Little Gracee, also known as the “million-dollar baby” is home. Gracee hit the news when her mother gave birth to her at twenty-four and a half weeks gestation (about five and half months) in the US. The travel insurance company, refused to pay the medical bills, because the policy, “would not cover her (Sonja Broom) for pregnancy, childbirth or any complications relating to these, including premature birth,” as stated in the product disclosure statement.
The Brooms took a punt on probability (they did not have any problems with the births of their first two children) and decided to go on a very belated honeymoon when it happened.
Like them, I really wanted to go on a ‘baby moon’ as so many of my friends were doing. To spend some time with my partner before we started this new life together. I wasn’t organised enough. This is one of those moments where I thank my lack of organisation. My waters broke at twenty-weeks and I delivered my son at twenty-six weeks. Similar to Sonja Broom, there is no explanation as to why it happened and it is not likely to happen again.
Following Gracee’s story, her discharge from hospital seems to have come around so fast, but I know it is only distance from the epicentre that allows this perception. The four-months my son spent in hospital were some of the longest of my life. The fragility of these little people makes it a gruelling time for parents. You watch your 765gram or 843gram babies putting so much effort into trying to survive and you desperately wish you could do it for them. You can walk away from your baby’s humidicrib happy that they are doing so well and several hours later get the call, the dreaded call, saying your baby is fighting for its life.
All extreme premmies are on this life and death rollercoaster to one degree or another. One night, I sat with my hand through the porthole of my boy’s humidicrib and held him, because he had rallied after a staph infection and was now well enough for me to touch him again. I watched the nurses pull that screen around the neighbouring crib. The mother sobbed. In the most beautiful Eastern European accent she cried and said, “save my baby, please save my baby.” All the other parents in the NICU were her silent chorus, while the nurses prepared the mother and baby for their first and last cuddle.
Some do not make it, but there are those like Gracee who do. Her family have also made it too. They have endured the splitting of the family, with the father and siblings in hometown Brisbane, while mum and bub battled it out in the Florida Hospital for Children. That is behind them and now it is time for them to celebrate a job well done. I wonder how they will want to mark the occasion, perhaps with a long awaited family cuddle on the sofa at home.
When I brought my boy home, my lovely neighbour asked me how I felt. I said, “I feel like have climbed Everest.” She replied, “at least you can train for Everest.” On that note, I would like to offer a toast and a round of applause to the Broom family for climbing their own Everest.
For the insurance companies, I would like to ask why they do not have travel insurance for pregnant women, considering one in ten babies in Australia are born premature.
If you would like to help the Broom family, please head to Gracee’s appeal page here.
Cybele started her blog sunshiningafterrain.com to pass on the hope some generous women had given her when her waters broke at twenty-weeks gestation. Knowing at best her baby only had a twelve percent chance of survival, hope was the only help available.