Premmie to preppy: Piper Taylor defies the odds to start school

Premmie to preppy: Piper Taylor defies the odds to start school

When Piper Taylor was born more than 14 weeks early and weighing just 616g, doctors told her parents their little girl's chances of survival were just 40 per cent.

At that stage, for Heidi and Cameron Taylor, imagining their daughter starting school was nothing more than a dream, as Piper battled severe infections and chronic lung disease in the Mater Mothers’ Hospital neonatal intensive care unit.

Mrs Taylor said there were “many times” in hospital she feared her extremely premature baby would never live long enough for her to go home to her brothers Harry, now 10, and Max, eight.

“It was touch and go. She was gravely ill,” the 38-year-old said.

But today, five-year-old Piper will attend Shailer Park State School at Logan, one of more than 60,000 Prep students in Queensland.

Piper Taylor was born at 25.3 weeks, weighing only 616g.

Piper Taylor, 5, in her school uniform with mum Heidi Taylor. Picture: Jamie Hanson, Courier Mail

“She is so excited,” Mrs Taylor said.

“She loved trying on her uniform and going and picking up her books.

“She’s fiercely independent. She’s got so much gusto. I don’t know where she gets it from. She is so determined and I’m sure that’s why she’s here today.

“I think she’ll blow everybody away and be amazing.”

Piper was born naturally at 25 weeks and three days gestation after her mother spent about 10 days on bed rest.

Halfway through the pregnancy, doctors detected a “thinning cervix”.

Three weeks later, the Taylors were told the situation had become “pretty dire” and to prepare for a premature delivery.

Mrs Taylor, of Edens Landing, was admitted to Logan Hospital and then transferred to the Mater Mothers’.

“Every hour was crucial, that’s what they tell you,” she said.

“Every hour and every day is a better chance for the baby’s survival. It’s pretty scary.”

Piper was born at about 5am on September 9, 2013, entering the world screaming.

She was placed briefly on her mother’s chest, so fragile that Mrs Taylor patted her little head with her pointer finger, “because I was so scared I was going to hurt her”.

Piper Taylor weighed just 616g when born at 25.3 weeks.

Piper spent the next three and a half months in hospital.

“I don’t even know how we got through it,” Mrs Taylor said.

“On Saturday mornings, my husband and I would go downstairs at the Mater and have a coffee.

“We’d see all the Dads bringing their capsules in to take their babies home. It still makes me sad now.”

Piper finally went home on December 23 and spent the next 12 months hooked up to supplemental oxygen to assist her breathing.

“When she gets sick, she goes down hard,” Mrs Taylor said.

“She’s got quite a lot of scarring from needing so much breathing support initially, and being born with such tiny lungs. I’ve lost count how many hospital admissions she’s had, but she’s been pretty good for the last couple of years.

“I want to celebrate her and I want other families that are going through what we have to know that there is hope at the other end.

“We’ve gotten through five years and she’s successfully going off to school. Whatever else comes at us, we’ll deal with.”

Mrs Taylor said her daughter would not have survived without the dedication and skill of the doctors, nurses and other staff at the Mater.

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For urgent assessment at any stage of your pregnancy, please present to your nearest emergency centre or Mater Mothers’ 24/7 Pregnancy Assessment Centre in South Brisbane.

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