My son Matthew was born by emergency Caesarean at 28 weeks and 1 day. Only people who have been through the experience would know and understand the agonising wait of what happens and what is to come down the track.

My wife Lisa had, had a reasonable start in her pregnancy she developed a little high blood pressure but nothing to be concerned about although the baby was so very small.

On the night of 14th February 2000, I was doing the afternoon roster of my job in the city, when I got a call from my good mate whom lived not far from us in Green Valley. He had gotten a call from Lisa and had rushed her down to Liverpool Hospital where she was heading in to theatre.

The thoughts going through my head were unbelievable; so hard for anyone else to comprehend unless they had been in the same position, it is so hard to explain. I rushed from the City in a mind-boggling record time to get to the Hospital, to find Lisa in theatre. My mate Dave and his wife could not get over such little time it took to get there, they actually had Police trying to find me to get me escorted as there was a great possibility that I could lose both my baby and my wife.

Lisa had apparently been told that they had roughly 20 to 30 minutes to get the baby out; it was so close to a life and death situation, we were all sitting on the edges of our seats waiting, pacing up and down the corridors etc. I couldn’t think properly there was so much going on and so many people that needed to be told her parents in New Zealand and people all over Australia and unfortunately it was 9:30pm at night as well, so many people were awoken from their sleep that night.

Finally our little boy had arrived at 9:50pm weighing in at 774grams and around 27cms in length. We had already picked out our name for him; Matthew. He was put into a humidicrib and rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

Lisa was taken down to the ward. I saw Matthew for a bit that night and was warned of his condition and that Lisa had, had a Antepartum Haemorrhage and Matthew was in distress, apart from his low birth weight, he had Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Hypoglycaemia and Apnoea and Bradycardia. We were both warned that he could get worse if he got an infection so it was touch and go for a while. Down the track we got a call at home to say he needed a blood top up so that was very worrying again but he needed it so we had to give the go ahead.

Lisa left hospital after a week, she had also needed a blood top up as well, quite a bit but felt she needed to go home and get better. We did not realise it would take its toll on us but we managed. Lisa was with Matthew every day from early morning till late night, I done my shift and every other spare minute I spent up at the Hospital with them.

After about three weeks it was time for our first hold. It was an emotional time for both of us as Matthew was so tiny and we had waited so long for this moment. We were both scared to hold him thinking we may drop him, but it was great to have that first cuddle finally. Matthew started putting on the weight and was doing extremely well; he was taken out of the humidicrib and moved half way done the NICU which meant it was the start of our journey out of there.

It was full on from there although we were still warned there could be a set back at any time. The bathing, the nappy changing, the first wee in the face, learning to feed via a bottle instead of a tube - it was so exciting and scary for us.

The news came to us that if Matthew keeps fighting and putting on the weight we would get to take him home at 2kgs, and he just done that, Matthew was a fighter then and still is now. We were originally told that Matthew was not going home till his due date and that was the 12th May I think Mother’s Day that year.

Matthew just kept making is way up to the exit door of the NICU and to our surprise we walked in one morning and we were told you’re going home in 2 days! It felt scary but great it meant we could go home settle down together as three and bond.

Today Matthew is a happy healthy 7years old. We do still have a few problems less than some other premmie babies, we do Occupational therapy and Speech Therapy for comprehension and he is still a very low weight of 17 kilos today but we thank ourselves lucky to this day.

We can’t have any more children and Matthew is very special and always will be. We also think about others in the same situation, the lucky ones and the not so lucky ones.

All our thanks go to the many staff and doctors at Liverpool Hospital. Many are still there today and some have moved on. I know Matthews Doctor is still there Dr Robert Guaran, but honestly they helped us through everything, they were simply the best, without them, their help, their talks, I don’t know how we would have managed, they were open and honest the whole time as well.

By Dom Stevens

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