Writers Afternoon

We are hosting a Writers Afternoon on Sunday September 10 from 1-5pm in the Rockingham area (address provided on confirmation of attendance).  Our aim for the afternoon is to refine and finalise our publication 'Strength - A parents guide to the neonatal unit' so we can send it to print!

You will need to bring a plate to share, a laptop (must be able to connect to a supplied network) and lots of ideas.

We are looking for people with some of the following skills/experience:

  • Has experienced the neonatal unit
  • Good communication skills
  • Prepared to work with a team
  • Happy to share their story
  • Editing experience
  • Graphic design experience

Further we are looking to share a number of different perspectives, multiple birth, regional family, sick full termer and prematurity.

This is strictly an adults only event.  Numbers are limited due to space.  Registration is essential.  If you are interested in joining us please register below and we will be in contact.

Thanks!  We can't wait!

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My Strong Boy

Guest blog post by Sarah of Life.Work.Mum

I was so thrilled to hear about the research recently announced by the Victor Chang Institute that vitamin B supplementation could prevent some miscarriages and birth defects.

After having my first baby with born with an abdominal wall birth defect, Gastroschisis, then suffering multiple miscarriages and having my next baby born with intrauterine growth restriction and placental insufficiency, I was relieved when my wonderful Obstetrician indicated that I could prevent my third baby suffering such things by taking vitamin B (and aspirin).

After spending many years myself working at paediatric and obstetric research institutes, although in a non-research role, I was always interested in why my pregnancies had been so troublesome and how I could've prevented them being so.

Almost ten years on, it seems fitting to share the birth story of my first born at the same time as such a momentous research announcement that could prevent many other women and babies following my same journey.


My journey with a high-risk pregnancy began at the 12-week mark of my pregnancy in 2007.

My story ends well. My high-risk baby is now a healthy, happy nine-year-old boy, an avid Dockers fan, footy mad and full of energy.

I do know, however, that other’s stories do not end like mine and that I am truly one of the lucky ones.

It was a winters day in Perth as I took myself off to my first trimester scan. Excited and nervous to see my baby, all seemed normal at my ultrasound. The Sonographer was clearly very good at keeping mum.

"Shall I post your scans to your Dr?" the Receptionist asked. "No, no - I'll take them myself" I said, hoping to have a sneaky look on my way.

Omphalocele - the letter said. What was that? This was in my pre-smart phone days, so I had to wait until I arrived at work to google it. Dr google. Worst invention ever.

"Omphalocele is an abdominal wall defect where organs protrude outside the body. Commonly associated with a high mortality and other defects".

Heart sinks.

And I'd already told everyone at work. Thankfully, I worked in a health organisation with a bunch of very understanding people.

I got straight into my Dr who referred me to King Edward Memorial Hospital (KEMH). It was a nervous week waiting for that appointment.

Immediately at ease in the care of the KEMH staff, the Sonographer confirmed that my baby had Gastroschisis. Still an abdominal wall birth defect, but with far better outcomes than Omphalocele. My baby could survive. Relief!

I was referred to the high-risk pregnancy management team at KEMH, who I could not speak more highly of, and, whilst they couldn’t guarantee me everything would be ok, they did provide me with reassurance that they would do everything they possibly could to help my baby survive.

I had many, many scans. I was told my baby had a higher risk of being born prematurely or stillborn. But – I prayed that he would enter the world alive, and for some reason, I had absolute faith that he would.

I visited the Neonatal Unit at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) where my baby would be transferred for surgery following his birth. He was to be in very safe hands.

Unexpectedly, I was informed that I could deliver my baby naturally, despite his exposed abdomen. And so, at 34 weeks pregnant, while sitting in my final antenatal class, I began to feel a bit strange. I headed home, put on a movie (not sure why I chose to watch Jersey Girl that night – but not a good choice if you are about to give birth!!), and waited until my contractions got closer together.

Arriving at the hospital at 1am, it was a smooth birth and my son was delivered to a room full of doctors at 9am weighing just under 2kg, on my Grandmother’s birthday.

My baby, and his internal organs which covered his tiny body, was wrapped in a protective bag and I had a little hold before he was whisked away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

There only for a short while, he was transferred that same day via the Newborn Emergency Transport Service to the PMH Neonatal Unit - 6B.

We spent 3 months in total in that unit. 3 months of tube feeding, of constant IV lines (I'll never forget the one in his head when they had run out of other veins), of 6 gruelling surgeries, and of not taking my tiny baby home with me. 

I wasn't able to hold him for 2 months, and his only comfort was the touch of my hand and a dummy that was almost as big as his tiny face. He loved that dummy!

Initially, the Surgeon tried to insert his intestines back into his body, but as they didn't develop inside him, his tummy was not large enough to accommodate them. He developed compartment syndrome, and had to be opened up again. Slowly over about a month, his intestines were held in a plastic silo that fed them back into his tummy and stretched it at the same time. It was a very long month and I distinctly remember one of the Paediatrician's updates, "he's not out of the woods yet".

I visited my baby every day. I prayed that me being there and doing everything I could would somehow help him pull through. I also expressed milk every 3 hours for those 3 months so that I could one day feed him. The milk bank was FULL of my milk!

Despite the challenges, I felt extremely lucky that he was in the care of such competent and caring medical professionals and kept thinking how fortunate it was that he was born in a generation and country where he could be helped.

Finally, after about 2 months his intestines fit inside his body. He had quite a large 'crater' in his tummy, however, from a lack of skin covering his enlarged abdomen and this took some time to heal.

But, shortly after this, I was able to hold him in my arms!

Our next challenge was getting his intestines working. There were several kinks and blockages that had developed, and this followed with more surgeries to clear them up. Short gut syndrome was a real possibility, which would have meant a lifelong problem with feeding. But, thankfully, this didn't eventuate.

His gut started to work. He could take small tube feeds, which progressed to larger feeds, and then breast feeds - finally I was able to feed him!

And then - at last - I was able to walk him outside for the first time, 3 months after he was born. We went to the local park and I felt like the luckiest person alive.

Once we were home, he did struggle to gain weight and was readmitted to hospital once, but this was the only main hiccup following his discharge.

To this day, you would not know that my normal, happy, primary school boy had such a dramatic entrance to the world unless you looked at the scar on his abdomen, and noticed the lack of his belly button.

People say that it must've been really challenging to get through his time in hospital. It certainly wasn't ideal, but being my first baby I didn't have a comparison, and I just felt very fortunate that he was cared for so well, and that my strong boy was able to live.

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Volunteers Needed for Gift Wrapping

We are excited to be once again gift wrapping at Rockingham City Shopping Centre in the lead up to Father's Day.  We would be delighted if you are able to assist us by taking a shift on the wrapping station.  We are seeking 4 people for each shift, dates and times are as follows -

Thursday 31 August 10am - 1pm | 1pm - 4pm | 4pm - 8pm

Friday 1 September 10am - 1pm | 1pm - 4pm

Saturday 2 September 10am - 1pm | 1pm - 4pm

Please share with anyone who may be interested and feel free to sign up with a friend!  If you are able to assist you will need to register as a volunteer (if you haven't already) here then e-mail chair@tinysparkswa.org.au with your preferred shift.

Thank you for your continued support!


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Harrison's Story

As a business owner, one of the greatest things you can do is share your success and I think great way to do that is to give back to the community. At Osinski Finance we have a very special link to a WA organisation known as Tiny Sparks WA. So, in honour of their work and to celebrate Father's Day 2017 we are running a 'promotion'. Terms & Conditions apply.

If you have a meeting with Osinski Finance from the 1st of August 2017 through to Father’s Day (3rd September 2017) and we can successfully get you a new loan we will donate up to $250 from our commission to Tiny Sparks WA when your loan settles. It doesn't matter if it takes us 2 weeks or 2 months to get the loan approved as long as your first meeting takes place in that period we will honour our commitment.

So why is Tiny Sparks WA so important to us? Well let me tell you a little story about how our son Harrison George Osinski came into this world;

Our Story started on the 27th January 2015, my wife Amy had been at a work dinner in the city that night and after some trouble getting home due to a number of bush fires in the area she finally made it home at 9pm and promptly went to bed complaining of a sore back but not thinking much of it.

The next morning, I awoke to find Amy not having slept all night due to her “back pain” coming and going in waves. I gave her a look to which she replied, “Don’t be silly, I’m only 29 weeks and this pain isn’t how labour is described in the books”. Being her first pregnancy and not knowing much we decided to call Rockingham Maternity ward for some advice on what she could take to relieve the pain.

The midwife on duty, whilst not concerned, suggested that we should come in for a check-up sometime that morning. So, we took our time, ate breakfast, watered the garden then headed to the hospital about an hour later.  Purely by coincidence when we arrived we ran into our obstetrician Dr Bouverie, who after enquiring why we were there, led us into an examination room and said a midwife would be with us shortly.

The midwife came in, attached the monitor to Amy, did a quick examination and said everything appeared to be fine. Just as the midwife was about to leave and confer with Dr B before letting us go home, Harrison’s heart rate disappeared from the monitor for a couple of seconds. This prompted her to suggest a more thorough examination, part way through this examination she excused herself to get a Dr to “have a look”.

At this stage, I can say we were both starting to worry. Next the Doctor on duty (who wasn’t Dr B) came in and examined Amy, again part way through his examination he excused himself to get Dr B to examine.

Dr B came in and after a quick examination informed us that we needed to get to King Edward asap because Harrison was on his way. The hospital staff sprang into action with our quiet little examination room becoming a hive of activity with 2 Doctors, 4 midwives and someone from administration putting in drip lines, giving Amy pills to take and organising an Ambulance.

Less than 10 minutes later Amy, a midwife (carrying a fishing tackle box which I though was weird thing to have, I later found out was an emergency delivery kit) and a paramedic were being loaded into the back of the Ambulance and I was getting into the front with the other paramedic. Next thing we are heading for King Edward under Priority 1 (full lights and sirens) up the Kwinana freeway in peak hour traffic.

Top marks to Jessie and Jackie from St John’s ambulance, not only did they manage to keep me calm during a stressful situation they made it from Rockingham Hospital to King Edward in Wednesday morning peak hour traffic in just over 40 minutes.

The next 3 to 4 hours were full of doctors, nurses and specialists trying to slow down Harrison’s arrival. It started out with trying to delay him 48 hours for the steroids Amy was given to strengthen his lungs, then it was 24 hours, then 12 and so on. Harrison was having none of it and at 12:56pm on the 28th January 2015 Harrison George Osinski was born weighing in at 1.455kg and 40cm long at 29 weeks and 6 days.

Lucky for us he was breathing on his own and that gave us a precious few minutes for a photo and quick cuddle from Mum before he was whipped off to the NICU with me in tow leaving Amy behind in the maternity ward.

I can safely say that arriving in the NICU with our son was one of the scariest moments of my life. Next came the doctors and nurses all working on getting Harrison hooked up to various monitors, drips, running various tests on him. Whilst I hovered around on the outer they worked at getting him settled into his new home and tried to reassure me that he was doing well.

From there our NICU journey started and at that time we had no idea how long we would be there, when the next time we could hold our son would be and if everything was going to be ok.

I think we were one of the lucky ones, Harrison was a fighter and there was no way he was going to put up with having to spend all his time in the humidicrib. Within hours Harrison was off the ventilator and on CPAP so he was breathing mostly on his own and CPAP was just there to help him along the way. This also meant that we were eligible for kangaroo care early on and both Amy and I took every opportunity to snuggle up with him as often as possible.

Life in the NICU in the early days was tough. You are basically a parent that must leave their newborn in the care of someone else. You have access to your child and you can stay as long as you like but at some point, you have to go home and trust someone else to look after the most precious thing in your life.  The first couple of days it was easier to leave because I knew Amy was still there recovering and I could head home at night knowing that she was only a couple of floors away.

Then came the day when Amy was discharged and we had to leave our little boy each night and it was hard. Don’t get me wrong, the nurses that provided round the clock care to Harrison were great, they kept us informed, they told us what each injection or supplement was for, what it was helping with, and what alarms/noises were normal. But it was still hard to leave him each night and travel the 45 minutes to an hour to our home in Baldivis and wonder if he was going to be ok there without us.

Again, I think we were some of the lucky ones, apart from being small (only 30 weeks in the oven will do that) Harrison was healthy and responding well. He was off the ventilator in a couple of hours and started putting on weight early on, at first it was a couple of grams but with the help of Amy expressing non-stop, every three hours like clockwork, he started putting on more and more. In the first week, a short bout of jaundice was all he really suffered and a day or so under the lights fixed that up no problems. Within a week he was off CPAP and could have his IV removed.

Before we knew it, Harrison was upgraded from the Special Care Nursery to another part of the NICU which meant that he shared a nurse with 1 or more other babies rather than having one to himself. It was at this stage that things became a little bit more difficult, life goes on, bills need to be paid so despite being given some time off work I needed to go back to work. My employer at the time was great, they gave me flexibility in my work schedule that allowed me to work from home early in the morning, miss the peak hour traffic, take Amy to the hospital and visit with Harrison for an hour or two, have a quick cuddle then head to the office for a couple of hours. Finish work in the afternoon head back to the hospital for some more time with Harrison before heading home in the evening again missing the afternoon traffic.

From there things only got better, Harrison was upgraded to different nurseries every couple of days to a week. Life in the NICU is all about the small wins, off CPAP, putting on weight, taking 5mls of milk and keeping it down and so on. On my birthday in February Harrison got his first bath from Mum and Dad and we were getting close to being able to take him home.

After what we were told was a short 5-week period he had reached the magical 2kg mark and passed all his tests so he was transferred down to Rockingham Maternity hospital on the 6th March 2015.                                                                                                                                               

Being out of King Edward NICU was great, not only did it cut down our commute to visit Harrison, meaning we could spend more time with him it also meant that all our friends and family could finally meet him in person to give him all the cuddles they had been hanging out to give him.

Less than 2 weeks later we had finally reached the day we have been waiting for, on the 18th March 2015, 1 month and 19 days after he was born Harrison was released from hospital and could come home.

Our journey through the NICU and prematurity was relatively short compared to some people and filled with lots of ups and not many downs. The same cannot be said about others journeys some families need a lot more support and have much longer journeys than ours and that is why organisations like Tiny Sparks WA are so important.

Organisations like Tiny Sparks WA not only provide a wealth of easy to understand information for families going through the NICU journey, they also provide real support to the parents of these children.

People always say having kids will change your life and for me Harrison coming into our lives the way he did certainly did. It opened my eyes to some great causes out there that need our support. Having recently started my own business, I now have a way to give back to an organisation that provides such a great service.

Nathan

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How does the birth of premature children impact on parents?

Hi, my name is Angela Sheather.  I am a mother and a Psychologist. All three of my boys were born premature.  My eldest at 34 1/2 weeks and my twins at 27 weeks.  Throughout my experiences as a preterm mother, I always found it amazing how similar situations challenged and impacted parents in extraordinarily diverse ways.  What was different? 

Over the years I have privately researched the effects of preterm birth, searching for the answers to the many questions I have. This is where I came across the gap in the public literature around how parents cope and their level of social support. As a premmie mum, I am also interested in the question, if preterm parents, both mothers and fathers, have a higher rate of post birth mental health diagnoses compared to their term birth counterparts; and if they do, what are the diagnoses?  When the opportunity came along to investigate these questions, I grabbed it.   

This opportunity came through enrolling in a Masters of Clinical Psychology degree with Charles Sturt University.  As part of my thesis (research), I need to get insights from parents of children born premature. I am looking for parents, both mothers and fathers, over 18 years of age, whose children are 4 years or younger and are no longer in the NICU.  The survey takes approximately 20-30 minutes to complete. It needs to be completed in one sitting, as it cannot be saved to come back to later. The survey is completed anonymously to protect your confidentiality, and can be simply accessed by any computer with internet connection.   

If you would like to participate in the research, please click on the link below.   Your time and input will be greatly appreciated.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XRPVXVT  

 
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