A baby born at just 23 weeks whose tiny hand was the same size as her dad’s fingernail is now at home and thriving after 70 days on life-support.
Little “miracle” Elsie, now 11-months-old, was born weighing just 1lb 1oz when she arrived 17 weeks early on June 17 last year. Doting parents Katie and Rob Hampson’s pregnancy had been fraught with worry after Katie suffered heavy ʙʟᴇᴇᴅɪɴɢ. The ʙʟᴇᴇᴅɪɴɢ continued for 15 weeks until Elsie’s premature birth at just 23 weeks.
Doctors could do little to help Katie as they feared administering ᴍᴇᴅɪᴄᴀᴛɪᴏɴ before her 16th week of pregnancy would affect her ᴘʟᴀᴄᴇɴᴛᴀ and pose a ʀɪsᴋ to the baby. After the natural birth, doctors told Katie and her partner, Rob, 32, a builder, that their daughter had just a one in four chance of survival.
“It was the sʜᴏᴄᴋ and the worry as we were told she had just a 25 per cent chance of survival. Her body was the size of Rob’s hand and that photo of her hand against her dad’s hand doesn’t even show how small she was – her little hand was no bigger than his fingernail.
However the tiny tot Elsie is now home and thriving, weighing a healthier 13lbs 6oz. Katie, a full-time mum-of-two, from Rochdale, said, “She was so tiny, but she’s a little miracle. She’s overcome so much and survived – it’s a miracle. Not even the doctors or nurses had hopes that she would survive but she’s a little fighter – we’re so proud of her.”
The couple found out they were expecting their second child together in February 2021. Katie said, “We were delighted when we found out we were having another baby. Rob and I couldn’t wait to expand our family.” But just a few weeks into her pregnancy, Katie began to ʙʟᴇᴇᴅ heavily on a daily basis.
She was quickly diagnosed with sᴜʙᴄʜᴏʀɪᴏɴɪᴄ ʜᴇᴍᴀᴛᴏᴍᴀ. The ʀɪsᴋ of having Elsie prematurely was briefly raised during consultations. And at 22 weeks, Katie was admitted to the hospital where she went into labour. “When the ʙʟᴇᴇᴅɪɴɢ didn’t stop, I couldn’t help but panic. I thought it would be OK, but it just seemed to get worse – and I was worried our baby wouldn’t make it. We were so relieved as each week passed, knowing our unborn daughter would be gaining strength,” Katie added.
After Elsie’s birth, the worried parents were unable to hold their newborn as she was taken straight to the N.I.C.U and hooked up to a ventilator. Katie said, “I had to wait nearly five hours to see Elsie in the incubator and when I eventually did, I was still in sʜᴏᴄᴋ. I didn’t get to hold her. Elsie was so small, she could fit completely in her dad’s hand and her hand was the same size as his fingernails. There were very mixed emotions, and I was in my own little world throughout the whole journey. I was just praying and hoping for the best.”
The couple describe Elsie’s next few weeks in N.I.C.U as a ‘stormy ride’. Katie said that it was a very, very difficult time for them. Eventually, on October 30th, 2021 – nearly five months after she was born – Elsie had gained enough strength to return home for the first time. Katie revealed she couldn’t be more grateful to the staff at Royal Oldham Hospital for saving Elsie’s life. She said, “The staff are real life angels. If it weren’t for them, Elsie wouldn’t be here. They should be recognized for the amazing job that they do. They saved my baby’s life.”