When Nicola's waters broke when she was just 21 weeks and six days pregnant, she knew there was a high chance things were not going to turn out well.
She feared she would most likely lose her baby.
For nine weeks, Nicola took antibiotics, was in and out of hospital and required constant monitoring, including four hourly temperature checks. With a three year old son, Nicola was unable to do normal things like take her son to the park as bed rest was her most important thing.
At 30 weeks pregnant, Nicola started bleeding and was rushed to Mater Mothers’ Hospital. It was discovered she had a placental abruption and her baby was in trouble.
Baby Parker was born by emergency caesarean on 30 August 2015 and rushed to Mater's Neonatal Critical Care Unit (NCCU).
Mum Nicola reflects that it was a miracle they got that far.
“It’s clichéd to say it was a miracle that he managed to stay in utero for nine weeks but it’s true,” she said.
“The statistics for him surviving were down to single digits.
“It was a real grey area for survival for a number of weeks—the longer Parker and I held on to each other, the better his chances would be,” Nicola said.
In NCCU, Parker was ventilated as his breathing was so laboured.
At just two days old, doctors discovered he may have an obstruction in his bowel and made the difficult decision to provide him with a colostomy bag so his body could concentrate on growing.
“This was a really stressful time—not only was my baby struggling to survive being preterm, but he also had extra health complications,” she said.
Parker’s tiny body didn’t cope with surgery and he needed resuscitating.
“I was holding Parker’s hand and he was just slipping away and needed immediate attention,” Nicola said.
“It was the most traumatic experience of my life watching the doctors and nurses bring him back and keep him breathing.
“My husband and I clung to one another wondering if we should go outside or stay and watch.
“It was every mother's worst nightmare coming true in front of my eyes."
Parker spent three months in NCCU during which he required constant monitoring.
His colostomy bag was removed during surgery before he was discharged and his tiny body began functioning normally.
At birth, Parker only weighed 1.69 kg but when he left he was a healthy 3 kg. Nicola had no idea such a world existed before Parker became part of it.
“It was like living in an alternate universe where real life continues on outside the hospital walls,” Nicola said.
“We had quite a few family occasions like Father’s Day, my birthday and our other son’s birthday while Parker remained in NCCU and we found it difficult to celebrate these occasions without him.
“As parents you just deal with each day as it comes and do what has to be done.
“The staff were incredibly supportive, brilliant, right from 21 weeks through to discharge,” she said.
Parker is now seven months old and doing all the normal things a baby does and Nicola is just happy to have her little family together in one place.