I'm Gemma and I'm Lara's mummy. Lara was born on the 11th February 2018 following an induced labour after I contracted an infection. She was 14 weeks and 1 day early, and she was perfect.
From the very beginning she defied all the odds, laughing in the face of expectations of extreme-preemie babies. She came out crying, she was never ventilated, didn't need curasurf, and was very independent from the very start. She had such personality that everyone who met her fell in love with her and even some who didn't meet her did too. Within a week she started self-turning her head while lying on her tummy, confusing the whatsits out of her NICU nurses who wondered who had turned her. She celebrated turning 2 weeks old by turning her entire body from prone (on her tummy) to supine (on her back) all by herself.
Lara was a very determined little girl from the start. She had no problems shoving her doctors off of her when she didn't want to be prodded, and her impossibly tiny hands were very strong - once she had hold of you, you weren't going anywhere. She could often be found shaking her booty in her incubator, pushing her bottom up into the air as she pushed up with her legs. When her sight came in at 28ish weeks corrected gestation it was wonderful to see. She made eye contact beautifully and was curious about everything - even going cross-eyed in her attempts to examine each new quilt she had when her bedding was changed.
She had a special bond with her daddy and always knew if he was there. She loved to clutch hold of his chest hair during cuddles (even pulling some out occasionally - but he didn't mind) and was fascinated by his beard, reaching out and pushing her tiny fingers into it. We had a routine with Lara: I would cuddle her during the day and her daddy would cuddle her in the evenings. On the odd occasion his work with animals meant he couldn't visit in the evening, I had the evening cuddles too and she knew it wasn't her daddy - she spent ages grasping around for the chest-hair and beard before she would settle.
Everyone always said how strong she was, how healthy she was. She had a touch of anaemia (she eventually had her first transfusion on the 14th March) and a little RDS but they said she'd grow out of it and we were making plans to bring her home.
On the morning of the 15th March, at 4 weeks and 4 days old, Lara suffered a sudden and as-yet-unexplained collapse. The doctors and nurses were in shock - they worked on her for nearly an hour and a half, ringing other specialist units to see if they had any ideas, if there was anything they'd missed. No one could help. We got there in time and she slipped away in her daddy's arms. Just like that, our worlds ended. Our feisty little Lara, our darling girl, our beauty was gone.
All that knowledge, all that medical support that Lara received, that enabled them to prepare for Lara's extreme prematurity (they knew it was likely before it happened) is down to research. The steroids I was given to bring on her lungs; the magnesium-sulphate I was given to protect her brain from bleeds; the labinec to help prevent gut infections, all ensured she had the best possible start in life and defeated expectations. We had been warned she likely would need ventilating, that she'd be born in bad condition, that we would be lucky to have a live birth. But none of that happened because of the research.
We've chosen to fundraise for Bliss because we want to make a real difference to the 95,000 babies born premature or sick every year. Every donation that’s made to this page brings Bliss closer to ensuring that every baby born premature or sick in the UK has the best chance of survival and quality of life. Bliss does that by supporting parents to care for their babies, campaigning for better neonatal care and enabling life-changing research.
Lara's Legacy is my own campaign to ensure that my darling girl helps as many as possible. My milk has been donated to the UK Milk Bank and instead of flowers we've asked for donations to Bliss and the 2 neonatal units that looked after Lara during her 32 days with us.
I would do anything to have my darling baby girl back with me, healthy and strong. That's not possible so instead I am doing all I can to help prevent anyone else losing their darlings.
Please help us to help others by spreading the word and donating what you can. xxx