Gabrielle’s story

As told by Mum Regina

Gabrielle CPAPMy husband Anton and I were both thrilled and terrified at the news that we were expecting our third child. Having already lost two extremely premature little boys, the probability of delivering another premmie was high, with no clear medical explanation as to why.

After weekly medical monitoring and an emergency cervical cerclage at 15 weeks, I was admitted to the antenatal ward at Waikato Hospital at 20 weeks gestation.   I remained there on total bed rest and daily monitoring until at 24 weeks, when I was able to receive steroids to strengthen my baby girl’s lungs.   Gabrielle waited a further week before making her appearance via an emergency C-section at 25 weeks gestation, 105 days too early, weighing in at just 678g.

Gabrielle spent 14 weeks, or 98 days in the Waikato NICU, a terrifying time for Anton and I.   Gabrielle’s life hung in the balance in her first hours and days, and her long term survival was not clear for many weeks. Because of her size and fragility, that first skin to skin cuddle that all new parents so look forward to was an almost 2 month wait away, and only lasted a few precious minutes, in the midst of a tangle of tubes, monitors and alarms.  The experience was made all the harder for Anton and I with no local family and few local friends to lend their support.

Gabrielle Kangaroo CuddlesThe care Gabrielle, Anton and I received from the NICU staff was incredible, and in my opinion, lifesaving for us all. What would have helped tremendously, in the midst of the fear and anxiety, the self-blame and traumatic stress, would have been the support of others who had experienced the same journey – a key reason why Anton and I became involved with The Neonatal Trust when it was first established in the Waikato. 

Premmies have potentially compromised immune systems, and in some cases, long-term or life-long health and developmental challenges. Although our physical NICU experience is behind us, the potential consequences of Gabrielle’s premature birth are always in the back of our minds. 

Gabrielle is now a lively, curious, energetic 8 year old running rings around Anton and I.  We are eternally grateful to the phenomenal antenatal and NICU staff who, despite often overwhelming odds, have given us the priceless gift of an exceptional, happy and healthy child.

 
 
Since going through her own neonatal experience, Regina has been dedicated to supporting other families. Regina heads up The Neonatal Trust support in Waikato and in this role she helps to organise support packs, delivers parent talks, and with the help of a great team of volunteers enables a range of fundraising and support activities. 
 

 *** Thanks for sharing your story ***
We get a lot of positive feedback from families in a neonatal unit who read these stories and feel strength, hope and positivity knowing that they are not alone going through these experiences and feeling certain emotions.
If you would like to discuss sharing the story of your neonatal journey, we’d love to hear from you. Please email info@neonataltrust.org.nz 

 

From the story above:

  • Skin to skin ‘Kangaroo Cuddles‘ are great for both your baby and also the parents.
    Learn more about this great practice here: Kangaroo Cuddles overview

 

Interested in how The Neonatal Trust supports families going through the stress and anxiety of a neonatal journey?  
Here’s a gallery of support examples