A pregnant mum whose water’s broke at 20 weeks was urged to abort but had her baby ten weeks later and he has thrived – despite being given a ONE per cent chance of survival.
Little Chester Rice, now nine months old, was born weighing just 1lb 8oz – less than a bag of sugar – ten weeks after mum Ann’s waters broke.
Mum-of-three Ann, 36, from Cardiff, Wales, was told she would miscarry naturally within 48 hours, and was sent home from hospital with antibiotics.
And when she didn’t miscarry, she was advised by multiple doctors to terminate her pregnancy, due to the risk of her contracting sepsis.
She says she was told her baby only had a 1 per cent chance to survive.
Ann, who is also mum to Connor, seven, and 19-month-old Riley, said receiving the news was “horrific” – but she and husband Chris, 38, took the decision to continue the pregnancy.
Little Chester was delivered by emergency caesarean on December 23, 2020 – and quickly diagnosed with chronic lung disease, due to having underdeveloped lungs.
Chester spent four months on the neo-natal unit at the hospital after he was born, and Ann said there were at least four occasions where his condition was critical, and doctors didn’t think he would make it.
But although he is still on oxygen 24 hours a day, Chester has beaten the odds and is now nine months old and thriving at home with his older brothers.
Ann described her youngest son as a “lovely little boy” who is always smiling and giggling – despite all he has been through.
She said: “He’s just starting to develop a personality now, and he’s always smiling, even after everything he’s gone through. I don’t think I could do the same.
“He’s happy, he’s okay, he’s a lovely little boy. But if I had gone by what the doctors had told me, I’d have terminated him and missed out on how he is now.
“I just want to raise awareness for other mums who might go through the same thing.
“I was just sent home with antibiotics and told to rest until I miscarried, and then told my baby wouldn’t survive past 48 hours.
“Another doctor said we advise you to terminate there was a risk to my life, if I got sepsis.
”One said, you’ve got a 1% chance of the baby surviving the week, and within a week I would miscarry.
“I know the doctors have to be very straight about the chances, but for us, a one per cent chance was still a chance.
“I spoke to my husband and we thought, if it’s going to happen it’s going to happen, but we might as well give it a go and carry on.’
Ann also described the ten weeks between her waters breaking and giving birth to Chester as a “really weird” time.
She said: “When you get towards the end of a pregnancy, you’re kind of just waiting and hoping to go into labour, because you know it’s going to happen soon.
“With Chester, it was like that for ten weeks. It was a really weird time.
“I was just waiting for ten weeks, and trying to stay on bed rest as much as I could whilst also looking after another, eight-month-old baby.”
Ann added: “Every week we got further into the pregnancy was like a little victory, because it was another week of Chester getting bigger and stronger.
“It was just really important to us to get past the 24-week mark, because that’s when the pregnancy is deemed viable.
“If he was born before that, the doctors wouldn’t have intervened to save his life if he needed it.”
Chester was born in the early hours of December 23, 2020 – but by the time of his birth, Ann had less than 1cm of fluid in her amniotic sac, not enough for Chester to be able to breathe unaided.
His lungs were underdeveloped and he was diagnosed with chronic lung disease, and spent 113 days in the neo-natal unit, with Ann and Chris having to take it in turns to visit him.
Ann said: “The emotional rollercoaster was just unbelievable. Nothing prepares you for it.
“In those four months, he had sepsis four times, he had a blood transfusion, he almost had to have surgery for a perforated bowel – but luckily that fixed itself.
“We were able to bring him home in April – but just two weeks later he caught bronchiolitis which developed into four other respiratory viruses, so he had to go back to the ICU.
“He was in there for four days in a critical condition. It felt like one step forward, two steps back, all the time.
“They get ill so quickly, but they also get better so quickly as well.”
Chester still suffers from chronic lung disease and requires oxygen 24 hours a day – but Ann said he should get better and stronger as he grows older and bigger.
She said: “If I was to take the oxygen away from him now, he’d be fine, he wouldn’t be gasping for air right away.
“It’s just over a certain amount of time he would start to struggle, and then he would be using his energy to breathe rather than to grow.”
Chester now weighs 16lbs 14oz – still significantly below the 22lbs average for babies of his age.
But Ann said that his physiotherapists are “happy” with his development from when he was born.
And she added that she would not have been able to get through his early months without support from the Little Heartbeats charity.
The charity was set up by a mother who went through what Ann went through with Chester – but sadly lost her baby.
Ann said: “She was amazing – she gave me all the information that the doctors didn’t.
“She sent me information leaflets and care packages with stuff like handcream and teddy bears in.
“And after Chester was born she stayed in touch and sent me messages asking how he was doing.
“I’m so glad I found that charity, it was such a huge help with everything we went through.”
To find out more about Little Heartbeats, visit: https://www.little-heartbeats.org.uk/videos-pprom-awareness-in-pregnancy.