I was on the last day of 23 weeks when I felt strong pains in the evening. I went up to the Albany Hospital and they gave me Ventolin to stop the labor. Initially I didn’t realise it was labor as I was induced with my boys. That seemed to settle so by 9am the next day when my husband, Richard, bought the boys to see me, everything seemed to be okay. By Midday my labor had progressed remarkably and I was being prepped to fly to King Edward as they thought the baby would be born soon.
We were transferred to the awaiting Royal Flying Doctors airplane. The engines were going and Richard was being strapped in when my waters broke. The RFDS Midwife made a lifesaving call when she said I would be transferred by ambulance back to Albany Regional. It took them a very short time to get me back to the hospital when Grace was born encaul at 3pm on November 26 1997. She was just 24 weeks gestation and a very tiny little girl (585gms). The three doctors and one midwife decided to do everything they could to support her survival as they have since told me that she looked strong and healthy enough to try.
The hospital was not equipped for such a tiny infant and a friend has told me that all available staff were called to cut down tubes to help with her survival. There was no ventilator, so when they had successfully intubated her my GP spent just under six hours hand ventilating her. They called the Neonatal team who arrived by RFDS just before 9pm who stabilised her, which took quite a while and then flew her up to KEMH. I was told that up to 4 aircraft were involved in her birth and transfer. Regional families could not survive without the RFDS.
Grace spent 10 weeks on a ventilator and took two months to reach one kilogram. She was discharged after 4 ½ months from the nurseries at KEMH in April 1998.
This year she turns twenty and has done incredibly well. She graduated high school last year and is currently working at Bunnings for a Gap Year before she goes to Perth to study Social Work. Her plan is to work with the families of Pre-mature babies at King Edward or Princess Margaret.
I support Tiny Sparks WA and all the work they do because I have walked the journey of having a baby prematurely without support and being from the country it is even more isolating. I would have loved to have the nurture and encouragement that they offer to families when we were going through the difficulties that only those who have been through it can understand.