Laura, 30 Weeks

Miracle Mum Anna shares the story of Laura's early arrival
"Our journey with prematurity began when I was 25 weeks + 5 days, when I had my first antenatal appointment. After our appointment with the midwife, she told me the doctors had requested a scan, because my cervix measured on the short side at my 20 week scan. I had no idea what this meant.
After the scan, the sonographer came back and said the obstetrician wanted to talk to me. But, I had to be taken in a wheelchair, which was very worrying.
I will never forget the moment I was told that Laura would likely be born premature. The obstetrician broke the news and I was absolutely gutted. He explained there is a link between short cervical length and premature birth. My cervix measured slightly short at 20 weeks, and now was even shorter.
I was checked over by the doctors. I had to be given steroid injections to help Laura’s lungs should she be born early: two doses, 24 hours apart. I received the first dose and was sent home. The next evening I was back for the second dose and another check-up.
Unfortunately, things had progressed since the day before. I was now 2cm dilated. I had some tests and there was a high likelihood I could give birth at any day. My husband Hamish had to drive me straight to King Eddies where I was admitted, as Fiona Stanley was not equipped to deliver a baby at that gestation. I couldn’t even go home first to get my things. I was terrified.
In the morning, at 26 weeks exactly, I was told that if Laura was born that day, there was an 80% chance she would be okay and not suffer from any ongoing complications as a result of her prematurity. The doctors said that every day that I could stay pregnant, the chances would improve.
After five days, there had been no changes, so the hospital discharged me to rest at home. Only a week ago I was working full time, exercising and living my normal life. Two weeks prior we had returned from a holiday to Christmas Island, where we had been swimming and hiking. Now I couldn’t do much at all. I had never before been in a position of having to ask for help. We were lucky to get help with cleaning, meals and walking our dog. We had limited family support, as our families live in Tasmania and the WA border was closed.
Four more weeks passed and I was still pregnant. I was starting to feel more optimistic that things would be okay. Until I reached 30 + 6. That evening, I started feeling pains that got worse and more frequent. I called Fiona Stanley who advised me to come in. I had no idea I was in labour.
We arrived at the hospital around 7pm. After a quick check, the obstetrician told us that Laura would soon be born, so I was transferred to the birth suite. There were so many people there waiting to treat Laura when she arrived.
Laura was born at 8:38pm on the 1st of October 2020 weighing 1790 grams after a very short labour. The obstetrician held her up to show me, then she was taken away. I couldn’t see what was happening. When she finally cried, it was a moment of relief. I got to see Laura again briefly before she was taken to the neonatal unit. Hamish followed her. The staff all left and I was in the birth suite, alone, apart from a midwife coming to check on me periodically. None of this felt like it was the way it was supposed to be.
I got to visit Laura in the neonatal unit that night at 11:30pm. She was attached to so many cords and wires. Her breathing apparatus was CPAP. She had wires monitoring her heart rate and breathing. She was being fed nutrients through an IV. She was in an incubator as she couldn’t maintain her body temperature. At two days old she started caffeine therapy to assist with her breathing. There is so much equipment and terminology I had never heard of. It’s a different world in there.
The next morning at 6am, a midwife suggested it was time for me to start expressing milk for Laura. It’s not how I imagined breastfeeding to be. I pumped and delivered milk to the neonatal unit where it was fed to Laura via NG tube. This felt so important to me as at that time, it felt like the only thing I could do for Laura. Deep down I know that being with her was just as important, but this felt more tangible.
I held Laura for the first time the day after she was born. With the CPAP, cords and wires, and her being in the incubator, I needed help from the nurses to be able to pick her up. I had to ask permission, and the answer wouldn’t always be yes, as they tried to limit her time outside the incubator.
I was discharged from hospital after two nights. Going home without Laura was so unnatural. There is nothing that can prepare you for how it feels to leave your baby behind. I kept visiting every day.
After two weeks, Laura’s CPAP was removed and she came out of the incubator. We got to celebrate other milestones like her first bath. I could pick her up without permission. The only milestone she now needed to meet was being able to feed without the NG tube. Then she could come home.
It felt like forever. I tried to breastfeed and the nurses offered bottles overnight. We learnt how to do tube feedings so that she might be able to come home sooner, still using the feeding tube at times. Direct breastfeeding never worked out for us as because of Laura’s prematurity, she had a high arch palette making it almost impossible. I continued expressing milk for Laura until she was 13 months old.
Laura came home after 46 days in hospital, two weeks and four days before her due date. She continued to be on both tube and bottle feeds for two more weeks. Whilst she had feeding difficulties due to her palette for some time, and was slow to gain weight, she is very healthy with no ongoing issues from her prematurity. She is now 19 months old".
Miracle Mum Anna shares her personal experience with Miracle Babies Foundation's NurtureProgram
"I first heard about the Miracle Babies Foundation when Laura was in hospital. Megan was running Nurture Time sessions each fortnight at Fiona Stanley. I’m so glad I went. I found it difficult to talk to family and friends about what was happening, but so easy to talk to someone who had been in my situation and truly understood. It was so nice to be able to connect with someone in hospital, especially as we never had any family visitors as the WA border was closed for Laura’s entire hospital stay.
Megan told me about Nurture Group and we have been attending the Willetton Nurture Group since February 2021. Laura loves it and it is a safe space for me. Laura went through a lot of interventions in her first year of life, we regularly saw a dietician, speech therapist and physiotherapist; a neonatologist from time to time, and the child health nurse for weigh-ins frequently. Many of the families at Nurture Group have also been through similar processes and know that the journey through prematurity doesn’t end when your baby is discharged from hospital.
I have made so many calls to the Nurture Line, whenever I feel like I need to talk to someone. This is an amazing service of phone counsellors who themselves are all parents of babies born premature or sick. The first few times I called, I was by chance always connected to the same person, Tina, who I now call directly.
I will be forever grateful for the work of Miracle Babies. For Laura’s first birthday we set up a fundraiser and I asked for donations instead of gifts. I could do this for Laura’s birthday every year forever and never truly be able to show my appreciation for the work of Megan, Tina and everyone at Miracle Babies. It takes a village to raise a child. Megan and Tina are in our village.
If you or someone you know is ever faced with prematurity, I will leave you with some advice from Bluey. Never a truer word was spoken when she said, when you have an early baby, you have to be the bravest you have ever been".


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