By Liz Coates
Friday, July 12, 2013
As a pageant of bouncing babies left the hospital, balloons bobbing behind their car seats, Steven and Emma Everard wondered if their turn would ever come.
For baby Isabelle’s paper-thin skin was barely visible beneath a tangle of tubes when her worried parents saw her for the first time.
Too delicate to hold, the couple, of Station Road North, Belton, were at first denied even the simple pleasure of cradling their newborn daughter.
But after just seven weeks in two of the county’s neo-natal units she was strong enough to go home - albeit without the balloons - amazing her parents and everyone who had looked after her.
Mrs Everard, 30, said she was initially told most babies stayed in hospital until their due dates - giving Isabelle a likely stay of three months, which she cut by almost half.
Now six months old she tips the scales at more than 12lbs - and looks set to reach her developmental milestones at the same time as any other child.
The couple say they are eternally grateful to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital where she was born and to the James Paget Hospital where she was transferred after three weeks, and cannot rate the care she received highly enough.
As a thank you Mr Everard, a member of the Great Yarmouth Cycling Club, took to two wheels to complete the Norwich 100 race raising over £500 to be split between the two hospitals.
“Norwich and the Paget were both so very good,” Mrs Everard, an administrator at Norwich Magistrates Court, said. “You do not realise this world exists until you need it yourself. It must be quite emotional for the nurses too. The care and support they gave us was amazing. Everyone is so friendly, we felt like we could ask anything, even if we had asked it a million times already.”
Isabelle was delivered by emergency c-section on December 18 three months early due to pre-eclampsia - a life-threatening condition that puts mother and child at risk.
Weighing just 2lb 1oz she was immediately whisked away to be ventilated, tested and hooked up to various drips and machines.
For a time her parents were warned it could go either way with no way of telling what the outcome would be.
But after only a few days it became clear their little girl - whose birthday should have been March 5 - was a fighter who had grasped the thin thread of life and held it with a tight, determined fist.
With wrists the size of an adult finger and a “tennis ball” head, she had few setbacks and made progress every day proving to everyone that she would survive - and more than that, be full of beans.
The couple, who met two years ago and married in September, say that with a 30pc chance of the condition recurring they are put off having another child for the time being - but stress their gratitude to hospital staff for the remarkable one they have.
Mr Everard, a surveyor at Great Yarmouth Borough Council said the bike-ride was “tough” but that he felt the urge to raise money at an early stage. Having Christmas dinner in the hospital canteen was “surreal” but with so many other babies even more vulnerable and ill than Isabelle he wanted to do something to provide much-need equipment that was saving little lives all the time.
The couple hope to hand the money over in the next few weeks.