Kenya Jade Latimer endured every new mum’s worst nightmare after going into premature labour at just 24 weeks.
The terrified 21-year-old was rushed to Burnley General Hospital by her partner Ashley (29), when she began experiencing labour pains in April – almost four months before her due date.
After hours in labour, Elsie was born on April 3rd – 14 weeks before her due date – weighing just 1lb 10oz; smaller than her mother’s palm.
Kenya, a former pupil of Sabden Primary School, recalled the moment she first saw her baby daughter.
“She was so tiny. It was surreal and I was in shock. Everything happened so fast. One minute she was delivered, the next she was taken away from us to the neo-natal intensive care unit and placed on a ventilator.”
She added: “We were not allowed to hold her because she was so fragile. Her skin was so delicate. It was heartbreaking for us to see our daughter so poorly connected to several tubes to help her survive. You don’t know what to do or think when something like this happens – you just have to deal with it.”
Two weeks before baby Elsie was born, Kenya said she began experiencing problems.
“I had a normal pregnancy until I began bleeding at 22 weeks and was taken to hospital where the doctors told me I was 4cm dilated and also warned that the odds of the baby surviving were slim. We were shocked and upset.
“They discussed my options one of which was a surgical procedure called a ‘cervical stitch’ to prevent pre-term birth. It was a risky procedure and we were very lucky it worked. However, two weeks later, I began experiencing contractions again and this time I knew the baby was coming.”
During her stay in hospital, baby Elsie was monitored 24 hours a day, given special care and underwent laser eye surgery to treat retinopathy of prematurity.
“Ashley and I sat beside her every day from lunchtime until 9pm, willing her to pull through,” explained Kenya. “It was physically and emotionally draining and we never imagined the first few months of our newborn’s life would begin like this.”
Following weeks of specialist care at the hospital’s neo-natal intensive care unit, the battling tot was discharged home on August 5th.
Despite the setbacks, Kenya, who is also a former pupil of Ribblesdale High School, Clitheroe, admitted it was the “best feeling ever” when she was allowed to take Elsie home.
Now, almost six months old, Elsie is enjoying life like any other baby girl.
Proud mum, Kenya, said: “Elsie is a beautiful little baby – our little bundle of joy. She has settled at home really well. She is gaining weight and is teething.
“I would like to thank my family and friends for their support during this difficult time in our lives and the medical staff at Burnley General Hospital – the care we received was absolutely outstanding and we will forever be grateful.”
She went on to say: “Elsie is our little miracle and we love her to bits. One of the hardest things about having a premature baby is seeing her so fragile and not being able to help, sometimes not allowed to touch my baby because she was so poorly. She’s now thriving, smiling and she is our universe.”