A mum who thought she was unable to conceive naturally was stunned after giving birth without knowing she was pregnant.
When Natalie Austin woke in the middle of the night with stomach pains, she feared her appendix had burst – but a few hours later she found herself giving birth to her second child.
The 40-year-old mum of two from Ash, near Sandwich, was unaware she was pregnant and thought the baby’s movement was down to her stomach “seeming to not like pizza”.
Ms Austin also thought she could not conceive naturally after her first daughter Eloise was born after four IVF cycles.
Baby Darcy was born more than two months early and came home to her parents and big sister last week after almost 130 days in hospital.
Natalie, who works as a product manager, said: “It all happened so quickly, there was no time to process it.
“Darcy is like a little miracle. I don’t like to say that, and when we were going through IVF we were so determined not to be cliched and say it was a miracle, but it feels right for her.
“She needed resuscitating and took her first breath after more than a minute. When I looked at her it was instant, that magical moment. She was so vulnerable and so tiny.”
Husband Rob, 39, initially drove Natalie to the Kent and Canterbury Hospital, where staff did a pregnancy test that turned out to be positive. They feared it was an ectopic pregnancy, where the fertilised egg implants outside of the womb.
It can be a life-threatening condition, and Natalie was taken by ambulance to the emergency department at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford.
When staff found she was in labour and almost ready to give birth they discovered Darcy was in a difficult position and a caesarean section was necessary.
Natalie had sent Rob home with Eloise, now 15 months old, and he then had to wait for his parents to come and look after her, so by the time he made it back Darcy had been born and Natalie was in recovery.
The tot was taken to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and would not leave hospital for months. She was diagnosed with the genetic condition trisomy 21, or Down syndrome, and also had to battle infections including pneumonia and MRSA.
Natalie said: “It was very up and down and at times we thought she was never coming home.
“Within a few weeks all the equipment was off and she was able to move to the high dependency unit, but she had pneumonia and was quite poorly so we ended up back in NICU. Then she had MRSA three times.
“If I look back it was a lot to deal with but we tend to just get on with whatever is thrown at us so we just dealt with what was in front of us.
“The NICU team were so lovely. I was quite sad to leave them; they were so kind and I really can’t thank them enough for everything they did.”
Natalie had blamed any pregnancy symptoms on a gastric balloon she had fitted, which also meant she lost weight during the pregnancy.
She said: “I had done so much in those seven months, including moving house and lifting heavy furniture.
“I remember one day we went to get pizza and I hadn’t eaten carbs for six months, and I actually lifted my top to show Rob and said my body didn’t seem to like the pizza, as my belly was moving but we thought it was gas.
“I didn’t dream for one second I could be pregnant as it had taken so long for us to have Eloise – we tried for almost 10 years.
“But we are so glad Darcy is here and it’s amazing to finally have her home with us.”