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Do you have an amazing premature baby story like Marleigh’s?
A mum who gave birth to her baby 13 weeks early has told how he was so tiny when he was born – doctors put him BUBBLE WRAP to keep him warm.
Little Marleigh Bleu Brooker weighed just 1lb 13oz when he arrived at 27 weeks. Born more than three months early – on Mother’s Day – 11th March 2018.
His mum, Paige Worthington-Mort, 22, was stunned when medics popped her newborn in a sandwich bag. This mimicked the womb, before he was wrapped in bubble wrap to insulate him and protect his delicate skin.
Doctors told his worried parents Marleigh’s chances of survival were slim. The tiny tot was so fragile they weren’t able to hold him until he was a month old.
Marleigh spent nine months in hospital, before he was allowed home to Camborne, Cornwall. Now aged 15 months, his parents say he’s thriving.
Marleigh spent nine months in hospital
Paige, a support worker for adults with learning disabilities said: “We’re so lucky Marleigh is here and doing so well.
“During my pregnancy I suffered from pre-eclampsia which lead to HELLP syndrome. I was told if Marleigh was left for another 24 hours – and hadn’t been born via emergency c-section – both me and him would have died.
“Even when he arrived, the fight wasn’t over as he was so small and sick. You could almost see through his thin skin and he was as long as my hand.
“He was put in a sandwich bag to keep him warm – because it’s like the womb. Then he was wrapped in bubble wrap.
“I got to touch him in the first 24 hours – as they said his chance of survival was slim – but I still had hope. “I didn’t hold him until he was a month old – as they were worried he might pull his breathing tube out. We were scared we were going to lose him and doctors warned us we might not make it.
“We had a naming ceremony and gathered all of our family together to meet him – but also to potentially say goodbye at the same time. Thankfully, despite all that was thrown at him, he got stronger with each day and now he’s doing so well. He’s a little miracle.”
Wrapped in bubble wrap
Paige experienced a textbook pregnancy to begin with and only developed problems during the later stages. She and her partner, Jason Brooker, 28, a machine setter, who has two children from a previous relationship – Alfie, eight, and Lilly, 11 – booked for a private early scan at 16 weeks and found out they were having a little boy.
Paige said: “Everything was fine in all scans and tests. We were delighted to discover we were having a boy.
“But I started to swell up really early around 19 weeks. At 24 weeks my mum made me go to the doctors as I wasn’t that far along, but I didn’t fit in any of my clothes as I was so huge.
“My feet where too fat to fit in any pair of shoes so I was walking around in slippers. I had to wear a size 9 – I’m normally a size 5.”
She had developed pre-eclampsia
The doctor examined Paige and told her she had developed pre-eclampsia. It’s a condition that affects some pregnant women which results in high-blood pressure and swelling. It can prove fatal if not monitored or treated.
She said: “I didn’t realise how serious it was. But they said I couldn’t leave hospital until my blood pressure was under control and days – and then weeks – passed.”
Paige was then warned her condition was so serious her baby may need to be born early. She said: “I had steroid injections to prepare for a premature arrival. By the end of the third week in hospital my condition was severe and I was suffering with abdominal pains.
“After a midwife could see the pain I was in she knew I needed to have the baby. It was too dangerous to keep him in any longer.”
Paige was rushed from the Royal Cornwall Hospital, in Truro, Cornwall, to Derriford Hopsital, in Plymouth, Devon, to give birth.
When she arrived, medics performed tests which showed she had developed HELLP syndrome. It’s a life-threatening pregnancy condition often triggered by pre-eclampsia.
She said: “It was really severe I almost lost my life, I was rushed to the high-dependency unit.
“I had cannulas and arterial lines in me. I was given medication called magnesium sulphate which made me feel like my body was on fire from the inside.”
Before medics were able to take Paige for an emergency c-section, they had to stablise her blood pressure.
She said: “After loads of medication there wasn’t much of a improvement. As such, I had to be taken in anyway as I was so poorly. There were 20 plus people in theatre all for me and the baby.
“Whilst in there my blood pressure went up to 230/100 which is a very dangerous level. I was told after I had Marleigh that if I was left for another 24 hours Marleigh and I would have both died. I was told my body was shutting down and he needed to come out ‘now’.
“When Marleigh was born they struggled to get the breathing tube down him as he had a small jaw, an abnormal airway and a cleft pallet. In the end they had to make a makeshift mask to help him breathe.”
Makeshift mask to help him breathe
When Marleigh arrived on 11th March 2018 at 7.53pm and he was whisked straight to neo-natal care.
Paige said: “I didn’t get to see or hold him. I could only look at pictures that my mum had taken of him.
“The next morning they wanted to take him to theatre to properly ventilate him. That involved putting a tube down him to help him to breathe.
“They weren’t sure he would survive and I still hadn’t seen him as I was also in intensive care downstairs. So, they brought him in to see me.
“In theatre the procedure was successful, but when they got back to the ward Marleigh had got so cold and deteriorated dramatically.
“He was constantly in bubble wrap. They put more layers on him to try and keep him at a good temperature.
“But the consultant looking after Marleigh asked for them to phone the ward I was on to bring me to the unit as they didn’t think he was going to pull through.
“I felt like my heart had shattered in to a thousand pieces, I was asked if I want to hold him and let him go.
“A consultant then said there was one more thing they could try – putting him on a oscillator which was more powerful than the ventilation – and thankfully it worked but it was still touch and go.”
Urged to say their goodbyes
Worried they may lose their newborn son, the couple urged relatives to come and say their goodbyes.
Paige said: “We had a naming ceremony for Marleigh that night and all close family came to meet him as he was so poorly.
“The following day we were sat down and told that Marleigh had something called Pierre Robin sequence – a set of abnormalities affecting the head and face.
“We discovered that it’s rare and he would possibly need a tracheostomy to help him breathe and have a safe airway until his chin could grow.
“I left using Google to research and thinking the worst but it turns out his Pierre Robin was nothing for us to worry about.
“As time went on Marleigh would always throw something else out there, such as his other holes in his heart, he had collapsed lungs and aspiration.
“We were told he’d need a tracheostomy – a breathing tube – as soon as he was big enough and until then he would be ventilated.”
Marleigh has defied the odds
Marleigh has defied the odds after undergoing eight blood transfusions, suffering two small bleeds on the brain, an open duct in his heart, starting to develop NEC (Necrotising enterocolitis) which is a serious illness in which tissues in the intestine become inflamed and start to die and also was being diagnosed with sepsis.
Thankfully, the little boy has come on leaps and bounds.
Paige said: “No matter what’s been thrown at him, he has always bounced back.
“Over his time his ventilator setting has gradually come down and he is now just on a small about of pressure and oxygen at home, he is completely dependant on it so everywhere we go it comes with us.”
Marleigh was transferred back to the Royal Cornwall Hospital, in Truro, Cornwall, in December 2018.
He spent a total of nine months – 221 days – in hospital and was able to go home just seven days before Christmas last year.
Paige said: “He amazing – he is the happiest baby I’ve met, he barely ever cries and just wants lots of love and attention.
“He’s doing so well he’s just recently started to pull himself up to sit up, but is still a little unsteady. He just wants to constantly be on the move.
“He’s very determined to do things and because of that he’s improving day-by-day and making great progress.
“I feel like the proudest mum, he has proved so many people wrong and overcome the most difficult things.”
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