Sunday, January 10, 2016

Experience: I gave birth at 23 weeks

It took six years of trying for me to fall pregnant. My husband and I had given up on the four and a half years of fertility treatment and decided to go down the route of adoption when it finally happened. It wasn’t really until the 20-week scan that I allowed myself to believe I was going to have a child, and when we found out she was a girl, we started talking about names, daring to think about her future.

Three weeks later, we were packing the car to go on holiday when I felt a sharp stomach pain, followed by the feeling that my hips were trying to open up. My mother-in-law, who used to be a midwife, reassured me it was probably fine, and when we got to hospital, the doctor agreed, even when I began having what I now realise were contractions.

Still, we hung around, just in case. Then the doctor told us, “I’m so sorry – it is labour.” Had she not said “sorry”, I wouldn’t have worried – lots of babies are born prematurely, after all – but what I hadn’t realised is that there’s only around a 20% survival rate for babies born at 23 weeks. I thought everyone was overreacting as they fussed around me, and assumed the flurry of injections to slow my progress and dose up my baby’s lungs with steroids would stop the labour. They didn’t.

It was only when I was wheeled into a room filled with equipment to resuscitate my child that the truth hit me. I burst into tears and suddenly felt very afraid. Around teatime, I was moved by ambulance to a bigger hospital, which was encouraging, especially because the contractions were by now frequent and painful.

I was taken straight to the labour ward, where the consultant neonatologist told us it was not routine to try to sustain the life of a baby born as early as ours and that, if we let nature take its course, our child’s underdeveloped lungs would not cope and she would die quickly after birth. Even if they provided life support, there was only a small chance of it working and a high risk of severe disabilities. But for us it was simple: we wanted our daughter to have every opportunity to live.

After a surprisingly natural birth, our little girl arrived at 4am. Wrapped in a plastic bag for warmth and a tiny hat, she was held out for me to kiss before being whisked off to an incubator. Weighing only 520g, she looked like an alien, her eyes fused shut and her skin red and taut over her bones. She was impossibly small and I loved her with sudden, violent ferocity.

An hour later, we were reunited in the special care baby unit, where she was covered in tubes and felt horribly distant. Day after day, I’d sit for hours with my forehead pressed against the incubator, reading stories and singing to her. There were times when it was almost too much to bear, because it was so clear she should still be inside me – a feeling that was only compounded by having to ask permission to touch her.

The first week was the hardest, because it was so unclear if she’d survive, but it was also the most beautiful, because we were finally a mum and dad. I refused to allow myself any tears, but everything I suppressed seemed to surface as I slept, and I often woke up clammy and breathless, having dreamed of her funeral.

By her 10th day, it was amazing to be able to hold her. After 15 weeks of expressing milk eight times a day, I cried when I was first able to breastfeed her. She was in hospital for 144 days altogether, and although it was so hard to be without her at nights, it was wonderful to see her grow stronger.

As the weeks turned to months, her reliance on breathing support went down, then up, then down again, but after graduating through less and less invasive machines, she finally came home exactly four weeks after her due date. I felt as though someone might tap us on the shoulder and tell us to put her back.

Twelve weeks on, she’s still on oxygen, but is doing well. We don’t know what lies ahead, but embracing adoption meant we’d already prepared ourselves for a child with significant needs. The main thing is that our beautiful and resilient daughter is alive.


Fantasy becomes reality as fashion's 'Wonder Boy' shows in London : yahoo

London (AFP) - With cartoon prints, snail-shaped stickers and speckled ermine coats, British designer Jonathan Anderson delivered on his promise to put the "fantasy in fashion" as he presented his latest collection in London on Sunday.

The British capital's fashion elite were up early to cram into the military building that provided the backdrop for the autumn-winter 2016 collection of JW Anderson, the eponymous label set up by the 31-year-old in 2008.

The Northern Irishman is widely regarded as one of BritainĂ¢€™s brightest fashion stars having made his name as the artistic director of Spanish luxury fashion house Loewe and scoring a double success at last year's British Fashion Awards for both his male and female collections.

"Wonder Boy", as he has been nicknamed by the British press, lived up to his billing as he showcased his innovative and uninhibited collection on Sunday.

Showing off his knack for luxury, Anderson dazzled the gathered fashionistas, buyers and journalists with a series of black ermine mantles, flecked with red and blue.

They were followed by woollen trousers, asymmetrical jackets decorated with cartoon prints, coats with cloud-shaped pockets and metal necklaces.

"Today it was about telling an urban tale," in a tech-driven world of ever-decreasing distances, he told the press.

"It's like how we live our lives, we go from one thing to another, its about travelling, its about a journey, its about speed," he added.

"It's like falling into a club, falling into a Japanese garden and then falling into a bank".

The Women's Wear Daily (WWD) trade journal, sometimes referred to as the "bible of fashion", said Anderson had "once again raced to the head of the pack".

- Grindr link-up -

On the evidence of Sunday's show, Anderson's disciples will soon be strutting around in wide, aubergine-coloured suits made of silk, brightened up by irreverent snail-shaped stickers.

In winter, they will wrap up in loose-knit woollen sweaters that fall to the knees.

The show was broadcast live on gay dating app Grindr, demonstrating the designer's innovative relationship with modern communication channels.

"For me it was like how could we reach like 196 countries in one moment," he said.

"We are in this moment where medias have changed, so we need to explore, it's quite amazing to be able to access seven million people at once."

The Alexander McQueen label showed off its collection in the grand Durbar Court of the British government's ornate Foreign Office building, which features vast marble floors and classical columns.

The show kicked off to the sounds of Chopin before shifting to ambient electronic music, and viewers were treated to the label's new fitted black suits festooned with elegant white and grey butterfly prints.

Artistic director Sarah Burton, a close collaborator with the eponymous label's celebrated founder before his death in 2010, plays with materials; cotton gabardine, flannel, cavalry twill, camel hair and silk, among others.

One coat was made from a floral tapestry based on oil paintings.

The show drew on designs from nature, part of the label's theme of Darwinian discovery and scientific classification, and also nodded to military styles, all the while retaining McQueen's sense of exploration and reinvention.

The collection is "obsessed with the elegance that 'survives' the struggle for life", the brand explained.

Shows for the autumn-winter 2016 season began on Friday and will continue until Monday.

Men's Fashion Week will then up sticks and head for Milan and Paris before ending in New York.

Sales in men's fashion leapt by 22 percent in Britain to Ă‚£13.5 billion pounds ($19.6 billion, 18 billion euros) between 2009 to 2014, according to market researcher Mintel.

Source : yahoo