WHEN Zoee Hall (1) was born three months early, she was so small her father’s wedding band fitted on her arm.
Parents Breigh and Daniel’s heartache at seeing their newborn daughter in intensive care and not being able to hold her has motivated them to join this month’s Walk for Prems.
The Alkimos couple, with son Bentley (2) and Zoee, will take part in the Perth fundraiser for the Life’s Little Treasures Foundation on October 29 along with other families across Australia.
Mrs Hall said that on her husband’s birthday last year – June 30 – Zoee was born 27 weeks and four days into a pregnancy that had already been challenging.
“We thought we lost her to miscarriage at nine weeks and then (were) told she may have Edward’s syndrome after the 12-week bloods, which meant she wouldn’t survive or if she did, she wouldn’t have a long life,” she said.
“On June 27, 2016, I was walking down the hallway at home when all of a sudden it felt like my waters had broken, except I looked down and it was blood… over 300ml worth.
“Daniel rang an ambulance and we made the scary trip to hospital. I was then transferred priority one to King Eddies, with no idea if she was even still alive.”
Mrs Hall spent the night on a ward with mothers and babies at King Edward Memorial Hospital, and went to have an ultrasound the following morning, which revealed that the umbilical cord and water sac had dropped passed her cervix.
“The sonographer found that Zoee’s water sac and her umbilical cord were prolapsed and I was already 3cm dilated,” she said.
“From that second I wasn’t allowed to stand or walk another step as the doctors said my waters could burst at any movement and she would suffocate to death.
“I stayed on bed rest for the next three days having steroids for her immature lungs until they gave me enough doses that she could be delivered.”
Mrs Hall said Zoee was intubated for 22 hours then was put on a ventilator for seven weeks as they struggled to keep her oxygen levels up.
“It was a day before I could touch my tiny daughter’s hand and a lot longer before I could hold her,” she said.
“She was so tiny and frail you could see through her skin and Daniel’s wedding band fit over her arm up to her shoulder like a giant bangle.
“The machines would always beep and I knew it was my daughter.”
Zoee also needed phototherapy for jaundice, a blood transfusion and weekly eye exams to prevent blindness from her increasing retinitis of prematurity.
“She had heart scans, ultrasounds and an MRI,” Mrs Hall said.
She made the hour-long journey to see Zoee every day, leaving her son Bentley (2) to visit her daughter, then leaving her daughter to go home to her son.
“Seeing your daughter through Perspex box for so many weeks and walking through the hospital to see other families taking their newborns home completely destroyed me every day,” the nurse said.
“No words can describe what it’s truly like and I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy.
“Some of our little families that we met in the newborn intensive care unit over those weeks weren’t as lucky as we were… their little ones were even worse off.
“We feel like we never really appreciated the heartache families of premature babies felt, so wish to help the amazing foundations that helped and supported us throughout our heartbreaking journey.”
The Hall family will join this Sunday’s Walk for Prems to raise funds for the Life’s Little Treasures Foundation, which supports families of the 48,000 babies born sick or before 37 weeks gestation every year in Australia.
The eighth annual fundraising walk will include an event at Sir James Mitchell Park in South Perth from 9.30am on October 29.
In the past three years, Walk for Prems has raised over half a million dollars and this year the foundation hopes to raise $250,000.
At the beginning of each walk, participants will pause to show their respect for the families whose babies have died and there will be a ceremonial release of white doves by one of these families.
For more or to donate, visit www.walkforprems.org.au.