The decision to start a family was an easy one for Darren and Dani. After six great years together, they knew they were ready for parenthood.
“It was the best news when Dani fell pregnant,” says Darren, “Everything was going really well, we were blissfully looking forward to a November birth but that all changed in July.”
“It was Saturday evening, I was watching TV and Dani came in around 11 pm and said she was bleeding,” Darren recalls.
“We called the midwife and went to Wonthaggi Hospital and discovered that Dani was three centimetres dilated. It’s fair to say, we were in a bit of shock.”
Bubs is coming
Dani was rushed by ambulance to Monash Health in Melbourne, almost two hours away, at one o’clock on Sunday morning.
Baby Jack was born at just 24 weeks and weighing only 777 grams. Thankfully, it looked promising with Jack arriving above the expected weight for that age and breathing on his own.
One step forward
During his first two months, little Jack endured several setbacks, including having to be put on a ventilator when seizures prevented his breathing.
“He started to get better with the support of the team looking after him at Monash Health Newborn, but then he had a second seizure. We still aren’t sure what is causing the seizures to happen,” says Dani.
“It really turned our whole world upside down,” says Dani. “There are good days, but it is often one step forward and two steps back. We know the potential risk of BPD and cerebral palsy. It’s an emotional rollercoaster.
“We had some beautiful cuddles last week, but Jack is still on the ventilator. There is still a long way to go – we wait, and we hope. Today, we are just happy that Jack is breathing.
“There are lot of unknowns with premature babies. You keep wondering what else scientists can find out to help other parents. Great research will reduce the stress that parents have to go through.
“We are obviously in the right place and miracles can happen. We are staying positive. Hopefully Jack will be OK and we can take him home.”
Professor Marcel Nold is one of the neonatologists looking after Jack. The aim of research conducted by the team he leads with A/Prof Claudia Nold is to find new treatments that will give babies like Jack a better start to life.
On the wards, we experience the immense burden premature birth and its consequences place on the babies and their families every day,” he says.
“Our tiny patients often need our care for several months, and a baby like Jack finally going home is for us and the family one of the brightest and most hopeful moments we all work towards. However, that joy is not rarely tempered when we look back at the family’s long and hard journey, and also a time when we look forward, because we know things will not be a breeze from here either.
“My team and I want to make a real difference to the lives of families such as Jack, Dani and Darren, by developing new treatments for severe early life disease and making sure these treatments become available to the young patients.”