My name is Bernadette Michael. I was born at Westmead Public Hospital 27 years ago, via emergency caesarean section at 27 weeks gestation, and weighing just 630grams. I am the eldest of three girls. My mother had Placenta Praevia. I was in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) for over 100 days till I was term. When I was born, I was so tiny that the nurses called me mouse material, and my father could fit his wedding ring all the way up my leg. I never made it to the Special Care Nursery, and was discharged straight from the NICU. My parents couldn’t hold me for weeks.
Being a prem, I had most of the same care premature babies do now. I was ventilated, in a humidity crib, on CPAP with crib oxygen and was on low flow oxygen. I had numerous IV cannulas, fluids, medications and blood transfusions. Unfortunately back then there were no such things as central lines, Sucrose or Curosurf. The doctors told my parents that I would probably not make it past the first hour of life, and if I did, I would be a vegetable in a wheelchair and have severe disabilities. Thankfully, I am very lucky. I fought and made it through with very minor health issues. I had a PDA which closed by itself. I have aortic valve regurgitation, asthma, a weak muscle in my left eye and still bear my “scars of battle”, which are my cannula marks and heel pricks.
Technology within the NICU and SCN today is very advanced compared to 27 years ago. Growing up I went to numerous growth & development and Paediatrician appointments. I was slightly behind at school, but caught up. I finished school, completed the HSC and went to university. I completed a Bachelor of Nursing degree and am now a registered nurse. I work at Westmead hospital in the NICU-the ward where I was nursed back to full health.
I always wanted to give back to the community. I have the absolute pleasure of working with some of the nurses that looked after me. I am particularly close with one of the nurses that looked after me called Rosemary. She is a beautiful person inside and out, and I am blessed for her guidance and support.
I often tell parents of premature and sick babies that come into the unit my story. My aim is to give these parents and their families a sense of hope and security. I can say that I have my ‘dream job’. I love what I do and wouldn’t change it for anything. I am truly blessed to have great family and friends, especially my parents, and I thank them for all their love and support. I am eternally grateful to the staff of Westmead NICU for nursing me back to full health. Without their excellent care, I wouldn’t be here today. Everyday is a little miracle.