Baby Ayah was born 17 weeks early. She weighed just 1lb.
Doctors prepared her mother for the worst, fearing the baby might not make it.
Ayah’s mum, Christie Leigh Malik, had been told her baby was unlikely to survive when she went into premature labour at just 23 weeks.
After a stress-free development scan at 20 weeks, Christie first realised something wasn’t right when she suffered a bleed at 22 weeks. The brave mama told Wales Online:
“I phoned my midwife and she said go down to the labour ward and see what they say. I went, and they did tests, and then they did an internal one. They said I was four centimetres dilated and in labour. I was in shock and thinking if I was to give birth now, what would happen – it was way too early. I was given the statistics, and told if baby comes now there’s not a very good chance”.
Christie was admitted to hospital so doctors could monitor her. At that stage in the pregnancy, every extra day is a bonus.
Ayah, which means ‘miracle’ in Arabic, was born a couple of days later on 1 March, at Singleton Hospital in Wales. She weighed just 1lb 1oz and the odds were still against her.
Doctors had informed Christie there was a chance her daughter wouldn’t make it. However, the little girl soon proved worthy of her name as she defied the odds.
Why Ayah’s Mama Shared Her Story
The happy mum told BellyBelly: “I am so proud of Ayah. She’s the strongest little girl I know. My aim in sharing Ayah’s story was to raise awareness and to bring hope to parents going through the same as we did.
“When I was going through this traumatic experience, I searched for success stories similar to Ayah’s to give me that little bit more hope. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any. I’m hoping that by sharing Ayah’s story, more parents will also come forward and speak about their experiences. It’s such a taboo subject and should be spoken about a lot more”.
Beautiful baby Ayah is now 30 weeks old – a happy, smiling bundle of perfection. And her inspiring mama has raised over £700 for the NICU at Singleton Hospital to help other parents and babies in need. Christie decided to speak out about her experiences so as to help other parents. She knows only too well how isolating it can be to go through such a traumatic time.
She told BellyBelly what kept her strong during the NICU stay:
“I found throughout my experience being positive, no matter how devastating some situations got, helped me get through the very difficult times. I encouraged Ayah by always singing and talking to her, telling her all the lovely things we would do when we got home, telling her how her Mammy and family were so very proud of her, and how strong and brave she was. We always told her how much we all loved her”.
She went on to say:
“I looked forward to having skin-to-skin (kangaroo care) and I think she enjoyed it too. Some days, she would lie on my chest for over three hours at a time.
“I also believe my breast milk played a major part. I expressed so much I filled the hospital freezers! Caring for her (tube feeding, changing nappies, cleaning her tiny little face) also helped me bond with her”.
As you can see from the recent photos, Ayah is now thriving.
Christie’s final piece of advice to other parents out there who might be going through a NICU stay: “Most importantly, never give up hope. Miracles do happen”.
If you have a baby in the NICU, check out our article Baby In The NICU? 17 Coping Tips For Parents.