1. Hi Kirsty, introduce yourself please
My name is Kirsty Utting, I’m 24 years old. I train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at Gracie Barra’s Bath, I have been doing Bjj for 6 1/2 years before that I done judo (4-16), MMA (16-18). My full time time was hairdressing.
Since becoming a Mum I am now a full time carer for my daughter who is 3 in December. I got pregnant at 21, it was not planned. At first it was a shock but then I got used to the idea.
3. Did you keep training judo/BJJ while you were pregnant?
As soon as I found out I was pregnant I stopped all training because I was worried about what exercise I was allowed to do that was safe for the baby. Also Bjj is a contact sport so I didn’t want to risk anything.
4. And then it happened, your water broke at the 21st week? Tell us about this.
Everything was normal, I had my 20 week scan and showed I had a healthy baby. It was when I hit 21 weeks things started to go wrong. My waters broke, so I went to hospital and had a scan it showed that my first lot of waters had gone, but the fluid around the baby was still there. I went back a week later to have another scan and it showed that the fluids around the baby had gone down by half. I got told the worst news that my baby might not survive as it was so early in the pregnancy and babies don’t survive at 22 weeks. I got told I should terminate her as it was very high risk of infection and dangerous to me but I said no. I had to stay in hospital from that moment until I gave birth. I was in hospital for exactly 4 weeks, I had a natural birth at 26 weeks. She weighed 1lb 15oz and was In hospital for a year. She nearly died twice and since being home she has had numerous hospital stays/visits.
5. A very personal question Kirstu, but like me, I am sure most of the mums have this anxiety or fear that comes with motherhood. Fear that something happens to your kid… You had to deal not only with the fear of a possibility but with a very real and unfortunatly probable fact that it could happen. How did you do it? is there anything that you could hold on? where did you get the strength from?
When they first told us Faith had a 50/50 chance of surviving I broke down. Me and her dad kept strong and got through it together, we took each day as it come and just prayed everyday and she recovered and got better but then her heart was on the verge of failing so we had to go through it all again and just took each day as it come until she finally got out of the danger zone.
6. Could you hold Faith in your armas when she was born or had to go directly to the incubator?
When Faith was born I was always worried that I wouldn’t be able to have that first cuddle straight away but she done so well trying to breathe for her self I was able to hold her for a couple minutes when they was getting the incubator ready. The doctors was hand pumping oxygen into her whilst I cuddled her. My arms were so stiff as I was holding her because she was so small and weighed next to nothing.
7. For someone who is used to do sport, lying on the hospital for so many weeks, it must be very hard. How did you work this through?
Being in hospital for me was so hard, I’m a very active person so lying in a hospital bed for 4 weeks in bed rest drove me insane. The only thing that kept me going was feeling my little girl moving around.
8. After Faith was born, she had to stay in the hospital, how did life go on for you? Did you spend all the days in the hospital too? Did you go back to train?
When Faith was born she was in hospital for a year, it was very hard going in everyday. I started training pretty soon after giving birth just to have a break from all of it. I even entered competitions to keep my mind focused.
I am a full time carer to Faith as she has a lot of needs which means I can’t work. I get benefits for being her carer. My mum and gran are amazing and helps me out if I’m short of anything.
9. When could you take her home and how did you feel about it?
Faith was born on the 29th December 2014, we was finally allowed to bring her on on the 9th December 2015. This was a very emotional day as I could never see me taking my daughter home.
10. She has a medical condition. She needs extra oxygen right and extra care. For every mum with healthy kids is hard enough to train and compete, you on the top, had a very difficult situation and still I saw you competing and wining with your baby at the side. You are so brave, how do you manage to combine this with training and competing?
My daughter is on oxygen all the time with a couple of breaks throughout the day. I normally take her to training with me and sit her in a play pen, she loves watching Bjj. I have also took her to competitions, don’t get me wrong it’s not easy trying to compete and have people look after her with her condition. I got to be focused on the comp and also focused on Faith and her needs such as medication/ feeding/oxygen.
11. Do you have someone who helps you?
My mum is amazing with Faith and helps me out loads. Her dad has her every Tuesday for couple of hours and every Sunday and every other Saturday. My best friend helps me out aswell. Also my boyfriend Rich helps out a lot with Faith.
12. Which are your plans as an athletes now? Future competitions, goals?
My plans at the moment as an athlete has took a step back for now with competing.
I’m not training as much now because I’m a single mum and I have to concentrate more on Faith now. I do often train and take her with me but things like appointments get in the way. So I train as and when I can, just enjoying the fitness side. Maybe next year I will focus on a competition.
Also I have recently won a modelling competition to be in a calendar so a lot of my attention has been on that the last couple of months with all the photoshoots! It will be out in shops November 4th!
11. Any advice there for the other mums? Specially the ones who may be in similar situations than you (kids with extra care necessities)
My advice to other mums with children with extra needs is don’t give up on doing something you enjoy as you need to have that time for yourself to keep you going so you can have a clear mind to continue looking after your children.
Thank you very much. Your story is inspiring. Wish you and Faith all the best!