11 May 2023

A Shropshire couple have thanked maternity and neonatal services at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH) for their care after their baby girl, born 16 weeks early and the same size as her cuddly toy octopus [pictured], was discharged from hospital this week.

Kimberley and James Leith, from Horsehay, both work at SaTH and have kept a photo diary to document their experience.

Kimberley said: “I attended maternity triage late on the evening of 4 January 2023, at 24 weeks pregnant, with sharp stomach pains. The pains turned out to be contractions and a few hours later, at 2:22am on 5 January, I gave birth to our beautiful daughter, Liylah, 16 weeks early.

“At 1lb 6oz (650g), Liylah weighed less than a loaf of bread and her head was smaller than a tennis ball. Stretched out head to toe she measured just 29cm in length.

“Due to her size, Liylah was put onto a ventilator, incubated and taken straight to the neonatal ward before being transferred to Newcross Hospital in Wolverhampton and then onto Birmingham Children’s Hospital for surgery and specialist care.

“For nearly three months James and I then stayed in a neonatal flat at Birmingham Women’s Hospital so that we could stay close to Liylah. We learned how to tube fed her and at 21 days old, with three nurses there to safely transfer her for skin-to-skin contact, I was able to cuddle Liylah for the first time.

“On 17 March, Liylah was finally strong enough to be transferred back to the Princess Royal Hospital (PRH). We were very relieved to be back at our hometown hospital. In the weeks that have followed, we have been able to bathe Liylah and bottle feed her, and we have managed to reduce her oxygen flow requirements as she becomes better able to breathe for herself.

“We have been absolutely blown away by the midwives, nurses, healthcare assistants and students throughout our journey. We will never forget the professionalism and care shown towards us and our little Liylah, we couldn’t have asked for better care. We will forever be in debt to these wonderful people.

“Midwife, Liz, was amazing and we couldn’t have asked for a better midwife to help Liylah into the world. Kasey, Liylah’s first ever nurse, looked after us as such a frightening time, explaining everything that was happening. Kasey, along with all the other neonatal nurses, has also been phenomenal since our return to PRH where the team has continued to look after Liylah with total care and compassion.”

Hayley Flavell, Director of Nursing at SaTH, said “On behalf of the Trust, I’d like to share my warmest wishes with Kimberley and James as they move onto the next chapter of parenthood at home with baby Liylah.

“I am proud of the teams in our maternity and neonatal services who cared for Liylah, Kimberley and James, reassured them and helped to prepare them to leave hospital.”