Without a doubt, it’s been a devastating start to the new year: Freaky flash floods leave Queenslanders losing homes and even lives; Innocent people, including a 9 year old girl have been killed by random gun shootings in Tuscon, Arizona…I don’t need to continue.
It can be a cruel, senseless world we live in. In difficult moments, we look for some light. There is the search for hope. We embrace any inkling of positive news.
Let me introduce you to a courageous youngster who I like to call “Little Miss E”. This little girl was born 3 days after our boys and I randomly met her mum, Mama Tim Tam – in of all places – the Mothers Only Breast Feeding Room. Naturally, during their time in the NICU, parents of premmie babies would constantly meet and share their stories. (Not to mention the complaints of sleep deprivation). But Mama Tim Tam and I have established a bond beyond the doors of the hospital. Along with her adorable daughter, we are almost family.
This is their story of undying hope, unconditional love, loss and unwavering strength. I am deeply honoured that Mama Tim Tam has given me her blessing and her permission to share their journey with you.
Little Miss E was born 13 and a half weeks premature. As the surviving identical twin, she arrived into the world weighing a mere 720 grams (That’s less than three slabs of butter) and only 32 centimetres long (Around the size of an A4 piece of paper).
From the very beginning, this little fragile baby was given the daunting task to learn how to survive. Immediately after birth, the doctor’s discovered she was not breathing and had a heart rate of only 20 beats per minute. Little Miss E was attached to a ventilator immediately. She started life being completely dependent on breathing assistance equipment.
So began her uphill battle to live – fighting against the odds.
Little Miss E spent 3 and a half months in the NICU. (Our boys were only in the NICU for a smidgen of that time – 16 days). When I think of this vast contrast, I am in complete awe and admiration for a teeny weeny infant who obviously has so much inner-strength and determination. (Funnily, she doesn’t even know it yet…)
Each day during those long months, both mother and daughter would face yet a new challenge. Another hurdle to get out of the danger zone.
Here are some of the amazing facts and milestones:
- After giving birth, Mama Tim Tam had to wait five days until she was able to have her first skin-to-skin cuddle with her baby.
- On Day 19, Little Miss E had her first trial run of breathing by herself – she made it to an hour before having the breathing assistance equipment reattached to her.
- Day 25 – a joyous day – Little Miss E made it into the 1 kilo club !
- “Let the Mountain come to Mohammed.” After expressing her breast milk for 7 weeks, Mama Tim Tam was finally able to directly breast feed her little girl.
- After 13 weeks and 5 days – her actual expected due date – Little Miss E was finally able to go home. Despite all the drips, ultrasounds, canulas, blood tests, doses of morphine, brain scans, x-rays, transfusions, daily heel pricks and other painful medical pokes and prods, this little tyke was – amazingly – left with few scars.
Alongside the above major achievements, Mama Tim Tam shared with me some of the special moments of the early days in the NICU. Moments that kept the light at the end of the tunnel a little easier to see :
- One particular midwife managed to get smiles, even sub-conciously, during every visit.
- Mum’s voice or touch would slow her heart rate, creating a sense of calm and comfort.
- The soft toy zebra that sat in Little Miss E’s crib was initially bigger than her. To this day, it still has the little drops of blood stains from the daily heel pricks that most premature babies are succumbed to.
When the days get a little tough to bear and general moodiness takes its toll, I think of this brave little tot. She is my source of inspiration. When I get frustrated about how I can’t seem to shake off that stubborn last 5 (ahem, maybe 10 ?) kilos of post baby/ies fat or at a loss as to how I’m going to muster that self-confidence to chase my dreams and aspirations to be a professional writer, I think of my precious pocket rocket.
Little Miss E’s story of bravery and and her insurmountable will to cling onto life has taught me the endless possibilities of what we can achieve.
She came into this world with so much against her. She will never know her twin. Yet, each time she visits us, her infectious smile lights up our lounge room. Little Miss E is a shining beacon of positive light. For me. For my family. For many of us.
In Loving Memory:
This blog post is dedicated to Little Miss Angel A who sadly passed away in utero at 20 weeks gestation. We love you and think of you always. We mourn over your lost chance of being an identical twin sister, a daughter, a grand-daughter, a niece and our friend.