Miracle Mum, Samantha shares the story of baby Willow's early arrival into the world.
"Willow is my third pregnancy and somewhere in my heart from the beginning I had a sense that something was going to be wrong. My friends thought I was just apprehensive after my 12 and 20 week scan came back clear. My girl was developing normally and looked liked a healthy bubba. I just couldn't shake the feeling.
On Monday 16th December my legs were hurting from my buttocks to my knees. I just assumed baby was sitting on a nerve. I attended the doctors that day with my dad, as I am his carer, and I spoke to my GP and she thought the same as I did.
Later on I went shopping with my 2-year-old and my two twelve-year-old girls to finalise Xmas shopping and by the time I got home my legs were irritable. I remember thinking ‘wow I hope it's not like this for the next 16 weeks’.
I cooked dinner, did the mum stuff and went to bed. At 3.30 am I woke up... because going to the bathroom three or four times had now become the norm. As I stood up I felt a gush and by the time I got to the tiles in my ensuite there was a pool of blood. My heart sank. I woke up baby's daddy and asked him to call our midwife and I called the ambulance and my mum. My head was spinning! I packed a bag and woke up my 2-year-old breastfeed her as she was still having one or two feeds and I didn't know when I would see her again.
In a blur the ambulance had arrived and the next thing I knew I was in transit to the Gold Coast hospital. I was trying to stay really calm as I didn't want to add any more stress to the baby. I remember the lovely ambulance lady telling me I was the calmest mum in this situation she had ever had. It was no longer about me.
I was trying to be hopeful but secretly inside thought it was already too late for our little girl. When I got to the hospital bubba’s daddy was there with my mum and I was amazed my baby still had an amazing strong heartbeat.
I was examined and told labour was too late to stop. I had started having contractions in the ambulance. The reality sank in. I thought I was going to deliver a baby that I was never going to take home.
The doctors gave me some steroids to try and boost baby's lungs and the plan was if I could keep her in for 12 hours that would be ideal to give her a fighting chance. Three hours later I was in theatre prepped for a classic c-section... our baby was coming and I was terrified.
Our little girl came out breathing. It's a life changing moment when someone tells you your baby is born. I didn't feel her come out as I was numb and I couldn't see her. About 39 minutes later she was briefly brought to me before she was wheeled to the ICU with her dad for a blood transfusion. After recovery and returning to a ward 12 hours later I met our little girl for the first time. Dad had shown me photos but I was yearning to see my baby girl.
As I was wheeled into the NICU my heart was heavy. I had never imagined I would meet my baby alive. She was so tiny and hooked up to a big machine and had a breathing tube down her throat. I felt so helpless. I couldn't do anything to help my girl.
Three days later I got to hold my girl for the first time and I have never experienced so much appreciation as I did in that moment. My girl was still alive. She was perfectly tiny. She had all her bits in the right places, just really early.
As much as I didn't want to know, I started to ask questions about the quality of life my baby may face. I couldn't even name her at this stage as I didn't want to if I lost her. I thought this would make it so much harder. I knew in my heart this wasn't the case but my head told me otherwise.
The first ten days went by so quickly. I was discharged and going back and forth from the hospital and still trying to be a mum to my three other girls . My 2 yr old had never been away from me for one night and was struggling with me leaving her.
I started to feel detached from my baby. It felt like it was someone else's life. I was expressing for a baby that I couldn’t feed and couldn’t do the normal things a mum does with her new born. After having 9 pound babies I was out of my depth. Surviving on robot mode. I could never thank my partner and my family enough for keeping my house together and my children looked after as well as they did. Xmas day came and it was the hardest one I ever had. We all tried to get onto the spirit for the other kids but I felt empty. My baby's first Xmas and she wasn't home.
We are now at day 19. My girl is almost 27 weeks and despite a few complications she is still hanging in there fighting for her survival. The nurses are incredible. I will never be able to repay them for their incredible efforts in assisting my girl to grow this far.
I have learnt to take one day at a time. We cannot plan anything anymore as you never know when that phone may ring. The first 4.30am call from the doctor was heart wrenching. I didn't want to answer the call but knew I had to. My girl needed another transfusion. I'll never forget that call.
My life has changed in ways I could have never imagined. In three weeks I have learnt so much about appreciating the good stuff because there have been days where that silver lining has been incredibly hard to find. Everyday day my little girl is here is hopefully one day closer to coming home and that's what I live for."
Thank you Samantha for sharing your story.
Baby Willow is now home and mum, Samantha wants to share a beautiful poem she's written for her daughter Willow. It offers a small glimpse into her journey with a little 24 weeker.
"Those early hours of that morning, we will never forget
Doctors said we were to deliver, but we were not ready yet
Only just over half way, there had to be more we could do
Doctors said no, we had to safely give birth to you.
What would happen next we did not know
Would you join our lives or would you go
Your future was no longer in our hands
It was up to the universe and its grand plan.
24 weeks born exactly to the day
No one plans a pregnancy this way
From your first breath, you were ready to fight
612grams, ruler size, what an unforgettable sight.
You came with all your fingers and toes too
Skin so shiny we could almost see through
The nurses wrapped you up and wheeled you to the NICU
12 hours later I officially met you.
My heart was heavy, my eyes filled with tears
My mind was racing overpowered with fears
Daddy held my hand as I gently touched your skin
It was so translucent - paper thin.
We needed to be strong but we wanted to run away
So many questions to ask, though we didn't know what to say
We were in shock, our hearts were broken
Your nurse comforted us but not many words were spoken.
Our lives changed forever on this day
We vowed to never look at life the same way
You were hooked to so many leads and under lights
As the days passed you kept up your fight.
We were told the NICU was a roller-coaster, wow this is true
So many days we wondered how we would get through
Our strength and courage radiated from you
We took your lead for what you needed us to do.
We learnt so many medical terms - brains always in overdrive
We wanted to learn everything to keep you alive
We were there for doctors rounds each and every day
Waiting for news, anticipating what they would say.
A family meeting was had to prepare us to say goodbye
You had different plans, you were not ready to fly
The corner was turned we were no longer against the wall
We could finally see the way home after all.
3 months later we moved into special care
Medicial staff still wonder how we made it there
You had come so far with still so far to go
After 100 days time felt to go by so slow.
CPR ,adrenaline, infections, staf bradys and desats
You amazed us how you could overcome all that
Before we knew it you were on all suck feeds
Low flow and sats only no longer endless cords and leads.
Then the day arrived, they said we could go
How could we live normal in a world we didn't know
We questioned if you were sick, would we know what to do
Just like you we learnt to rely on the nurses too.
115 days later you've seen the sun and rode in our car
We now watch you sleep in amazement of your adventures thus far
You have taught us strength, resilience, to breath and let go
Someone so small you changed us in more ways then you will ever know.
Willow, thank you for honoring your name and growing strong
Wrapped in our arms is where you will forever belong
Mummy will always fight for you as much as you did for me
I cant wait to see what an amazing person you will grow up to be.
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