‘It was like our world was crumbling’
WENDY Maney did not believe her daughter was going to live when she was born prematurely at just 26 weeks.
The young mum had never heard of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) when she arrived at Gold Coast University Hospital almost three months before her due date.
She and husband Mike were at home with their eldest daughter Bella, 2, when Wendy went into labour.
"I thought the moment my waters broke that we weren't going to make it," she said.
"I thought a premmie was a 35-week-old baby. I didn't think they could even survive at 26 weeks.
"The biggest ray of hope for me was the moment I was bawling in the labour ward and one of the neonatal doctors came up to talk to us. It was like our world was crumbling and she gave us hope."
Madeline was born weighing just 810 grams.
"We didn't have any first meeting or hold," said Wendy.
"She was just out and off to the NICU, and then we met her at 5pm the next day."
Now seven weeks old, Madeline has a congenital heart defect and jaundice, and is awaiting results to see if she has a chronic neonatal lung disease.
Her official due date isn't until January 27.
But things are looking up for the now 1700g tot, who last night moved from a humidicrib to an open cot for the first time.
The past several weeks have been traumatic for both parents, with Wendy admitting some days it is difficult to pick herself up off the floor emotionally.
"It's really heartbreaking because I know what it should be like," she said.
"With the birth of my first daughter it was exciting and everyone was saying 'congratulations'. We were in this happy, joyous bubble.
"We still love Maddy just the same but the memory (of her birth) is a traumatic one now."
Despite the trauma, little Madeline won't be alone in NICU this Christmas, with about 110 other babies suffering the plight. Throughout the year, the ward has treated 1250 premature babies.
To donate to the Gold Coast Hospital Foundation's Christmas Appeal and help the NICU, visit www.gchfoundation.org.au/donate.
GOLD COAST NICU'S CHRISTMAS WISH LIST
* MRI Compatible Ventilator - $62,000
An MRI compatible ventilator that allows ventilated infants be transported to an MRI scanning suite while maintaining optimal respiratory support.
* Kanmed Baby Bed for twins - $17,948
Specially made baby bed for premature babies requiring treatment and medical monitoring.
* Laryngoscope Size 0 blade - $6700
The smallest size attachment for a Gold Coast Hospital Foundation funded Laryngoscope, a piece of equipment used to painlessly and quickly examine a baby's throat.
* Digital Monitoring System - $58,322.33
Allows for continuous monitoring of carbon dioxide levels in newborn babies. Measurements are made painlessly through the skin without any need for blood taking.