It was November 23rd 1981, when my mum and brother were enjoying a Kinder Christmas Party, that I decided it was time to enter the big wide world……at 28 weeks gestation!
After mum experienced the unmistakable feeling of her waters breaking, it was time to pay her GP a visit. He suggested Mum head straight for the Royal Women’s Hospital, without stopping at home. However, mum insisted that she call past home to get her toothbrush, if nothing else……after all she hadn’t quite got around to packing a ‘hospital’ bag!
Upon arrival at the Royal Women’s Hospital it was straight up to the delivery suite. I made my entrance into the world at 6.00pm – red as a tomato with one fist waving in the air! The joy that came with delivering me, however, was short lived. Weighing in at just 2lb 6oz, or 1080g, and at just 28 weeks gestation, things looked pretty grim.
The joy quickly turned to fear – mum didn’t get a chance to hold or even see me, and the obstetrician / paediatrician informed her that I may not live. To make matters worse, there were no humidicribs left in the neonatal nursery at the Royal Women’s Hospital, and a flight to Adelaide was looking imminent. However, fortunately a humidicrib became available at the Royal Children’s Hospital.
The next few hours involved a brain scan, multiple tests and oxygen all in an effort to determine my prognosis and keep me alive.
The following morning the midwife came to mum and said “Mrs Bendell we have a taxi ready to take you to the Royal Children’s Hospital to see your daughter.” At the time mum felt that she had no choice but to go, despite the fear of becoming attached to me and then possibly losing me.
This all changed though – once mum saw me her maternal instincts took over and her fears began to subside. Needless to say, mum then found it extremely difficult to leave me behind.
A few ups and downs occurred in the next few weeks. I became jaundiced, which could not be overcome, and so a complete blood change over was carried out – I went to theatre yellow and came out pink!
Over the following months the visits were on a daily basis, along with numerous milk deliveries and an ongoing increase in weight.
As I improved day-by-day, I was able to be transferred to Frankston Hospital – a little closer to home. Then February 1982 saw my first night at home – a long time coming! From then on there was no looking back!
Today sees me pursuing a career in nursing during which I have been fortunate enough to nurse premature babies in the Special Care Nursery at the Royal Women’s Hospital, since 2005. I can’t help but admire the fighting spirit of the little bundles of joy, and I can only imagine what families must be experiencing during exciting and stressful times – your courage and strength is truly amazing, and your little ones are so precious. I’m sure many of you have had times when you have asked ‘Why me?’ and Why can’t I do anything to make things better?’ Despite not having had children yet all I can say is “Never give up!”