The arrival of a new baby is the happiest time in a parent’s life, but can be terrifying when things do not go to plan and your baby is left fighting for their life
Seven Katherine mothers were airlifted to Darwin this year to deliver their babies.
When Katherine mother of three Chris Tyrell was pregnant and on holiday in Rockhampton, QLD, she sensed something was not right.
“I had a little bit of leakage and call it mother’s intuition but I knew something was wrong. On the trip back to Katherine I made sure we had towels in the car the whole way over the Barkly, just in case” Ms Tyrell said.
Thankfully she made it back to Katherine without giving birth on the side of a deserted highway, but the leakage persisted.
“After we got home I went into the Katherine hospital and they did some tests, from there I was flown straight to Darwin,” Ms Tyrell said.
“I was telling her to stay in a bit longer because she was so small and I wanted her to make it to at least 32 weeks. I was really worried about her coming early.
“It was scary being airlifted up to Darwin alone. We do not have any family in the Territory,” she said.
Ms Tyrell gave birth to her third daughter Keeley Rose at just 29 weeks.
“It really freaks you out when you have a baby that small, you cannot hold them or cuddle them,” she said.
“The first time I saw Keeley she had an oxygen mask on and tubes down her throat. It was heartbreaking.”
This was not the first time Ms Tyrell had been evacuated to Darwin to give birth.
Her second daughter Rhegan was born by C-section at 34 weeks.
“We knew Rhegan would be coming early, I had a grade four placenta previa which is when the placenta is fully over the cervix and blocking the birth canal,” Ms Tyrell said.
“We were up in Darwin already and I had sent my partner Steven home on the Wednesday and I started hemorrhaging on the Thursday.
“I was crying my eyes out in the theatre room while they were putting needles in my spine. I was so afraid and had nobody there.”
When Steven Rose got the call his partner was giving birth he jumped in the car and sped up to Darwin.
“He was at the Coolalinga traffic lights when he got the call he had a baby girl,” Ms Tyrell said.
“Having a premature baby, you do not know what is going to happen. I did not think Rhegan would survive because I had had miscarriages before.
“People should know there are support networks out there.”
Ms Tyrell’s story sheds light on the challenges of giving birth to premature babies, particularly in isolated parts of Australia.
In Australia as many as 1000 premature babies lose their fight for life each year.
For those who survive it can be a long and emotional journey as their family face unknown challenges.
Miracle Babies Foundation provide support and resources for families with premature babies.
“We meet families when they are at their most vulnerable. Through our programs and resources Miracle Babies help them navigate the very scary and clinical world of a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit,” CEO and co-founder Kylie Pussell said.
“As a mother of three surviving babies and spending many months in the NICU, I know how valuable this support is and connecting with others can be just the strength to get you through the next few hours in the NICU.”
In November the foundation celebrated the achievements of the 48,000 Australian babies who need neonatal intensive care.