WHEN she was born at 23 weeks, Tabitha Bishop weighed just 15oz and had to spend 17 weeks in hospital.
Her mum Sophie is sharing their story as part of Neonatal Intensive Care Awareness Month to praise the work of units across the country.
My husband Lee and I were taken to the NICU where doctors spoke about the survival chances of our babySophie Bishop
Now aged six, Tabitha is a healthy girl with only a few minor health problems and mum Sophie, from Portchester, said it is all thanks to the neonatal intensive care unit (Nicu) at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham.
She said: ‘I went into QA first thing on August 10, 2010 thinking my waters had started to go even though I was only 22 weeks and six days. Something didn’t feel right.’
After examining Sophie, doctors discovered that she was 3cm dilated.
She was given steroids in the hope that they would get her through the next 24 hours to 23 weeks.
She was kept on the labour ward where the team gave her regular scans and she was fitted with a cervical pessary to try and delay her waters from breaking, which was successful.
But despite efforts from the hospital, a few days later Sophie woke up and her waters started to go again and she was in labour by midday.
Sophie added: ‘I was taken to the labour ward at 8pm where they tried to stop the contractions to no avail.
‘My husband Lee and I were taken to the Nicu where doctors spoke about the survival chances of our baby.’
Tabitha was born at 5.05am on August 16, 2010 – crying and breathing at just 23 weeks. She is one of the smallest babies to be born at QA.
‘She was taken straight to Nicu and we were able to see her at 8am,’ said Sophie.
‘The staff were phenomenal.
‘They were all honest and never instilled false hope in us which was exactly what I needed at the time.
‘They went above and beyond to ensure that I managed to build an amazing bond with Tabitha and always made me feel confident in the fact she was very well cared for.
‘Obviously it’s the worst thing in the world to have to walk out of a hospital without your baby and have strangers doing all the things we should.
‘But the team at QA somehow made it bearable and as cheesy as it sounds, they became friends.’