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Miracle Mum, Courtney shares how she juggled three children under two years of age, all whilst fighting off depression and trying to navigate the NICU journey at the same time. 

"To be a mother was my dream, I felt it was part of who I was. So, when my body wasn’t able to fall pregnant time and time again, a great sadness, confusion and hopelessness started to sink in.

We had a hard time falling pregnant with our first child. But after multitudes of tests and appointments and on the day of the final appointment to ‘fix things’ I took one more pregnancy test... positive! It was a miracle. We were pregnant with our first child. We made it through to 38 weeks but had an emergency c-section because our big boy was under stress and needed help. He was born at 9 pounds 11 (4.1kg).

We then fell pregnant with our second baby boy and 17 months later needed another c-section at 38 weeks for another big boy born at 8 pounds.

Only a short 4 months later (using all the precautions we could) we miraculously fell pregnant again.

This was scary.

We already had 2 babies under 2 and it was a full-on gig!

As the pregnancy progressed (and running around after a toddler and a baby) the reality started to hit. How can I keep going? How can I manage the daily routine and rest enough to care for my growing baby inside?

Then the excruciating pain started on my lower stomach (where my stitches from previous c-sections were). I could only stand for moments at a time before the weight and pain of my pregnant belly took its toll.

Along with the physical pain, was the emotional pain. Mum guilt. Depression. Real and cold and very restricting.

I needed to try and organise people to help me care for my children as I couldn’t get through the day. I needed to try and continue working to pay bills. I needed to try and care for myself to care for my little one inside. Was I just being a sook and I needed to toughen up? Or was something really wrong and I was doing harm?

After speaking to the doctors at the hospital at 27, 28 and 29 weeks there was nothing else to do but good old fashion rest - impossible.

At the end of 29 weeks I was able to enjoy my baby shower as we were expecting a little girl (so a bit of pink was needed). I sat most of the time and was not able to move after that day. A few nights later I woke up to the worst stabbing pain in my lower areas and the worst moment that you fear something has gone terribly wrong. It took 40 mins before we felt bubs move and so was directed to come for my appointment the next day as scheduled for 30 weeks.

Going into my appointment I expected to go home later that night to see my babies, but I was rushed in for ultrasounds and MRI scans and had steroid injections. I wasn’t leaving the hospital today. The scans showed a huge hole where my previous scars were, and everyone was worried that I could tear open - we needed to make sure our baby was ok. Every time a doctor came to see me, I was warned that we might be delivering now. The lining was paper thin and could tear any moment. I was monitored for a week and the doctors decided they were ok for me to go home on strict bed rest in order to keep bub in as long as possible - and as safe as possible.

However, this was impossible with 2 babies at home. In moments like this everything has to keep moving and there is no time for a time out. All I wanted to do was rest - for our baby to be safe. But I was torn - I needed to look after our other two babies! Our family was already helping out extra on top of their own busy lives. It felt impossible.

After a week at home the pain got worse and I feared for our baby’s safety - my 32-week appointment was straight into a wardroom and after monitoring we found that bubs was under stress and it was important to get her out now.

I remember trying to be as calm as possible and asking if I should call my husband and how long he had to get here. It was with nurses running in and out of the room and one touching me on the arm and saying ‘he needs to be here in 30 minutes’ that I knew it was serious. I didn’t have time to think. I didn’t have time to process.

Our beautiful girl Eva was born 2.1kg and 40cm at 32 weeks.

Now for the unreal NICU journey. I wasn’t able to hold my baby girl when she was born. I wasn’t even able to see her until the second day due to the room she was in. I cried over photos the nurses took alone in my hospital room that night. Each day while recovering from my surgery I was wheeled to be by Eva’s bed. I held her for the first time after 2 days. I had to leave her at the hospital and my heart was broken. But I had to go home and be mummy to my two boys. I felt torn in two. I couldn’t function properly, and depression really tried to take a good hold of my life and to derail me. I cried in the shower every day. I had to leave my babies at home to catch a train or get lifts to the hospital to be with Eva. I was so happy and thankful our little girl was here and receiving the best care - but it was the most upside-down feeling.

 Eva was doing great and making wonderful progress, she moved beds into an open cot where we were next to some other mums sharing the same journey.

After talking with the hospital social worker about extra assistance needed at home with my other children, another mum poked her head around the curtain to share her tips. We were both in the same boat needing care for our other children. We chatted and I am happy to say making a friend in NICU is such a breath of fresh air. When it seems like there is no light sometimes, connecting together and sharing just adds some sunshine to your day. Indiana and her little man Jackson have an amazing story and I loved being able to see the final steps in their NICU journey before going home. It really gave me hope for when it was our time to go home and knowing there is more support out there. I didn’t feel alone inside the hospital and sharing each other’s wins and special moments makes it so special as they know exactly how you feel.

After a whirlwind 5 weeks with the best care at Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth we were able to bring Eva home and start our family life as a family of five. Eva came home at 2.8kg and 47.5cm to be loved on by her big brothers.

The first 6 months at home felt like a war zone, battled depression and trying to get back on track with everything that was thrown at our family. But now 9 months in I can honestly say I am loving our crazy family and really enjoying my children and not fearing the future."

Thank you Courtney for sharing you amazing family story.

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