Feature: Tiny Charlotte’s troubled birth inspires mum

Premature baby Charlotte with Mum Sara Cooper'Eastbourne'05/08/11
Premature baby Charlotte with Mum Sara Cooper'Eastbourne'05/08/11

Born three months premature and weighing just two-and-a-half pounds, Charlotte Cooper began life wired up in an intensive care unit. Her mother Sara tells the Herald’s Steve Holloway her story.

AN EASTBOURNE tot who spent the first month of her life in an incubator has inspired her mum to organise a fundraising event for a premature baby charity.

Charlotte's tiny hand clings on tightly to dad Glen's little finger

Charlotte's tiny hand clings on tightly to dad Glen's little finger

Little Charlotte Cooper from Greenfield Road was born three months premature and weighed just 2Ib seven ounces.

After months of treatment she is now doing well and on Saturday, August 20 her mum Sara took part in a sponsored buggy push joined by other families who have experienced premature childbirth.

Sara, 35, told the Herald about Charlotte’s earlier than expected and traumatic entrance into the world in October last year.

“I was at work at the time, I’m the collection curator at the Towner Gallery, and obviously hadn’t started my maternity leave.

Charlotte spent weeks in intensive care

Charlotte spent weeks in intensive care

“They sent me home because I was feeling ill and had pains but later I started to feel better and went to a session of pregnancy yoga because I didn’t realise I was in labour, but it got worse and I got a taxi to the DGH.”

Husband Glen was away at the time on his way to a mountain-biking trip at the Peak District, but, with a bit of help from a very strong cup of coffee, managed to drive home from Suffolk in just two and a half hours.

Fortunately, he arrived in time for the birth and when Charlotte was born she was immediately whisked away by a team of specialists and put into an incubator at the Special Care Baby Unit at the DGH.

Charlotte’s condition was so serious she couldn’t stay at the DGH because she needed to be treated at an intensive care baby unit.

She was put on oxygen to help her under-developed lungs to breathe, and there was concern about a heart murmur.

She was initially placed under blue lights to help bring down her jaundice, received blood transfusions, and she could hardly been seen under all the monitoring leads and wires.

Unfortunately, there were no spaces free at the Trevor Mann Unit in Brighton and Charlotte nearly found herself on her way to Southampton or Manchester.

Eventually a place was found at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford and Sara and Glen were sent home to get some sleep.

Sara said, “We came back home and burst into tears, because at that time most people would be expecting to bring their baby home, instead we came back empty-handed and our baby was in Kent.”

The family spent three weeks living in Ashford as Charlotte began her slow recovery - which included receiving tiny amounts of Sara’s breast milk delivered through a tube into her tummy.

She managed to avoid picking up any infections at the hospital. She did suffer a bleed in her brain but it did not lead to any further problems.

After three weeks Charlotte began to improve and was transferred to Brighton where the care she needed was downgraded from intensive to high dependency.

Sara said, “She was getting bigger and helping herself to get stronger every day.

She spent a total of four weeks in Brighton and six weeks after her birth she was taken out of an incubator and put into a cot, albeit a heated cot.

Little Charlotte was then transferred back to the DGH because she only needed a low level of care and was almost off her oxygen.

The family then spent Christmas and New Year in the DGH and after a few hiccups, including picking up a couple of infections, Charlotte was allowed to go home.

However, the homecoming was short-lived and Charlotte was at the DGH within a few days after experiencing breathing problems.

But since then she’s been doing well and has grown into a beautiful bonnie baby.

Sara said, “She now looks like any other baby. She is little compared to other babies her age but we’re not worried about that, she’ll get there in the end.

“We have to keep a close eye on her but she’s happy, she sleeps through the night and is a really good girl.”