June 25, 2021

Leanne Sawyer and her baby Chloe

Mums and stories this time is featuring a story of a mum who braved all odds during the birth of her daughter. These were not ordinary challenges, but circumstances and willpower that made a mum to be even more determined to have her daughter with her.

Chloe now aged a little over four years, literally cheated death 11 times in her first few moments. These were once before a hospital transfer and nine further times in the lead up to major operations.

Leanne Sawyer, her mum from Manchester ensured the precious life moments of surviving and battling the odds of her daughter gets recorded in the form of a baby record book- tiny steps –my first year.

Leanne who has two boys wanted to make sure her daughter who was a premature baby gets her life moments are treasured and has brought out a book that allows other parents of premature babies to record the milestones. Chloe was born at 25 weeks and weighed 1lb 15oz.

Leanne says, “Chloe was so little. She was like a dot. Her skin was so delicate. It was like tissue paper and you could see her veins.
“I wanted to make her a baby book that worked for her and what she went through, so it includes all the IV lines she had and when she first breathed on her own. These are significant points in a premature baby’s life-different to other babies.”

Leanne’s waters broke early on 18 May 2011 and, within twenty-four hours, her temperature had sky-rocketed. Doctors at Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral, Merseyside told her she had an infection, which was causing a build up of water on the lungs, as well as kidney failure.

Leanne said: “I was at death’s door. I was told the likelihood of Chloe surviving was slim because as well as her being premature, my infection would have inevitably been passed from my blood in to her.

I was left alone to say goodbye to her. I didn’t have a lot of time to think. I just had to give birth and deal with it later.”
Leanne was induced and doctors delivered her baby. Expecting her to be stillborn, they took her right away – but just a minute later, the tiny infant began to breathe.

Then, after her placenta came out, Leanne suddenly felt better and was moved on to an intensive care ward, where she was given antibiotics.

Chloe was kept inside an incubator, where it was hoped she would grow stronger and begin to improve, but at three weeks old, her bowel burst.

Doctors said she needed to be transferred to another hospital to repair it, but warned that she may not survive the journey due to how weak she was.

Leanne said: “She had to go to Alder Hay in Liverpool, which was 90 minutes away. Chloe was so unstable there was a chance she might not make the trip.

“I asked if I could go in the ambulance with her, but there was no room so I had to follow behind. “The nurses then gave me a paper bag containing all these bits that belonged to Chloe – including a cuff she wore around her wrist and a card that went on her incubator with her name and weight on – just in case she didn’t make it.”

“I didn’t know if she would be alive at the other end so I prepared to say goodbye. I said, ‘See you in Liverpool, don’t go anywhere.’
At Alder Hay, surgeons removed a large section of Chloe’s infected bowel, but because she was still so unstable they couldn’t reattach it right away.

Instead, she was taken to intensive care ‘in pieces,’ as Leanne describes her, with an open wound because her skin was too swollen for doctors to stitch back together.

“They’d stitched a white patch in to the muscle of the skin that would grow with her, they said,” Leanne explained.

“I had to sign a consent form before each operation she had, and the early ones all said, ‘risk of death’, ‘risk of bleeding’, ‘risk of infection’ so I said goodbye to her each time.

“It was upsetting signing all those forms so doctors could cut her up.

“Babies are meant to be perfect. You don’t bring them in to the world to be cut up. “It was an emotional roller coaster. I think that’s how any parent of a premature baby would describe it.

In January 2012 at eight months old, she was finally allowed home. Chloe’s tough start to life has inspired Leanne Sawyer to make a baby book documenting her daughter’s journey, which differed vastly from that of the average newborn.

She said: “I’d had books for my boys, Alex, now eight, and Harry, now six, so I wanted one for Chloe.

“But all the milestones, ages and stages that a normal child goes through didn’t work with her.

“At three months old she wasn’t holding her head up, eating solids and rolling over. She was still lying in an incubator.
“So I thought, ‘I’ll make my own book.’

“Since my book came out I’ve had people say it’s amazing, and asking why nothing like it was available before. I’m really excited about it.”

Leanne shared this story at the launch of her book on November 17th 2015 to coincide with World Prematurity Day.

Leanne’s book, ‘Tiny Steps – My First Year’ – can be found online via Amazon and her websitewww.tinystepsmyfirstyear.com .

Picture courtesy- PA Real life. The content for the story is largely via mirror.co.uk . The story is shared on Mums and stories post Leanne’s consent. Hope you like reading this amazing story.

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