Claire recalls the familiar corridor leading to the Special Care Nursery, being wheeled in on a hospital bed to meet her baby for the first time. Baby Shiloh is now a happy and healthy baby at home with his family, thanks to the team at The Wesley Special Care Nursery.

“It never occurred to me that we’d have an earlier baby than our first, because everything was fine,” said Claire, of her second pregnancy.

Not that long ago, life was very different for Claire and Seamus. It had taken seven years to fall pregnant with their first born, son Sacha.

“We went through IVF and, after ovarian hyper stimulation, were admitted to The Wesley. Overnight, I put on five litres of fluid around my vital organs in response to the hormones. After going through all of that and lots of miscarriages...we thought we weren’t going to have children. But both boys ended up being conceived naturally and total surprises.” “We were just so happy to be pregnant.” said Claire.

Claire’s first pregnancy was a challenging one. At 17 weeks Claire was diagnosed with Placenta Previa, a condition where the placenta covers the mother’s cervix. A premature birth was likely and after some bleeding at 20 weeks, Claire needed bed rest.

“Our aim was to make it to 28 weeks and I was able to stay home until about 31 weeks and then I was at The Wesley for another two weeks, before giving birth.” Claire remembers. Claire and Seamus felt prepared but nothing prepares you for the day the doctor walks in and says ‘it has to be now’.

“Sacha was born on 13 July 2016 and spent the first five weeks of his life in The Wesley’s Special Care Nursery before going home to meet Nanny, the family’s maremma sheepdog. Almost three years later the family was there again when Shiloh was born prematurely, needing the care of The Wesley and its team of specialists in the Special Care Nursery.”

“When you have an early baby, you don’t get to cuddle them straight away; they can’t put them on our chest like they do for a traditional birth,” Claire said. She wasn’t able to have her first cuddle with baby Shiloh until he was five days old.

“It’s stressful to see your baby require assistance with breathing, seeing him hooked up to the wires and nasal gastric tube, while you’re unable to hold them… but you keep reminding yourself it’s essential.”

Another hurdle for many mums of premature babies is waiting for their milk to come in.

“As a premmie mum you only have one useful job for your baby in those first few days, and it is to express and feed them. So to not be able to do that job, when you’re at a stage when you can’t bath them or hold them or take them home…. it is so hard.”

It was challenges like these that made the highs even more heartening for Claire and Seamus. Like the day, a defining moment, when Shiloh moved from his humidicrib into an open cot.

Claire and Seamus were overwhelmed with joy and excitement - but mostly relief that Shiloh was healthy and safe and would soon join them at home.

Words can’t describe how amazing the staff members are in special care. They are the kindest and most genuine people ever.”

– Claire

The Wesley Special Care Nursery provides care for babies with illness and premature babies from 32 weeks gestation. Its facilities ensure that families faced with a premature birth or an unwell newborn have access to the best care possible.

For a parent, it can be the hardest and most desperate time, we need to make sure they are as comfortable as possible. It is the team’s passion and dedication to mothers and babies that sets The Wesley apart. Many parents feel like they are cared for like family.

Many parents could not have had a successful pregnancy without medical and technological interventions involving The Wesley’s researchers, staff and caregivers. It is a frightening experience giving birth to a sick or premature baby. The Special Care Nursery takes care of our tiniest Queenslanders every year.

“The nurses were incredible. On the second day we got to bath him. We were petrified picking up this tiny little human, but they made sure we felt comfortable and they provided a lot of guidance.”

When Claire was feeling overwhelmed and anxious The Wesley was a comforting presence, offering empathy, advice and expertise, right there until they were able to take Shiloh home.

For both Sacha and Shiloh, The Wesley’s Special Care Nursery was their first home. Like any new parents, Claire and Seamus wanted to spend as much time as possible with their children but said going home from The Wesley was bittersweet…..“as you don’t get to see the lovely people that filled your days and cared for your child at their most vulnerable.”

“Our experience at The Wesley has been amazing. I think it’s a privilege to be here and it’s nice there are so many of the staff we had the first time. It feels like family,” said Claire.

You can make a difference to the health and wellbeing of patients and their families by donating today.

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