Little miracles

This month, Get it’s Hayley Bogaard looks at the charity home auction saving lives and meets two of those precious little miracles very baby born at Mater is a little miracle. That’s one in seven Queenslanders and more than 10,000 new babies every year who can proudly say, “I’m a Mater baby.”

The Mater Hospital is an Australian leader in neonatal critical care. They care for seriously ill and premature babies, who otherwise may not have a chance at life.

But saving babies comes with a hefty price tag, which is where Plantation Homes and Villawood Properties step in.The House for Life Project is an inspiring initiative that raises critical funds for Mater Little Miracles. Each year, a Plantation home is built and auctioned with proceeds of the sale donated to Mater Little Miracles. This year, Villawood Properties steps in for the first time, generously donating the land for the home.

With each home, a dedicated team of staff, suppliers and trades donate their valuable time, resources and materials to bring the charity home to life and help bring life to these precious little miracles.

The home will be located in The Surrounds, Helensvale. Open homes will commence in August 2019 and the auction will be held on Sunday, September 8 2019. You can find out more at houseforlife.com.au

But first, we meet two of those little miracles…

Thomas’ story

Thomas David Reid was born August 10 2014. This is his story.

Most women spend the first few months of motherhood worried about feeding routines, finding time to sleep and what every couch, hiccup and gurgle means.

Samantha Reid worried if her baby would live.

Born prematurely, breach and with a serious birth defect, her baby boy spent his first few months in the Mater Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

He is one of the Mater Hospital’s little miracles.

I lived in fairy land

Turning up to her 20-week scan, Samantha and her partner, Matt, were excited to find out the gender of their baby. The grainy black and white ultrasound image flicked to life on the screen and revealed two things.

They were having a little boy.

And his organs were growing outside of his stomach.

Doctors quickly diagnosed their unborn baby boy with gastroschisis, a birth defect of the abdominal wall in which the baby’s intestines are found outside of the body, exiting through a hole beside the belly button.

“After all the appointments and ultrasounds, we met the surgical and paediatrics team and they gave us a tour of the NICU at the Mater Hospital, which helped to ease our nerves a bit,”Samantha explains.

“At that stage we had no idea how long he would be in there, it could be two weeks to two years.”

I was so terrified, I still have nightmares about that moment.

That was when the wait began.

“I lived in fairy land,” Samantha admits, “I was so young, I was only 23 years old and I knew it was bad but I didn’t realise how bad until he was born.”

“It was my first child, I had nothing to compare it to. But my husband had three children from a previous relationship so he knew what was to come.”

But even he couldn’t know what was about to happen.

“I still have nightmares about that moment”

Samantha and Matt were at the Mater Hospital on Friday, August 8 2014, to have routine scans. Everything looked fine and their little boy was tracking along at just over two pounds. On Saturday, the young couple attended the races and a friend’s engagement party.

“I wasn’t feeling well so we went home,”Samantha recalls, “I thought it was backaches from the high heels I was wearing.
“Turns out it was labour — I was just 31 weeks.”
They rushed to the Gold Coast University Hospital and were then taken by ambulance to the Mater. Doctors attempted to stop the labour but couldn’t. They also discovered that the baby was breach, meaning that he couldn’t be delivered naturally.

After a confusing whirlwind of tests, doctors and discussions, the decision came.

“All of a sudden, there were 25 medical staff in my room just talking at me, telling me they had to get him out right now,” Samantha explains.

“I was so terrified, I still have the nightmares about that moment. That’s the one thing that sticks in my head.”

Matt was handed scrubs and a distraught Samantha was wheeled into theatre.

He wasn’t breathing.

Thomas David Reid was delivered via caesarean on August 10 2014, weighing just three pounds. He wasn’t breathing.

“I didn’t get to see him at all, they took him straight out. My husband saw him for just a moment,”she explains.

“They got him breathing again and took him straight to the NICU. He was glad-wrapped in order to protect his organs before surgery.They wheeled me up to him and I met my baby for the fist time before he was taken into surgery.”

Paediatric surgeons fitted a silo over Thomas’ exposed organs, which manually squeezed them back into the stomach opening, returning them to the body in a gradual process.

What followed was weeks of heavy medications, incessant monitoring and further surgery. On the twelfth day, Samantha finally got to cuddle her baby boy.

“He was so drugged up, he didn’t even wake up until day twelve,”she explains,“I didn’t even hear him cry until the thirteenth day because a baby can’t cry on a ventilator.”

Closure surgery finally repaired the hole in his stomach. Following this, medical staff began to ween him off the heavy doses of morphine and other pain medication that had supported his delicate life so far.

“The Mater were so amazing. They become your family – you don’t talk to anyone else all day!

“As a new – and very young – mum, I wanted to know everything at all times and they were so accommodating. They let me know what was happening at every minute, it was so great.

“They even allowed our other children in to meet Thomas, which was incredibly touching for our family, I was so grateful for that.”

A little miracle

The family have since travelled to and from the Mater Hospital for follow up treatments, including surgery to repair a hernia when Thomas was just six months old; a result of his previous surgeries. It has been a challenging and arduous journey, but one they are grateful to have endured.

Thomas is now five years old and weighs just twelve kilos; a similar size to his three-year-old sister, Maddison. But what he lacks in size, he makes up for in boundless energy, a cheeky smile and a sweet, affectionate nature.

He may be a little miracle, but he has a big life ahead of him.

Hunter’s story

Hunter James Davies was born August 11 2018. This is his story.

Stephen Davies has worked for Plantation Homes for many years. In fact, he has worked on the Mater Little Miracles house every year as an estimator. He understood the labour, expenses and man-hours that went into a project of this size.

And he knew the immense financial, technological and support benefits it would provide to the families and babies at the Mater Hospital. He just never thought he would be one of those people.

He’s just too early

In August 2018, Stephen’s wife, Ellie, complained of back pain and suggested to Stephen that it may be labour. It was 6 weeks before her due date. The first-time parents thought it couldn’t possibly be, but decided to head to the hospital to get her checked out.

“As we’re in the car, on the way to the hospital, I was thinking that this would be good practice for when the baby really comes; for the next time,” Stephen recalls.

But as the couple were soon to find out, there would be no next time.

“We both just thought it was Braxton Hicks,”he says,“The pregnancy had been totally normal so far, we’d had no issues at all.

“Vitals had been fine, he was growing and a good size. There was no indication.”

The couple calmly arrived at the hospital, unsuspecting of what was ahead. As his wife spoke to one of the attending doctors, Stephen quickly ducked out to move the car from the emergency bay.

“I came back in and I still remember the look on Ellie’s face,” he recalls, “I looked at her and then I looked at the doctor and he said that she was one centimetre dilated.

“I had the biggest smile on my face, I was so excited and they stopped me immediately and said, ‘No, this is not good – he’s too early.’

“Doctors administered medication to stop, or at least delay the labour, but that was unsuccessful. Within the hour, they broke the news to the couple: their little boy was coming tonight.

But it didn’t last

Hunter James Davies was born August 11 2018. He was six weeks premature.

It was an en caul birth, meaning that he was born still inside the amniotic sac, an incredibly rare incidence that only occurs in one in every 80,000 births.

The doctors and midwives were not able to diagnose a reason for the premature labour or en caul birth. Initial testing revealed no clues to what had gone wrong. But despite this, Hunter was born healthy. His vitals were good and he was breathing.

But it didn’t last. His breathing soon deteriorated.

“They told us that his breathing was starting to labour and they needed to put him in a c-pap machine right away,” Stephen explains.

“We couldn’t touch him, we couldn’t pick him up.

“He had wired all over him and he was drip fed through his nose for three days.”

Thankfully, Hunter’s vitals started to improve and he was moved to the Special Care Unit, still within the Mater Little Miracles, where he stayed for two weeks. He remained on the breathing machine during this time, as well as a light machine to treat jaundice.

“We were very lucky that he was quite a big premmie, he was fave and a half pounds at birth,” he says, “So we think he was just ready to come out.”

“We ere lucky; our experience wasn’t as traumatic as a lot of other families.”

Each and every baby 

To this day, the doctors and midwives have no idea what caused Ellie’s premature labour. But both Stephen and Ellie credit them for their little miracle.

“Honestly, to this day, Ellie and I both say that we wouldn’t be in the position we are, as parents, if it wasn’t for the staff at Mater,” Stephen admits.

“We had a lactation specialist who worked with Ellie every day which was a huge factor towards how quickly we were able to get him through that.

“The support and education from the staff was amazing. Every day they would update you, they were always willing to give you a hand.

“I can’t possibly thank them enough.”

Stephen and Ellie recently returned to the Mater with Hunter to introduce their little boy to some of the nurses, midwives and doctors that were there for his unexpected welcome to the world.

“One nurse recognised Hunter immediately and remembered him from his time in there. It was amazing to see she really took a personal interest in him; he wasn’t just another baby.

“They genuinely care about each and every baby.”

Hunter is now a perfectly happy, 10-month-old baby boy with a squealing laugh and healthy appetite.

He is one of Mater Hospital’s little miracles with a lifetime of laughter ahead of him.

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