11 March 2024

Vikki’s 107km challenge around the Isle of Wight

A year after being discharged from hospital on Mother’s Day with her daughter Evelyn, Vikki Feltham is training for the Isle of Wight ultra challenge, aiming to walk an incredible 107km in one day.

“I live in Botley with my husband, Mark, and stepson Alfie.

My pregnancy was progressing normally, then at 34 weeks I started getting severe pain in my ribs. The midwifery team at Princess Anne Hospital wanted to check me for pre-eclampsia so I spent the day being tested and checked.

I started having contractions, but assumed they were Braxton Hicks. I came home from hospital in time for dinner, but when I sat on the sofa, my waters broke.

I was admitted that evening for monitoring. The contractions had stopped, so I was told that I could be induced if labour hadn’t re-started within 48 hours.

I woke around 4am on the Friday morning to quickening contractions. By about 7am I was told to get my husband into hospital as this baby was coming!

At this time, I was testing positive for signs of pre-eclampsia, so my blood pressure was a concern.

We laboured normally until around 7cm dilated, being monitored constantly as Evelyn’s heart rate was decelerating with contractions but recovering quickly afterwards.

Until it wasn’t. Her heart rate started to recover more slowly and was a little irregular at other times, so I was prepped for a section as there were fears induction would worsen her situation.

On 20 January, my daughter was born five weeks premature at Princess Anne Hospital in Southampton, weighing only 4lbs 6oz, by emergency caesarean birth under general anaesthesia.

She came out fighting, but did have a few breathing issues, and had picked up an infection as my water had broken two days earlier, impacting her protection from the outside world.

However, under the incredible care of the inspiring doctors and nurses, Evelyn spent less than 48 hours away from me in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, special care room, before joining me on the transitional maternity ward with a special monitor and heat mat to raise her temperature.

We spent a further week on the ward as my little fighter battled her infection with the help of IV antibiotics. For a new mum, this was a difficult time, made better by the outstanding care and treatment we received from the staff on the transitional ward.

Just two weeks after Evelyn was born, we made it home under the care of the neonatal team. Only a few days later, we were told our tiny girl was a strong one and we could be discharged.

Sadly, shortly after this Evelyn contracted COVID-19. This resulted in a few apneic episodes.”

An apneic episode is where airways narrow, leading to a gasp or choke. Newborn babies don’t yet have the reflexes to cough, so mucus can easily get stuck in their lungs. When this happens, they need medical care as soon as possible to clear their airways.

“The first time we noticed that she was turning blue around her mouth and looked a bit mottled, we were sent to the Southampton children’s emergency and trauma department by our GP.

It was there we were told that she had COVID, and they treated her with oxygen overnight. In the morning, her oxygen levels had improved so we were discharged.

We were only home for a few hours when she stopped breathing altogether and turned blue. Whilst I was cuddling her, we dialled 999. This was the scariest moment of our lives, I thought after everything we’d been through with her birth, that we would lose her.

We were rushed by ambulance to the emergency and trauma department. She was put on oxygen and Airvo which forces air up her nose to remind her to breathe.

This time we stayed in Southampton Children’s Hospital for around a week, continuing to be treated with oxygen and Airvo.

Once again, we experienced incredible care and support from the staff, despite us all being COVID positive!

We were discharged on Mother’s Day which was the best present I could have asked for! Seeing Evelyn’s cheeky smile and being able to take her home again. It was perfect.

My ultra challenge
Since this time, I have wanted to support Southampton Hospitals Charity in reflection of the way the hospital staff supported my family through our bumpy start.

I wanted to choose a challenge that echoed the length and uphill struggle of our journey with Evelyn. It was a tough time; exhausting, uphill and felt never ending at times, punctuated by some beautiful periods of relief with our little lady. Somebody mentioned that the Isle of Wight is constant up and down hill walking along a stunning coastal route – and it just seemed very fitting!

I do a lot of walking with Evelyn, and we have converted our garage to a gym, so now I can make good use of the space to train for this event.”

Support Vikki’s Challenge today!

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