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'I didn't know it was possible': Premature baby's shocking delivery at just 24 weeks gestation

By Jo Abi|

Ingrid Mita and husband Situa Siale endured years of infertility before they fell pregnant with their first child.

"We'd experienced infertility for six years," she tells 9Honey. "We finally fell pregnant at the end of 2019 and it was smooth sailing."

She had almost hit the halfway mark of her miracle pregnancy when she woke up feeling "something bulging."

Mita, 31, was suffering from bulging membranes meaning her cervix had begun to dilate prematurely and was unable to provide enough support for her uterus causing the gestational sac to slip down and protrude.

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Ingrid Scarlett premmie
Ingrid Mita and husband Situa Siale endured years of infertility before they fell pregnant. (Supplied)

The couple rushed to hospital where they were told it was unlikely they'd be able to save their child, a son they named Damian.

"They tried to do an emergency stitch but he was born at 19 weeks," she says. ?"We were able to spend some time with him when he came out. He was actually alive for about half an hour."

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Ingrid Scarlett premmie
After years of IVF the couple discovered they were pregnant, but discovered a devastating loss. (Supplied)

The pair were left devastated by the loss. Mita was told she had an "incomplete cervix" which would make carrying a baby to term difficult.

"Having an incomplete cervix is something you don't know about until its basically too late. It is not something you can foresee. I've joined a few groups since and a lot of us have suffered losses.? It's hard to get past the viability stage."

Ingrid Scarlett premmie
Mita was told she had an 'incomplete cervix' which would make pregnancy difficult. (Supplied)

The couple were advised to move closer to a major hospital if they were planning to try for more children, which they did, relocated from regional NSW to Wollongong.

"They told me they'd keep a close eye on me if I were to fall pregnant again."

In April the couple discovered they were expecting again. A preventative stitch has been placed in Mita's cervix to try and prevent another uterine prolapse however this only lasted until she was 22 weeks along.

"I've joined a few groups since and a lot of us have suffered losses.? It's hard to get past the viability stage."?

"I could feel a little bit of a change," she says. "I asked for an ultrasound and at first they told me everything was looking great but when they went down to my cervix they fell silent."

Had their daughter Scarlett been born then she most likely would have died. Mita was transferred to ?Royal Hospital for Women in Sydney where she was placed on bed rest.

premature baby
Scarlett was born at 24 weeks and was given a good chance of survival. (Supplied)

"I spent 11 days in a birthing suite because I would go into labour every night," she says. "They would rush in and manage to diffuse it but it would start up again the next night."

That is until the night in April their daughter decided to arrive, whether she was ready or not, at just 24 weeks.

?"It was a little bit of a shock but we were quite calm throughout the whole situation," she recalls. "We'd been through so much and we knew we were in good hands and just ran with it."

Ingrid Scarlett premmie
'We'd been through so much and we knew we were in good hands and just ran with it.' (Supplied)

When Scarlett was born Mita was able to see her "very quickly" before she was whisked away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

"She was tiny, she was almost translucent. Her limbs were so skinny and dangly. There was no fat on her. It was really quite frightening," she shares. "I was really shocked when she came out because she cried. At that gestation I didn't know it was possible."

The parents recognised that Scarlett looked just like her brother Damian.

Scarlett premature birth
Ingrid and Situa with their daughter Scarlett. (Supplied)

"She did look like her brother and it was quite funny. My husband is always going on about how big his nose is and she was all nose and the doctor said, 'She has Daddy's nose!'"

Mita didn't get to see her daughter again until two hours later and describes the scene as "confronting."

Scarlett premature birth
'She was tiny, she was almost translucent. Her limbs were so skinny and dangly.' (Supplied)

"She had tubes and wires and a cannula all over her," Mita recalls. "Her skin looked so fragile and I remember a nurse saying I could put my hand in there."

The couple were told their daughter looked "quite good" when she was born but were also warned it would be a "rocky journey."

"The thing we really appreciated was that we were told it wouldn't be all roses, we'd need to expect a few great days and then to fall backwards but to 'trust us and trust the process.'"

Scarlett was suffering from an eye infection and antibiotic treatment left her "very lethargic." She also underwent 13 blood transfusions.

"She's pushing her way through," Mita says.

"The thing we really appreciated was that we were told it wouldn't be all roses."

?Mita has been staying in a motel near the hospital organised by the Royal Hospital for Women's Foundation.

"It's a four minute walk to the hospital, it's great," she says.

Scarlett has now been moved out of NICU into special care and is trialling breathing on her own.

"We talk to a lot of parents at the hospital and a lot of them have already been on a massive journey to fall pregnant and have a baby and then they have to endure something like this," she shares. "It's really scary to think of having to go through it again to try and have another baby."

Scarlett premature birth
Scarlett is almost ready to go home with her delighted parents. (Supplied)

For now they are hoping to be able to bring their daughter home.

"When I feel scared to take her home, one of our social workers reminds me I know how to take care of her. She is three months old and I know her cues. Most parents go home with their babies without the opportunity to learn any of this."

Scarlett's room is all set up and waiting for her.?

"I can't wait to get her home and tuck her into her little bed," she says. "We love to go to the markets on Sundays and we can't wait to pack her up and show her around and off to the world."

Thursday (November 17 ) is World Prematurity Day?. Show your support for Royal Hospital for Women's Foundation ahead of Giving Day (November 23) by helping to raise vital funds for more specialised equipment for fragile babies.

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