BOTH my girls Isabelle and Alyssa were born premature due to Severe Preeclampsia and Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR).
Isabelle was born at 27 weeks gestation weighing a tiny 712 grams (about the size of a tub of butter). Unknowingly, I had become sick with Preeclampsia at around 24 weeks with swelling and high blood pressure. I thought it was just pregnancy symptoms and from walking too much. It wasn’t until my sister, who is a nurse, urged me to go to hospital with a high blood pressure reading that I found out just how sick I was. I was rushed by ambulance to the Royal Women’s Hospital where they pumped me full of magnesium (to prevent a seizure and protect the baby’s brain) as well as many different types of medication for my blood pressure. Within 48 hours I delivered via emergency c-section because my BP was out of control and doctors warned that my baby and I could die. Isabelle was born not able to breathe on her own and had to be intubated. It was a scary three months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) battling breathing difficulties, infections and trouble gaining weight, but there was light at the end of the tunnel. A week before her due date Isabelle came home and has been thriving ever since!
Alyssa was born two years later weighing 1.6kg at 34 weeks gestation. I experienced the same condition (preeclampsia), this time spending two weeks in hospital prior to her delivery with lots of monitoring. Alyssa was born breathing on her own and spent a month in hospital with far fewer complications than her sister. However it was still an emotional ride as I had a toddler at home and a new baby who needed me in the Special Care Nursery (SCN) After a month in SCN Alyssa came home and has also been thriving ever since!
During the time spent in NICU/SCN with both of my girls, I discovered the Life’s Little Treasures Foundation (LLTF) which provided me with a guide to NICU/SCN. It was so helpful in understanding the emotions I was going through, where to get help and knowing that I wasn’t alone. They also came to mothers’ group meetings in the NICU where they told success stories, how to deal with emotions in the NICU, how to bond with your baby in hospital, how to navigate hospital lingo and where to find support. To me this was invaluable. It was as if someone held out their hand and said “it’s going to be okay. You are not alone!”
One day in the NICU tea room after a challenging morning with Isabelle having multiple episodes of forgetting to breathe, I was anxiously making my fifth cup of tea in a row when I came across a poster about LLTF Walk For Prems and it was in that moment I said to my husband “When we get out of here I want to do this walk with Isabelle. For Isabelle and all of the families who have to go through this.”
So the next October came around and we went on our first Walk for Prems. An emotional day as it was a huge milestone for us. Thinking back on the day I promised I’d take Isabelle to the walk, and actually being there and seeing other families with their premmies was incredible. I cried a lot of happy tears that day. It is now almost four years later and every October we still do the walk with both sides of our family in honour of both Isabelle and Alyssa as well as all the families who have or are about to experience the same journey we went on.
I encourage anyone and everyone to sign up to attend Walk for Prems. Your donations go to support the incredible work done by LLTF, who are like guardian angels sent out to help families make their journey through NICU/SCN that little bit easier!
Register here for Walk for Prems in Melbourne on Sunday October 25, 2020