British infant Elsie Dutton weighed just 1 pound, 2 ounces when she was born prematurely in December.
The tiny baby girl survived while her twin did not, and doctors initially warned Elsie’s parents that she might die, too, according to the Daily Mail. But after spending five months in the hospital, Elsie’s parents said she is home now and thriving.
“I almost didn’t think it was real, the day felt like a dream come true,” mother, Amy Dutton, of Barnsley, said. “I’ve never felt such a relief as when we got to walk out of the hospital and take her home.”
Elsie was born at 23 weeks, four days of pregnancy, weighing 1 pound, 2 ounces, after her mother went into premature labor, according to the report. Her twin sister, Dotty, did not survive.
Because the girls were not yet 24 weeks (which also is the legal abortion limit in England), Amy Dutton said Dotty was described as a miscarriage, not a stillbirth.
“Losing Dotty was really difficult. Because it was before 24 weeks I was never able to register her as a stillborn, she was classed as a miscarriage,” she said. “That meant I wasn’t able to put on Elsie’s birth certificate that she was a twin either. Being able to have that on the paperwork would have given me some closure after going through something so difficult.”
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The difficulties continued for the family.
According to the report, Elsie immediately was placed in an incubator, and her parents could not hold her for the first month of her life outside the womb.
“I held her for about 30 seconds when she [was] born and then she went straight in the incubator for one month,” Amy Dutton said. “Having to wait so long to hold her was really difficult, so when I finally did it meant so much.”
When she did get to hold Elsie, the effects of the mother-child bond were apparent.
“I would hold her and I could see on all the monitors that her heart rate was relaxing. It felt so special,” she continued.
Here’s more from the report:
Dr Sijo Francis, St George’s [Hospital in London] clinical director of children’s services, said kangaroo care had makes a huge difference for premature babies like Elsie.
‘When babies like Elsie are born prematurely, clinical intervention is key but parent’s involvement also has a hugely positive effect,’ he said.
‘When mothers hold their babies in their arms for a long time, as they do with kangaroo care, stress for both mother and baby is reduced and we see improved short- and long-term outcomes.’
After four months in St. George’s, Elsie finally grew well enough to go home. Her parents said she has survived so many odds and her health is improving every day.
“At the moment she’s still on oxygen but every time we go to a doctor’s appointment they reduce the amount she needs and she’ll be off it soon,” her mother said.
More premature babies are surviving and thriving thanks to modern medicine. In November, Guinness World Records recognized an Alabama boy who was born at 21 weeks as the youngest premature baby to survive. Curtis Means was born weighing 14.8 ounces at 21 weeks and one day in July 2020. In 2017, the journal Pediatrics highlighted the story of another girl who survived after being born at 21 weeks and four days of pregnancy.
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