In 2016 I lost my baby at 13 weeks and even though I was a teenager, I spent years trying to conceive again after that and it just wasn’t happening for my partner and me. I felt hopeless and broken and eventually gave up trying and then all of my dreams came true when I found out I was pregnant in April 2020.

I just knew as soon as I took my at home pregnancy test and it showed positive that I was going to have a little girl and that I was going to love her with all of the love that I have.

On the 7th November 2020, I turned 22, on the 8th of November we celebrated my birthday by having lunch with family and friends. That was the scariest night of my life. I thought I had eaten too much at lunch because my tummy was feeling funny so at about 11pm I went to the bathroom and was shocked to see a river of blood flowing from me. My heart sank to the depths of my core. The ambulance arrived and I was rushed to Hutt Hospital where I was told that I had severe hypertension, preeclampsia AND placenta abruption. I had to have an emergency c-section and they had to put me to sleep for it so I woke up around half an hour after she had been born. My baby was born at 1:03am and she was born blue, limp, not breathing and without a heartbeat. 8 and a half minutes later they were able to bring her back to life. I am indebted to the team at Hutt Hospital for giving my baby the most beautiful opportunity we get in this life. Living.

Cushla was transferred to Wellington NICU but because of my circumstances, I couldn’t go with her. It was about a day and a half before I got to meet my baby. She had jaundice, she was suffering from seizures, she had to have a breathing tube, brain monitoring, a long line, umbilical wires and so much more things that I don’t even remember what they’re called. I still remember the first time I held her. She smelt like magic and I sat there in the middle of the night for over 3 hours just absorbing the image of how beautiful she was. I was so afraid to give her back because I didn’t want to have to wait all of those days to hold her again. Kangaroo Cares and skin to skin was the highlight of every single day for me. Feeling my baby’s peach fuzz covered little body resting on my chest made me feel a joy that I had never felt.

We had been told to prepare for the worst because it was looking like Cushla was going to have some severe brain damaging but for some reason, I wasn’t afraid, I just KNEW my baby was coming home with me. There was NO WAY I wasn’t going to be taking my baby home healthy and happy. The Neonatal Trust, the Wellington NICU and Hutt SCBU were amazing to us and I appreciate every experience we had. My gratitude goes out to Dr Meera from Hutt Hospital for saving our lives that night. Cushla spent 54 days in Wellington NICU and Hutt SCBU combined. Our experience made me gain a new respect for this whole world of premature babies, paediatricians and hurting yet hopeful parents that I knew nothing about prior to Cushla’s birth. Cushla was discharged from Hutt Hospital on New Year’s Eve 2020 and we drove her straight home to Gisborne that day where we could both heal together in the East Coast quiet.

I know I’m probably missing a lot of our story but sometimes recalling what happened really effects me emotionally but I’d like to finish our story with thanks to all of the beautiful nurses from Wellington NICU and Hutt SCBU that cared for my baby and to The Neonatal Trust for always checking in on my partner and me.