Birth Story: ‘Little Miss Thumbelina’ baby weighs 1kg at 36 weeks birth

Posted in Birth Stories.

Tamra holding tiny baby in hospital

When Tamra and Damien decided to try for their fourth and last baby, they never could have imagined the incredible pregnancy and birth journey they’d go through to meet their tiny ‘miracle’ girl.

From multiple miscarriage scares, to a caesarean section at 36 weeks and 64 days spent in NICU, Tamra shares her experience with intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) – when a baby in the womb does not grow as expected.

“From 7 weeks till 13.5 I bled every single week. At 11 weeks I bled so heavily my partner Damien called me an ambulance as I was sure I’d lost the baby. The carpet and bed were covered in blood.

“After waiting hours in the hospital, my bloods came back fine and a nurse told me ‘there’s still hope until there’s none’. Hours later I was finally taken in for an ultrasound to see what looked like our little bean waving at us. I then went on to have our 12 week scan and nothing out of the ordinary was mentioned to me.

“At 20 weeks we went in for our routine ultrasound. Having three previous children and seeing that measurements weren’t even close on this baby I started to panic. The sonographer left the room and instantly my heart sank!”

Refusing to terminate

An ultrasound photo of a baby

When a follow-up scan confirmed the baby’s measurements were well below average, Tamra and Damien were given the heartbreaking advice to end the pregnancy.

“At 21 weeks I was told twice it was best to terminate because she wasn’t growing properly and was struggling having high resistance in the cord and absent flow present as well. This meant baby was being cut off from the nutrients she needed to grow but also from oxygen. She was 7-9 weeks behind in growth already! She had issues with her bowel, kidneys and a hole in her heart. That she likely has all sorts of genetic issues and some not compatible with life. They pushed me for an amniocentesis test but I declined not once but 9 times!

“Every single week I was asked to take part in an amnio as they wanted to prepare for what was to come. I wasn’t risking a thing on an already risky pregnancy. They said if I don’t terminate, she will pass away before 24 weeks and I’ll have to labour and birth a stillborn. I asked the hard question of what would happen if I did make it to 24 weeks to which the specialist doctor replied ‘Tamra, your baby is struggling so badly inside it’s honestly not likely to happen.’ That absolutely broke Damien and myself but we chose to continue on.”

Determined to fight for their daughter’s life, Tamra continued receiving ultrasounds twice a week — a nerve-racking experience every time as they waited anxiously to see a heartbeat.

A couple stand on the beach pregnancy photo shoot

“Each scan we heard ‘now your baby may not be with us, would you like us to turn the tv on or wait until we see?’ or ‘Now, there’s no guarantee by your next scan baby will be alive still’. I had an anterior placenta too, so from 21-25 weeks every single day I wondered if I was walking around with a baby that had passed away inside me.

“We got to 30 weeks and she finally hit viability and just over 500grams! We then had scans every single day from 30 weeks till 32 weeks and then from 32 weeks till 36 weeks it was every second day. I was given a steroid shot x2 at 30 weeks and from that moment it helped us not only continue the pregnancy but her levels improved enough to pull us to 36 weeks. Her cord flow was still high resistance but no more absent flow was detected.”

‘The most beautiful cry we had ever heard.’

It was decided the safest course of action was to deliver their baby via a planned caesarean at 36 weeks. But one week before the big day, Tamra was told to get an MRI as doctors suspected her baby had facial dysmorphia and other genetic issues.

“It came back clear! We had another last minute scan with the fetal diagnostic team and all her issues (bowel, kidneys, heart) had mainly resolved themselves to at least a level that wouldn’t cause many issues. All up we had 47 ultrasounds this pregnancy, multiple blood tests, MRI and extra growth scans every two weeks.

“The day before delivery I had to sign a form to tell the doctors if my baby was born breathing that I wanted them to go full fire and fight for her! The day of delivery the room was full! Baby had a full team and I had a full team in the theatre room. There was at least 15 others present at her birth. Midwives, doctors, students, the surgical team and the NICU team. They reassured me on the day of delivery that babies of this size likely won’t come out crying.
She came out crying the quietest yet strongest most beautiful cry we had ever heard. I have never cried so much in my life. What a relief to hear that sound.”

A baby is born via c section

A newborn baby is in a crib under UV lights

a tiny baby in hospital crib

64 days in NICU

Matilda was born weighing 1.023kgs or 2lbs 4oz — tiny in size but big in heart. She spent 64 days in NICU before coming home just in time for her first Christmas!

“She’s had all genetic testing done that came back clear and multiple cranial ultrasounds. All perfect! She does suffer from mild to moderate hearing loss due to being cut of from oxygen on and off inside the womb and her left kidney is also much smaller than her right one. She has a metabolic bone disease in her fingers.

Tamra holds her baby girl

Matilda at 6 months old

“I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing these IUGR babies really are! I always said if she’s going to keep fighting we’ll fight with her. She had us from the start and we had her!”

Matilda is now seven months old (six months corrected) and is tracking along her growing curve slowly but surely — with her last weigh-in at just over 4kg. What an absolute cutie!

Heart with bandaid

Support Services

If you have experienced infant loss please know there are plenty of support services available to you and your partner including …

  • SANDS Miscarriage, stillbirth & newborn death support – 1300 308 307
  • Pregnancy, Birth & Baby – 1800 882 436
  • Bears of Hope – 1300 114 673

More birth stories from the Grapeviner community…

About to (or just had) a baby?

We know that the wait to meet your baby can be nerve-wracking, but we’re here to remind you that you’re not alone. Our private Pregnancy & Baby Groups are a great way to connect with other Aussie mums who are due or had their babies around the same time as you.

Got your own birth story you’re itching to tell? We’re always on the lookout for new stories to feature. Submit your birth story.

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