Emily was born at Monash Hospital at 27 weeks gestation following Premature Rupture of Membranes. I was on holidays in Venus Bay with my husband and our two year old son when my waters broke in the early hours of the morning. We first drove to Leongatha Hospital, and I was then admitted to Monash hospital (given the NICU / specialist medical facilities available there) and given steroid injections.
Two days later, due to foetal compromise, Emily was born hurriedly by emergency caesarian. I still remember my obstetrician congratulating me on becoming Emily’s mummy – I was in shock, but those words gave me immeasurable comfort. Emily was born at just over 1 kilogram, and spent 13 weeks in NICU and Special Care (Monash, then relocating to our small local Mitcham Hospital when she was strong enough) – being allowed home two days after her ‘due date’.
I visited Emily every day in hospital, telling her each time “you are a beautiful, strong baby!” and singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to her. Emily overcame chronic lung disease, necrotising enterocolitis, an open heart valve causing a murmur, frequent bradycardias, anaemia, blood transfusions, sepsis, pneumonia, osteopenia, colic, reflux, and failure to thrive.
Emily’s entire diet for her first 4 and a half months consisted of expressed breast milk – I tried hard to directly breastfeed her (it occasionally worked!), and persisted with expressing milk for as long as I could. I took such an interest in premature baby feeding patterns and challenges, that I served as a parent representative on a Monash Hospital Committee established to produce guidelines for newborn feeding in hospital.
Emily was re-admitted to hospital three times during her first two years of life as her breathing was vulnerable and she struggled with croup and bronchiolitis.
As at 2019, Emily is 14 years old – she has no developmental issues, she is popular, sporty and super-intelligent (the Dux of her grade in 5 academic subjects at school). We didn’t choose to be on the path of the prem journey, but the experience has strengthened and enriched us as a family and given us much to be grateful for. We have two other children (born at full-term gestation), with Emily being our middle child.
I would love to reach out and support others in facing the prem parenting journey, finding the positives, and moving forward. I plan to serve as a Peer Support Volunteer for Life’s Little Treasures, and look forward very much to becoming involved.
Kerry, Emily’s Mum