Hi, my name is Keira and our little treasure Nina was born 3 months early and spent 68 days in the neonatal ward at The Mercy hospital in Melbourne. She was on CPAP, high flow, low flow and finally spent a very long time fattening up (in the “Fat Farm”!) before coming home. Unfortunately she contracted pneumonia as soon as she came home though and suffered a collapsed lung and an apnea that required resuscitation. Her first winter was very harrowing and traumatic, with four counts of bronchiolitis and many trips to the hospital and ICU.
My husband had to go back to work so my mother was left in charge of my toddler son, Sebastian during this time. He was obviously quite anxious, like a lot of other siblings of premature babies. He wondered why Mummy and the baby weren’t coming home and why the baby was in an incubator and covered in tubes and what the strange hospital world was all about. My mother tried to find ways to explain it to him. She is a retired primary school teacher who specialised in early literacy so she is passionate about helping children understand the world through reading. As our journey with Nina continued, she began to jot down notes and talk about things with creativity and humour, such as the baby being in a rocket ship (isolette) or in an underwater submarine, wearing a snorkel (oxygen tubes). By helping Sebastian and other family members tap into their imagination, she found it helped us have conversations, making what was a very tough time more manageable.
This year we finally pulled together her notes into a book called “Fast at Everything: a story for siblings and families with premature babies.” It was published and launched with The Mercy hospital last month as a resource for other families like ours. It is a testament to premature babies, but especially their families and the siblings and carer’s like my mum who are just as much a part of the scary journey of a sick baby coming home.
“A beautiful story and a fantastic resource for families of siblings following their baby brother or sisters’ journey through NICU.”Amy Farrelly, Nurse Unit Manager NICU, Mercy Hospital for Women
We would love to make Nina’s traumatic story into a positive one for other families who similarly face many battles with their babies who are born early.
We are so grateful that Nina is now an energetic, resilient and smart little three year old. She was cared for by the most amazing teams of NICU and SCN nurses and doctors to whom we owe her life. She really is treasured by our whole family. Especially her older brother Sebastian!
Keira, Nina’s Mum
For more information about Fast At Everything: http://www.ragandboneman.org/store/p8/fastateverything.html
And a media release form The Mercy hospital about the book stating that $10 from every copy will go directly to family services in NICU centres: