Karli celebrates five years of her daughter Tilly

15 May 2023
New The Wesley Hospital mother, Karli with her partner and daughter Matilda.

Five years ago, Matilda (Tilly) was born premature and spent time in the Wesley Hospital Special Care Unit, as her 5th birthday approaches mother Karli has kindly shared her experience in the hopes this will help other families on the same journey.

“After trying for some time to fall pregnant my husband and I decided to try IVF, Tilly was our miracle baby and we were so happy to be pregnant,” Karli said.

“But it seemed Tilly was super keen to meet us, I thought I was going into labour a few times and our Obstetrician Stephen Cook was able to help keep in her in place for a little while but she wound up coming 5 weeks early.

“She was quite small weighing only 2.3kg and her feet were inverted needing splints so we were told she would need to go to the Special Care Unit for some extra support.”

Karli explains she and her husband James came to the hospital the day before her c-section and they were able to have a tour of the unit, meet the midwives and have some time to prepare for what was to come.

“It was extremely intimidating and a very emotional experience, after she was born Tilly was taken to the unit where she needed a splint on her foot and some help feeding,” Karli said.

“While recovering from my c-section we were able to stay in hospital and be beside her cot the whole time, however on the fifth day we needed to go home but leave her in the unit.

“This was the worst day of my life and by far the hardest thing I have ever had to do, to walk out of hospital empty handed felt terrible, I felt like I was abandoning my daughter.”

Karli said she was right back in the hospital the next morning at 6am but leaving at the end of each day over the next three weeks never got easier.

“My husband and I would drive all the way home to Karalee, at night and come all the way back the first thing in the morning, the drive really took it out of us,” Karli said.

“We were beside Tilly the whole time but it was so difficult to watch other families take their babies home, I felt cheated, why wasn’t I able to take my daughter home.

“The whole time she was in the unit was like a weird twilight experience, we felt like we were on hold and couldn’t move forward as a family.”

Karli said she made friends with other parents in the unit and said she learnt she needed to give herself a break.

“My advice to other mothers going through this experience is don’t be so hard on yourself, I blamed myself for so long thinking I had done something wrong, unfortunately these things can just happen and it’s nothing you did,” Karli said.

“You do need to be kind to yourself and give yourself a break, this could be as simple as going for a walk or having a cup of coffee, I also found it very helpful to speak with a counsellor.

“Finally, accept help where it is offered, I had so many beautiful friends and family who offered support giving us meals, clothing whatever we needed, this is definitely not something you can do yourself.”

Karli also said she found it helpful to write down questions or concerns for the doctors and midwives.

“I was so stressed and in such a blur I would forget what to ask, the midwives were amazing, nothing was too much trouble,” Karli said.

“You can call at any hour of the day or night just for an update to see how they are going and they are happy to let you know how your baby is going.

“Tilly was discharged after spending three weeks in the unit and is now a happy, healthy, bubbly and very cheeky little girl and we couldn’t imagine our lives without her.”

Now in Prep Tilly has a younger brother Harvey and Karli says she couldn’t be prouder of Tilly and how far she has come.

“Looking back on this experience it was such a long time ago but feels like yesterday – every time she reaches a milestone it takes me back to where we were and makes me appreciate her that much more, we feel so blessed to have a happy and healthy baby,” Karli said.

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