THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2020
Families of premature or sick babies living in isolated and rural areas of New South Wales are already doing it tough on top of the added stress from the COVID-19 pandemic. These families will now have greater access to an online service designed to support and nurture them through their journey.
NutureGroup Online is an initiative of Miracle Babies Foundation, Australia’s leading organisation supporting premature and sick newborns, their families and the hospitals caring for them. NutureGroup Online delivers the same valuable content as the physical groups, including attendance by health professionals such as speech therapists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, social workers and family support nurses who provide information, assistance and advice on the child’s development. Funded by a grant from Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation, NutureGroup Online helps to create an emotional and social connection for these families by delivering a support group service in an innovative, digital platform, accessible from anywhere with an internet connection.
NurtureGroup Online is for rural and siolated families, with the pilot of the service currently available to families in the Central West, New England and Northern Rivers regions of NSW.
One mother who has benefited from NurtureGroup Online is Miracle Mum, Kacey-Lee whose son Oliver was born at 29 weeks due to severe preeclampsia. She shares her experiences of living in rural NSW with a premature baby and using Miracle Babies' NurtureGroup Online.
"Motherhood, indeed parenthood, was never supposed to be like this. It was never supposed to begin in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) with a critically ill, tiny micro-premmie. Having a newborn was supposed to be a period filled with joy, hope and sleepless nights. Instead, for us it started with sadness, fear, uncertainty, and nights spent wide awake wondering if we would have a baby in the morning.
As a family living rurally, we never expected to be away for months when we had our baby. Away from family, friends, colleagues, and everything that made our life normal.
We never thought that we would be required to isolate from society because of our medically vulnerable baby. We did this not only because he was so vulnerable and fragile, but also because the best medical facilities and medical specialists were hours away, not minutes away like it is for our city-dwelling counterparts. When you have a medically vulnerable baby, minutes can be the difference between life and death.
When we finally got home, I was told to stay away from mother’s groups because of the vulnerability of our baby. I felt robbed of meeting and bonding with other mothers of newborns. At the same time, I couldn’t face women who had a full-term pregnancy and normal birth. I had already felt like my body failed, not only me, but also my tiny baby. I also didn’t want to explain my history.
Miracle Babies has provided me with a space to comfortably talk about my anger, fear, joy, sadness and sense of absolute failure. It also gave me the opportunity to bond with other parents in a similar situation. The NurtureGroup Online has lessened my sense of isolation, and loneliness. There is an unspoken bond, understanding and compassion that comes from being in the same situation. I feel this unique bond with the parents who have faced the uncertainties and fear that comes with having a premature baby or sick newborn. These parents completely understand that any tiny improvements that these special babies make are worth celebrating, because it not always expected and certainly never to be taken for granted. Conversely, these mothers completely understand the sense of failure and guilt; and the anger and rage you feel when a portion of your pregnancy has been robbed from you.
Miracle Babies has made my transition into premmie parenthood smooth and bearable. The NurtureGroup Online has been invaluable to my mental health and sense of well-being. I have never felt alone or judged or felt sorry for in this group. Instead, it gave me a safe space to share my feelings without fear of judgment. I felt it lifted me up when I was down and everyone delighted with me in every small improvement and milestone my baby achieved.
Thank-you Miracle Babies for starting this group. It is an invaluable resource for information and a sense of community."