THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2021
Miracle Babies Foundation is a proud recipient of the CHEP Helping Hands grant and wishes to thank CHEP’s staff for voting to help babies born premature or sick and their families at a very vulnerable time in their lives.
Every year in Australia around 48,000 newborn babies require the help of a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or Special Care Nursery (SCN). 27,000 of these babies are born premature and up to 1,000 babies lose their fight for life.
You are a new mum, you are recovering from a traumatic birth, months earlier than you had expected, and your baby weighs merely grams. You have been transferred to a hospital with a NICU (a term completely foreign to you) and your baby is hooked up to a myriad of tubes and equipment with frightening alarms and faces endless medical procedures. You have no control over your baby’s care and feel helpless as your baby fights for its life. You feel guilt and constant fear.
You are then discharged from hospital weeks, or months, before your baby and must travel hours back and forth to the hospital each day, transporting your expressed breastmilk with you, hoping that your presence is helping your baby develop and grow and that your baby is able to bond with you.
Finally, it’s time to take your baby home. But how do you suddenly care for this fragile baby that has been under the specialised care of doctors and nurses for months?
It is a stressful and long journey for these families who could not have imagined such a harrowing start for their baby when they found out they were pregnant months earlier.
Identifying a gap in emotional support for these families, Miracle Babies Foundation was founded in 2005 by a group of mums who had each been through their own traumatic experiences with premature or sick newborns, with a goal to help families just like their own navigate this terrifying and challenging journey, both in hospital and for years beyond.
“CHEP’s Helping Hands grant has allowed Miracle Babies Foundation to support families with babies in the NICU at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital by providing them with carefully created, informative and thoughtful resource packs developed by parents just like them who have been through the same experiences”, said Miracle Babies Foundation’s CEO, Kylie Pussell.
“It is very important that these families don’t feel alone and isolated as they go through this unexpected journey with their baby, and that they feel informed and supported. There is much greater risk of these parents developing anxiety, post-natal depression or PTSD, and the tools and information in these packages helps to nurture their mental wellbeing.”
Miracle Mum Alison, whose premature baby was transferred to the NICU at RPA, said: “The NICU Survival Pack was amazing - such a blessing to be given something to say, 'Others are walking this road with you'. The Nurture book was really helpful for us. It helped us to understand the situation we were in and to feel like we were part of a bigger community of parents who had walked a similar road. We also received a little spiral bound notebook to use as a journal (to write letters to our baby, and they invited nurses to do the same) and that was really helpful.”
RPA’s NICU staff love having these resources to give to parents at different times during their NICU journey. Of the NICU Survival Pack, received on their baby’s arrival to the NICU, Emma from the NICU says, “Parents really like receiving these bags, particularly the new inclusion of babies' first picture book. The Nurture Book is a great resource for parents”.
Other packs provided included the Emergency Care Pack, which is “very useful for our parents (often dads) who are transferred from other hospitals to RPA with their sick babies. It has allowed parents to focus on their baby and not to have to worry about having the bare essentials of toiletries,” said Emma. “The Milk Express Packs have been invaluable for our families from regional and rural areas to allow them to safely transport their breast milk for their babies.” Grad Bags celebrate the wonderful, much anticipated day of baby’s discharge from hospital and to support families with their transition from 24-hour hospital care to taking full responsibility of their baby’s care.
Miracle Babies Foundation is lucky to have dedicated volunteers who come in and pack these valuable resource packs for families.
Miracle Babies Foundation would like to thank Frank Vittoria, a proud miracle dad and CHEP employee, for championing their cause and giving his insights into the challenges faced by families when their baby’s birth doesn’t go as planned. Frank’s passion for helping these families is the reason this grant was able to help so many families.
“At 28 weeks, the monitor showed our baby was in distress and my wife was rushed for an emergency C-Section. Fabian was born weighing 1.2 kilos and spent the next ten weeks in NICU at Westmead Hospital, and the final two weeks at Westmead Private Hospital to “fatten up”. He did so well through his NICU journey and exceeded all expectations. Today he is a kind, funny and adventurous boy who loves sport and has almost outgrown me in height! What a blessing.”
Corporate support for Miracle Babies Foundation is always a rewarding and valuable experience for any organisation, their employees and their customers.