I was not an extremely premature baby, but I was nevertheless born at 35 weeks in a tiny rural hospital in an Indian village in 1992 with one procedure room and one incubator, and my parents told me I was lucky to have survived.
The story of my birth is pretty strange. My birth mother (who was my adopted mother’s sister) passed away during labour through a sudden cerebral haemorrhage.
I was promptly C-sectioned. It was, at the time, the most complex case that hospital had seen. There was no real knowledge of premature neonatal care and as such I was treated like any other neonate, apparently given my first feed by a nurse who was breastfeeding her own child at the time, so no colostrum.
No specific interventions were given to me apart from incubation. I think I was home only a few days later and being handed over to every grandparent/aunt/uncle/cousin/mailman/milkman/vegetable farmer/village local under the sun.
I moved with my parents to Harrow, North-west London when I was 6 months old and grew up there till I was 19 when I moved to Australia to study medicine with a keen eye for Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Mum tells me my “big mummy” (what I've called my birth mum ever since I knew who she was) wanted me to become a certain person in life. Mum never tells me what those traits are until I show signs of them - apart from big mummy wanting me to be a doctor. Nevertheless I felt a calling to the profession rather than being nurtured into it. So yes, I do believe she's looking upon me, keeping me in check with who she wanted me to be.
When I found out about RFPB I immediately felt so drawn and connected to the charity. It’s quite staggering how far we have got with maternal-fetal and neonatal research, therapy and the sheer advancement in equipment. If our contributions help to keep it advancing, allowing for more research into ways of increasing premature baby survival and to pay for treatment, it’s definitely motivating.
I hope my story can get others inspired to contribute to research if they are connected to the world of medicine or just people in the community who want to help.
My story never fails to make me a bit emotional, no matter how many times I’ve told it. I consider myself lucky and I hope I don’t take my survival for granted and that I can make an impact not only for #runningforprems, but also on the field of Obstetrics in the future.
My work with Prof. Welsh at the Royal Hospital for Women has been interesting, eye-opening and inspirational and I hope I can get to the heights he’s at and do my bit for research and patient care.