Mum of three Michaela Robertson had no idea that her baby was clinically dead for 25 minutes but no one was giving up..
A blurry image appeared on the screen and my husband Christopher, 29, held my hand while I lay on the bed. “It’s a girl,” the nurse announced.
It was our 16 week scan and we paid a little extra to see a 4D image of our baby, and when we found out we were having a little girl, we were thrilled.
“She couldn’t be more perfect,” I said.
We already had two boys, Kaiden, four, and Bayley, two, so secretly we were hoping for a little girl.
Before we knew it, it was time for our 21-week scan.
I lay there with the cold gel on my tummy, excited to see the progress my little girl was making.
Suddenly, the nurse hurried out the room leaving Chris and me staring at each other in confusion.
She returned several minutes later with two doctors and they all stood around looking really concerned.
“What’s happening?” I asked the doctors.
They cleaned me up, told me to get dressed, and took me into a small room where they explained that our little girl had a ‘transposition of the heart.’
It meant that our baby’s heart valves were the wrong way around and were pumping blood in opposite directions than they should be. On top of that, she had two holes in her heart which had narrow valves.
The crushing result of all this meant that our little girl would more than likely die in my womb at 21 weeks.
If she did manage to survive, she would almost certainly have Down’s syndrome and possibly even cystic fibrosis.
It was the most awful conversation of our lives, and when we were asked if we wanted to terminate our little girl our world fell apart.
But my mother’s instinct kicked in, and I immediately refused.
Later that night, we returned to our home in Angus. I turned to Chris and said: “I know what the doctors are saying but I just have a feeling she’ll be okay.”
Chris agreed with me. “Me too. I know deep down that Keira will pull through,” he said.
We had check-ups every other week where we were given updates of our baby’s condition – and every other week we were offered a termination, and much to the doctor’s surprise, we refused every time.
Despite professional opinions telling us our baby was going to die, I ignored them all. Whatever was in store for her, I knew she would beat it.
The months flew by, and when I was 37 weeks gone. I was booked in for a planned C-section, two weeks before my due date on 28th March 2013.
The operation took three hours as Keira was tucked away behind my ribs, but soon enough my beautiful little girl was out safe, weighing an unexpected 8.5lbs.
But before I could hold her in my arms, at less than a minute old, my joy turned to terror as my little girl’s heart stopped dead and her lungs stopped breathing.
She was pulled from my arms and rushed to intensive care, where doctors tried for 25 minutes to revive her.
A doctor came into my room, placed his hand on my arm and said: “I’m really sorry to have to tell you this, but your little girl has passed away. Her heart stopped beating 25 minutes ago.”
Christopher and I were inconsolable.
“I can’t believe our little girl is dead, why her, why us,” I sobbed to Chris.
I hadn’t even met my baby yet and the first time I would be meeting her she would be dead.
I started planning her funeral in my head, imaging the coffin being walked down the aisle by her father; imagining the flowers shaped into her name and the thought of walking into her nursery was more than I can handle.
Unbeknown to us, the doctors who were trying to save Keira in another room and hadn’t given up hope.
Even though she’d been clinically dead for 25 minutes, they kept on trying to revive her heart until they were on the verge of giving up.
Miraculously, her heart had started to beat and her lungs took a fresh gulp of air.
She was rushed into an emergency open heart surgery at just 40 minutes old, cold and blue.
Doctors came to tell us the amazing news that our baby girl had come back to life, but also told us to prepare ourselves for the worst once more.
Keira was taken into an intensive care unit at the children’s hospital and I recovered from my C-section at York Hill hospital.
Her surgery was a success and she was in serious but stable condition.
Three days later, we were finally allowed to go and see her for the first time since she was born, nearly four days later.
I grabbed Chris’s hand in shock. I couldn’t believe how many wires, fluids, medication and feeding tubes were going into her.
I had never seen anything like it; she looked like a science experiment.
At only eight days old Kiera had her second open heart surgery.
My husband and I were told to go shopping while Keira underwent her 10 hour heart operation.
“Shopping? My baby is having heart surgery and the doctor prescribes shopping?” I gasped to Chris.
“Well we didn’t her buy anything before she was born,” Chris said. “It’ll take our minds of it if nothing else.”
So we went out while our little girl had her open heart surgery and bought her a cot, bottles, blankets, bedding and some clothes.
Afterwards, when we sat in the waiting room like a bag of nerves, feet tapping, waiting to see if our little solider had pulled through her surgery, we heard footsteps on the floor and then a nurse popped her head around the corner.
“Would you like to come with me?” she said smiling.
My legs were like jelly and I could feel thousands of butterflies in my stomach.
There she was, our little Keira, lying there with yet more tubes in her tiny body.
Surgeons had repaired the two holes in her heart, fixed the narrow valves and swapped her heart valves over into the correct position, so that her blood was now pumping the right way around her body.
She was in intensive care for 21 days after that and had a week of special treatment to reverse any brain damage which may have been caused when her brain was starved of oxygen.
After two and a half weeks I was finally able to hold my baby and take her home. The first time I held Keira was the first time she opened her eyes, it was magical.
Now Keira is a healthy 21-month-old baby, but still needs regular checks on her heart.
She has suffered with bronchitis twice in 2013 where we had to rush her to hospital as her body wasn’t yet strong enough to fight off the infection, but this year, she had a common cold and managed to fight it off without visiting the hospital.
She’ll always have heart problems and more will come to light as she gets older. She takes regular visits to the ENT clinic, but her heart is fine and she’s been given a year pass from the hospital.
In August, Keira was diagnosed with Laryngomalacia, which causes a floppy windpipe. This condition is a result from Keira having many tubes put down her throat from when she was poorly.
It causes Keira a struggle to breathe sometimes and when she coughs she sounds as if she smokes 40 a day.
But she is walking, copies everything I say, and is pretty much independent in her own little way. Incredibly, she doesn’t have Down’s or cystic fibrosis and she’s doing everything she should be doing.
I’ve never seen a happier baby in my life. Her smile is huge. She’s amazing. To look at her, you wouldn’t think she had died and been brought back to life.