When I imagined myself having my first baby, I thought of those special first days at home from the hospital, watching my little one reach those important milestones that first time parents look forward to celebrating.
But for me – and for thousands of families across Australia each year – things didn’t go exactly as I’d planned.
When my daughter Poppy was born at 33 weeks gestation back in 2012, I became a statistic.
The number 1 in that 1 in 8 statistic (according to the 2016 report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) that reveals how many premature babies are born in Australia each year.
And when her little sister Essie followed at just 31 weeks in 2014, I developed an even deeper understanding of what life with a premature baby means.
Parents need looking after too.
Friends and family mean well but when it comes to dealing with parents of premature babies, so many people simply don’t know what to say - or if to say anything at all.
The issues premature babies face is an unknown for so many and the fear that sets in - fears that there may not be a happy home-coming for the little baby you’ve just become a mother to - can seem overwhelming.
When my youngest, Essie, was born so many weeks ahead of her due date, I wasn’t allowed to invite visitors into the Special Care Nursery that she had to call home for so long but I think my best advice for any friends and family of parents to premature babies is to remember to be happy for them.