Today marks World Prematurity Day, a day observed globally on November 17 each year to raise awareness of preterm birth and the impact it has on families.
To recognise the day, we visited our Newborn Intensive Care Unit, to meet twins Leila and Lukas.
Leila and Lukas were born at 33 weeks after doctors at Sunshine Hospital became concerned with Leila’s slowing growth and blood flow resistance through the placenta.
Shortly after birth, Leila began vomiting bile and had difficulty with her breathing.
She was rushed to the RCH, where surgery on her bowel revealed that Leila had a sluggish small intestine, and required a stoma to help her bowel recover.
Meanwhile her twin brother, Lukas, remained at Sunshine Hospital.
“It was unexpected and terrifying, she was only one week old, and we thought she doing well, despite being born at 33 weeks and only being 943 grams,” Leila and Lukas’ mum, Jenita said.
“The doctors put a stoma in to help the bowel recover, which will stay until she has put on enough weight for them to go back in reverse it. We won’t know until that time if she will lose a portion of her bowel, but are hoping that the break in use will help it recover.”
Leila is currently receiving care at the RCH, which her family is incredibly grateful for.
“Leila is currently in the RCH Newborn Intensive Care Unit until she has put on enough weight for the surgeons to reverse the stoma. She has her ups and downs, but we get through them day-by-day. She is gaining weight, which means with every gram we are getting closer to her next surgery.”
“The staff at the RCH are wonderful, they really care, and do everything in their power to make the journey as easy as possible.”
Jenita says that although she was expecting to have a premature birth, the challenges that came with it were more significant than she anticipated.
“We knew going in that our babies would be premature and it was expected they would be in the NICU for weeks in isolation until they could regulate their temperature and until they were strong enough to suckle.”
“But nothing can prepare you for the emotional impact of not being able to bring your babies home, or watching the beating monitors and watching nurses run to check on them.”
“We were definitely not prepared to have our babies in two different hospitals and for the mum and dad guilt we’ve experienced while trying not to spend more time with one over the other.”
“It’s a tough journey, but it’s all worth it. “
Now, almost one month after being born, the twins, along with mum Jenita and dad, Daniel, have spent their first day together as a family.