A couple told to “expect the worst” after complications during the birth of their baby boy are looking forward to a very happy New Year after their “little warrior” defied the odds.
Doctors feared baby Earl had suffered brain damage after going 11 minutes without breathing when he was born.
But the tot – whose name means ‘warrior’ – astounded everyone when tests came back clear after his traumatic start to life.
Mum Stacey Baines and partner James Rushworth, who are due to marry later this month, now want to raise money for the two hospitals which helped them in their time of need.
Stacey, 26, had a normal pregnancy and said everything went smoothly until the latter stages of delivery at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary on June 27 last year.
“I am a type 1 diabetic so I had to be induced at 38 weeks,” she said.
“Everything was fine until the last 10 minutes when his heart rate started dropping.
“A few things started going wrong, it was quite scary; everything suddenly changed and I had to have an episiotomy.
“In the end they just put their hands in and pulled him out.
“He was blue and not breathing, and couldn’t be stimulated in any way.
“Everyone was in utter shock but I was still out of it and in a daze.
“He was being resuscitated for 11 minutes – there was a flood of staff helping out.
“Once they got him breathing he was OK, and his dad and nanna were called over to see him – that was the first time I set eyes on him.”
Earl was whisked away to the neo-natal unit, and four hours later the couple were given a photo of their son and told that a brain injury may have been caused.
He was sent by ambulance to Burnley for round-the-clock specialist neo-natal care, and Stacey was later transferred there too.
Over the next couple of days, Earl’s body temperature was cooled in a bid to counteract possible brain damage.
He also underwent plasma and platelet transfusions, a lumbar puncture and treatment for sepsis.
Once Earl had warmed up to normal body temperature, he was taken for an MRI scan.
“We were told to expect the worst,” Stacey said. “His brainwaves weren’t right and he was having seizures.
“Earl wasn‘t functioning like a ‘normal’ baby with his movements and reactions, and also he was still having abnormal brain functions.”
But miraculously, Earl’s scan revealed no abnormalities.
“It was like nothing had happened, it was very surreal,” Stacey said.
During Earl’s hospital stay, Stacey and James were stunned to discover that the name they had picked for their son was particularly apt.
“We decided to name him Earl Marshall after we had been in South Wales visiting a castle and there was an Earl Marshall which we thought meant ‘a protector of the King’,” Stacey said.
“But my sister Googled the name when she was getting a t-shirt printed for him and she told us it means ‘warrior’ which we were really shocked about.
“We kept thinking then that he was going to get through it all, it was really strange, but he really has been a little warrior.”
Earl and Stacey were allowed home after 11 days in hospital, and six months on, Earl is now under the care of the RLI again for reviews, which will continue until he is two.
It is believed he may have some developmental issues, although this is not evident as yet.
“At one stage I had been thinking I might not be able to even care for him myself, so I am so thankful for how he is now,” Stacey said.
Stacey and 28-year-old James, who live in Morecambe, now hope to raise £5,000 to split between the two hospital neo-natal units.
They have set up a crowdfunding page – search ‘Stacey Baines’ on JustGiving – and Stacey’s mum is also doing a 20 mile walk in May.
“We as a family would like to show support back to both the neonatal units, which hopefully may help them with new equipment, helping other families in similar situations and most of all helping the NHS get back on its feet, because without it our baby wouldn’t be here today,” Stacey said.
“We can’t thank them enough, the care was phenomenal.
“We hope we can go back on Earl’s first birthday to say thank you and give them some money.”
The fundraising page can be found here
A raffle for local businesses to donate prizes to will be drawn at the end of February, and a family fun day is also being organised, to be held at the Strathmore Hotel on February 15.