Family could be stranded in Italy for more than three months after little Matilda was born on holiday 15 weeks early
PUBLISHED: 06:30 08 January 2018 | UPDATED: 17:34 08 January 2018
It was supposed to be a relaxing holiday for a couple after a tough year and before their baby was born.
But instead Jordan Wilson and Ashley Challoner found themselves stuck in Italy more than a month later, after their daughter Matilda became an early Christmas present when she was born abroad 15 weeks early.
University of East Anglia (UEA) nursing student Miss Wilson found out she was pregnant in August - and the couple were thrilled.
Miss Wilson, 26, said: “We booked to come to Venice on holiday before I found out I was pregnant, but we still came because I was only 24 weeks, and you can fly without having to speak to your doctor.”
The pair saved hard for the holiday, after a difficult year where Mr Challoner had to move from Norwich to Yorkshire to look after his father.
This meant they had only been able to see each other twice a month, as Miss Wilson still had a year left at university.
Miss Wilson said: “We flew out on November 28, nothing was wrong, but then I woke up one morning and there was just fluid everywhere.”
Miss Wilson, who had the forethought to take her notes abroad with her, called her midwife who told her to go to the nearest hospital.
“But it didn’t have a gynae unit,” she said. “So we were rushed to Trento, in Italy, which is where we are now.”
Battling the language barrier, the couple managed to ascertain Miss Wilson had gone into early labour.
Drugs kept the delivery at bay for two days, but determined to meet her parents little Matilda was born on December 3 and was taken straight to the neonatal intensive care unit.
She was 15 weeks early and weighed just 800g - around the same weight as an iPad.
“Obviously I was shocked,” said Miss Wilson, who lived in Tizzick Close, Norwich but will move to Yorkshire during her maternity leave.
“But I would like to think because I’m studying nursing at UEA that helped to keep me more calm, the more stressful thing has been understanding the language. And I’ve been crying a lot but I blame that on the hormones.”
Since she was born Matilda - who has an Italian birth certificate - endured a blood transfusion and was hooked up to oxygen for her first few weeks of life, while the whole family was stranded in Italy.
“We’re stuck out here until she’s better really,” said Miss Wilson.
Doctors hope to discharge Matilda at the beginning of February, but even then they will need to stay near to the hospital for a couple of weeks until they are sure she is well enough - potentially until her original due date on March 14.
Now, Matilda weighs 1,180g - just over the weight of a bag of sugar - and no longer has to use a full face oxygen mask, although she still has a nasal tube.
Miss Wilson’s mother, Helen Richardson, started an online fundraising page to help support the couple.
While the couple had insurance which is covering an apartment close to the hospital, and 27-year-old Mr Challoner’s boss said his truck driving job would be held for him, they used all their savings for baby supplies to fund their day-to-day living.
Already £1,500 has been reached which will go towards everything from a cot and sheets, to a sterilising unit and baby monitors.
But Miss Wilson said she did not know about the page until someone tagged her in it on social media.
“I think I was the last to know,” she said.
“The support we’ve had has been overwhelming, not just the GoFundMe page but we could not have asked for better from all the nurses, they’re really trying although we don’t speak Italian. And I’ve received messages of support from so many people.”
• To follow Matilda’s progress or to donate, click here.