Mum thought she'd pulled a muscle but her life was about to change forever

Rebecca Murphy
-Credit: (Image: Rebecca Murphy)


A mum had her baby 26 weeks early - after thinking she was just suffering from back pain.

Heidi-Louise Murphy weighed no more than a bag of sugar as she began the first moments of her life hooked up to machines. But against all the odds, the little fighter is expected to leave hospital for the first time in the coming days.

The now seven-month-old was born on December 17, 2023, extremely pre-term at just 24 weeks. Sadly, Heidi-Louise was born with brain damage which means she is likely never to walk. When she was born, her lungs, heart and concerning amount of seizures had doctors fearing she might not survive at all.

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Mum Rebecca Murphy, 27, from Bootle, told the ECHO how she had a "normal" pregnancy, with doctors happy with the progress both she and her baby were making, and there was no inkling that anything was wrong. That was until she was at home one Saturday night suffering from what she thought was "really bad lower back pain."

Rebecca went to hospital with what she described as "excruciating" pain, which at first was mistaken for a water infection. She claims the doctors saw how much pain she was in so did some more routine checks. when it was discovered the pain was actually contractions and she was in labour.

The mum said: "I was terrified because of how early I was. I went from being at home that morning thinking I had a water infection to finding out I was actually in labour. It was terrifying for me.

"I went into labour at 24 weeks and two days. I was in labour for 48 hours. For two days [before] I didn't know anything about it, I just thought I was in normal pain. I thought I had pulled a muscle, but it was actually me being in labour."

Heidi-Louise Murphy was born 26 weeks early
Heidi-Louise Murphy was born 26 weeks early -Credit:Rebecca Murphy

Rebecca, who gave birth at Liverpool Women's Hospital, says "everything went perfectly through the birth." She added: "There were so many people in the room in case anything happened to either of us. There were so many different doctors, I have never seen so many doctors in one room before. It was because she was so early.

"The doctor said to me that only one in 10 babies born this early makes it, so I was terrified she wouldn't survive. She was born weighing just 1.7Ibs, I have never seen anything so tiny in my life. I was panicking, I didn't know if she was going to make it or not, because of how early she was."

Heidi-Louise was instantly put on ventilators after she was born because of how premature she was. But it was three days after the birth that Rebecca's world was shattered as she was told there was something wrong with her baby's lungs. She said one lung was bigger than the other, and that she was told "if nothing improves in 48-hours there is nothing else doctors could do and she could die."

She said: "I was heartbroken. In the next 24 hours doctors saw improvements in her, and that gave us some hope. She was transferred to Alder Hey Children's Hospital where they found she had brain damage from being so premature by doing head scans. All the doctors were worried for her because she was having seizure.

"She was having so many seizures, everyone was so worried about her. They couldn't find the right meds for her, they didn't think she was going to make it from how many seizures she was having, she was having about five a day. For a baby it's terrifying."

Thankfully the hospital found the right medication to stop Heidi-Louise from suffering seizures. But it's likely she will be on the medication for the foreseeable future. Her mum added: "She has been through so much."

Heidi-Louise is now seven months old
Heidi-Louise is now seven months old -Credit:Rebecca Murphy

Over the next few weeks Heidi-Louise's lungs and heart started to deteriorate, and she needed life-saving surgery. Her mum said: "She was like a new baby after she had the operation, I could see the difference in her straight away.

"Once she had her operation she eventually got taken off the ventilator, they [doctors] were wary because they didn't know if she was going to be able to breathe herself. In 24 hours she was breathing by herself. She has proved everyone wrong so many times.

"She has severe brain damage, so she is likely to be in a wheelchair when she is older. She can't move her legs and arms the way other babies do. But they didn't think she would even be able to breathe so this is just a miracle.

"They didn't think she would take to a bottle because she was on a feeding tube for so long, but she has. She is the cuddliest and most smiley baby ever now, she loves attention and the cuddles. I can't wait to finally have her home."

Rebecca believes her miracle daughter has been "watched out for" by her uncle, who died just weeks before she found out she was pregnant.

She said: "I got pregnant a month after my uncle passed away so I keep saying he is her angel who saved her, he is watching out for her.

"My uncle passed on July 7 and I found out I was pregnant on August 2. I was gutted he never got to meet her, after I had the baby I was standing outside the hospital and a feather landed next to my feet. I knew it was him letting me know he was there.

"Having a baby is something I have wanted for a long time. It was unexpected but I knew straight away it was right. She is the best thing that ever happened to me, she has changed my life around so much from what it was a year ago. She has got my uncle in her corner fighting for her every day, she is a little fighter."

Rebecca added: "Heidi-Louise is now 13.6Ibs at seven months old. She has been my little miracle, not even most adults go through what she has been through, she has proven everyone wrong. She is definitely a little fighter."

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