Thanks to an infection, little baby Edie started her life 16 weeks earlier than she was supposed to, and in pretty bad shape. When she arrived, she weighed only 570g and a consultant told the family that she had between a 5 and 10 percent chance of survival.
And so, not knowing how much time he would have with his daughter, father David started taking pictures. Little did he know, he was documenting a fight that Edie would win, and a miraculous transformation in the process.
David tells the entire incredible story through an Imgur album that quickly went viral on Reddit, garnering well over 2,500 upvotes and some 2,000 comments from well-wishers that found themselves unable to look away.
Day 2: Time feels like it is in slow-motion. Just a single day has passed, but it feels like a week. Edie’s skin is already maturing, but is very sticky to the touch. Her incubator is kept at 80-90% humidity to help her retain fluid
But even that album — 92 pictures all captioned with almost daily updates on Edie’s condition and the milestones she reached — only tells part of the story.
“There were moments that I decided not to describe in the Imgur album,” David told us when we caught up with him about the images. Terrifying moments when Edie or one of the other babies would simply stop breathing and monitors would go off, or heartbreaking moments when one of the other sets of parents would lose their baby.
And yet, despite the impossible to fathom difficulty of their situation, David still describes the parents they met there as having “a strength of character that I had never seen elsewhere.”
Day 3: Phototherapy to help reduce jaundice and develop her skin.
So many things had to go right for Edie to go from the emaciated baby you see in the pictures above, to the happy and healthy girl you will begin to see her transform into as you scroll through the touching album.
“Throughout everything Edie had a general trend towards good health, but also there were a lot of decisions, sometimes informed, sometime blind, that we somehow got lucky with,” explains David. “Edie isn’t just one of the 5% of babies that survive extremely premature birth and extremely low birth weight, she is doing exceptionally well – to the point where even the neonatal specialist she sees quarterly is surprised.”
Scroll down to see Edie’s miraculous transformation for yourself:
Day 7: First attempt at breathing without the ventilator. Edie lasted nearly two days but started to get into respiratory distress, so was put back on the ventilator the next day.
Day 8: First family photo. David (me), Esme, Sally and Edie. Who says British people have bad teeth?!
Day 17: Edie has had a quiet few days. Her ears have no cartilage so get stuck folded over. Edie’s first two weeks have been the most challenging of all and each day her survival odds have increased very slightly, but we are still months away from knowing if she will ever be well enough to come home.
Day 19: This is the moment Edie opened her eyes for the first time. By sheer luck I was close by when she did it.
Day 25: Edie’s hair is growing well.
Day 27: Esme touching her little sister on the head. Edie looks relaxed and isn’t bothered.
Day 37: Windy smiles are a lovely thing to see.
Day 38: Cuddles are really important. There’s a risk to getting Edie out the incubator, but I think the benefits outweigh it. Edie is calm and relaxed the entire time. Cuddles last about two hours at a time, the longer the better (bladder permitting!)
Day 39: Edie is very alert now although she can only see a very short distance.
Day 44: Edie has finally come off the ventilator and is in her first baby-grow. She is on BiPAP, which is a non-invasive form of ventilation as has been breathing for herself for two days. She had a course of Ibuprofen a few days ago to help close a patent ductus arteriosus (a valve open in the heart that normally closes shortly after birth). With the valve mostly closed, she isn’t having to work so hard to breathe – more of her blood is flowing the correct way through her heart.
Day 45: After two days on BiPAP, Edie has progressed to Vapotherm, which is also known as High Flow Therapy. She is given humidified oxygen through the nasal cannula, but because she is calm and breathing well she is only breathing 25% O2.
Day 47: Edie looks much more like a full-term baby, but is still tiny at 830 grams.
Day 85: Edie is no longer in an incubator! This is a massive but scary step. The great thing is that cuddles are so much easier.
Day 107: This is the first time I have bottle-fed Edie. Up to this point Edie has been fed by nasogastric or oral gastric tube.
Day 107: Edie’s first bath! She has been given daily top & tail washes with cotton wool and water, but the soap could be dodged no longer – especially because the oxygen saturation probe which is wrapped around a foot has been getting noticeably cheesy, even though they are changed regularly. Edie was not fazed by the experience.
Day 118: We are now outside the neonatal unit, Edie seems relaxed. She is going home on an oxygen supply, which will make things interesting.
Day 123: Edie is learning to read! Her oxygen flow rates are being reduced every few weeks and the hospital loans us an oxygen saturation data logger after each reduction to see how well she copes with the change. Her oxygen is supplied by a condenser, which is a knee high box with a thin trailing tube that plugs into her nasal prongs. The condenser makes a constant rumble, much like a portable air conditioner.
Day 165: Edie is now over 5 months old and about 6 weeks past her original due date. She has been attempting to smile for a few days – smiles that aren’t wind related.
Day 185: Edie is now six months old. She is engaging and interacting more and more. Her social smiles are well practiced and she does little happy shrieks.
Day 191: One of the many specialists involved in Edie’s care, a dietitian, has advised us to start weening, even though Edie is still tiny (she weighs about 9 lbs / 4 kg now). She takes her first few tastes of rice pudding without fuss and even manages to swallow some of it. Her face seems to say “HOLY S***, FLAVOUR!”
Day 197: Just a day after coming off the oxygen supply and the blemishes are almost completely gone. Edie is sleeping well, but has been a bit grouchy at the extra effort she is having to put it when breathing unsupported.
Day 204: Trying on Esme’s Snow White costume.
Daddy’s programming work is so very exciting
Edie is always cheerful first thing in the morning. I don’t know where she gets that trait :)
Meal times are messy times
Day 365! Edie’s first birthday party. We have a gathering of almost all of the friends and family who supported us over the last year. Edie has a lovely time, smiles all day, and doesn’t cry once
And one final before and after:
Truth be told, there are thousands of pictures taken during this time that David simply hasn’t had the chance to look through. He’d like to tell Edie’s story in more detail if he ever finds the time, but until he does, he tells us he’s simply trying to spread this story and offer others in a similar situation some hope.
“I’m so grateful that I can hug my little girls and share a story like this to show that even when there are so many horrible things happening in the world that there are also people who were willing to help a baby have a chance at life that she would otherwise have been denied.”
A family outing to Godstone Farm. To look at Edie you would not think she’s a one year old baby who has been through so much.
Image credits: Photographs courtesy of David (aka. PraetorianXX) and used with permission