baby

"I've had two premature babies. Here's how I got through it."

After what felt like a fairly uneventful pregnancy, my first child, Angus, was born 12 weeks early by emergency c-section due to severe intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). After the ups and downs of the neo-natal ICU, he was eventually allowed home, only to be sent back to the Paediatric ICU ten days later, where he had to be given a tracheostomy which he needed for 11 months.

There was no way anyone could have warned me as to how difficult this time was going to be. It was an incredibly isolating experience. There was no social media at that time and I actually didn’t know of anyone else that had a premmie baby. I felt like no-one understood what I was going through which made what was already an incredibly challenging time even harder.

Many people that have premmie babies carry a great sense of guilt, I know this is something I battled with. It goes against nature to leave your baby in a hospital while you go home. The feeling of not being able to protect and help them is utterly crippling. I was shattered, and felt completely alone.

A few years and three miscarriages later (one at eight weeks in 2009, one at 19 weeks in 2010 and another at five weeks in 2010), I fell pregnant again. This time I was 11 weeks early and gave birth to my second boy, Saxon, at 28 weeks.

premature baby
Angus was born 12 weeks early. Image: Supplied.

In 2015, I discovered a charity called Miracle Babies on social media. I had a few interactions online with them and then I was introduced to some of their staff members at an event. After hearing about all the different services offered within and outside of hospital, I decided to get involved.

ADVERTISEMENT

Being part of the NurtureTime program felt right. It links families who have recently had a premature baby with experienced mums and dads who have gone through the same thing and come out the other side, healthy and happy. It really felt like fate.

I had always wanted to ‘give back’ in a sense, and help parents who were going through the traumatic experience themselves. My job is to provide much needed peer support, guidance and hope to families in and outside of hospital.

I regularly visit three hospitals where I meet with parents that have recently given birth prematurely. It’s likely they feel similar to how I felt at the time – isolated, confused, scared. I’m there for them to console in, and I help coach them through. I believe it’s invaluable for them to spend time with someone that has been through the same experience and come out the other side happy and healthy. It’s helps them see the light at the end of the tunnel.

two premature babies
Saxon was born at 28 weeks. Image: Supplied.

After my first birth I joined a regular, non-premmie specific mothers' group but I felt like I couldn’t connect with any of the other parents because they didn’t understand what I was going through. That's why I also run a weekly support group, called NurtureGroup, outside of hospital that provides the opportunity for families with premmie babies to meet others in the same position. This program invites mums, dads, grandparents, sisters, and premmie babies of all ages to get involved in an understanding and non-judgmental environment.

ADVERTISEMENT

Premature birth can sometimes be the most difficult and emotional time of a new parents’ life and services like these offer much needed support and connection. I don’t want other families to feel the way I did. I want them to know they are not alone, that people understand how they feel, and most importantly, that they will get through this.

Now 12 and seven-years-old, Angus and Saxon are living proof to parents going through this difficult time that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

two premature babies
Angus and Saxon in 2018. Image: Supplied.

This World Prematurity Day (17 November 2018) – Tommee Tippee is working to support the Miracle Babies foundation by asking Australians to Tip In and help provide funds for groups like mine to continue. The goal this year is to hopefully raise $20,000 for the Miracle Babies foundation which would give 300 families access to the NurtureProgram for a full year.

The fundraising campaign will run from 17 October until the 17 November, and anyone people can lend their support and make a donation any time via the Tommee Tippee Raisely website.

Have you had a premature baby? Tell us your experience in the comments section below.

To learn more about how you can get involved in the Miracle Babies NurtureTime and NurtureGroups, or for more information about how to donate visit the website

FROM OUR NETWORK
00:00 / ???