Molly-Rose was born three months early. This is the story written by her mother Shusannah about their time in NICU over the following four months.
Molly-Rose was born on the 5th February 2003 at 25 weeks (3 months early). Little did we know when we made the big decision to start a family what lay ahead. We started IVF in August 2002, keeping a very positive and open mind as we knew it could possibly be a long road. We took the normal course of drugs and then came the big day, they put two little embryos back and we all prayed hard for a positive result. What happened next caught everyone off guard. For some unknown reason I had a rare reaction to the drugs and ended up in ICU at Epworth hospital, with severe hyper-stimulation, my right lung had collapsed then my left lung partially collapsed. My stomach had also started retaining fluid. Throughout the next 8 weeks in hospital I underwent numerous procedures to drain litres of fluid from my lungs and stomach and had continuous x-rays to ensure they could see what was happening.
In the middle of it all, 2 weeks into my hospital stay they took a pregnancy test and found I was indeed pregnant, and that the hormone levels in my body were quite high and this was possibly what was causing the body cells to release fluid, my ovaries at this stage had grown to the size of grapefruits and had literally taken control of the body. I could barely walk with the pain and my stomach had grown so big. I was told I had a high chance of not keeping the pregnancy.
Finally after 2 months I was released from hospital and had a wonderful few months, with continuous scans and tests and at every one, bub was still there, growing bigger every day, proving them wrong. I willed her on with all my strength. Then at 20 weeks I started bleeding heavily and ended up in hospital for the remainder of the pregnancy. Five weeks later at 26 weeks Molly-Rose decided she would join us and at 8.20pm on Wednesday 5th Feb 2003 she was born weighing 880grams (less then a pound of butter), no bigger then my hand, amidst quite a commotion at Cabrini hospital. The NETS ambulance arrived very shortly after and she was whisked away to the Royal Women’s Hospital. My lasting memory of that was seeing this tiny little face peering out from a mass of bubble wrap tucked up inside an incubator. I followed with my Hubbie driving the car, I don’t think either of us really understood what had just happened, we were in a sort of limbo. Did I just give birth?
When we arrived at the RWH they took us to the Neonatal Intensive Care ward (NICU), and so began our fast track introduction to a whole different world. A world of beeps and humming machines, good days and bad. You soon learnt a good beep from a bad beep. The NICU became a new home for us, the nursing staff our new family. It took me 15 mins before I could approach Molly-Rose’s incubator, all I could see at first was a lot of tubes and wires, then somewhere under them all I made out the tiny form of our little baby girl. My heart broke, what had I done, how could I let this happen, I kept saying sorry over and over again. It was late and the blue glow from the lights on the baby next to us lit the area we were in. The next 24hrs were critical for her and we sat by her all night, praying god would let our little girl live and give her the strength to battle this.
Molly-Rose was in hospital for a total of 117 days (4 months), it was a mixed bag of ups and downs, good days and bad days, days when you couldn’t see that light at the end of the tunnel and days when it was quite clear. In those fours months we went forward a few steps then back a few steps, then forward again. She had chronic lung disease, which was making it a little difficult for her to get off her breathing machine (CPAP), we had a few attempts then after 43 days it happened. A wonderful day for us, then came the count down to her coming off oxygen. She caught golden staph twice, the first time she was very ill and we had her christened in the Incubator. The usual blood transfusions, heel pricks and IVs. She had ROP stage 3(eye disease) and then developed haemorrhaging behind the right eye, which lasted for weeks, at one stage we were told she might lose her sight in it. She was a terrible feeder, we would get so far and then end up back on a continuous feed drip, but finally after lots of perseverance from the staff we got the mls up, this meant she was very slow to put on weight, though to this day food is definitely not the centre of Molly-Rose’s world. I will never forget the first time I got to hold her when she was 2 weeks old, an amazing feeling of love and admiration for this little person filled me. Every little feature so tiny, except for two big blue eyes that spoke volumes to me. People asked how we coped, I told them that we drew our strength from her each day, as we watched with such admiration as she battled the odds, if she could do this we certainly could. She was one month corrected when we finally took her home on the 4th June 2003 weighing 2656 grams. The day we left was one filled with absolute joy, excitement and nerves, we’d always had someone around to guide us, from now on it was just the three of us, a family at last. We stood at the entrance of the hospital door as we left, took one deep breath of fresh air and walked on into our new life together.
Since leaving we have spent a lot of time back and forth to the Royal Children's Hospital, she has been back in hospital twice for respiratory issues and ended up back on oxygen for a while at home but we do our best to get over a hurdle and move on. We can never thank enough the staff from the Royal Women's Hospital and the staff at Frances Perry House where she spent time in the special care nursery, without their fantastic work and marvellous support I don’t know how we would have got through. They are all our angels and we can never thank them enough. The other prem mums I have made good friends with since leaving have been a great source of strength for me and I thank them all, they are a wonderful group of strong women, who all have amazing stories of their own to tell. It was these great friendships and encouragement from the RWH that spurred us on to start Life's Little Treasures www.lifeslittletreasures.org.au for Parents like us. We don’t want any parent to have to go through this experience alone.
Molly-Rose has grown into a most wonderful little human being, she is very active and social, always eager to discover her surroundings and meet new people, and she is now 4 1/2 years old and weighs 14 kilos. To watch her walk around as she busily gets on with her day is a constant source of enjoyment to me; I’m never far from a tear of Joy. She has fought all the odds from IVF onwards and won and she takes this feisty attitude with her in everything she does today. She has taught us much about over coming difficulties in life and the power of positive thought.
Having Molly-Rose has opened a door in my heart that I never knew existed and I thank god every day for the absolute honour he has granted me in having such a beautiful little girl for my daughter.