As told by mum, Antonia 

Unlike most people we know, our journey to have a child wasn’t the stock standard, or the norm, but one thing it has been, is no short of a miracle. 

After two rounds of IVF and the transfer of 4 embryos, we finally got that amazing phone call to tell us we were pregnant. Everything was going swimmingly until 13 weeks. A 9cm fibroid and a 7cm subchorionic haematoma were a major concern. They kept a close eye on things and I was no longer allowed to travel for my job. 

At 20 weeks and two days I went into early labour, and our wee girls feet were hanging out of my cervix with bulging membranes, and we were told it was all over. After a lucky 48 hours, baby had shifted and contractions had stopped, so an emergency double stitch was done by the team in Hastings. 

We then had to make it to 22 weeks and 5 days before I could get steroids. We managed to get there after a tumultuous couple of weeks in hospital, and despite a hind leak in the amniotic sack. After a quick plane ride to Wellington, and an emergency stitch removal, our wee miracle Penelope (Penny) was born on the 25 February 2021 at 22 weeks and 6 days gestation. She weighed 462 grams which was considered a good weight for her age. 

Her journey in NICU was the roller coaster we were told to expect. Over 200 blood tests, 3 lumbar punctures, 11 blood transfusions and 8 gruelling eye tests. She was lucky to have no brain bleeds and fought off two infections. Her eyes developed Stage 3 ROP but self-corrected without treatment and her open- heart duct (PDA) closed after two rounds of treatment. She was ventilated for 21 days, CPAP for 47 days, high flow for 47 days, then low flow. 

We spent 3 months at Wellington NICU living at Ronald McDonald house, and then 5 weeks at Hastings SCBU. After 126 days in hospital, she then came home on a small amount of oxygen and was fully breastfeeding. The oxygen was stopped after two months, and she has been amazing ever since. Her lungs we are told are still underdeveloped however and won’t catch up until she is 5 years old. 

She is now a happy and healthy little girl, meeting all her milestones for her corrected age, and great growth and weight gains. People who meet her for the first time often don’t believe us when we talk about her tough start. We will be forever grateful to all the medical teams, Ronald McDonald house, and of course The Neonatal Trust for all their help and support.  

The Neonatal Trust supported me in many ways (particularly Justine and the lovely ladies at the trust in Wellington). They helped me get a breast pump to rent which made my life so much easier at RMHC and then helped me buy one. They took the time to talk through all the options, it was so handy having the shop there. Raewyn and Tasia made regular small talk every day when I arrived into NICU. I would regularly stop and buy lactation cookies and chat to them. 

I remember the first time I experienced the doctors resuscitating Penny, I ran down to the parent’s room crying and Tasia came in with tissues and sat and talked to me. She always asked me how Penny was doing. Also, When I was first admitted to Hastings’s hospital a midwife recommended, I contact the trust.  I sent an email and the next day Justine had arranged to phone me. She spoke to me about her own experiences, it was so amazing to speak to someone who had been through it, and to hear that there were positive stories in amongst all the doom and gloom I was getting told every day. Justine then regularly kept in touch calling me, and then via email. She has been such an amazing support. 

Keep positive, miracles can happen!