Boxing superstar Carl Froch has spoken for the first time about his daughter’s brave fight for life.
In an exclusive interview and photoshoot with HELLO! magazine, the four times super middleweight world champion reveals that little Penelope survived a traumatic birth – before being diagnosed with a serious illness just hours later.
Read the full interview in this week's HELLO! magazine, on sale now in all good newsagents and available to download on iPad, android, kindle fire and more formats. Or subscribe today to make sure you don't miss an issue!
"It is fitting that she is a boxer’s daughter because she is a fighter. She was fighting for her life the day she was born," Carl told HELLO! about his and fiancée Rachael Cordingley’s daughter, who was born on September 11.
Penelope’s birth was complicated by a rare emergency known as shoulder dystocia, when the baby’s head emerges but one of the shoulders becomes stuck behind the mother’s pubic bone. When she was finally born, Penelope appeared lifeless due to being starved of oxygen.
"I was in shock. I couldn’t speak," Carl said. “Being a fighter, I tend to take the bull by the horns but I couldn’t do anything and that made me feel helpless. Her head came out at 5.59am and she was born at 6.02 – the same length as a boxing round; the longest, most traumatic round of my life.
"When she made that first feeble cry, I burst into tears. It takes a lot to upset me but this was the most distressing thing I have ever experienced."
The drama didn’t end there. After returning home, Rachael went back into hospital a day later with an unbearable headache. Fortunately, they took Penelope with them.
Carl explains: "A nurse noticed that Penelope had a temperature and was a bit lethargic. Within an hour, she was in an incubator, hooked up to an intravenous drip and being given antibiotics and oxygen. We hadn’t even come in for Penelope but for the next two weeks I was in and out of hospital and feared the worst."
Carl and Rachael soon learned that Penelope had a group B streptococcus infection – which kills one in ten babies - and suspected meningitis.
"While I hadn’t given up, I thought I should come to terms with the fact that we might not bring our baby home," Carl said. "It was a rollercoaster of emotions, the worst two weeks of my life." Thankfully, after ten days of antibiotics, Penelope recovered. "She is a little miracle baby, that’s for sure," Racheal said. "I sometimes wondered if we’d ever get out of hospital. Although there were some babies who had been there for months, so we were lucky."
To read more of the interview with Carl and Rachael, pick up the latest issue of HELLO! magazine