When doctors told Katy Evans her baby had a one percent chance of survival and that, if he survived, he might be born without limbs or unable to breathe, she was understandably overwhelmed. “It was a lot to take in,” she said.
Evans’ waters broke during her sixteenth week of pregnancy. She was rushed to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with ‘preterm prelabor rupture of membranes (PPLRM)’ – a condition in which the amniotic fluid drains from the mother’s womb, leaving her at a very high risk of miscarriage and/or severe infection.
Nearly all the amniotic fluid had drained, leaving the baby vulnerable. “We could barely make out our baby on the scan picture,” Evans said. “It was a really scratchy image because it’s the amniotic fluid that allows you to see the fetus in the scan.”
Evans was administered antibiotics to protect her and the baby from infection, and remained in the hospital for 48 hours. For most patients with PPLRM, labor begins within 48 hours.
Though heartsick at the thought that she might lose her child, Evans did not give up. “I’m a positive person, by nature, and I refused to give up on the pregnancy or mourn this baby until we knew exactly what was happening,” she said.
“I joined Facebook support groups on my phone, read medical papers and exchanged messages with other mums,” she said. “I discovered that, in reality, there seemed to be a much higher rate of survival in these cases than the one percent figure from official statistics. That gave me hope. But I also forced myself to read negative stories, from mums who’d lost their babies, which was very upsetting.”
Evans discovered through her research that it was standard practice for U.K. doctors to offer patients in her situation an abortion, supposedly to avoid infection. She and her husband decided ahead of time that they would not go that route. “This was a very much wanted pregnancy,” she said. “I could feel my baby kicking. I already loved this little person.”
When the hospital offered her an abortion, she refused.
“I told [the consultant] that no, I didn’t want an abortion,” Evans said. “I said that I wanted nature to take its course. She was clearly shocked because she told me that, perhaps, I should speak to my husband, implying that he’d be less emotional.”
However, the couple agreed: they wanted to give their baby a chance.
Evans was discharged shortly after, with instructions to avoid any activity that would put her at a higher risk of infection, such as swimming and bathing.
To the Evans’ great relief, days passed, then weeks, and the baby was still safe. When they returned to the hospital two weeks later for a scan, the doctors told her in astonishment that her waters had replenished themselves, something they had never seen before. Their baby was safe and developing normally.
“It was the first time I allowed myself to cry,” Evans said.
In the midst of the doctors’ warnings that the risk of having another break or developing an infection was still high, Evans “barely heard the doctors telling me all this because I was on cloud nine and thought everything was fantastic.”
“Rich [my husband] had to gently bring me back to reality because there was still a chance of everything going wrong. As weeks went by and the pregnancy progressed, every week felt like a huge milestone.”
“It’s amazing how you will fight for this baby inside you. I wanted my child to make it,” she said.
Evans’ waters did not break again until she was 34 weeks pregnant, when Leo was born. He weighed 4 lbs, 13 oz and went home five days later.
“Holding Leo in my arms, at last, was extra special,” Evans said. “Knowing he was safe, despite all the odds, was overwhelming. Little Amber [my 3-year-old daughter] adored her baby brother too. She grinned all the way home from hospital in the car.”
Leo, now 8 months old, weighs 17 pounds. “He’s sitting up and chatting and his pediatrician says that by 10 months he’ll have completely caught up with his development,” Evans said.
“We feel unbelievably lucky,” Evans said. “It’s just over a year now since I was sitting in that hospital bed, waiting for a miscarriage. I read all the other stories from women that had been through the same thing and had sad endings so I know very well how it could have gone.”
“There was certainly a point when I told myself that there wasn’t much hope. To go from that to looking at my son, a year on, feels surreal and wonderful. Leo’s grandparents call him the miracle baby. We’re all so blessed and grateful to have him. He’s a very special little boy.”