‘Georgia is a fighter - we take each day as it comes’

Do you think you have had a tough time during the Covid-19 pandemic?
Laura and Georgia.Laura and Georgia.
Laura and Georgia.

Spare a thought for Laura and Jack Binnion, 34 and 31, and their children Ella, 13, Charlie 8, Louie, 18 months, and Georgia, 37 weeks old.

In June 2020, Laura - who was 25 weeks pregnant with Georgia - suffered a placental abruption. It is a condition where the placenta starts to come away from the inside of the womb wall.

Laura said: “We were on a walk and I felt like I had wet myself.

Jack pictured with Georgia. EMN-210216-092714001Jack pictured with Georgia. EMN-210216-092714001
Jack pictured with Georgia. EMN-210216-092714001

“We got home and I realised I was bleeding.”

Laura was rushed to Diana Princess of Wales Hospital in Grimsby.

She said: “There were nurses and doctors everywhere.

“I couldn’t hear a word anyone was saying because there was so much noise.

Georgia spent the first few months of her life in hospitalGeorgia spent the first few months of her life in hospital
Georgia spent the first few months of her life in hospital

“One of the senior nurses was trying to find Georgia’s heartbeat.

“There were loads of alarms and noises going off and an emergency caesarean was mentioned.

“It just felt so unreal - I’d only just had my 20 week scan to make sure everything was okay.

“I was rushed straight through to the theatre - it was a choice of now or never.

Georgia spent the first few months of her life in hospitalGeorgia spent the first few months of her life in hospital
Georgia spent the first few months of her life in hospital

“The last thing I remember was the midwife on top of me shaking her head as if to say she couldn’t hear the baby’s heartbeat.”

Laura arrived at the hospital at 6.21pm and her daughter was born 10 minutes later - weighing 1lb 14oz.

Georgia was taken straight to the neonatal ward where they ventilated her.

Laura said: “Jack sat with me until I came round at 12am - I had been given three blood transfusions.

Georgia spent the first few months of her life in hospitalGeorgia spent the first few months of her life in hospital
Georgia spent the first few months of her life in hospital

“They brought Georgia to see me straight away.

“Because she was only 25 weeks, Grimsby couldn’t look after her as the category hospital has to be higher.

“They sent for a specialist ambulance to pick Georgia up , accompanied by a doctor and paramedic, and they took her to Sheffield at 12.15am.”

Due to Laura having given birth through caesarean she was unable to travel to Sheffield with her daughter.

Laura said: “My son Louie was still a baby, my mum was so worried about me, about Georgia and about how she was going to cope with my three children to look after.

“That just made me feel even worse .

Georgia is now at home with her family.Georgia is now at home with her family.
Georgia is now at home with her family.

“I couldn’t even remember what Georgia looked like as I only saw her briefly.

“Her face was so small, her eyes were still fused together and her ears were still stuck to the side of her head.”

After two days, Laura was discharged from hospital and together with Jack headed straight to Sheffield teaching hospital to see Georgia.

Laura said: “They were focusing on keeping her alive and seeing how she responded.

“They offered us a flat at the hospital but I couldn’t take it - I just felt like I had to give my mum a break.

“Me and Jack drove back and forth between North Kelsey and Sheffield.

“Georgia was born with a Patent Ductus Arteriosus which is a hole in her heart.

“They had to give her a blood transfusion as soon as she 
arrived at Sheffield - she had 11 blood transfusions from start to finish - she had her last transfusion a week before we left Sheffield.

“She couldn’t regenerate the supply of blood because she was so small and so poorly.

“They try and use the same blood donor with children so that person who donated probably provided all the 11 blood transfusions.

“We are so thankful - Georgia wouldn’t be here, we wouldn’t be able to cope without the NHS.”

Laura explained: “On day four of Georgia being alive, she had a massive Grade Four bleed on the left side of her brain.

“They told us to consider if we wanted to get her christened.

“It went on for a couple of days and they just wanted to keep her comfortable.

“After a couple of weeks she was still responding nicely.

“She was ventilated for seven weeks, but this can damage vocal chords and the oesophagus.”

Staff decided to try Georgia on a specialist breathing machine which provided her with oxygen.

Laura explained: “They had to keep trying her on a CPAP machine to see if she could manage it.

“It was fourth time lucky that she came off the ventilator.

“She was on the CPAP machine for the majority of her stay in Sheffield.

“She had to come home on oxygen because she has got chronic lung disease which is a premature condition for Georgia - hopefully in time she will grow out of it.”

When she was just over seven weeks old, Georgia got sepsis.

Laura added: “She fought that and after just over a week she responded to antibiotics so she was put back on the ventilator.

“She was still in intensive care and fought off that infection.

“We all hoped it was the last infection but sadly it wasn’t.”

Doctors discovered Georgia had hydrocephalus - commonly known as water on the brain.

Some premature babies have bleeding in the brain.

Laura said: “A bleed in the brain may cause the cerebral tubes at the back of the neck to swell which makes it impossible for the blood or fluid that we have in our heads to filter away.

“So, because Georgia had a bleed,the blood couldn’t disperse sitting in the head causing pressure.

“Her pipes couldn’t let the fluid drain away so they wanted to fit a shunt which acts as a drainage system.

“The brain bleed caused hydrocephalus and the hydrocephalus was severe enough to need the shunt.

“Hydrocephalus was slowing everything down and she wasn’t strong enough to have a shunt operation.”

“She got over the sepsis but she still wasn’t feeding, sadly we discovered she has got a cow milk protein allergy.

“We tried four formulas before we found one that Georgia is suitable for .

“We found the suitable formula only about a month before she came home.”

While she was in hospital, Georgia was still being tube fed - because of the damage to her throat and her stomach being so small.

Laura reflects: “It was just one thing after another.

“The feeding was the worst for me - you can grow and you can thrive and you can survive but you need to do it all together and the doctor told me she was surviving but she just wasn’t thriving.

“We got there in the end but it was a lot of hard work.”

When Georgia was 13 weeks old, she got sepsis again.

The family went back to square one.

Laura explained: “They didn’t ventilate her the second time, they just carried on with the CPAP machine.

“Georgia was a lot stronger so it didn’t take as long for her to overcome that.

“We got through that and we got a date for her shunt operation.

“We had to move her to the children’s ward in Sheffield for the operation.

“She got herself to a decent weight - 3lbs 6oz - but she was still super tiny.

“She was loaded into the special carry cot in the ambulance and to me she didn’t look right.

“I said something to the nurse and they did a quick blood test and she had got another infection - only a week after she had got over the sepsis.

“We were transferred back to the high dependency ward and then Georgia had to go back into intensive care.

“She had Necrotising Enterocolitis - an inflammation of her bowel wall.

“She was being so sick and she wasn’t pooing - the food was just sitting there so that is how she got the infection.

“She got over that - for a week we were back on the high dependency ward and they made another date for her operation.

“We got over to the children’s ward before the operation - she was 15/16 weeks old and she had the shunt fitted.

“It sits on the left side of her head just above her ear and it has a long pipe attached which allows the fluid to drain into her tummy.

“She will have it forever and they can be known to block up so there’s always a possibility of a new shunt being needed but not in every occasion.”

At Sheffield , Georgia was growing in strength every day and the shunt fitting was her first big operation.

Laura explained: “She was doing really well and taking her feeds nicely.

“Eventually, we decided to try her on a bottle. She took to feeding from a bottle really well.

“From there on, we stayed at Sheffield for growing and then she was released back to Grimsby hospital after 17 weeks.

“She just got bigger and bigger - she was bottle feeding well and was still on the oxygen.

“It was nice to be back at Grimsby because that is where she was born.

“Because she entered the world at such a rapid pace, a lot of the nurses, midwives and doctors remembered Georgia.

“Everything has been so awful for the NHS because of Covid and for them to come and see Georgia was amazing.

“Without Grimsby Georgia wouldn’t have survived.”

Laura stresses staff at Sheffield did a ‘fantastic job’ but adds: “ Grimsby is where Georgia’s journey started and we are so grateful to them for being able to ventilate her.

“From Grimsby, after 19 weeks we finally got Georgia home.

“Since then she has been going from strength to strength.

“She is still dinky - 13lbs 6oz now - she is 37 weeks old, but she should only be 18/19 weeks if she had been born full term.”

Laura will be forever grateful for all the support the family received when Georgia was at Sheffield - from her mum Zena and step dad Alan looking after the children to Jack working hard at Jack Binnion Motor Services to make money and pay for petrol for car journeys.

Laura said: “It has been really tough but Georgia is doing well.

“Hopefully, the issue with her heart has corrected itself - we don’t know yet as she missed an appointment due to the doctor having Covid-19.

“I was really looking forward to that appointment because it was another thing that we could tick off the list.

“There are so many tests that all premature babies have to go through.

“The first test that Georgia passed was her eye test - she can see really well so that was a really nice feeling.”

Laura admits the biggest concern for Georgia now is that because of the brain bleed there is a chance she might have cerebral palsy.

Laura adds: “She has occupational appointments and therapy appointments, everyone is happy with her at the minute but because she is so small it is hard to pinpoint if there are any issues.

“As her parents, all we want to know is what does this mean for Georgia’s future?

“She could be three or four before cerebral palsy is formally diagnosed or we might have just been really lucky.

“She has fought so hard and she is such a happy little girl.

“She is a fighter and we have just got to take each day as it comes.”

Laura says the impact of Covid-19 was challenging - as it meant that Jack wasn’t able to hold Georgia until she was home, and Laura had to wait almost four weeks before she could first hold her daughter.

She said: “It was the day before my birthday when I was first allowed to hold my daughter when she was almost four weeks old.

“The children at home knew they had a sister, they had seen pictures but because of Covid they weren’t allowed to see her.

“There are still people who haven’t been able to meet her.

“That is hard because I want to show her off, She has done so well but it is just too risky.”

Laura also has to juggle home schooling for Ella and Charlie.

She said: “Last year, I couldn’t rely on the children going to school because they were closed.

“Their lives were turned upside down. They weren’t seeing their friends, they also weren’t seeing their mum or dad until we got home at night.

“For them, that must have been difficult.

“Luckily, Ella and Charlie were old enough to understand but Louie was only 10 months old.

“Sometimes as a mum, you just need a hug as you are having a really rubbish day.

“At hospital, we were seeing parents taking home their babies who had the same due date as Georgia while we were still in intensive care or high dependency - that was hard.

“She was born on June 2 and we didn’t take her home until October 21 - I don’t know how I managed it.

“It has been so hard because of Covid - hospitals are strapped and the nurses were doing 10 different jobs a day.

“The NHS gets a rough write up but we have always been so thankful for the NHS but more so now because we have had to use so much NHS resources.

“Our friends call her the million dollar baby because she has used that and more with tests and treatment.

“It is not plain sailing and there is more to come but we will just take that in our stride.

“We’ve been home schooling Ella and Charlie.

“For us, this was necessary because Georgia was premature, is on oxygen and is susceptible to diseases.”

To help her lungs get stronger and fight off winter germs, Georgia also receives an injection which only certain babies in the country can have.

Covid has also impacted Louie.

Laura said: “When Covid first came Louie was six months old so other than us at home he has not seen anybody.

“When Louie was born, it was all plain sailing and it is totally different this time around.

“Ella was full term, Charlie was a little bit early because I had pre-eclampsia, Louie was overdue and quite a big baby.

“We always knew we would have a fourth child but we weren’t expecting baby number four to arrive quite so quickly.”

Speaking about her pregnancy with Georgia, Laura said: “I always felt from the start that something wasn’t right - I attended midwife appointments and my bump always felt like it was in pain and I got quite big quite quickly.

“But I was reminded that I’d only just had a baby - I found out I was pregnant 14 weeks after Louie was born.

“I was really tired all the time but Louie was such a good baby - he slept, he ate, he played.

“Midwife appointments were in and out.

“I always wonder if I had been given a more detailed scan, or if I had mentioned it more, whether they might have seen the placenta starting to come away?

“I had mother’s intuition - I always thought something wasn’t right.

“The other three pregnancies went well and with Georgia there were no signs something was wrong until June 2.

“They say a placental abruption is just really unlucky and one of those things but for me it doesn’t give me an answer.

“For them to say it is just one of those things it is really hard to comprehend.

“We aren’t having any more children but I could have died, Georgia could have died and I could have left three kids at home without a mum.

“There were days when I thought I’d never bring Georgia home.

“It is so difficult and under normal circumstances it would have been hard but Covid has made everything 10 times worse.

“I am just hoping we can go back to some form of normality soon.”