Entering the world on Father’s Day at 24 weeks old, and weighing just 1.28 pounds, tiny Hafsa was so small she could almost fit into her mother’s hand.
The miracle baby, born dangerously premature in the Princess Royal Maternity Hospital in Glasgow on 19th June, is now home in Stornoway and fighting fit after 19 weeks in hospital.
Proud parents Zerqua and Mansha Mohammed Shahid are delighted to have their beautiful daughter home with them and have paid tribute to the wonderful NHS staff who looked after them, both in Stornoway and Glasgow.
At 24 weeks, Zerqua was less than two-thirds of the way through what would be classed as a normal pregnancy when she went into labour. Having experienced a great deal of heartache during previous pregnancies over a number of years, Zerqua and Mansha had kept the latest pregnancy very quiet – only sharing the news with close friends and family.
Zerqua first became aware that Hafsa’s arrival could be imminent when her membranes broke on 9th June. She attended the maternity department at Western Isles Hospital in Stornoway, and was flown away by air ambulance that day to the Princess Royal Maternity Hospital accompanied by head of midwifery Catherine Macdonald.
“At that point I hadn’t started labour or anything like that,” said Zerqua. “But I was quite freaked out. I was taken to a ward in the Princess Royal and Catherine was with me. I thought I would be there until I was around 34 weeks pregnant, but a few days later I gave birth.”
Hafsa was born at 3.52pm on 19th June and, as her mum describes, was “around the size of my hand” with translucent skin. Zerqua didn’t get to see Hafsa until later that evening, as both mum and baby were unwell after the birth. Zerqua and Hafsa were kept in different intensive care units, but mum and baby were linked up by webcam so that they could always see each other.
From the outset, Hafsa did exceptionally well, battling with all the usual aspects of extreme prematurity and particularly with maturation of her lungs. She has been extubated and intubated again on numerous occasions depending on her oxygen levels.
When Zerqua was well enough, she was able to touch and massage her daughter in the incubator, but it was a number of weeks before Hafsa was well enough to be held.
It took 134 days of specialist care in Glasgow before Hafsa (which aptly — for such a courageous baby who has fought for her survival — means ‘humble baby lioness’) was strong enough to return home to Stornoway. Zerqua spent all day, every day, by her daughter’s side, providing the love and support she needed to gain strength.
“Hafsa has grown really well and has had to learn everything — like how to breathe, suck and swallow,” said Zerqua. “That was down to massage and speech and language therapy techniques.
“The staff were absolutely amazing. They just all made you feel so welcome and stress-free. It was clearly a difficult time, but you just got on with it. Gillian Sinclair was the first nurse to give Hafsa a loving touch, and I’d also like to thank consultant neonatologists Dr Kerry Kasem and Dr Helen McTear for their great work.