Born at 22 weeks and four days, Sofia Viktoria Birina could be Scotland’s youngest surviving premature baby.
Baby Sofia’s due date was February 1, 2021 but she was born October 2, 2020 at University Wishaw Hospital in North Lanarkshire, Scotland with just a 10% chance of surviving the delivery and an even smaller chance of surviving outside the womb. She weighed 1.1 pounds and was only 10 inches long at birth.
Her mother Egija said, "Sofia was literally the size of a hand, so fragile and small and her skin was see-through. I had to wait a week to hold her for the first time because she was so fragile. Once I was able to hold her, they couldn't get her out of my hands."
A week after a normal 20 week ultrasound, Egija experienced pain and went to the hospital where she was told that she was already dilated and in the early stages of labor. Egija went on bed rest to try to prevent the labor from progressing, but after 1o days, Sofia was born — four months early.
Egija said, “She arrived in the world with the biggest scream and was crying so much. We didn't expect she would survive, but that's where our journey started."
Sofia spent the first three months in an incubator with her mom and her dad Inars never far away.
Egija said, "I was at the hospital all the time. Some days as long as 16 hours, and my husband would come after work. I just didn't want to leave her, especially on the many really tough days when we didn't think Sofia would make it. She was hooked up to lots of machines and she was ventilated for several weeks to help her breathe. First time they tried to get her to breathe on her own, she only lasted 20 minutes then her heart rate dropped and I felt like I was losing her — but the medical and nursing staff were great.”
Baby Sofia has overcome a heart defect, stage one brain bleeds, an eye disease, retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), numerous infections, and underdeveloped lungs. She also had seven blood transfusions and was ventilated.
After four months of living in the NICU and growing strong enough to breathe without the ventilator, what Egija describes as "132 of the longest and scariest days of their life,” Sofia has gone home with her parents.
Egija said, "Sofia has been doing great since we got home. She has the biggest and most beautiful smile on her face and is getting used to her new surroundings. She's now four months old, and I look at her and think she could still be in my tummy because of how small she is, even though she is now four times her birth weight. "
Offering words of encouragement to other mothers in similar situations, Egija said, "To all other mummies going into such an early labor, there is hope. Never give up."
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