When Shaune's youngest son Noah was born, he couldn’t wait to hold his new baby in his arms.
But, born by emergency caesarean almost 10 weeks early and weighing little more than a kilo, Noah’s fight for life meant his parents had to wait nine days before they could hold him close.
Instead, Shaune and his wife Kimberley stood by Noah’s humidicrib in Mater’s Neonatal Critical Care Unit (NCCU) and whispered words of love and support to their tiny son.
“I think we were more stunned than anything else; we didn’t know what was going to happen to him and there was nothing we could do," Shaune said.
"You just have to wait and face the unknown and have hope; hope that you never get that phone call that something has happened."
“For Noah, it was a daily battle for quite a long period of time; it was so touch and go. To see him that first time, not just how small he was, but to see him covered in the machines that were keeping him alive, it was so scary."
Because of his prematurity, Noah’s lungs had not fully developed and tubes covered his tiny body; a ventilator pushed air into his tiny lungs and he was fed through a tube.
“But not being able to hold him in those first days was probably the hardest, it’s something families with healthy babies don’t know or understand.
“When we were allowed to touch him, we were told not to put the full weight of our hands on him because he was so small and fragile—that just that weight alone could crush him without us realising it.”
For 10 weeks, Shaune and wife Kimberley spent much of their time visiting Noah in Mater’s NCCU—no easy feat given they had two small children at home.
“It’s extremely difficult to have a new baby but know that you can’t take them home with you,” Shaune said.
Under the care of Mater’s specialist neonatal team, Noah began to slowly improve and then came the day his parents had longed for—they could take their son home.
“He was on oxygen all day, every day for six months after we took him home, but he was at home with us and that’s all we had hoped for,” Shaune said.
“Being in Mater’s NCCU is an amazing experience with such supportive staff on call all the time, but not one you would wish on any new parents.”
“I’ve been back a few times since and even just visiting brought all the memories and emotions back.”
Noah excitedly started grade one in 2017, and like any other six-year-old boy loves sports, including cricket and swimming. He is happy and healthy and adores his big brother, who he follows around like a shadow.
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