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Baby girl born the size of her father’s hand celebrates her first birthday at home

by | May 20, 2024

By Right to Life UK

A baby girl who was born weighing just 14oz and had to spend 131 days in hospital has celebrated her first birthday.

When she was only 22 weeks pregnant, Naomi Southern-Augustine, a mum from Peterborough, went into hospital after noticing unusual symptoms. She was concerned that this might be “a waste of NHS time” but also didn’t want to wait another eight weeks for her next scheduled appointment..

However, much to Naomi’s shock, baby Wren was born at just 22 weeks and was the smallest baby her neonatal intensive care unit had ever seen, measuring about the same size as her father Rob’s hand.

“I didn’t know you could go into labour that early. We didn’t know what to expect, we were shocked”, Naomi said.

“It was a difficult time – there wasn’t much hope and we were told to prepare ourselves as she was unlikely to survive but she did”.

 “The worst experience of our life”

Although Wren “sailed” through her first two weeks of life outside of the womb, she suddenly began to deteriorate and conversations began about withdrawing her treatment. When their daughter was just 17 days old, Naomi and Rob were anticipating saying a final goodbye.

“That was a whole week of hell. The worst experience of our life”, said Naomi. “That was also the first day we got to hold her… I thought if she is going to die, for half her life I haven’t touched her”.

“I will never be ready to say goodbye. I could feel the time getting closer… then she started making good noises on the machines and having cuddles with her dad”.

Rob said “Looking at her now compared to photos, it is like a different baby. She has come through a lot and been a fighter since day one”.

“She exceeded all expectations”

Despite her struggles and having to spend 131 days in neonatal units across two hospitals, baby Wren was finally able to go home and has recently celebrated her first birthday.

The family celebrated by visiting the neonatal unit to thank the medical staff who helped Wren survive.

Dr. Jennifer Birch, consultant and clinical director for neonatal services at Bedfordshire hospitals, said “It’s wonderful and lovely when we say ‘our baby’s grown up and doing well’. It really makes all the care we provide feel worthwhile and it is really rewarding to see her [Wren] so well and alert”.

Naomi is also now writing a book to help others in a similar situation, saying “we wanted to share [our] story to give hope”.

“By all accounts she [Wren] shouldn’t have survived, but she did”.

“She exceeded all expectation[s]. She is the happiest smiley baby. We are so lucky, and I couldn’t be prouder”.

Medical advances have left a contradiction at the heart of our abortion law

Babies such as Wren, born at 22 weeks, highlight the clear contradiction at the heart of our abortion law and medical practice. On the one hand, the law permits ending the lives of babies at 22 and 23 weeks, and, on the other hand, current medical practice strives to save the lives of many babies born prematurely at 22 or 23 weeks gestation.

The annual abortion statistics for England and Wales in 2021 (the most recent year for which a full year of data is available) reveal that 755 “ground C” abortions were performed when the baby was at 22 or 23 weeks gestation (ground C is the statutory ground under which the vast majority of abortions are permitted and there is currently a 24-week time limit for abortions performed under this statutory ground).

At the same time, according to a recent study, there were a total of 261 babies born alive at 22 and 23 weeks, before the abortion limit, who survived to discharge from hospital in 2020 and 2021.

This means in the same hospital, on the same day, two babies at the same gestational age (22 or 23 weeks gestation) could have very different fates – one could have his or her life deliberately ended by abortion, and the other could be born prematurely and have a dedicated medical team provide the best care they can to try to save his or her life.

This is not mere speculation as a number of hospitals in England provide specialist care for extremely premature babies, usually those born before 27 weeks gestation, and also perform late-term abortions, between 20 and 23 weeks.

According to statistics released by the Department of Health and Social Care, between 2018 and 2021 (2018201920202021), Birmingham Women’s Hospital performed 143 abortions where the baby was between 20 and 23 weeks gestation in 2021. At the same time, their neonatal intensive care unit “provides intensive care to premature babies born as early as 23 weeks”. This means in this hospital in Birmingham, there could be doctors at one end of the hospital fighting to a keep baby born at 23 weeks gestation alive, and, at the other end of the hospital, there could be other doctors ending the life of a baby at 23 weeks gestation through an abortion.

Similarly, Liverpool Women’s Hospital performed 108 abortions where the baby was between 20 and 23 weeks gestation between 2018 and 2021. The same hospital also provides neonatal intensive care for babies from as young as 22 weeks gestation “and as small as 400g”.

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson, said “Wren’s amazing journey from weighing just 14oz at birth to celebrating her first birthday is a beautiful testament to the resilience of human life. It is absolutely right to celebrate our amazing medical professionals across the country who save the lives of these precious premature babies, and to encourage them to continue to fight for the most vulnerable members of our society”.

Categories: Premature babies