A mum was left fearing for her life after being diagnosed with a serious pregnancy complication while unaware she was even expecting.
Lucy Varley thought she was on her period when she started suffering stomach pains and excessive bleeding.
But a few weeks later, she discovered she was 20 weeks pregnant with her daughter Nina.
Lucy was sent for a scan which revealed she had Placenta Praevia, a high risk pregnancy condition also experienced by Kim Kardashian when carrying Saint.
Her illness later left her fighting for her life, losing almost 80 per cent of her blood and fearing she would never get to meet her daughter.
“What I thought was a menstrual period seemed to roll into the next without a break,” Lucy said, writing in the Manchester Evening News.
“A couple of days would pass before my bleeding started again, just as persistently as before but it was only when I lost my appetite that I really began to worry.”
Lucy, who also has a two-year-old son Theo, booked a smear test and was advised to take a pregnancy test when the results came back normal.
“I was astonished when a positive result flashed at me almost immediately,” she said.
Still unconvinced, Lucy kept the results to herself and booked a private scan which showed a perfectly formed baby on the screen.
“My jaw dropped, and the tears flowed,” she said describing the moment she was told she was 20 weeks pregnant with a healthy baby girl.
“I couldn’t wait to tell Theo he was going to be a big brother. Later that night, I showed him my scan pictures and he danced around the room and gave my tummy a kiss.”
Lucy was booked in for a scan at Whiston Hospital days later, having missed antenatal appointments earlier in her pregnancy.
Despite the baby being healthy, Lucy had an extremely low-lying placenta, known as Placenta Praevia, and was referred to a specialist.
The doctor explained that the condition occurs when the placenta grows too deeply into the wall of the uterus, sometimes attaching itself to nearby organs.
Lucy was told she would need a planned cesarean and could require a full hysterectomy to save her life at the time of birth, at high risk of severe blood loss after labour.
“It quickly became apparent that the bleeding I’d experienced for months on end wasn’t down to periods or hormones, but a dangerous condition that could kill me,” Lucy said.
“I felt like the walls were closing in on me, and a crushing fear overwhelmed me. I was petrified I’d die in childbirth, never meet Nina, never see Theo again.
“Instead of counting down the days until I met my baby girl, I felt like I was counting down the days until my death.
“Every night, I’d curl up beside Theo as he drifted off to sleep and cry, terrified I’d never live to see my beautiful, brilliant baby boy grow up.”
Four weeks later, Lucy was out with friends when she began bleeding and was rushed to hospital where midwives suspected it was old dark blood and not a concern.
But one week later, she was rushed back to the ward when she started bleeding fresh red blood.
Just 26 weeks into her pregnancy, it dawned Lucy her that she could have a premature birth when she was given steroid injections to help Nina’s lungs to mature.
The following day, Lucy began bleeding even more heavily and said she was “absolutely petrified” at the thought of not seeing her son again.
She was continuously monitored and had surgery to remove several large blood clots to ease her pain and given further injections to protect her unborn baby.
“I was terrified that it was far too early for her, terrified she wouldn’t survive, terrified that if she did by some miracle, I wouldn’t, leaving my precious babies behind,” the mum said.
Lucy’s hands turned yellow due to severe blood loss and she was rushed off to theatre for a cesarean.
“The last words I heard before I closed my eyes were “there’s no heartbeat, you need to do something now’,” she recalled.
“I remember thinking about Theo’s little face and willing myself to survive for him and Nina.”
After surgery, Lucy was taken to meet Nina for the first time before the newborn was transferred from intensive care to Liverpool Women’s Hospital.
Weighing just 2lbs and 2oz, born at 27 weeks and one day, Nina weighed the same as a bag of sugar and her arms were no wider than her dad’s little finger.
The tiny tot had sepsis, chronic lung disease, and respiratory distress syndrome while Lucy could not breathe without oxygen and her body violently shook.
“The pain across my fresh C-section wound was excruciating, and I had extreme post-traumatic stress disorder,” she said.
“It broke my heart that I was so far from Nina, unable to cuddle and feed my baby, bonding like I should have been.
“So, I began to express breastmilk for her, which was transferred to her hospital and given to her via a feeding tube.”
Lucy continued her recovery in hospital where her son Theo was brought to visit her with a “wonderful cuddle.”
After two days in Liverpool, Nina returned to the same hospital as her mum and hooked up to a machine.
“It was devastating in a way I had never experienced and it took my breath away… she was so tiny, I was terrified I’d break her,” Lucy said.
The mum was discharged from hospital after five days while Nina remained on the neonatal ward where she grew stronger each day.
Throughout her stay, the baby had six blood transfusions, countless scans and tests and eventually came off oxygen.
She was finally united with her big brother Theo who was unable to contain his joy in a “magical moment” at their home.
Lucy said: “He ran to her side, lay down with her, kissed her and said ‘hello Nina, I’m Theo, I love you’.”
“It was truly the happiest day of my life and the most magical moment by far.”
Now six months old, Nina weighs just 11lbs but it thriving while Lucy has been told she does not require a hysterectomy after all.