Robyn Bryant and James Dury were looking forward to the arrival of their baby girl, when doctors gave them news that they desperately didn’t want to hear. The couple were told to brace themselves for the worst, but weeks later a one-pound miracle was born.
Bryant and Dury live in the Welsh village of Cwmparc. Like most parents, during the course of the pregnancy, they attended doctors’ appointments to receive updates on the health of their unborn baby.
All expectant parents wish for a trouble-free pregnancy and birth. In some cases, however, things simply don’t go to plan. And unfortunately for Bryant and Dury, they were told to expect some complications during the pregnancy.
Speaking to the MailOnline in October 2018, Bryant said, “We went to our private gender scan, and they picked up that Hallie’s femur was a bit short and that she wasn’t growing how she should have been. She was around two weeks behind.”
No parent-to-be wants to hear any negative news during a pregnancy, but at this stage Bryant and Dury had no need to be overly concerned. Doctors would continue to do tests, though, to try and establish what was wrong.
Then it was time for Bryant’s 20-week scan, which provided another opportunity to see how the baby, whom the couple had named Hallie, was progressing. Unfortunately, though, Hallie was still smaller than was to be expected for a fetus of her age.
Bryant subsequently underwent a number of tests so that the doctors could determine what was going wrong. But both Bryant and Dury were baffled when all the results indicated that there wasn’t a problem. They were then told to consider an amniocentesis.
Making a decision about whether to have this type of test isn’t easy, though, as there can be dangers involved. “I knew there was a risk of having a miscarriage with the test, so I avoided it at first,” said Bryant. “I kept booking it and cancelling it.”
The procedure involves a long needle being inserted through the wall of the mother’s abdomen and into the protective covering in which the fetus lies. A sample of the liquid that surrounds the fetus is taken and then examined for defects.
“I went to have the test, but everything came back clear,” she said. “I wouldn’t say it was a relief, because I would have loved and cared for her no matter what happened. But we just wanted to know what was wrong, so we could sort out what care she might have needed.”
Bryant’s decision to have the test came as a result of scans indicating that her baby was suffering from a fused kidney and other problems. However, because the test came back clear, doctors were still unable to give her and Dury answers.
Tragically, 20 weeks into the pregnancy, the couple were informed that Hallie might die at any moment. “We were told not to expect a heartbeat at the next scan,” Bryant said. “But I was always positive. I had hope. My motherly instincts told me everything was going to be OK. I didn’t care what they said.”
The following weeks proved to be very stressful, as the couple waited for their baby to be born while not knowing whether their little girl would survive due to her size. After 27 weeks of pregnancy, Bryant was taken into Cardiff’s University Hospital of Wales but was informed that Hallie would not survive if born at that time.
Bryant was told to go home and was brought back to the hospital a week later. “We were put onto a machine, and monitors showed blips in Hallie’s heartbeat, so I was taken for an emergency caesarean,” Bryant explained.
On Tuesday 23 October 2018, Bryant gave birth to Hallie Sofia Dury, who was only 1 pound and 1 ounce. This came almost three months before Hallie’s due date. Amazingly, despite the large number of staff on hand to jump in if she had respiratory problems, Hallie was born with the ability to breath unaided.
The birthing process itself was also able to help provide some well-needed answers. Hallie’s growth within the womb had been stunted as a result of the placenta having a restricted blood flow. And when the placenta was delivered, it was no bigger than the size of a hand.
“Everyone was blown away by her,” Bryant said. “She’s tiny – around the same size as my iPhone. I can’t even describe how happy I am. I wasn’t prepared to hear her crying and fighting, so when she did, I was so overwhelmed.”
Hallie is doing well, but she still has a long way to go. After the birth, the baby was transferred to the high-dependency unit at the hospital she was born in. And her parents were able to stay close to the hospital due to funding from the Ronald McDonald foundation.
“When I was pregnant, I was literally researching everything,” Bryant recalled. “But what I found most helpful is the amount of Facebook groups out there. I was speaking to other moms who had been through similar experiences, and it really helped me.”
Bryant subsequently wanted to share her story in order to spread the message that births like this can happen. She also hoped that her account would help comfort other moms who might be experiencing something similar. What a lovely ending for a little baby who defied the odds.