A mum who was offered four abortions by doctors due to her unborn daughter’s two deadly conditions has given birth to a healthy ‘miracle’ baby.
Doctors warned first-time mum Kimberley James, 24, that her unborn baby would not survive after a 12-week scan showed she had become dangerously swollen.
She was diagnosed with hydrops fetalis, meaning an abnormal level of fluids, which affects 1,000 pregnancies every year and has a survival rate of just 10%.
The scan also revealed Kimberley’s baby had cystic hygroma, a fluid-filled sac, which affects one in 8,000 babies and can be fatal.
Kimberley, a veterinary nurse, says she was advised ‘at least three or four times’ to have an abortion’ by doctors.
But she decided to trust her instinct and go ahead with the pregnancy.
After a 13-hour labour, Kimberley and husband Nick, 29, welcomed 7lb 6oz Penelope at Worcestershire Royal Hospital on 9 May.
Penelope stunned doctors by arriving in perfect health, with both her life-threatening conditions disappearing by the time her mum went into labour.
Kimberley said: ‘Penelope defied all odds and the hydrops disappeared at 16 weeks and the cystic hygroma also disappeared after 20 weeks.
‘We are so in love with her and so thankful that we continued with the pregnancy despite the extremely poor prognosis at the start.
‘She really is a little miracle.
‘The doctors all said it was unheard of for the hydrops to disappear and we still to this day don’t know what caused it or why it went away.
‘She is our miracle baby. After she was diagnosed with hydrops I was offered a termination by two doctors but I refused.
‘A month later when she had cystic hygroma, I was again told I could abort the baby but I just trusted that she would survive.
‘It must have been three or four people I was told, quite forcibly, that a termination was the best option.
‘In the end we paid to have private scans and blood tests but we were determined to go ahead with the pregnancy.’
Kimberley stayed in hospital for four days before being discharged and is now back home with Nick, a care support worker.
She added: ‘After the first time we had a scan at 12 weeks at Worcestershire Royal Hospital we were referred to a consultant, which we saw two days later.
‘It was then we were offered a termination pretty much the second time we had seen her.
‘We said no because it was absolutely not what we wanted to do.
‘We asked them why and unfortunately they couldn’t give an answer.
‘We thought if they don’t know what it is then we’ll say “no”, even if it was a really poor diagnosis.
‘We decided to go private and paid for scans and blood tests to check for other things like Down Syndrome and Patau’s syndrome but they all came back negative.
‘At 16 weeks we went back to Worcestershire Royal Hospital for a scan and they were gobsmacked the hydrops had gone, which was the reason they had offered the termination.
‘They didn’t know how it had disappeared and said it was unheard of.
‘It had been there because you could actually see it on the scans and they had seen it in the private clinic as well.
‘The cystic hygroma was part of it too and that had completely disappeared after 20 weeks.
‘They checked her for it when she was born and she was all fine.
‘It is where fluid accumulates and she had a bag of it on her neck in her first scan, but there was nothing there when she was born. It was amazing and crazy.
‘The doctors were really, really shocked because they weren’t expecting it to disappear and the consultant couldn’t believe it.
‘We had a very rocky start to our pregnancy but had the most wonderful outcome and we couldn’t be more in love with our little girl.’
Giving birth in lockdown made the experience ‘surreal’, with Kimberley unable to have visitors while on the antenatal ward.
‘All the women stuck together and interacted more due to this,’ the mum explains.
‘Everyone had their curtains open and were chatting to one another.
‘The staff said that this wouldn’t normally be the case if visitors were allowed as everyone usually keeps themself to themself, so it was refreshing that we were all supporting each other through this bizarre time.’
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