The 30-year-old from Sittingbourne, Kent, was 33 weeks pregnant in December last year when she noticed her baby, Zoey, wasn't moving as much as usual.
It turns out she'd suffered a rare foetal maternal haemorrhage which almost proved fatal as a Doppler test failed to detect it.
Knowing something wasn't right, Catherine, a physio, and 29-year-old husband Tom, a banker, decided to drive to the hospital to get checked out – a move which saved their daughter's life.
Here they share their shocking story with Fabulous Digital…
My pregnancy had gone like clockwork. Zoey was a very active baby, especially early mornings and late at night.
I was always guaranteed an acrobatic performance in the bath, which was lovely, this new little life kicking to get out and get on with it.
At 33 weeks, on December 8 last year, I had a routine midwife appointment. I realised as I was driving to the appointment that I hadn’t noticed Zoey moving as much as usual, but that had happened before when I’d been distracted at work.
Perhaps she had been kicking as much as usual, but I just hadn’t noticed?
I mentioned it to the midwife and she checked me using a Doppler (a device used to monitor the baby during pregnancy), which indicated the baby was fine.
But something didn’t feel right, and as I was walking out of the door I mentioned again how I hadn’t noticed as much movement. She told me if I was concerned I should go to the hospital.
Every now and then I was still feeling movements, which was reassuring, but I wasn’t sure if they were usual.
I ended up telling myself I was thinking about it too hard, wanting the best for our baby. I got home and had a bath where I was sure I felt her moving again, and that night I received a few reassuring kicks.
I slept soundly and rose early, excited to feel her moving about, but her movements were still very faint.
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Had Tom and Catherine stopped for petrol on the way to the hospital, little Zoey might not have made itWe decided to head up to Medway Hospital just to reassure ourselves, expecting to be scanned and sent home.
On the way Tom and I considered stopping for petrol, but decided against it and headed straight there.
When we reached the hospital, we were monitored for about an hour before a doctor appeared at my bedside and very matter-of-factly said: "Your baby needs to come out – now!”
The rest is a whirlwind. The next thing I remember was lying down in the cold theatre with no idea what was happening and if my baby was alright.
She was out in what felt like 10 minutes. We didn’t even know if we were having a boy or a girl.
What are doppler kits?
A home doppler kit is a listening device that allows mums and dads to listen to their baby's heartbeat and movement.
It is a home version of a doppler device used by doctors to monitor the baby during pregnancy.
It is an ultrasound test that uses high-frequency sound waves.
The moment she was born there was complete silence. I saw someone hurry past me with what looked like a tiny white blob.
The part that still sticks in my head was the surgeon grasping my shoulder after she was whisked away. He looked into my eyes and said: "You did the right thing – if you were any later coming to the hospital it would have been a very different outcome."
I didn’t see her again until six hours later when she was brought to me in a travel incubator and then taken off to Ashford Hospital to be put into NICU.
She weighed just 4lbs 6oz and was in a critical condition. I followed several hours later in a taxi where I saw my previous little girl fighting for her life.
Slowly but surely Zoey recovered, and two weeks later, on December 23, she was discharged.
The doctors and nurses at both Medway and Ashford Hospitals were nothing short of incredible. But while we were overjoyed to have her home for Christmas, first thing on December 25 we had to rush her to A&E because she wasn’t maintaining her temperature.
We hadn’t had time to open any presents or do any of the things we’d been dreaming of for so long – our idyllic family Christmas scene was shattered.
We ended up spending eight hours in hospital that day before being given the all-clear, but at least she was home and healthy.
I still cry tears of relief when I think about how close we came to losing her; if we’d stopped for petrol she might not have made it.
I didn’t know this at the time but I’d experienced something called a foetal maternal haemorrhage. A small amount of blood loss from baby to mum is normal, but at the level Zoey was losing blood it’s usually fatal.
There’s so little information out there about foetal maternal haemorrhaging, and to this day I haven’t met or heard of another mum who’s had it.
In my case, they didn’t even know what caused it – the only sign is reduced movement.
I’ve been told by a friend early in my pregnancy about the charity Kicks Count, so added myself to their Facebook and Instagram feed, quickly learning the importance of monitoring movements.
If I hadn’t known about that, Zoey wouldn’t be here today.
I try not to scare pregnant friends, but our story alone has increased the awareness of the importance of monitoring babies’ movements amongst our family and friends.
Trusting your body and your instincts is easier said than done. But I’d put aside any feelings of being a hypochondriac or a paranoid first-time pregnancy. None of that matters when you’re carrying a precious human life.
This will be our first Christmas Day at home together, and our little Christmas miracle will be centre stage and showered with gifts. To think by all rights she shouldn’t be here makes her even more special than I can begin to describe.
We previously told how a mum who lost her baby at 34 weeks days before Christmas blames the "dangerous" home Doppler kit that gave her false hope.
For information, visit www.kickscount.org.uk.
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