Elke and Russ were over the moon to welcome their second daughter Evelyn (Essie, as she is known to her family) into the world in 2013, but Elke and Russ’s journey to meet their daughter was fraught with ups and downs.
Elke had suffered several pregnancy losses prior to becoming pregnant with Essie and was desperate not to lose another baby, but at 15 weeks Elke’s cervix started to dilate and she had to have a cervical stitch put in to help prolong the pregnancy as long as possible.
Elke was put on bed rest and along with her husband Russ and their seven-year-old daughter Maya, they relocated from Bundaberg to Elke’s parents house in Brisbane where Elke was confined to bed rest.
Unfortunately at 22 weeks, Elke felt things “just weren’t right”.
She saw her obstetrician who discovered the cervical stitch had failed and she was put on strict bed rest at Mater Mothers’ Hospital― not even allowed to shower― in an effort to keep Elke’s pregnancy going as long as possible.
“We were desperate to get to 28 weeks—which was the magic number in my head—as the doctors had told us from 28 weeks the baby’s prospects would look much better."
“I had lost a baby girl at 21 weeks previously, and with this pregnancy the timing was very similar; I couldn’t go through that pain again."
“The doctors, including Director of Neonatology Dr Lucy Cooke, were amazing. They would come up and visit me every week to let me know what issues we might face if the baby were to be born that week so that we had realistic expectations."
Amazingly, Elke and Russ reached the 28 week milestone but that evening Elke felt that her baby hadn’t moved much.
Elke had developed an infection and from there it was all systems go with an emergency caesarean required.
Essie was born at 28 weeks and one day, weighing just over one kilogram.
She was rushed to Mater's Neonatal Critical Care Unit (NCCU) where she was ventilated and spent nearly 13 days on respiratory support. Two months later, Essie was transferred to Bundaberg Base Hospital where she stayed for one week before Elke and Russ could finally take their baby girl home.
“I don’t think I really let myself believe Essie was going to come home until we walked through the doors of our house. As she got less and less tubes I felt more positive but I still felt like I was holding my breath the whole time."
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