Wendy's story

Wendy's story

Can you imagine the logistics of moving a Mother’s hospital from one building to another? On 4 June 2008, that’s what happened at Mater Mothers’ Hospitals. Women in labour, women who had just given birth, women suffering complications, babies requiring intervention – all services transferred to their current location.

Mater Mum Wendy had given birth on 27 April 2008 and provides an emotional reflection in her own words on what it was like to have a sick baby in the Neonatal Critical Care Unit and transfer from one building to another.

Isabelle Rose Pritchard was born on 27 April 2008, three weeks after surgery with twin to twin transfusion*.  Her sister was born the night before as our little Angel. At 27 weeks + 5, Isabelle was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) but her stay was for only week. She was strong from the beginning, breathing by herself, kicking and wiggling, tangling lines and all the fun stuff that comes in NICU.  At 1189g, she had some growing to do.

We then moved to Special Care Nursery (SCN) and what a lovely place that was for first time parents, navigating an unknown and unexpected journey. There were little ones coming and going for an hour or so, while other babies celebrated their 150 days in SCN. My first Mother’s Day was celebrated so thoughtfully with cards and special gifts. Kangaroo cuddles were the best time of the day and Isabelle had a reputation for making a good mess in the incubator when it was nappy change time.

Every day was a blessing.  Feed times, cuddles, doctor visits, and the nurses became a second family. Every day was spent the same way but with different memories.

I had daily conversations with the nurses as moving day came closer. Cupboards were emptied, things were moving and plans were obviously being made. We were all made comfortable that our little treasures were being taken care of. We all had our special blankets which were carefully made and that would be how we knew which baby was being transported on moving day. 

I was surprised with the emotions of the day. I had a baby in this building, but had also lost one. How many others had laughed and cried inside these walls? How many memories were yet to be made in this new shiny grey building we were about to call home? How do you say goodbye knowing that things would be different? It was certainly an emotional day.

The overpass between the old Mothers’ and the Mater Children’s Hospital was our little peek. When our day came, we said a farewell and watched as nurses packed all the necessary items into the incubator. Then there was a short wait. We all headed outside to watch our little bundle walk through the overpass. I remember spotting Isabelle and saying a short prayer of thanks for all the amazing moments that had saved hundreds of babies over the years as we all left the building for the last time.

When we walked into the new building, it was such a contrast!! New beeps, sign-ins, swipes, and access points. Bigger rooms, more space and more chairs for cuddles! We didn’t see so much of other babies, and it left us more space for---us.

The nurses were thrilled with new equipment and everything worked. Everyone was so professional with the transition and we were taken care of extremely well. We all got locked out a few times, and we had to ask where things were a few times. Sometimes it took us a few minutes while the team looked around to find new hidey holes. We were in Special Care for eight weeks, with Isabelle coming home two weeks before she was due. We were in the old Mothers’ for four weeks, and in the new Mothers’ for four weeks.  

Isabelle has moved from the 1189g baby to a happy and healthy 10 year old. So many people have supported her. After being discharged, we were given support through the Growth and Development Clinic within six weeks and she hasn’t stopped. With a diagnosis of cerebral palsy, we have had physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, dietitians, orthopaedics, paediatricians, and more. The support we received from those very first days has set us up to keep reaching for stars.

More recently, Isabelle was able to compete in her first dance completion in 2017. This was a big step for her and she competed in her age group with 14 other girls to five pieces of music as a member of the Centenary Physical Culture Club. Everyone was so excited to see her skills develop and it was thrilling to see her strut her stuff!

School has also been such an amazing support, with staff and teachers all encouraging Isabelle to have a go at everything. Isabelle competed in both the Athletics Carnival and Swimming Carnival, setting age champion records in Multiclass events, 80m and 200m running events, along with a Shot Put record. She is inspired to train and work even harder for this year’s events. In swimming she was recognised for setting a 50m freestyle record and surprising everyone with her determination. This year, Isabelle was selected to play netball with interschool sports which was super exciting!

Along with her school, her therapists have been tailoring her therapy to increase her skills around her interests. Dance exercises, core strengthening and balance have made Isabelle stronger and she loves coming along to therapy understanding the big picture for her, and what she is setting out to achieve.

As for this year, we can’t to see what this 10 year old can do.  Go Isabelle!

*Twin to twin transfusion syndrome is a condition that affects approximately 10 per cent (one in ten) of identical twins that share a single placenta. When twins share a single placenta we call them monochorionic. Usually each twin will have its own sac of amniotic fluid and its own umbilical cord connecting it to the placenta.

Blood vessels that connect the two umbilical cords on the surface of the placenta allow blood from one twin (the donor) to flow into the other twin (the recipient). This transfusion of blood occurs when there is an imbalance of blood flow from the donor twin to the recipient twin which causes twin to twin transfusion syndrome.

(Source: http://brochures.mater.org.au/brochures/mater-mothers-hospital/twin-to-twin-transfusion-syndrome)

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