A mum says her mother’s instinct saved her unborn baby’s life – after she rushed to hospital convinced something was wrong despite showing no warning signs.
Jemma Austin, 43, had a gut feeling that something wasn’t quite right when she was 22 weeks pregnant, and after insisting doctors check her over, they discovered her cervix was open.
The beauty salon owner had previously lost a baby boy at 23 weeks in September 2016 and had been worried history was repeating itself.
Jemma and her partner, Paul Jordan, 31, a scaffolder, had been trying for a baby for five years, suffered two miscarriages, a stillbirth and had gone through two rounds of IVF to fall pregnant through a donor egg.
Jemma, from Worcester, West Midlands, said: “I was on a walk with the dog and I just had this feeling I should go and see my consultant. I didn’t have any symptoms, but I just knew I should go in. It was in my gut – I couldn’t ignore it. It was a mother’s instinct.
“It was a cervical infection that meant I lost my previous baby, William. Thankfully, I could hold long enough to give this baby a good chance. He was so tiny when he was born. I got to hold him for just a moment before he was taken away.
“It was so up and down but he pulled through. He’s a fighter. We have such a strong bond. He’s such a happy little boy.”
Jemma was kept in Worcestershire Royal Hospital, Worcester, West Midlands, for two weeks until she went into labour at 24 weeks – she was then rushed to Birmingham Women’s Hospital, West Midlands, to give birth. The couple’s baby boy, who they named Axel, was born 14 weeks early on February 19, 2021, weighing a tiny 1lb 70z.
He battled sepsis, seizures, necrotising enderocolitis and had to learn to breathe independently until he was able to be discharged and head home on June 5, 2021.
Ever since meeting her partner Paul in February 2012, the pair knew they wanted to have a baby together. After trying since 2015 the couple were delighted to find out they were pregnant in May 2016. But they lost the baby at 23 weeks due to an infection in Jemma’s cervix.
“Losing William was awful,” she said. “I got to hold him in my arms and say goodbye.”
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But after another miscarriage the couple turned to IVF in a bid to have a family together. They decided to go to Brno, Prague, Czech Republic, to try IVF with a donor egg as it cost them less.
In September 2020 they flew out and to the couples delight the treatment worked and they fell pregnant. The pregnancy was going smoothly but while on a walk with her dog Jemma had an inkling that she should go and see her doctor. It was lucky she did as they spotted her cervix was open and measuring 8mm.
“They asked me why I came in,” she said. “Was I in any pain? But I just said it was my instinct.”
Doctors managed to put a cervical stitch in and Jemma stayed on bed rest in Worcestershire Royal Hospital.
At 23 weeks she was sent to Birmingham Women’s Hospital, ready for the imminent birth. Jemma managed to hold on until 24 weeks when she started experiencing contractions. She managed to have a natural birth and got to hold her son, Axel, before he was whisked away to NICU.
Both Jemma and Axel battled sepsis after the birth and their baby boy had a seizure in his first week. After 107 days in hospital Axel came home with his parents on June 5, 2021.
“I always worried that we wouldn’t bond but we did straight away,” Jemma said. Now Axel is approaching his first birthday and is a happy little boy. “He’s such a miracle,” Jemma said. “I feel so lucky to have him.”
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