By Simone Mundy
There’s a place I know in Adelaide. It’s the most amazing place I have ever been. Seriously, actual miracles happen there and real heroes grace you with their presence. Some of the tiniest but most incredible people in the world stay there. I hope you never get to see it.
When you walk in the building and take the elevator up to level 3 you’ll notice part of the floor is exclusive. The heavy security door indicates not everyone is allowed to see the amazing stuff on the other side. You can press the button, but they won’t let just anyone in. You need to be connected to someone inside.
The most amazing place I know in Adelaide is tucked away on the third floor the Women’s and Children’s Hospital. It’s the place where some of the tiniest and newest Adelaideans are being watched over so they grow strong and healthy. A lot of the babies there weigh less than a bag of flour, tiny enough to fit in your hand and wear your rings as bracelets. This amazing place (that you never wanted to go to) is the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU). It’s where I first met my twin daughters.
Prem babies can change time. The nine or ten months of pregnancy I expected was cut short to 7 and a half. When you know prem babies are a possibility, your concept of time changes and instead of counting months or weeks you begin to count your pregnancy by the day, hours and even minutes. The time between finding out there were complications at 16 weeks to the time they hit that magic ‘viable’ time at 24 weeks was endless. The time between scans dragged as we anxiously waited to see if one or both twins had survived another week.
I counted 38 days that I spent away from my husband and son, between my water breaking at 25 weeks and my daughter’s emergency arrival at 30 weeks. The minutes between nurses finding one heartbeat and the second in their 3 hourly checks was time standing still. 59 days in total I spent in that amazing and sometimes surreal world – the NICU and SCBU.
In that place you meet courageous warriors disguised as parents, and their little loved ones, some who weigh less than 1000 grams and have already survived some dramatic circumstances. You learn to use your weight in sanitiser and sometimes cry your weight in exhaustion, relief and joy. But mostly you discover there that no matter how hard your journey is, you’re luckier than some.
The uncertainty and pressure for mothers in this situation can sometimes be too much to bear, and that’s where your new family comes in to bat. The doctors, nurses and healthcare members become as important to you as the people you have known for your whole life. Even though they’ve been trained to handle these cases every day, they continue to do it with love and care. It’s not just a job to them, it’s their vocation in life.
One year later and life is tiring but full of laughs. It’s very busy at our house and I wouldn’t have it any other way because we are the lucky ones. I’ll always be grateful to the people who helped bring our babies home from the Women’s and Children’s NICU and SCBU.
It’s an amazing place – the most amazing place I’ve ever been in Adelaide – but I hope you never visit.
If you would like to know more about the amazing life-changing work that happens at the WCH then head to Team Kids on FACEBOOK.
And follow all the amazing work they do on INSTAGRAM.