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Told there was no amniotic fluid around her baby and possible abnormalities, mother refuses to abort, “miracle baby” doing fine

by | Oct 15, 2014


By Dave Andrusko

Willow has hit all her developmental targets so far despite her ordeal

Willow has hit all her developmental targets so far despite her ordeal

Nope, no way. The news was bad about their unborn baby—there was no amniotic fluid around her—but Leanne and Chris Duffield were having none of the doctors’ recommendations that they “terminate” their unborn daughter, Willow.

“We didn’t even have to talk about it,” Leanne told the Mirror. “It was one of those things we would never have even considered. It didn’t even enter our thoughts.” (The couple has four other children, ages 2-8.)

News that Chris’s fifth pregnancy, seemingly uneventful, was anything but came when she had a routine scan at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend.

“When we went for the 20-week scan we found there was no fluid around her and they thought there was some sort of abnormality causing the lack of fluid,” Leanne told Abby Bolter. Doctors were unable to pin-point a cause, but just a week later the fetal medicine unit at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff offered Leanne an abortion.

“Doctors said that a lack of amniotic fluid usually means the baby has suffered abnormalities that would make survival impossible,” Bolter explained.

But Leanne and Chris refused.

They never made it to her next appointment: her water broke at 23 weeks and she was admitted to the Princess of Wales hospital.

The irony of what happened next was not lost on Leanne:

“When we had been for the scan there was no fluid at all. But when my waters broke at 23 weeks it was just like it was with the others. It was a gush and I couldn’t understand.”

But 23 weeks is very early and doctors feared if Willow was delivered then, her lungs would be insufficiently mature for Willow to breathe on her own—or even be ventilated.

“They thought I would deliver the baby and we had the bereavement midwife come and talk to us,” Leanne told Bolter. “It was a bit overwhelming.”

But she did not deliver—and as Leanne approached 24 weeks, Bolter explained, Leanne was put on complete bed rest at a new hospital (Singleton Hospital in Swansea) and received steroid injections to help Willow’s lungs.

The Duffields were relieved that a mid-December revealed Willow had all her limbs, but at that stage they couldn’t rule out serious musculoskeletal problems that can be caused by the lack of amniotic fluid.

It was a somber Christmas for the family, who ate dinner on the hospital ward. Less than three weeks later, Leanne “suffered a potentially fatal placental abruption, where the placenta comes away from the inside of the womb, and Willow was born by emergency caesarean section weighing just 2lb 6oz.”

Willow was born with chronic lung disease, but “Willow did not have any of the problems with her limbs or spine which medics had feared,” Bolter wrote. She came home in April and she is being gradually weaned off of oxygen support.

Doctors told Leanne they hope that as Willow’s lungs grow, “the diseased part will be minimized and Willow will suffer nothing more than asthma.” In the meanwhile, Willow has continued, in Bolter’s words, “to go from strength to strength.”

She is “hitting all the targets she should be,” Leanne said. “With premature babies they should have caught up with their peers by two years.”

“She had so many different things that were stacking up against her. She is our miracle baby,” said Leanne.

Categories: Premature babies