‘MY MIRACLE BOY ALMOST DIDN'T MAKE IT!'
Woman’s Day Magazine NZ|November 15 2021
Kiwi mum Rachel reveals how her premature son changed her life
Morgan Reardon

When Rachel Friend fell pregnant, it was one of the happiest days of her life. Just six months prior, she’d survived a life-threatening cervical ectopic pregnancy, which claimed the life of her unborn child and nearly took her with it.

Already a step-mum to two boys, Rachel, now 47, and her husband Phil were thrilled to expand their brood. And despite the harrowing experience, the Auckland woman had gone through previously, this pregnancy, she was thriving.

“I loved being pregnant,” she smiles. “I had so much energy and felt the best I had ever felt.” But upon returning home from a Christmas camping trip to Papamoa in January 2013, “something just didn’t feel right”, recalls Rachel.

After a series of blood tests and scans showed nothing wrong, she was sent home. Soon, however, the pain became excruciating. “It was like someone was shoving a red-hot poker in my left-hand side,” she shares.

After spending several days in hospital, the pain getting worse every minute, Rachel’s waters unexpectedly broke at just 24 weeks. A terrifying and painful 12 hours later, baby Reuben was born, just 30cm in length and weighing a tiny 665 grams. “I called him my block of butter because he was that tiny,” she says.

Whisked offto the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), it would be hours before Rachel would see her miracle son for the first time, laying in an incubator, his eyes fused shut and his paper-thin skin so delicate, it would tear if you stroked him.

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