A Kirkcaldy couple have an extra special reason to celebrate Christmas this year as they get ready to spend it with the ‘miracle’ baby they never thought they would have.
Rachael Nixon and partner Michael Jack, 41, had thought they would be unable to have a family of their own after Rachael was told she was infertile at the age of 16.
But as the couple were preparing to start fertility treatment, Rachael fell pregnant naturally.
Yet this was only the start of a long, heart-breaking journey which would see Rachael and Michael face many ups and downs.
Before they were finally able to bring their little daughter, Daisy, home in time for Christmas.
“Daisy is our wee miracle and we can’t wait to celebrate our first Christmas with her,” Rachael, 38, said excitedly.
“When you have a child, Christmas just becomes more magical anyway.
“But this one will be extra special after everything we have been through with Daisy.
“We just feel so lucky to have her.”
Daisy’s parents are appreciating every second they have with her, after coming so close to losing their 13-week-old tot many times over the last few months.
At one point Rachael and Michael were only allowed to hug their daughter once a day because she was so small and fragile.
But now the couple can cuddle her as many times as they want, without her being attached to wires and medical equipment.
Falling pregnant against all odds
Rachael, who runs her own business Chanix Millinery in Kirkcaldy, never thought she would be able to have children.
“I was told at the age of 16 that I was infertile after doctors did some tests,” she explained.
“So I didn’t think I would be able to have children of my own.”
But a few years ago Rachael met Michael.
And as the relationship became serious, they started talking about the possibility of having children.
They thought they would have to have fertility treatment and Rachael spoke to a doctor to discuss the options.
She said: “We hadn’t been trying for very long.
“At Christmas time in 2022 Michael and I were saying to each other – ‘In a year’s time we might get IVF and then we can see what happens’.
“But by the following March we were pregnant.
“It was absolutely amazing.”
Difficulties during Rachael’s pregnancy
The first few weeks of Rachael’s pregnancy went well.
But at the 20-week scan, it revealed Daisy was very small.
She was around three weeks behind the size she should be at that date.
“At the 20-week scan we were told about the options for termination and what it might mean with the baby being so small.
“I think they have to properly prepare you for every eventuality.
“But at the same time they were also saying they would do everything they could so the baby has the best outcome.
“Two weeks later she still hadn’t grown.
“Doctors went on to scan me every second day to monitor the baby.”
At her next scan, it was discovered the reason why little Daisy hadn’t been growing – the placenta was failing.
This meant that sometimes the baby was in the right position to be given oxygen and nutrients through the placenta.
But then at other times it wasn’t – therefore, Daisy was unable to get the proper nourishment she needed.
“We were told there was a chance the baby wouldn’t survive – that it’s heart was working too hard for its small body,” Rachael said.
“I was heartbroken.
“This baby was already a gift and now hearing this it felt like it wasn’t going to happen, that I wasn’t going to be a mum.”
She continued: “When they said the placenta was failing they said the baby really needed to come out but she had to be over 500 grams for that to happen.
“Everyday we were wondering if there was going to still be a heartbeat and would the baby be able to survive.
“It was really tough on both of us.”
However, gradually Daisy started to put on weight.
And at 29 weeks, she reached the goal of 805 grams (1lb 12 ounces).
Two days later, on September 11, 2023 Rachael went into Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy to have an emergency C-Section.
Although it wasn’t the experience Rachael had hoped for.
“We had been prepared for it, but the reality was I wouldn’t get to have that first cuddle after she was born.
“We were also told she might not come out crying.
“I knew she would be taken away and that she would need to be resuscitated and ventilated.”
Fortunately Daisy was delivered safely.
Rachael said: “She came out and she cried!
“It was an amazing moment for me, Michael and the foetal medicine doctor who scanned me every day and did the C-Section.
“And despite Daisy needing intensive and fast care after birth, Michael was also able to cut her cord.”
After she was born Daisy didn’t need much resuscitation.
But she had to be ventilated and wrapped up to maintain her body heat, so she was taken away to another room.
“They brought her to me afterwards but I had been feeling very unwell,” Rachael explained.
“So I only caught a glimpse because she had wires attached to her and a mask to help her breathe.
‘We were only allowed one hug a day’
“I didn’t get to see her properly until 17 hours later.
“Then I got that hug and was able to have skin to skin contact with her.
“It was a lovely feeling, but also terrifying, because she had all these wires on her and a ventilator.
“She was so fragile.”
On September 14, four days after she was born, proud dad Michael was able to have his first skin-to skin cuddle with Daisy too.
He said: “It was amazing to be able to hold her and this was when she opened her eyes for the first time.
“We were only allowed one hug a day to begin with because of how fragile she was.”
Rachael was in hospital for a week afterwards but Daisy spent the next 10 weeks in hospital with 30 days in intensive care.
She had to be put on high flow oxygen to help her breathe and was fed intravenously through a tube into her vein.
Daisy developed a life-threatening condition
It was a worrying time for Daisy’s parents.
Michael said: “Daisy had to have a feeding tube put down her mouth.
“She had problems with her digestive system and gut with her being so small.
“Then she went on to develop sepsis, ten days after she was born.
“She was treated with antibiotics but it was a very worrying time because again we could have lost her.
“But she started to improve after two weeks.”
And around a fortnight before Daisy was allowed to go home doctors were able to take her off high flow oxygen.
First Christmas together as a family
On November 13, Rachael and Michael were finally able to leave hospital with Daisy.
Michael, who works for haulage firm Malcolm Logistics in partnership with Diageo in Leven, said: “It was absolutely amazing because that’s all we wanted was to take our baby home.
“We were really looking forward to introducing her to our dogs, our cockapoos Enid and Ester.
“And just being all together as a family.”
Rachael added: “It’s just been so nice being able to have cuddles with her on the couch instead of around machines.
“We just can’t believe how lucky we are.
“We are just looking forward to our first Christmas, with Daisy, as a family.”