Bateman centre offers lifeline to miracle premature babies

Miracle baby Lily Gaulton (Age 3). Picture: Jon Hewson
Miracle baby Lily Gaulton (Age 3). Picture: Jon Hewson

AFTER two stillbirths, Lily Gaulton (3) is a little miracle to her mum Jenni Crowther.

But Lily is among the one in 10 babies born prematurely in Australia and spent the first 89 days of her life in hospital.

Last December, she was diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy.

The Miracle Babies Foundation supported the family by visiting them in hospital and they run special playgroups just for families with babies born prematurely.

It was at one of these playgroups that Mrs Crowther, of Rockingham, heard from a visiting speaker from Kids for Kids! in Bateman about the private physiotherapy services offered at the centre.

She used federal Better Start funding so Lily could get weekly physiotherapy and avoid long public waitlists.

Mrs Crowther has become a parent support herself with Miracle Babies, visiting families with hospitalised babies, and said it was a unique journey.

“Kids roll around four months and a she (Lily) was still the size of a newborn,” she said.

“She is about a year behind in her gross motor skills.”

Mrs Crowther’s sons Lucas and Dylan were born at 22 weeks and five days, and 21 weeks and five days, respectively, simply too young to survive.

Private obstetrician Craig Pennell put a stitch in to try hold the cervix closed during her third pregnancy but Lily’s life was in danger from 18 weeks so Mrs Crowther was put on bed rest at King Edward Memorial Hospital.

At 22 weeks, steroids, medication and strict bed rest were required.

At 26 weeks gestation, Lily’s arm entered the birth canal so she was delivered via emergency caesarean.

Lily was ventilated after birth.

“It was incredibly overwhelming and scary, a lot of medical equipment attached to her all the time, alarms going off and information to take in,” Mrs Crowther said.

“Every day is a mixture of emotions: fear as she looked so fragile, amazement at her progress, and overwhelming love and need to try and protect her.

“Then, one day you get told you can take your baby home and it is the most amazing feeling.”

With regular physiotherapy inside the Bateman Sensory Xploration Hub, she is tiptoeing less, her jumping has improved and she is more confident on playground equipment.

To donate to the Miracle Babies Foundation during the Miracle Month of May fundraising campaign, visit www.miraclebabies.org.au.

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