A determined young mum who was told to abort her daughter 14 times has defied doctors’ advice and now brought home a healthy baby girl.
Kiera Meldrum, 20, was offered an abortion every week following her 21-week scan which showed her unborn child had Grade 3 severe ascites to the bowel.
The build up of fluid caused a catalogue of complications, but Kiera – who had suffered four previous miscarriages – refused to abort her daughter.
Kiera went into labour at 34 weeks and was terrified of losing daughter Lillee-Rose as she was whisked away for emergency surgery minutes after birth.
But after multiple life-saving operations and eight long weeks in hospital, Kiera was finally able to take her baby home.
Six months on, little Lillee-Rose is home and happy, and while she has a delicate bowel, doctors don’t anticipate any problems in the future.
Kiera, from York, said: “I refused to terminate Lillee-Rose every time they told me to, and I’m so happy I listened to my heart instead of the doctors.
“When I went into labour six weeks early, I was terrified of losing her and watching them whisk her straight away from me and into surgery broke my heart.
“I always had a feeling that she’d be ok, and seeing her grow up healthy and strong just goes to show that a mother always knows best.”
Kiera was over the moon when she found out that she was pregnant again in July 2018 having suffered four miscarriages over a two year period.
The 12 week scan at Leeds Hospital confirmed all was well, but the first signs of trouble appeared eight weeks later when doctors saw her baby’s stomach was filling with fluid.
Doctors realised that Kiera’s unborn child had Grade 3 severe ascites to the bowel – a build up of fluid between the two layers that line the stomach.
Kiera was advised to terminate her baby during her 21 week scan, but she couldn’t give up on her little miracle and decided to continue the pregnancy.
She said: “I felt sick when they told me she wasn’t well but I just knew my little girl was a fighter and that she could make it.
“There was no way I was terminating my pregnancy – I’d waited so long to become a mum and I was determined to do all I could to protect my baby.”
Kiera went for a scan every week for the rest of her pregnancy and her heart shattered each time when doctors told her to terminate.
At her 28 week scan, doctors informed Kiera that her baby’s bowel had ruptured and told her to terminate again.
Doctors advised Kiera to have her stomach drained as amniotic fluid was building up, but she was too scared of endangering Lillee-Rose’s life and refused.
Kiera said: “My stomach swelled up enormously, and it felt like I was carrying a giant painful water balloon against my tummy.
“Doctors said that draining the fluid could hurt my baby, and after being told how poorly she already was, I knew I couldn’t do anything risky.
“I was in constant pain, but I had to do everything I could to protect my baby or I’d never forgive myself.”
Kiera struggled with the fluid build up for the rest of her pregnancy, unable to move properly and in horrendous pain.
The stay at home mum went into labour six weeks early on February 26.
Just half an hour after arriving at York Hospital, Kiera gave birth to Lillee-Rose after a natural and quick labour.
But when no cry filled the room, the heartbroken mum feared the worst.
She said: “I was waiting for what felt like forever for that first cry, and when I heard nothing, I just shut my eyes in fear, not wanting to see what had happened.
“Finally, this little scream erupted and I felt this huge wave of relief and emotion wash over me.
“They handed me Lillee-Rose and she was just the most beautiful baby I’d ever seen in my whole life. She was perfect.”
She weighed a tiny 4lb 3oz, and after a few precious minutes with her mum, she was whisked away for lifesaving surgery.
Transferring her to Leeds Hospital, doctors had to act fast to save her life, opening her stomach up to find her bowel had split completely in half, with one side wrapped dangerously around a blood vessel.
They connected the two halves together with nasal tubes and fitted a stoma bag, and doctors monitored Lillee-Rose for eight weeks inside an incubator.
Kiera said: “She looked so tiny inside the incubator, with all these wires and monitors surrounding her.
“I knew it was the best place for her but I just wanted to hold my baby girl.
“I’d been waiting for months to meet her and now I couldn’t even hold her in my arms. It was devastating.”
Lillee-Rose underwent surgery for a second time at six weeks old so doctors could check the first operation had been successful, and remove the stoma bag.
With Lillee-Rose’s bowel fused back together, Kiera was finally able to take her baby girl home.
Her condition is so rare doctors are writing research papers on Lillee-Rose – who is lactose intolerant – to help for future cases.
Dr Kelly Cohen, Consultant in Fetal Medicine and Obstetrics & Clinical Director, Women’s CSU at Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust, said: “We are very happy to hear that Lillee-Rose is doing well and has recovered from her surgery.
“Lillee-Rose had a rare birth defect called jejunal atresia with ascites, which affects between 1-3 babies in every 10,000 born and requires complex specialist surgery to correct.
“Her mum Kiera was scanned four times in the Leeds Fetal Medicine Unit, and she was also scanned weekly in her local hospital. The scans allowed us to monitor the progress and any improvement in the baby’s condition.
“At Leeds our specialists look after thousands of poorly babies every year, and we support parents to make difficult decisions whenever a life-threatening problem is detected, as in this case.
“It is our responsibility to ensure that all our patients are given accurate information about possible outcomes and the range of options available to them, and the offer of termination could be an option in some cases.”
Lillee-Rose is now being monitored every three months because the bottom part of her bowel is still very fragile, but as she grows older her bowel grows stronger.
With Lillee-Rose finally home, Kiera is amazed every day at the strength of her daughter, and the young mum doesn’t waste a single moment with her little miracle.
She said: “Doctors told me every week to terminate my pregnancy, and hearing that advice over and over again was horrific, but something told me Lillee-Rose would make it through.
“She’s been diagnosed with an intolerance to lactose, but other than that, she’s growing up healthy and getting bigger and stronger every day.
“My baby girl never stopped fighting and finally having her home with me is a blessing. She’s my little miracle.”