World Prematurity Day – Lara’s Story
After being born prematurely at just 25 weeks and 4 days in 2017 at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital (WCH), Lara and her family had a big journey ahead of them.
Thanks to her mum, Alana we are sharing Lara’s story to mark #WorldPrematurityDay and raise awareness of the 553 preterm infants and their families who receive specialist medical and nursing care in the WCH neonatal nurseries each year.
“After a troubled pregnancy, with numerous bleeds I was admitted to the WCH for a night of observation at 25 weeks. The next morning, I started to feel quite ill and staff discovered the baby’s heart rate was not right and before we knew it there were people everywhere.
At 8.30am on October 28 our baby, Lara was born prematurely at 25 weeks and 4 days via c-section, weighing 860g and fully enclosed in her sack. From the moment the emergency button was pushed in the ward to Lara being delivered, it was only 12 minutes.
Lara was taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where Luke (Dad) was able to be with her. 8 hours later I was wheeled in my bed to see her for the first time. I could not believe what I was looking at.
On day 5, Lara was at her lowest weight (748g) and this was also the first day I held her. It was an amazing and very emotional time. On day 7 Lara had her second cuddle, this time with Luke.
Lara was in NICU for 9 weeks before moving to the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU). I formed great relationships with some of the nurses during our stay. They are all so kind, caring and understanding. They are not only there to look after their patient but the whole family. They knew when you were having a good day and up for a chat or if your day was off and you needed to sit in silence.
Learning to feed was hard work and plenty of times I wanted to give up but the staff helped me through the tricky times with hints and tips and encouragement. I ended up fully breastfeeding Lara until she was 18 months old.
Christmas was a very different experience for us while Lara was in NICU. On Christmas morning when we arrived all of the cots had big hanging stockings filled with teddies and gifts. The babies were wearing Christmas beanies and blankets and we were able to have a family photo while I had a cuddle.
Preparing for discharge was a struggle for me. The whole stay Lara had been attached to monitors so we knew when something was not right. In SCBU they taught us to look at the baby for the signs not the monitor. We needed to attend CPR and Oxygen training in the parent unit which we were able to complete with both of our mums as they too would be caring for Lara when we went home.
After 106 days at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, it was finally time to take Lara home.
It’s true the premmie journey does not end when you walk out the hospital doors. We had weekly visits with our local GP while she was on oxygen and back to the hospital fortnightly in the early months with visits to the NICU doctors.
We were involved with the Growth and Development Program which is voluntary for microprems who are born under 29 weeks or 1000g. We felt a need to contribute our info to help others and the research going forward, the follow up appointments – consisted of physio paediatrician and development tests, eye tests because too much oxygen can damage the eyes (did you know Stevie Wonder was a prem and that’s why he’s blind!)
Lara was discharged from WCH on April 27, 2021. Currently she sees a private paediatrician and the last time we saw him suggested she could be discharged once she starts school next year!
Lara now is a very active 5-year-old who loves adventure and a challenge. She has passed all her tests, with her only current condition being asthma.”
Alana joined the Tintinara Auxiliary Group and was a guest speaker at the the Friends of the Women’s and Children’s Hospital Annual General Meeting this year and thanks to donations from Lara’s 1st birthday party, has donated $1500 to the charity which supports the WCH.
Thank you to Alana and your family for sharing Lara’s journey to raise awareness of premature births and the ongoing support, which can be accessed across the Women’s and Children’s Health Network.
Learn more about the ongoing care provided at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital at www.wch.sa.gov.au/premature.