“She was breathtaking; she was 100% like her daddy. She had his nose, hair, eyes, his everything.”
As Jane Moulton cradled her tiny daughter and marvelled at her miniature fingers and toes silent tears streamed down her face at the thought of the future she would never have.
Farrah Moulton died at just 46 days old on November 1 2013 having spent her short life wired up to an incubator and battling a hole in the heart.
Jane revealed: “When you look back on that time it’s a complete whirlwind, you’re living on your nerves praying and willing them to live.
“You sit looking at your baby all day and doing what little you are allowed to do and you forget to do the normal things that new parents do like taking photographs, recording milestones and making memories.”
Now Jane, from Radcliffe, along with her Egyptian-born husband Mahmoud Seliman are channelling their grief into Farrah’s Forget Me Not Families to ensure that others in a similar situation have a journal of photographs and memories to treasure.
Jane said: “We’ve got some pictures and a little memory box of incubation hats and wires including heart sensors – basically anything they were going to put in the bin we kept.
“We kept them to show her when she was older, but we didn’t get the chance.”
The 43-year-old council worker didn’t realise she was pregnant until she started bearing down and was referred by her doctor to the early pregnancy service who said that, given what had happened, she might have lost Farrah’s twin at five weeks.
PRECIOUS MOMENT: Mahmoud proudly cradles baby Farrah
She had a scan and little Farrah was diagnosed with a number of conditions, including Downs Syndrome, and was told that her heartbeat was slow.
“Farrah was a miracle as we never expected to have her. The first scan was scary – it was after I was losing and went to the Early Pregnancy Unit.
“But when I saw the little tiny foetus I was scared, overjoyed and so happy but worried as they told me the heartbeat was abnormal.
“After many scans through foetal medicine they said that she didn’t have Downs but that she had a significant left-sided VSD (ventricular septal defect) at 20 weeks.
“The plan was for her to be born at full term and then be operated on at Alder Hey which I was told had a 99.5% success rate.
“Unfortunately things didn’t turn out that way as I had pre-eclampsia and she was delivered at 28 weeks.”
Farrah was born weighing just 1lb 2oz at St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester in September last year and then at two weeks old was transferred to Royal Bolton Hospital.
“We were assured she would be fine, but sadly that wasn’t the case and despite everyone’s best efforts Farrah lived for 46 days, the best, most precious and testing 46 days of our lives as parents.”
KANGAROO CARE: Farrah snuggles up to her mummy
Jane and Mahmoud kept a bedside vigil in the neo natal intensive care unit (NICU) desperate to experience those rare and precious moments when Farrah was strong enough to leave her tiny incubator for a few minutes and be gently cradled.
“We carried out kangaroo care, which meant that when the baby is well enough we placed her on our chests,” Jane explained.
“I was trying my best to get breast milk out for her which was very difficult but I managed it, and she was on donor milk as well which she was fed through a tube.
“On days when we could do things we changed her nappy, gave her a wash in the incubator and held her.”
Although they did get to spend some time with her it was a very sad and isolating experience due to infection control procedures.
Strict visiting policies were understandably enforced to protect the babies in their care but it was restricted to just parents, grandparents and siblings meaning that extended family such as aunties, uncles, cousins and friends of the family were not allowed to visit.
TINY: Baby Farrah in neo natal intensive care unit
Jane explained: “My parents obviously couldn’t do the normal things that grandparents do like holding them, even when she was out of the incubator she was still hooked up to machinery.
“The hospital becomes your world, nothing else matters.”
But despite this Jane found her tower of strength in husband of five years retail and hotel industry worker Mahmoud and all of the Bolton NICU staff.
“My husband was wonderful and he was with me all the time. We both held her as much as we could and would ‘argue’ over whose turn it was to hold her,” she smiled.
“The staff were fantastic – it was like family, not just professionals. We owe Dr Ulla El Kafrawy, Dr Archana Mishra, Dr Simon Power, Dr Shanmugra Sundaram, Dr Yahesh Madav and the fabulous nurses so much.
“There were other families in the NICU but it’s difficult as everyone is consumed with their own baby.
PROUD: Mahmoud cuddles Farrah
“We’re still in touch with a lady and her family from St Mary’s, but they now feel very awkward because their baby is still alive – but it’s just one of those things.”
Despite the fact that Farrah was so tiny when she was born Jane revealed that her daughter was a fighter who was advanced for her age.
“She was 1lb 2oz and was born in her membrane which we were told was lucky. She would do things that were very advanced for her, for example when the nurses placed her on her front when we were holding her she would pick herself up on all fours.
“Doing things like this meant she was burning off more calories than she should have been doing and wasn’t gaining any weight.
“This also meant she was breathing heavier, expending her energy and putting more pressure on her heart.”
They hoped to get her up to 2.5lbs, the minimum weight they would do the operation, but unfortunately Farrah never managed it.
Sadly she had to be resuscitated on a couple of occasions and after the second procedure doctors visited the devastated parents and said that doing it again wouldn’t be in her best interests.
On November 1 Jane and Mahmoud visited the unit for another day of sitting, watching and praying she would make some progress, unaware of the tragedy that was about to unfold.
“We really weren’t expecting it, she had cardiac arrest and I didn’t want her to suffer. They took her out of the incubator, put her in my arms then she took two little breaths, I kissed her and then she went.
“It was only when they took all the wires and other apparatus off that we could see her properly.”
CHERISHED MOMENTS: Jane gently cradles her daughter
As part of Farrah’s legacy the pair are determined to support other families while in the NCU to build memories that can be cherished in the future.
Jane explained: “We’re raising the money and buying the equipment to make sure the money is specifically used for this.
“We want to buy tablets for people to take photos on and to keep a daily journal. You’re not allowed to use flash photography in the unit because the baby’s eyes aren’t fully formed.
“The best photos we had were taken on my iPad which is expensive but we’re looking into alternatives.”
In addition to this the couple are also exploring the possibility of developing a baby journal app that can be used on tablets and smart phones, but are appealing for help on the technical development side of things.
LEGACY: Jane and Mahmoud are determined to help others
She added: “We know that most families won’t have to go through this and will go home with their baby and the days on the neo-natal ward will become a memory of the past.
“For those who will never take their baby home, at least they will have a journal to treasure and when the devastation ceases they can reflect back and remember their own little Forget Me Not.
“We long for the day to return to Bolton and provide them with this legacy for our much loved and much missed little ‘girly-whirly’.”
To donate to Farrah’s Forget Me Not Families legacy click here.