Music sets tone for miracle baby’s survival

Music sets tone for miracle baby’s survival

The survival of their baby against all odds prompted new parents Alana and Angus Robb to bring forward their wedding and tie the knot in a special ceremony next to their little boy’s incubator in Mater Mothers’ Neonatal Critical Care Unit (NCCU).
 
Baby Rafferty arrived four months early and at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, weighing little more than a bag of pasta at just 704 grams.
 
“We always wanted to get married and Raff being there brought us together as a family unit,” Mrs Robb said. 
 
“We filled the room with as much love as we could.”
 
A singer-songwriter, Mrs Robb spent the first days after Rafferty’s birth playing her ukulele and singing to him as he slept.
 
“It was comforting, and playing music to him was a way we bonded. I noticed when I sang he heard my voice, and his heartrate stabilised quickly. 
 
“That to me was really powerful in a time when I felt helpless.”
 
Director of Mater Mothers’ Neonatal Critical Care Unit Dr Pita Birch said there had been a lot of research into the benefits of reading and singing to babies.
 
“Our littlest patients are in an unfamiliar new world, and we know hearing their parents’ voices can be very calming,” he said.
 
“In addition, it gives our parents the ability to bond with their newborn babies in an environment where they have limited activities, they can do with them.”
 
In hospital for three months while Rafferty received care and built up strength, the couple decided to have their wedding early with Alana jumping on Instagram to find a celebrant and Angus helping to organise their besties to be in attendance.
 
Joana Lincolne from Big Love Ceremonies presided over the ceremony and the Robbs were joined at their one-off wedding by friends who were also expecting a baby on the same due date as Rafferty.
 
Mater Mothers’ Hospital Registered Nurse Amanda Cowan said: “I’ve worked here for 21 years and never seen anything like it”.
 
Mr and Mrs Robb had planned a homebirth in their cosy cabin in northern New South Wales but plans changed when Mrs Wilkinson went into labour at 24 weeks.
 
“Angus and I jumped in our van and went to the closest hospital in Lismore where doctors said they couldn’t save Raff if he was born at 24 weeks, it was just too early. His only chance of surviving was to be flown immediately to Mater Mothers’ Hospital,” she said.
 
Now a thriving seven-month-old baby, the Robbs have settled into family life.
 
“Raff is our little miracle and we are so lucky to have him here with us,” Mrs Robb said.
 
“He still requires oxygen to support his breathing, but he’s doing well. Having him at Mater Mothers was a sigh of relief for me, knowing he was cared for around the clock.”

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