A miracle baby whose parents were told to “seriously consider” a termination is home and thriving after having life-saving brain surgery at just three days old.
Megan Taylor, 26, was told at her 20 week scan her daughter Phoebe Jane Campbell had hydrocephalus – excess fluid on the brain – and may not survive pregnancy.
Medics were so worried about the condition that around 20 doctors, nurses and surgeons were on hand when Megan had a C-section on October 12.
However the tot “proved everybody wrong” and entered the world with a loud cry before she had even left the womb at a weighing a healthy 8lb 10oz.
She needed emergency surgery to insert a shunt to drain some of the fluid from her brain.
But despite consultants’ concerns that Phoebe may not have a great quality of life, Megan and partner Andrew Campbell, 31, were able to take her home.
Megan, who works for a travel agency, said: “We didn’t have anything ready – we were thinking that in the best case scenario, she’d be in intensive care until Christmas.
“But she made us out to be liars and was out of theatre and home within a week.
“During a normal pregnancy, you can prepare your home and get stuff ready. We’d had none of that.
“She was born at 38 weeks so for 18 weeks, we’d look at baby stuff and we didn’t know whether to buy it.
“We daren’t buy any of the big stuff because we were so worried about what might happen, so it was a bit of a blur in the first few weeks, we had to run around and buy what we could.”
Tests showed Phoebe had so much excess fluid on her brain that her ventricles – which are meant to be under 10mm – measured at 18mm and 14mm.
Healthcare professionals told the couple that even if Phoebe did survive pregnancy and birth then she may not have much quality of life.
More scans revealed the fluid was putting pressure on Phoebe’s brain stem, making it “highly likely” she would not be able to breath or feed herself after birth.
Because of this, the couple were referred to Claire House hospice in Liverpool to support them through the pregnancy and help plan any end of life care.
Megan was told that a termination would be available at any point in the pregnancy, but her maternal instincts told her to fight on for her precious daughter.
She said: “It was difficult because we had all these professionals telling us the worst case scenario.
“But as a mum, I felt her growing and moving inside me. I just thought ‘get on with it, pull yourself together’.
“I told everyone that I had a feeling she would come out crying and nobody said it, but you could tell they were thinking I had my head in the clouds.
“Deep down, I just had a feeling she was going to be ok.
“When she was born, her head got stuck, the room fell silent and she came out crying.
“The consultant said to me that he envisioned lots of different scenarios, but did not think she would come out crying. He said he’d never been happier to be wrong.”
Phoebe’s left ventricle was 95mm at birth – almost ten times the size it should be in a baby.
She was rushed to surgery at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool at just three days old to drain the excess fluid.
Now a month old, Phoebe is settling into the family home with her loving parents in Warrington, Cheshire, and her head circumference has reduced by around 4cm.
Her parents won’t know how the ordeal has affected Phoebe’s development until she reaches each milestone, but Megan is delighted with her progress already.
She added: “She’s doing absolutely fine, she’s feeding well, sleeping well and she’s starting to interact.
“She’s just a little character, she’s dead funny. She gives me some right dirty looks if I don’t feed her straight away.
“For the first two weeks, everything felt like it was going at 200mph and it was surreal to look at her and think she was home.
“We’ve got into a bit of routine and we’re really happy and settled as a family now.”
Megan praised the “incredible” NHS staff who helped the couple throughout the pregnancy and labour.
She said: “We’ll never in this lifetime be able to thank each NHS staff member enough, as they’ve given us a chance to be a family that we never dreamed we would have.
“In the middle of a pandemic, they went above and beyond to include both my partner and myself in a journey that could have been cut short at any point had the odds not been in our favour.”