Our little miracle
Doctors told Richae Smith her baby didn't stand a chance when she went into labour at 21 weeks.
The 27-year-old and her boyfriend Bilal Binns took the expert advice to heart — it was four months before her due date.
“I felt hopeless,” she said. “Doctors said there was nothing they could do. I was begging to go to Canada [but] the doctor said he wouldn't survive anyway before 24 weeks; he was not in the stage of viability. They used that word viability over and over again. So in my head if he was not at 24 weeks or older he would not make it.
“I broke down and knew my baby would not survive.”
Despite the dire prediction Jayden Mateo Binns celebrated his first birthday last month. A cake, bouncy castle and Gombeys were all part of the fun.
His parents believe he'd never have made it without the staff at Wee Care Paediatrics.
“They were wonderful to us,” Ms Smith said.
Jayden was purple, and weighed 1lb 10oz when he was born on June 1.
Paediatrician Stephen West stabilised the newborn and put him on an air ambulance with his father. In a matter of hours the premature infant was being treated at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto.
Ms Smith had to stay behind while she recovered from giving birth.
“I wasn't allowed to hold him [before he left] because the skin of premature babies is very thin so you can't stimulate them that much,” she said.
“I was very surprised that he made it.”
Jayden's early days weren't easy. He had a pulmonary haemorrhage and started spitting up blood; medication didn't help.
The infant also battled issues common to premature babies — reflux and apnoea. And like all babies born before 36 weeks, he had to cope with chronic lung disease, colds and chest infections.
At two weeks, doctors operated to fix a hole in his heart; he only narrowly avoided eye surgery. It wasn't until Jayden was 32 days old that Ms Smith was allowed to embrace him. By then she'd made the trip to Canada. “I had to return to Bermuda for an appointment,” she said. “I said I am not going back to Bermuda without holding my baby, because I don't know what will happen.
“He could have died while I was gone. They kept saying, ‘No, he is not stable enough'. I just kept fighting and they finally let me. His daddy, though, was very nervous about holding him, and waited another two weeks or so.”
Jayden spent four months in the Toronto hospital.
“He has always been very active,” Ms Smith said. “He would hold your hand or stare at you. They put little baby hand restraints on him because he kept ripping out the tubes and needles. He would fight the doctors.”
His parents were able to bring him home in October. A doctor escorted them home on a commercial flight and they flew with oxygen in case Jayden stopped breathing.
“Ironically, by that time he was deemed too fit to come home on an air ambulance,” said Ms Smith, a former public health educator who has since become a full-time mom. “He weighed 7lbs and we were terrified that he might stop breathing although he hadn't suffered from apnoea for some time.
“Since then we've been having a normal life. He's a real handful now. He's 20lbs and developmentally, nine months, the age he would have been if he'd been born on his due date, September 22. He'll probably catch up around two years old.
“I can't help looking at him and pulling out the photographs to see how far he's come. He really is a miracle.”