A mother who was told eight times that her premature baby was going to die – only for the little one to defy doctors each time – has revealed how she received a surprise visit from the Princess of Wales.
Mischa Hand’s daughter Amaya-Rae was born at just 23 weeks; the newborn was classed as a late miscarriage – and Mischa, from Crawley, West Sussex, thought she’d never be bringing her much-longed for baby home.
But after beating all odds to survive a traumatic birth, Mischa and husband Jamie’s hopes were once again dashed – when just days after Amaya-Rae was born, the medical team told them to say their goodbyes.
Again, fighter Amaya stunned her carers after defying all expectations again, and again and again. Her family were told she was going to die on eight separate occasions during her 360-day hospital stay.
But each time she came back even stronger, and now, just shy of 18 months old, she’s the picture of a bright and happy baby as she plays at home – and she even has a royal fan, after receiving a special visit from Kate, 41, while in hospital.
A mother who was told eight times that her premature baby was going to die – only for the little one to defy doctors each time – has revealed how she received a surprise visit from the Princess of Wales (pictured left)
First-time mother Mischa, 27, said: ‘It’s nothing short of a miracle. I’m not religious but I really do believe she has had someone watching over her, telling her it’s not her time to go yet, sending her back.
‘At first, each time we were told to say goodbye to her, our world just crumbled. But after the fifth or sixth time, I had faith in Amaya – I knew my girl wasn’t going anywhere.
‘She survived being born at 23 weeks; we always say she’s not here to be average,’ added the mother.
Recalling the royal visit, Mischa said: ‘When we were in the Evelina Children’s Hospital, we were totally stunned when Catherine, Princess of Wales made an unexpected visit.
‘Catherine was so lovely, she listened intently to Amaya’s story and genuinely seemed so taken with her and asked such a lot of questions. She seemed totally besotted, complimenting her smiles and her outfit.
‘Amaya couldn’t take her eyes off her, she was transfixed. Someone suggested we took her to see a Disney Princess show at Christmas but we joked she only deals with actual royalty now.’
Mischa and Jamie were delighted when they discovered they were pregnant with a baby girl after trying for over a year.
Mischa had a textbook pregnancy, until she started experiencing cramps while out during a shopping trip with friends.
Mischa Hand’s daughter Amaya-Rae was born at just 23 weeks; the newborn was classed as a late miscarriage – and Mischa, from Crawley, West Sussex, thought she’d never be bringing her much-longed for baby home
Amaya-Mae in the hospital, pictured. Amaya was born on August 28, 2021 at East Surrey Hospital, weighing just 680g
But after beating all odds to survive a traumatic birth, Mischa (pictured recently with her little one) and husband Jamie’s hopes were once again dashed – when just days after Amaya-Rae was born, the medical team told them to say their goodbyes
Again, fighter Amaya stunned her carers after defying all expectations again, and again and again. Her family were told she was going to die on eight separate occasions during her 360-day hospital stay
She brushed them off as Braxton Hicks, but after getting home, she had a show – and Jamie rushed her straight to Medway hospital.
Doctors tried to slow down the labour, but they eventually told Mischa there was nothing they could do to stop what was technically a late miscarriage.
Mischa said: ‘The doctor said: ‘I’m so sorry, this baby is coming.
‘They asked would we like to hear the heartbeat one last time, but we couldn’t. I shut down and tried to mentally prepare for the fact I would never have my baby.
‘The medical team said they would try their best to save her, which legally they weren’t obliged to do, as she was born before the 24 week limit where she would be classed as incompatible with life.
But each time she came back even stronger, and now, just shy of 18 months old, she’s the picture of a bright and happy baby as she plays at home – and she even has a royal fan, after receiving a special visit from Kate, 41, while in hospital. Pictured, Mischa holding Amaya-Mae after her birth
‘She was born into a bag and whisked away to NICU. They told me she was breathing, but we didn’t think we would ever get to hold her alive.
‘Then, there was just Jamie and I left in the room. The silence was deafening, you could hear a pin drop. We didn’t even know what to say to each other, so we just sat there in silence.
‘A nurse came in and showed us a photo of Amaya. She said: ‘She’s quite the character, she’s nibbling the nurses’ fingers.’
‘Then we realised we had a fighter on our hands.
‘I was allowed to go and see her and I put my hand into the incubator, and she just grabbed onto my finger. It was so overwhelming – in that moment I just fell in love with her.
Amaya was born on August 28, 2021 at East Surrey Hospital, weighing just 680g – but Mischa was warned as soon as her daughter was stable enough, she could need to be moved to Medway hospital, where there was more specialist care available.
At 14 days old, she was transferred to Kings College Hospital, but again, doctors told the family that it was unlikely that it was highly likely she would not survive the journey – but they had no choice but to get her to another hospital.
Amaya suffered a brain bleed and lung haemorrhage in the ambulance, due to having to be moved when she was so tiny- but she was eventually considered stable in the hospital.
By the time Mischa and Jamie had driven the hour’s journey back home that night, they received an urgent call from the hospital, telling them to come back immediately as Amaya had taken a turn for the worse.
Mischa said: ‘We rushed back, worried we wouldn’t make it back to see her alive – but by the time we got there, she had inexplicably stabilised.
‘She gave us quite the fright.
‘Another time we were told she needed emergency surgery on her bowel and we had to give permission over the phone because eco protestors were blocking the M25 and we couldn’t see her before she was rushed to theatre.’
Due to the hospital being an hour away from the family’s home, they were given a room at a Ronald McDonald house next to the hospital so they were able to be with Amaya at the drop of a hat.
During the next 11 months, Amaya suffered a perforated bowel, which she had to have 10cm of removed, and contracted sepsis – but she bounced back from everything.
Mischa added: ‘Another time we were told we had come to the end of the road when doctors discovered that her pulmonary veins stenosis that take blood from her heart to lungs and body. Two veins out of the four were not actually connected. The other two had scar tissue due to the impact of having g the extra blood flow
‘We were given the option to take Amaya to palliative care, or take her home and wait for her to die.
‘I said: ‘She’s not giving up now,’ and amazingly, the next morning, we had a call from the doctor who asked specialists at GOSH to look at her scans. They realised that her body had managed to produce a new veins connecting from the top unconnected veins to feed directly into the bottom.
‘They were able to balloon her veins to ensure good blood flow and eventually once they had managed to find a stent small enough for her she was able to have stents placed.’
‘They were able to operate, once they had managed to find a stent small enough for her.’
Due to the specialist care Amaya needed, she was once again transferred to the Evelina London Children’s Hospital, where she spent 166 days before finally being allowed home.
It was there she met the Princess of Wales, who is a patron of the hospital, on the weekend of the Queen’s Platinum jubilee.
Mischa explained: ‘I was with Amaya and her nurse came in and said we had someone who would like to visit us.
‘I was stunned when I realised who it was. I kept saying it couldn’t be her because it was the Jubilee weekend.
‘But the nurse explained that Catherine had come to make a quick visit to the hospital to see families who weren’t able to be out celebrating, and they had told her about Amaya and she had asked to meet her.
‘There were no press there, we didn’t see any bodyguards – she just popped in to meet the children. She was so lovely.’
Now, although Amaya will need to have oxygen for a few months yet, Mischa says she is just like any other toddler.
‘She does have some underlying conditions, including hydrocephalus, but hopefully they will not hold her back and are manageable. She is doing so well.
‘She’s such a happy, chilled out little girl. You’d never know what she’s been through.’
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