My partner, Nathan, 26, stroked my hand as I took deep breaths, trying desperately not to cry.
At 23 weeks' pregnant, I hadn't expected to be giving birth so soon.
I'd woken at 3am with contractions.
At first, I wasn't sure if I was in labour but after a few hours of intense pain, I woke Nathan.
Terrified, we rushed to hospital, where a nurse gave me an injection to slow the birth down by a few hours, so I'd have time to evaluate the risks.
Soon after, a doctor came in.
"There's a high chance that your baby will die or have disabilities," he began.
"Are you sure you want to go through with the labour?"
I was outraged.
I'd spent 23 weeks loving this bub. How could I give up now?
"Yes, I am," I said through gritted teeth.
Two hours later, I was in labour.
After pushing for 20 minutes, I gave birth to a boy named Leighton.
He only weighed 760g and looked so fragile that I was scared he'd break.
But seconds after I laid eyes on my son, a nurse whisked him away.
"Where are you taking him?" I cried.
I watched in shock as she crossed the room and put my baby into a plastic bag connected to breathing tubes.
"I promise it's for the best," she said calmly, then wheeled Leighton away.
A doctor explained the bag was supposed to create a pressurised environment which would help support his little lungs.
I started sobbing as Nathan wrapped his arms around me. I'd just given birth, but I didn't feel like a mum.
The next morning, the nurses took me to the NICU where Leighton was sleeping, small and red with plastic clinging to his skin.
He stayed in the plastic bag for five days before his tiny body was strong enough to function on its own.
After 121 days, we were allowed to take him home. I stayed awake the whole night, holding my precious boy.
With his skin pressed against mine, I finally felt like his mother.
Now, Leighton is nine months old and thriving.
I couldn't be more thankful for the new technology and the staff that saved my boy's life.
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Now To LoveDec 05, 2019