A couple whose son weighed less than a bag of sugar when he was born at 26 weeks, are raising money for the hospitals which cared for him.
Lucy and Dan Beasley, who live in Donington, want to raise at least £1,000 for Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital and Nottingham City Hospital, where tiny Carter was treated.
Carter, who is the couple’s first child, weighed only 2lb 1oz (940 grams) when he was born and could fit into the palms of two hands cupped together.
It was a critical time for the parents as, at one point, doctors did not think their son would survive.
The first inkling Lucy (24) had that Carter was on his way was when she was woken in the early hours of Valentine’s Day with pain in her hip and back and believed her waters had broke.
Dan (25) said: “She just started shouting ‘my waters have broken’ and I thought ‘what?’ We got dressed and I took her straight to (Boston Pilgrim) hospital, where they examined her and they didn’t think she was in labour. She wasn’t having ‘labour’ pains.”
The first time I was able to give him a cuddle was three weeks after he was bornLucy Beasley
A midwife checked Lucy and gave her a steroid injection which is said to help the baby’s lung development. But Lucy’s pains started increasing and the pains were getting closer together.
She said: “We were both anxious, but they kept reassuring us and they said it would be fine. They examined me and they didn’t think my waters had broken.”
Lucy went to the bathroom and the next thing Dan knew “she was whacking the emergency button” as medical staff came rushing in and got her on the bed.
“I went to the toilet and then realised my baby’s head was coming out,” Lucy said. “They got me on the bed and 26 minutes later he was born.”
But because Carter was so tiny, Lucy wasn’t able to cuddle him as he couldn’t yet breathe on his own and had to be ventilated immediately.
“You think the worse and I literally broke down,” Dan said. “They picked him up and put a mask on his face to help him breathe.”
Carter was transferred that afternoon to the specialist Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Nottingham City Hospital, where he was put in an incubator and Dan and Lucy were allowed home to get changed and then drive straight to Nottingham.
“It was quite traumatic,” Lucy said. “It didn’t really sink in and I was on adrenaline. It happened so quickly. Dan was absolutely in bits.”
The couple were able to stay at the hospital while Carter was being looked after. Dan, who works as a supervisor at Donington Co-op and is also a retained firefighter, took three weeks off work to be able to stay at the hospital with Lucy. But at one point Carter became very ill and his parents were told to prepare themselves for the worst.
Lucy said: “On the 26th of February, he got really poorly and the doctor said he did not think he would make it. He had kidney failure, a bleed in his lung, extremely low blood pressure, high potassium levels and thickening of his heart muscles. He had an arterial line in his veins so that they could measure what his blood pressure was. He was like that for two days and he was very critical. They asked me ‘do you want to talk to the chaplain?’ That was the day that sticks in my mind.
“The first time I was able to give him a cuddle him was on March 8, three weeks after he was born.”
Carter was in hospital for 88 days, including spending 39 days on and off ventilation, 55 days in an incubator and 71 days on breathing support. He was transferred to Peterborough City Hospital and then back to Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital as he got better.
He was finally discharged on May 13, eight days before his original due date of May 21. It was also the day before his grandmother Jane Inkley’s birthday.
Jane, who is Lucy’s mum, said: “When he was born, I remember his fist being clenched up against the incubator and I put my hand next to him and his fist was the size of my thumbnail.”
Lucy added: “The hospitals were amazing in their care for him and we want to raise the money to say thank you and split it between Nottingham and Boston.”
The couple will be holding a fundraiser at Donington Community Centre on August 13 at 4pm where there will be a tombola and raffle. Prizes include a signed T-shirt and football by Chelsea players. Carter’s christening will be held on the same day at Donington Church.
Lucy said: “As Dan’s family live away, we thought this was the best time to do the christening and fundraiser, as we can get everyone together.
“Carter is doing well now. He has a heart murmur, which is common in premature babies, and is going again to get that checked soon. He was weighed recently and is now 9lb 13.5oz. He is very aware and has started to smile at things now.”