When Briony Curwood stopped feeling her unborn baby kicking, she visited the hospital just to be safe. However, she may never have expected just how serious the situation was. And, following an initial scan, Briony’s medical team knew that they needed to get her into surgery as quickly as possible.
Briony herself, meanwhile, lives with husband Mike in Cleethorpes in the north of England. There, she works as a beauty therapist; Mike, on the other hand, is a heating engineer. The couple had wanted new roles for a long time, however; simply put, they were eager to become parents.
Indeed, Briony and Mike had even been trying for a baby for some months before their wedding in 2015. So, when Briony finally fell pregnant with the pair’s first child in 2016, she and her husband were presumably over the moon.
What’s more, the parents-to-be would eventually discover that they were expecting a little girl. And judging from Briony’s Facebook posts, they couldn’t wait to meet her. In one update, featuring a copy of the expectant mom’s ultrasound, she even joked that she hoped the baby looked like her.
However, little did Briony and Mike know that they’d be seeing their daughter a lot sooner than planned – in particular, after Briony suffered a fall 29 weeks into her pregnancy. And, understandably, the couple were panic-stricken to find that their baby had stopped moving following the incident. As a result, then, they rushed to Grimsby’s Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital, where doctors could monitor the situation.
Then, after the pair had arrived at the hospital, doctors did all the relevant checks; the medical professionals were also keen for the couple to return in the following days. “They put a heart monitor on her, assessed her and then told us they’d like us to come back for a scan at 4:00 p.m. on Monday,” Mike explained to the Grimsby Telegraph in December 2017.
And Briony subsequently attended that scan with her father, Andy Holmes. However, if she had known how the ultrasound was about to go, she might have insisted on Mike being there. Why? Well, during the check-up, medical staff gave her some worrying news.
In particular, doctors told Briony that she would need to give birth as soon as possible – potentially even that very day. At first, though, the mom-to-be wasn’t worried by this development. “I was excited at first because I thought I was going to see my baby,” she told the Hull Daily Mail in December 2017.
However, Briony did the math and worked out that her daughter wasn’t actually due for another ten weeks – a fact that would soon change her mood. “I realized it was way too early, and I got really scared,” the expectant mother confessed. At this point, though, giving birth was her only option.
That’s because Briony and Mike’s unborn daughter had stopped growing in the womb. Unknown to the couple – and just a week after a routine scan – a problem with the placenta had prevented their baby from developing further. As a consequence, then, the tot’s life hung in the balance.
So, just hours after being told that terrifying news, Briony found herself undergoing an emergency C-section. In the meantime, Mike had rushed to the hospital to be by his wife’s side and to welcome their daughter Ava into the world. Two hours after the baby was born on December 19, 2016, though, she was separated from her parents and rushed to Hull’s Women and Children’s Hospital, some 30 miles away.
Indeed, as Ava tipped the scales at a minuscule one pound and seven ounces, she needed specialist care like the kind provided by the Hull hospital. The tiny infant was also suffering from further complications – including a shadow on her brain – all of which would also need expert attention.
For Briony, though, being separated from her newborn was agony. “I didn’t actually get to meet her for four days, it was horrible,” she told the Grimsby Telegraph. “They tried to get me a bed in Hull, and there wasn’t one.”
So, for four long days, Briony recovered from her C-section in Grimsby while her baby underwent life-saving treatment in Hull. And in the middle of both of them, of course, was Mike. He had a mission on his hands, too, though, having been tasked with ferrying breast milk from Briony to Ava.
Explaining his daily routine, Mike revealed to the Grimsby Telegraph, “I drove down to see Ava every morning. I had to drive to Briony in the hospital, pick up her breast milk, take it to my daughter in Hull and then go to work. She was too small at this point to have any other milk.”
Thankfully, though, all the couple’s efforts paid off, as when Ava was almost six months old, doctors finally transferred her back to Grimsby. Then, two weeks after that, she was able to go home. And on December 19, 2017, the infant celebrated her first birthday in perfect health.
What’s more, it was hard for Ava’s parents to believe just how ill their baby had been following her birth. “It’s weird now looking back, because I remember it being like, ‘Will she survive, will she be all right, or do we just take it minute by minute?’” Briony said to the Grimsby Telegraph.
A year down the line, though, and it was hard to tell that Ava had been so close to death. “There’s absolutely nothing wrong with her now,” Mike revealed. “She’s got a slight problem with one of her eyes, but it’s very minor and we’re getting that sorted in January. Health-wise, there is actually nothing wrong with her – which is incredible.”
With Ava’s health on the up, then, the family were thrilled to spend Christmas at home together for the first time. “I’ve had my tree up since the end of November because I just couldn’t wait for us to begin the celebrations,” Briony admitted.
Despite their excitement, though, the family didn’t forget to thank the people who had made their first family Christmas possible. Indeed, during the festive season in 2017, Briony and Ava would return to the neonatal unit to visit staff and deliver presents to premature babies. And for her parents, little Ava is the perfect example of just how strong newborns can be – no matter how small they are.