A MOTHER has described ten weeks of hell as her first child struggled to survive after being born just 24 weeks into the 40-week pregnancy.

Hayley Pleasant knew she was at risk of giving birth prematurely, due to low levels of collagen in her body, but even she was shocked to discover the back pains she had been suffering at work were contractions heralding baby Roman’s early delivery.

Hayley, 24, from Ambleside Drive, Southend, was relieved to find her son had been born four days within the doctors’ viability period, meaning they would do all they could to help him survive.

However, he faced an uphill struggle with bleeding on the brain, lung disease and an open duct in his heart.

After being born at Southend Hospital on February 19, he was transferred to the Royal London Hospital, where Hayley and partner Nick Bender, 32, were able to stay at the Sick Children’s Trust’s Stevenson House nearby.

Hayley said: “It took me a fair while to realise what was happening.

“I don’t remember much about the birth, but I remember saying to my mum it was too early and he wouldn’t survive and she said the hospital staff were trying to warn me about that as well. There were a lot of moments where I would text Nick saying ‘just come here now’.

“Roman had to have minor heart surgery, but before that, he couldn’t come off the ventilator because his blood wasn’t oxygenated and his stats would just plummet.

“He would go blue and everyone would just have to work on him.

“That happened a lot for the first ten weeks and was probably the hardest part.”

The couple stayed at Stevenson House for free the entire ten weeks, with Nick working from his laptop using the building’s wi-fi.

After his operation, Roman’s life signs again plummeted, leading to a terrifying moment when he needed to be resuscitated, but after a tricky week, he stabilised to the point where he was able to spend six weeks at Southend Hospital, before being discharged on June 11.

Although he is still on oxygen and the couple will not know whether he has brain damage until the age of two, Roman is now doing well.

His parents are having to get used to the fact his body is at the development level of an 11-week-old rather than sixmonth- old baby.

Hayley said: “We’ve just had a consultant appointment and she’s really happy with his progress.

“He’s started smiling and really lights up every room, which is good, because before I was thinking I had such a miserable baby, but he’s in the right place for an 11-week-old baby, which is what he should be.”

Roman should also be off oxygen by his first birthday and his lungs should be normal by the age of five.

Despite the heartache and the struggle with Roman, Hayley and Nick have not been put off having more children.

Hayley said: “We’ve just started talking about it, actually, and it’s on the cards.”