstodd

Flowers Of The Queen

My parents always told me my broccoli were the flowers of the queen and that I really shouldn't eat them, or else the queen would get very upset! I, of course, ate the whole broccoli in a few seconds.

Subwoofy

I'm telling the queen and she's gonna be pissed

draculacletus

Sleeping Beauty

Giphy

I taught my kids when they were toddlers that no amount of yelling, shaking or hitting can wake a sleeping adult. The only thing that works is a gentle hug and/or a nice kiss on the cheek.

Edit: Probably needed some more details for the reverse psychology aspect to be clear. It went something like this - Step one, tell the kids I'm going to sleep and nothing they do will wake me (head buried face down is the safest position). Step two, after the initial onslaught dies down pretend to awaken on your own. Tell them you got a bit of nap left in you and nothing can wake you, especially not hugs and kisses.

DrMethusael

Holy sh*t...if my daughter woke me up like this I would buy her a pony.

All-Seeing_Elon

I am saving this comment because this will save lives if I ever have kids, stg.

smerter

A Walk In Someone Else's Shoes.

Split custody with my ex. When my son was around 10, he visited two weekends a month. I was waiting tables and didn't have a huge amount to spend, but he was so needy from divorce (and I'm not blaming him, it was ugly), he begged constantly for MORE when he was with me. Whatever more was, it didn't matter... he'd be eating ice cream cone and begging for teriyaki.

I finally realized that he just felt empty, and getting MORE whatever from me wasn't filling him up. His next visit I handed him $100 in cash and told him it was our food/fun budget for 3 days and two nights, and he was in charge of it. I bought him his own wallet to carry. We figured out how many times we were going to eat and what we were going to do, and he paid. He got to keep whatever money he had left...thought he was rich...then realized just how much everything cost. Well. Shoe on other foot then. If we had no money for food, we ate leftovers - and I didn't contribute more to pot. After a few weekends of running short or not getting something he actually wanted because he was foolish with funds, he started to really think about how to spend that money. He budgeted and kept to his budget. And a few times he actually went home with a little cash for his private stash.

Many years later, he thanked me for this. It really changed the way he thought about money and love.

Augumenti

This Is Worth Giving A Shot

Took my 3 year old son to one of those doctor's visits where he was going to get a shot. He was worried about the shot on the whole drive over, almost to the point of tears. We get to the doctor's office and a nurse subtly lets me know that my son is not just scheduled for 1 shot, but 5 of them in the same visit.

I turn to my son with an exaggerated smile and tell him, "Good news! They figured out how to take that one big shot you were going to get and instead break it up into these 5 little tiny shots so it won't hurt nearly as much!"

You could see the relief wash over his face. He stopped squirming and relaxed completely. He took the first shot and even smiled and said "It's true! The small ones don't hurt!"

We actually made it through the third shot before the effect wore off and reality kicked in. Still... I counted it as a victory.

blackbird77

Put This To The Taste

Giphy

My mom would tell me she only lets me eat soup after candy and she'd only buy me candy that i didn't like. After a few times, i stopped trying and begged her to let me eat soup first. She gave me a smirk and told me go ahead. This doesn't sound as evil as it was. But trust me i suffered.

turkeypr0

So what was the candy?

Poster_Main

Mint chocolate, raisins, stuff like that. I still hate them to this day. Who the f--- thought while eating chocolate "hmm id like some tooth paste with this."

turkeypr0

This is Truckin' Awesome

Mum had sworn a bit around the house.

When 4, while out at the supermarket, I said F word really loudly.

Very quickly and intently, she asked if I had just said "Truck" and said that was a bad word and not to ever say Truck like that again.

I thought that was the bad word so used that when being naughty.

GodOfTheThunder

The "Silly Mom" Routine

The "Silly Mom" routine.

My kid, and a few other kids I've known, would balk at getting ready to go. I'd grab their clothes and say, "Well, if you won't put on your clothes, I guess I'll put on your clothes. Cute shirt, by the way! Does it go on my foot?"

NO!

"Does it go on my head?"

NO! IT GOES ON ME!

"Oh, that's right, thanks! So, it must go on your legs, right?"

NO!

"I just can't figure this out! Where does this adorable shirt go?"

[kid grabs shirt and puts it on] ON MY TUMMY! SILLY MOM!

"Oh, thank you so much! Now what about these pants? Shirts go on tummies, so...the pants go on the tummy, too, right?"

NO!

[continue until kids have dressed themselves]

I would also do things like hand the kid my keys and say, "Alright, you're driving, I'll sit in the booster seat in back," attempt to feed the kid by putting a spoon up to his ear or his belly button, and attempt to put away his toys in the refrigerator.

insertcaffeine

Some Foot For Thought.

Giphy

My mum would always yell at us "if you don't do X, you have to go to bed without socks!"

I never wore socks anyway, and I'm ashamed to admit that this worked.

Splittsky

That would work really well on my son, or make him cry for a really long time... He's 3 and over the last few weeks has decided that he is fully unable to sleep without socks on.

PJQueen

Toddlers man. Completely unpredictable.

SheaRVA

I'm Greens With Envy

My mum had a friend that would put vegetables on her own plate and not the kids.

When the kids asked she would be reluctant to share, "that's grown up food. But I suppose I can let you have a little."

Her kids grew up loving vegetables.

I sat at the dinner table for 3 hours staring at the yucky cauliflower I refused to eat.

laik72

This reminds me of an instance when my child convinced my wife and myself to change our plans for dinner. We were in a grocery store to pick up something quick and easy to eat that we wouldn't have to prepare. Our daughter, wanted none of that, she demanded that she wanted a salad from the salad bar. We started to argue back, but then realized: "Our child demands that we feed her vegetables for dinner instead of a microwaved meal, why are we saying 'No?'"

We had salad for dinner that night.

Galaxy_Ranger_Bob

The Power Of Choice

I don't so much know if you would call it reverse psychology, but I didn't realize it until my dad told me this.

When there were chores that needed doing, he noticed if he asked me to mow the lawn, I would complain and procrastinate. But if he asked would I rather mow the lawn or wash the windows, I'd pick one and just get it done.

Shattered my brain when he told me when I was in my twenties. I use it when I'm coaching or baby sitting all the time and it almost never fails.

AppealToReason16

The Boy Who Cried 'Ouch'

Giphy

I've done this one with tens of kids. Any time a kid gets "hurt" (falls down on grass, gets gently hit in the face with a ball, etc.) instead of stopping the activity to pick the kid up and see if they're ok you just scoot them off to the side and resume. Within 10 seconds of not getting all the attention and seeing the fun is resuming they pop right back up and are magically healed.

This of course is only for the "injuries" that aren't actually injuries.

pedanticProgramer

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