At Bernadette's 20-week scan, it showed that Emerson’s stomach had not developed. The rest of her pregnancy was consumed by anxiety, stress, and the unknown.
Soon after the birth of her precious little girl, doctors confirmed something no parent wants to hear. Emerson would not survive without surgery to repair and connect vital organs which had not developed properly.
Emerson was diagnosed with 'Oesophageal atresia'—a birth defect in which part of her oesophagus did not develop properly and was not connected. She would be too small and fragile to have surgery when she was born and would have to call Mater's Neonatal Critical Care Unit (NCCU) home for many months.
“Leaving my newborn baby in hospital was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s not natural–it was like a part of me was missing.”—Bernadette Murphy, Emerson's Mum.
Every day, Bernadette came to Mater Mothers’ NCCU to sit with Emerson and do everything she could to be a ‘normal mum’. This was limited though; Emerson was so fragile that she could only be held for two hours a day. Bernadette expressed milk for Emerson—but it just wasn’t the same as holding her baby close to breastfeed her.
Bernadette longed for home, a normal family life, and a chance to do all the lovely things she’d dreamt of when she knew Emerson was coming into the world.
“One of the hardest things about having a child stay long-term in the NCCU is grieving the loss of the normal ‘milestones’, the little things…Things we’d normally take for granted, like being able to take Emerson for walks outside and allow her to have ‘tummy time’ on a playmat, just weren’t possible.”
Emerson spent 5 long months in a high-tech, clinical hospital atmosphere.
"All of the surgeons were on 'Operation Get Emerson Home by Christmas!' But we didn’t know if we were going to make it. When we got the okay, it was the greatest moment of our lives. We were finally going to be together, as a family."
Last year, the Murphy family's Christmas wish came true. Emerson's arrived home just six days before Christmas.
Sadly, not all families will have their Christmas wish come true—79 babies will spend this Christmas Day in Mater Mothers' Neonatal Critical Care Unit.
Right now we need to raise $166,317 to purchase life-changing equipment for Mater Mothers’ Neonatal Critical Care Unit. Donate today so parents can see, touch and hold their baby, and get them home sooner.