Wakaiti's Story, 30 Weeks

Miracle Mum, Donna shares Wakaiti's story.

"At 28 weeks my membranes ruptured and I was admitted to hospital for a nerve-racking two weeks with a baby who sat footling breech and with a single artery umbilical cord wrapped around the lower legs.

At 30 weeks, and the week Australia went into lockdown with COVID, Friday the 13th of March 2020, I was rushed to theatre for an emergency cesarean where my daughter Wakaiti was born weighing 1350g via a traumatic c-section. She was silent, wasn’t breathing and I was terrified of losing her before I’d even had a chance to touch and hold her. She was whisked away by the NICU team who worked on her though the night to keep her alive. I finally saw her the next day when the team had stabilised her. She was on an oscillating ventilator, was so bruised, swollen and showed every part of the battle she’d faced during her birth.

Wakaiti was diagnosed with chronic lung disease and pulmonary hypoplasia and it was eight long days before we could hold her. We spent 10 weeks in NICU...1 step forward, 2 steps back....as the saying goes in NICU (it’s so true too). Wakaiti faced many obstacles in NICU. But she continued to battle and grow stronger, until we were discharged on her due date of May 19th - but still needed home oxygen.

It wasn’t easy those first few months as a first time mother; overwhelmed and at home without the amazing NICU staff and a baby who continued to have major breathing difficulties. There were countless hospital admissions, a major tussle with RSV and a Careflight out of state for emergency treatment until November 2020 where she finally turned the corner. She ditched the oxygen tank and we were able to finally start introducing her to the world outside her home by going on outings.

This year she was able to start daycare which is the highlight of her existence at present. Today, I’m blessed with a 16-month-old baby who is strong, fiesty, tough, bossy, happy and who doesn’t show a single sign of the hearty journey she’s endured to get here.

She is of Māori and Tongan descent and has a Māori name with many meanings, all making reference to someone small in stature but physically tough - a few examples are ‘the small axe capable of felling large trees’ and ‘A Waka(canoe) iti (small) a small boat capable of towing much larger ships and loads’. I call her my little battle axe and feel she’s a true embodiment of her name."

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