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Mater mum Melanie Mead certainly wasn’t expecting to celebrate Mother’s Day so early in 2018, but her baby girl Charlotte had other plans in mind…
Melanie and her partner Sam were delighted to hear that they were expecting their first child, but knew that complications may arise given a family history of pre-eclampsia. Regardless of the difficulties they encountered, their baby girl was cared for every step of the way with the support of Mater Mothers’ Private Brisbane and Melanie’s team of obstetricians.
Her pregnancy was going smoothly until Melanie reached 30 weeks and complications started to become apparent. Melanie and Sam visited Mater’s Pregnancy Assessment Centre (PAC) where, after seeing the on-call obstetrician, was admitted to Mater Mothers’ Private Brisbane on bed rest for a week of observation. A routine scan then identified that Charlotte had restricted growth and was looking a little smaller than normal. Weekly growth scans were organised to track her ongoing development and when Charlotte was measuring three weeks behind in growth, Melanie’s obstetrician recommended a planned caesarean, knowing her baby may be too weak to endure a natural labour.
At 34 weeks, she was released from hospital to go home and prepare for the caesarean. However, on Mother’s Day at midnight (two weeks earlier than planned) Melanie felt extreme stomach pain and presented to PAC once again. She had experienced a placental abruption (burst) and was bleeding internally. Melanie and Sam were rushed to the birth suites for an emergency caesarean for what Melanie described as a daunting experience.
“We had started to read up about a caesarean delivery but having just finished up work days earlier, I really hadn’t thought about it too much. Upon arrival at PAC we were so nervous; we had brought the hospital bag just in case but didn’t think we would be having a baby that night. I gave birth at 35+5 weeks, which was just over a month earlier than my due date,” said Melanie.
“Baby Charlotte was born on Sunday 13 May 2018, at 3:08 am on Mother’s Day. She was breathing well thanks to precautionary steroid injections I’d received earlier in my pregnancy. Skin-on-skin contact was encouraged straight away, so I was able to have a cuddle right after her birth and before she was whisked away to Mater Mothers’ Hospitals’ Special Care Unit”.
However, Charlotte was quite small for her age at just two kilograms in weight, and was very jaundice. In the eight days she spent in the Special Care Nursery, Charlotte received phototherapy three times. Charlotte, Melanie and Sam spent ten days at Mater Mothers’ Private Brisbane, including two nights ‘rooming in’ together to grow comfortable as a new family before transitioning home.
“It’s very different being a first time parent and having your baby in special care at the same time; you want to make sure you’re always there for your baby, but being wheelchair bound for the first few days made it really tough to try and care for Charlotte, while still trying to look after—and recover—myself.
“There were no complications after my caesarean however, I did have very low blood pressure and this meant I was monitored very closely for postpartum pre-eclampsia”.
Melanie’s family have a history of preeclampsia, so she had an understanding of the risks involved and what to expect during her pregnancy. She also chose Mater Mothers’ Private Brisbane and her obstetrician because of their expertise in supporting women suffering from pre-eclampsia.
“After discharge Charlotte needed to continue being monitored for her growth, and we were so happy when she made it over her birth weight before heading home. The Special Care nursery ensured that she was strong enough for breastfeeding during the whole day, meaning she was getting the nourishment she needed,” Melanie said.
“This was a big milestone for us—not only was she feeding on her own, but she was feeding every three hours. This meant we were able to take her home and rebuild her strength together”.
Now home and approaching her first birthday, Charlotte is full of spirit and strength. Named after her grandfather Charlie (who lived to 102), there’s no stopping this cheeky little girl.
“As a new mum, being able to take time for myself and just watch Charlotte play, rather than trying to lead her play, is one of the moments that makes my heart melt. Watching the way she thinks, the way she guides her own playful adventures, how she sees things for the first time and moves in a different way each day is fascinating. Those are the Mater Beautiful Moments I love seeing,” said Melanie.
“There are new, little milestones each day with Charlotte. Everyone grows in their own way and at their own pace, so even if she is a little behind in size, she makes up for it in curiosity. She is a healthy, smiling, giggling, happy baby.”
“As new parents it’s important to be focussed and present for your baby. Taking the time to be in that moment with them and see the world through their eyes is incredibly special. Mater’s team of midwives and nurses are a testament to helping us to just live in the moment,” Sam explained.
Mater Mothers’ Private Brisbane has immediate access to Maternal Fetal Medicine, PAC, and a variety of other services to support new mothers and families whilst on the ward and particularly postpartum.
“The midwives and staff within the Special Care Nursery are incredible humans. They are so passionate about what they do and the care they provide. No question is a silly question (no matter how many times they may have been asked before); and they have this incredible knack of being able to put our minds at ease,” said Sam.
“All of the Mater Mothers’ staff are there for the right reasons, providing care to families like ours with no judgement, they’re supportive and understanding, and reassuring in letting you know that everything is going to be okay,” said Melanie.
“We were lucky to have had our baby in special care, and not needing critical care like so many other vulnerable babies, but you still don’t know what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. The peace of mind the midwives give, and the reassurance, is what Mater’s Neonatal Critical care Unit (NCCU) is all about. It’s that support that keeps you going.”
“The lactation consultants were also brilliant in our journey home and once we got home,’ said Melanie. “They were calming and reassuring, particularly in those moments when I was recovering from surgery, otherwise I would have been so lost!”
To celebrate the special times mums have with their families every day, Mater Mothers’ Private Brisbane invites mums to share their everyday 'Beautiful Moments' this Mother's Day by posting their favourite photo or short video on Instagram using the hashtag #materbeautifulmoments.
The Mater Mothers’ team would love to share in the real everyday moments, the firsts and milestones and anything that makes others smile, laugh or even brings a tear to your eye. Happy Mother’s Day.
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