I recall sitting in the waiting area at Liverpool NICU reading the stories in the Miracle Babies Magazine. I remember smiling, crying, feeling hopeful and feeling despair. I sat there, reading these stories, looking at the hearts on the wall and thinking to myself – is our story going to be one of smiles or tears. At that stage we didn't know, we could only hope, pray & wish. This is our story.

 After years of trying, many doctors and fertility drugs, in May 2009 we had finally conceived. With me having polycystic ovarian syndrome it was great news. My pregnancy was not the greatest experience. I had morning sickness (vomiting every day – morning, afternoon and night) up until 23 weeks, then still the occasional vomit. I had excruciating heartburn which didn't settle with medication. I developed gestational diabetes, however very well controlled with diet. My blood pressure remained borderline high throughout. Towards the later stages I had significant swelling in my ankles and feet, and carpel tunnel syndrome. After monitoring all of the above plus blood test results and urine samples, I was admitted to hospital at 35 weeks gestation. I was monitored closely over the next few weeks, and they decided to induce me at 38 weeks.

Throughout the day everything was progressing normally. I was coping well and everything was looking good with bub. At about 9.30pm, the baby's heart rate was dropping dramatically with every contraction, and my blood pressure started to increase. There was discussion of an emergency c-section but once the Dr examined me they decide to just continue as we were nearly there. Kiara Isabelle Tulk was born Tuesday 1st December 2009 at 2248hrs. Weighing 2605grams, Length 50cm. Kiara had the cord wrapped tightly around her neck 3 times. When delivered (with the vacuum) there was no "congratulations it's a girl/boy" (we didn't know the sex until a few minutes later), there was no "dad do you want to cut the cord", there wasn't even time for clamping of the cord. Kiara had an APGAR of 2. She was flat.

The Dr's and nurses rushed Kiara onto the resus trolley and began resuscitation immediately. Watching them do compressions and intubate our baby was absolutely devastating, yet at the same time we felt numb. We didn't cry, we didn't yell or scream, we just watched and waited for something, anything, to show us she was ok. As a Paramedic I fortunately / unfortunately understood exactly what was happening. At the time the outcome did not look good. They continued to resuscitate Kiara until the arrival of the NETS team who then took over. It took them over 4 hours to stabilise her enough to transfer her to a NICU. During this time, Andrew was with Kiara and would come back to check on me and keep me updated. Unfortunately I had a postpartum hemorrhage so couldn't get out of bed until I had received a transfusion. The NETS team brought Kiara into to see me before they left. She was in the humidicrib so I couldn't see her, but I managed to put my hand on her belly through the little window. Our beautiful little girl was taken away. I hadn't seen her, nor touched her properly, or heard her cry, and when they walked out of the room I wondered if I would ever see my baby alive again. NETS then transferred her to Liverpool NICU, arriving there in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Andrew went with NETS whilst I stayed at Hawkesbury Hospital. Later that day, the social worker from Liverpool arranged for me to transfer to Liverpool Hospital. I was admitted to the ward at about 5pm, and immediately went and saw my baby girl. Even with all the tubes and machines she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Over the following few days Kiara received therapeutic hypothermia (they cooled her so that her body temperature was 33.5 Degrees Celsius), blood transfusions, antibiotics and various medications. She remained intubated, had EEG's performed, head ultrasound, renal ultrasound, plus was continually monitored. Her list of complications included: Low APGAR scores, Low umbilical cord pH, Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy, Coagulopathy, Multi organ Failure, Haemodynamic instability, risks of sepsis, hyponatremia plus various other things. Upon our first meeting with the Dr, he prepared us for the worst. Explaining that Kiara was extremely sick with a possibility of death, brain injury, seizures or possible lifelong illnesses. But she was a fighter. On Saturday 5th December they extubated, and our little girl did wonderfully breathing on her own. It was the first day we got to hear her cry. It was the first day we got to cuddle her. It was the first day of the future. I too had improved and therefore was discharged from hospital.

As we lived over an hour away we had decided to find a hotel nearby. The nursing staff knew that we wanted to be near Kiara, especially as I was trying to establish breast feeding. Two of the Liverpool NICU nurses made arrangements for us to stay in the Miracle Babies Parents Accommodation. We were the first ones to be given this privilege. The room was absolutely amazing. It is decorated beautifully and very comfortable (we felt like we were in a hotel). We were so grateful that we could use the room, as it meant that we were close to Kiara. For the first time since her birth we could sleep at night, knowing she was just across the corridor safe and sound. Words cannot express how appreciative we were to be staying in the room. It was such a positive experience during a difficult time. Kiara improved greatly and the 9th December she was transferred back to Hawkesbury Hospital. We were one step closer to home. Kiara was in the Special Care Nursery at Hawkesbury Hospital where they continued to monitor her for a few days. She had a quick visit back to Liverpool for a Brain MRI and then on the 15th December 2009 we got to bring our beautiful girl home.

Kiara is now 20 months old and you wouldn't know she had a tough start to life. She is a healthy weight and size, she is meeting all of her milestones, some even way ahead of time. Her favourite things at the moment are to read books, play on her slippery dip, draw, to play with her Shrek doll and "roar" like Shrek. She is a very outgoing girl, who is more than happy to have a chat, wave, blow kisses and cuddle anyone and everyone. Kiara is a good sleeper and eater. Her favourite food is fruit which she now says "fruit 1 more pppllleeeaaasssseee." Kiara continues to have blood tests due to some abnormalities, but at this stage everything is improving. She has been diagnosed with mild asthma and is very good at using her puffer. She is still seeing the physiotherapist but the physio, her paediatrician and her GP are extremely happy with the way she is developing and reaching milestones. We realise how extremely lucky we are considering the grim way which Kiara started her life.

We will be eternally grateful to the wonderful midwives & doctors at Hawkesbury Hospital, the team from NETS, all the staff at Liverpool Maternity & NICU and the team and supporters of Miracle Babies Foundation. One of the proudest moment of our daughter’s life so far was at her naming day. We were surrounded by our friends and family, telling our story and thanking them for supporting the Miracle Babies Foundation. They helped us raise $2,110.00 through our Everyday Hero Fundraising page. We hope that this money will help other families like we were helped. Because of all the brilliant people who helped Kiara, and us, through this tough time we are truly blessed and eternally grateful. Kiara is, and always will be our miracle.

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