Miracle Baby Turns 18
Published: July 9, 2008 | 7181st good news item since 2003
‘A Miracle Baby’ were the best words to describe little Cherie Maguire when she was born in 1990 weighing only 26ozs! Despite an amazing struggle to survive, the now very healthy Enniskillen girl has never looked back. She has just completed her A-levels at St Fanchea’s College and this week, celebrated her 18th birthday.
“Now is a time for reminiscing I suppose,” Cherie’s mother Geraldine told the ‘Herald’ this week.
“And back in those days, you would never have thought Cherie would make 18 at all because it was so touch and go.”
When Cherie, the daughter of Geraldine and Jimmy from Glenwood Gardens, was first delivered at the Jubilee Maternity Unit in Belfast, she fitted neatly into the palm of her mother’s hand while her father could easily slip his wedding ring onto her leg.
It was an anxious and stressful time for Jimmy and Geraldine, and Cherie’s older sister Melissa. The family had lost a baby girl also delivered at 29 weeks, nine months previously, and when problems developed with this pregnancy, consultants at the Erne took the decision to transfer Geraldine to the Royal Maternity Unit. However, when doctors there examined Geraldine they realised Cherie would have to be delivered almost immediately if she was going to have any hope of survival, but with no incubators available at the Royal, Geraldine was transferred to the Jubilee Maternity Unit. The following morning she underwent a caesarean operation and Cherie was brought into the world at 10am weighing 1lb 10ozs.
“She was so tiny and looked so vulnerable and surrounded by so much hi-tech equipment it was hard to believe she had any chance of survival,” Jimmy said at the time.
Geraldine didn’t see her baby until that afternoon and her initial reaction was that she didn’t look like a baby at all, more like a foetus surrounded by a mass of tubes and monitors. She noted that it was unusual for Cherie’s eyes to be open for such a premature baby and they were a striking shade of dark blue, looking huge against the rest of her tiny body. At that initial stage, staff in the unit were not optimistic and held little hope, and Geraldine herself experienced a mix of feelings, both pleasure that Cherie was alive and fear for the future.
“I didn’t want to get too close to her because I thought if she died it wouldn’t hurt so much then.”
Cherie however, was determined to live and became a real little fighter. She overcame feeding difficulties which saw her weight drop to 19ozs, a bowel infection, breathing difficulties and a heart murmur. Gradually, Cherie started to put on weight and three months later was allowed to return home. Having heard the stories from her family and having seen the newspaper clippings marking her survival story, Cherie, an award winning Irish dancer, knows looking back now, that she was, as the headlines suggested, a miracle child.
“I don’t know how I survived to be honest,” she remarked.
Awaiting the results of her A-levels, she is currently working in Flo’s Restaurant in Enniskillen and hopes come September to study for a HND in Health and Social Care at the South West College and progress from there, to study for a degree in nursing at university. And, despite being naturally small, Cherie is now one young, fit and healthy adult.
“I’m very small, just 5ft so I’m very tiny. I have size three feet and wear small clothes.”