New year joy as miracle tot Finley Wiggins wins health fight
A YOUNGSTER born a frightening 14 weeks prematurely on New Year's Eve last year is today celebrating a first birthday his parents feared he would never see.
Finley Wiggins has been a little miracle for parents Dawn and Ian Wiggins.
After many years of trying to start a family, the couple were delighted to learn Dawn was pregnant and expecting to give birth on April 1, 2012.
But Finley arrived three-and-a-half months before his due date. The youngster suffered two scares, contracting a life-threatening infection and then stopping breathing, but has battled through to see his first birthday.
Ian said Finley had been "such a fighter".
He said: "He's our little miracle."
We've had our health scares over Finley but he's our little miracle baby
Dawn Wiggins was delighted when she became pregnant – but terrified when she started to give birth 14 weeks too early. Sophie Evans reports.
FINLEY Wiggins was a longed-for baby and Dawn was sailing through her pregnancy.
"Everything was going great. We were waiting for a surprise so didn't know if the baby was a boy or a girl," said Dawn.
"I'd had my scans and midwife appointments and he was growing really well. There seemed to be nothing to worry about."
Finley's due date was April 1, 2012, but it was only December 27, 2011 when Dawn's waters broke.
She said: "We were devastated. I thought that was going to be it for our little baby. We were so scared."
Dawn was given a steroid injection to open up the baby's lungs in case she did go into labour. This gives the baby a better chance of survival.
The doctors did not know why Dawn's waters had broke so early. Finley has been a very active baby in the womb and there was no indication there was any problems.
While in hospital, Dawn and Ian found out that the Royal Derby was not equipped to deliver babies born under 27 weeks.
Bradford Royal Infirmary was the nearest hospital able to deliver at 26 weeks, so Dawn was transferred there on the morning of December 28 last year.
Dawn said: "I had to travel in the ambulance by myself with the medical staff, Ian wasn't allowed to come with me. There was a paramedic and a nurse with me so they could deliver the baby if they needed too.
"There was no more room for another adult."
Ian joined his family later that day, in the first of what would become two months in Bradford.
Dawn was bed bound for the next couple of days, before going in to labour on December 30.
"I started getting cramping in the evening and at about 10pm it got worse and worse. By 10pm I was in labour and was taken down to the delivery suite.
"I had a monitor on checking the baby's heart beat. Every time I got a cramping pain, his heartbeat dipped.
"They did a scan and found that the cord was around his neck as something was tugging at it. It was causing his heartbeat to dip and the pain that I was feeling."
Dawn and Ian then had to make an agonising decision to undergo an emergency Caesarean section to give Finley they best chance of surviving.
Ian, 43, said: "It was the hardest thing we've ever had to do. But we knew it would give him the best chance in life.
"I scrubbed up and went into theatre. We were warned that we probably wouldn't hear him cry because he'd be too tiny and that he would be whisked away straight to the neonatal unit."
But when Finley was born – at 11.36am on December 31, 2011, he cried at the top of his voice and Dawn and Ian got to see him briefly.
Dawn said: "I had prepared myself for him to look so, so small – and he was – but he looked like a baby.
"I worried, before I saw him, that I might not love him because he would be so small.
"But I saw him and I felt such a rush of love, it hit me so hard."
Weighing only 1lb 4oz and measuring up at just nine-and-a-half inches long, Finley was put in an incubator and was wired up to lots of equipment to help him breathe.
Ian said: "He was a little fighter and seemed to be doing OK. He was so little we were scared we were going to break him but he was fighting to live."
Finley had a turn for the worse when he contracted an infection at just a few weeks old.
Dawn said: "There was a knock on our door in the hospital where we were sleeping at about 6am and we feared the worst.
"He had gone very grey and had to have three blood transfusions to boost his immune system. He was also put on a ventilator for a short while.
"It was the first time he'd had to be properly ventilated, before he'd just had a little oxygen mask on. He was hooked up to all the machines again, checking everything and keeping him alive.
"We were told to prepare for the worst. But within 24 Finley seemed to bounce back. It was like nothing fazed him and he was fighting to stay alive the whole time."
Dawn married her husband, Ian, who works at Rolls-Royce, nine years ago and moved up to Derby from Southampton just a week after meeting him. The couple now live in Mackworth.
Ever since getting married the couple had been keen to start a family.
Dawn said: "We'd been trying for a long time and had just about given up.
"In August last year I was really sick. Being pregnant hadn't really crossed my mind.
"I went to see my GP because I was getting a little worried and they asked if I could be pregnant.
"I told them there was no chance and it couldn't be that but they did a test just to check.
"I couldn't believe it when it was positive. It was amazing, we'd both given up hope of having a family together."
It took a couple of months for the news to sink in and the couple did not tell many people about the pregnancy.
"We were just so scared something was going to happen," said Dawn, 36.
"We didn't want to jeopardise anything."
After the scare over Finley's early birth, it was February 22 when mum, dad and Finley were transferred to the Royal Derby Hospital.
Ian said: "It was good to be back at home and it meant that people could come and visit him for the first time. We were still staying with him in hospital but we were near our home comforts.
"I went back to work at Rolls-Royce and life got a little bit back to normal. Finley was doing really well."
Then, in late February, Finley stopped breathing after being fed.
Dawn said: "I'd been expressing milk and I'd fed him and put him back in his cot.
"Then I noticed is eyes rolling back into his head. I scooped him up and almost wanted to shake him to snap him out of it.
"I ran for a nurse and they brought him back. It was only a matter of seconds that he stopped breathing but it felt like a lifetime.
"He had to go into intensive care and be incubated again. The doctors didn't know what caused his little turn."
Finley, at just two months old, had to go through his fourth blood transfusion to boost his immune system.
Within 24 hours of his turn for the worse, Finley was back his old self, wanting to be fed.
Dawn said: "He was crying a lot and he never really cried too much but I realised it was because he was hungry. I was careful at first but he wanted more and more.
"It was so good to see him back to himself.
"We were working towards going home and once he'd put another 4lbs on we were going to be given the all clear."
The day came on March 5 – a month still before Finley's actual due date – and the Wiggins' family arrived at home.
Ian said: "It was so, so good to be at home with him. We'd waited so long and it was a day that many times we thought we might not see.
"It was nerve-wracking because it was just the two of us looking after him now, after all the months of the medical staff being there 24 hours a day.
"But it was also a milestone and a great sign that everything was going to be OK."
Finley remained under close care of the hospital and in June had to undergo an operation at the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham for a hernia – but this is something that all children can develop.
It was also discovered that Finley had three little holes in his heart, and some of his heart valves had not developed properly.
Dawn said: "When we first found out it was just another blow for us. Finley was doing so well – apart from the hernia – and it was another thing for him to get through.
"Nothing was done about them straight away because he seemed to be doing OK and we had to keep a close eye on him for any changes."
The family went back to hospital in September and a scan showed that his heart valves had healed and that there was only one small hole in his heart.
Ian said: "The hospital couldn't believe that they'd healed on their own. They'd never seen it before and said he was a miracle.
"He's our little miracle. Nothing is going to be done about the hole left in his heart, it's going to be closely monitored and he has to go back every year to check on it."
Finley was christened at Mickleover Methodist Church on October 7 this year – his dad's birthday.
Dawn said: "It was a real milestone and it was an incredible day. Everyone spoilt him and he was so good in the church.
"Looking at him now, a year on, you wouldn't know all the struggles he's been through.
"He's in six to nine-month-old clothes, so he's a little small for his age but, being four months early, it's understandable.
"He's put weight on constantly and is growing, just at his own rate. It won't be long before he's crawling.
"The doctors say it will take him between two and three years to catch up with his age.
"But he's happy and healthy and that's all that matters."
'I WAS HOLDING MY HEART IN MY HANDS'
Dawn wrote a poem that was read out at Finley's christening in October.
My stork came a little early
I believe in a master plan; to me motherhood was my design for life.
So, why me, why me? I'm so selfish to think why me?
I feared because it was too early and I cried because it was too soon.
Breath-by-breath you learnt to breathe, ounce-by-ounce you tipped the scale.
Ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes, a will to live and grow.
I hear your cry, a wonderful sound, tears welling in my eyes as I thought my heart would explode, an aching sensation of what I know is love.
I have been blessed, gifted into an elite club; I got to have special cuddles other mothers would never know.
As I held you in our kangaroo cuddle, your heart touching mine, our hearts literally beating together, in that moment I thought that I was holding my heart in my hands.
I knew I loved you before you were born, each day I would sit at your side, my fingers touching yours soothing you with lullabies, making sure you knew you weren't alone, you will never be alone, and this is my vow to you.
It's the little things that make life worth living, it's the little things that help us make it through, I never knew how true those words were, until I first set my eyes on you.
You stole my breath and embraced my heart, our life together has just begun, you're part of me, my little one.
Have you ever loved somebody so much it makes you cry, I have.
Have you ever needed something so bad, you can't sleep at night, I have.
Have you ever had somebody steal your heart away, I have.
I have been truly blessed; I get to say 'I love you' every day.
I get to kiss your cheek and say God bless.
You're like a boat in the ocean that I know will not sink, but sail.
Our stork came a little early and brought me my hero, made with love and handled with care.