Gabriel Ben was born at 29 weeks gestation weighing 1060g.
I was admitted to Royal Hospital for Women in Randwick due to my developing severe preeclampsia (PE) at 25 weeks of pregnancy.
At the time, the doctors confronted us with the possibility of an imminent delivery, and to help us prepare, we were taken on a tour of the NICU at the Royal Hospital for Women (RHW).
Seeing the humidicribs and cots and the tiny babies they held was a surreal experience, though we were seeing it all through the eyes of an outsider at the time. I managed to last another 4 weeks, however, on bed rest and closely monitored. The day came, though, when we were told that the baby had to be delivered, but that there were no NICU beds available at RHW at the time. We were transferred to the closest hospital with an available NICU bed, which happened to be Nepean Hospital in Penrith, where Gabriel was delivered and where we stayed for 6 weeks, before being transferred back to the NICU at RHW for 3 more weeks.
Although we had visited the NICU 4 weeks earlier, Michael and I were forced into the nightmare of NICU without any real idea of what were in for. The endless monitor alarms, lines into every available tiny limb, blood transfusions, brain scans… and worry and waiting. Hours turned into days and into weeks. We became familiar with the routines of the hospital, and graduated from room to room. The NICU became less of a nightmare, and more of a home. Gabriel overcame one hurdle after another and eventually we started to plan for the future and allowed ourselves to shop for baby clothes and nursery furniture.
Having our healthy beautiful baby come home after 9 weeks in the NICU was a wonderful reward back then, and we have not looked back.
However, we will never forget that the only reason we have our Gabriel is because of the care and expertise of staff at Nepean NICU (where Gabriel was born) and the RHW NICU (where he was subsequently transferred to) - and of course the life-saving equipment from all those years ago.
Today, Gabriel is a healthy, smart, fun-loving boy who also knows about his start to life, and wants to support Sophie and her RBPS team with raising funds towards this worthy cause. As an 11 year old, he is finally old enough to participate in the SMH half-marathon and is really looking forward to the run - although it's in the relay as a first long run!
We're all excited about fundraising for Sophie's amazing team and giving back to the premature babies community (we're all in an exclusive club, with way too many members!). We will be running as a family in the 2017 SMH half-marathon relay and we are all hoping to raise funds towards the much needed equipment and research, and help ensure that every family gets to bring their tiny preemie home!
Marsha and Michael Ben