This World Prematurity Day (17 November), Amy and Mike Hussey celebrate their first anniversary as Ambassadors for WIRF, and with it, have reflected on their own powerful story of preterm birth and their hope for a brighter outlook for mothers and babies everywhere.
Of their four pregnancies (Jasmin, William, Molly and Oscar), Amy and Mike would have not one, but two preterm birth experiences.
Worldwide, more than 15 million babies are born preterm each year. In WA alone, almost 3000 babies are born too soon every year.
In May 2007, Amy gave birth to Molly Mae at just 28 weeks and weighing little over one kilo after suffering a placental abruption; a condition that can lead to a full-blown haemorrhage.
“My pregnancy was going along well when out of nowhere a complication arose. Things didn’t improve and when I was told at 6pm on a Saturday night that the baby needed to come out now, I knew it wasn’t good. I was actually terrified,” Amy explains.
“I remember thinking I can’t believe this is actually happening to me. I’ve carried two full-term babies so why now? It was really frightening and I couldn’t imagine having a baby so early and so small. I thought for sure I would be okay, but I was very wrong. It was a lot to take in at the time and it was really difficult trying to be mum to two little children at home and a tiny baby in hospital.”
Retired Australian Test Cricketer, Mike Hussey explains how he feared losing both his wife and premature daughter.
“I couldn’t believe this was happening, I was supposed to be celebrating a World Cup win,” Mike reflects.
“It was so sad seeing a tiny, underdeveloped Molly lying helpless in the humidicrib with tubes and cords going in all directions. I jumped every time there was a beep or an alarm go off. The doctors were doing so many tests and I had so many worries such as how could someone so tiny even survive this.
“The nurses were amazing, so calm and positive and kept both Amy and myself somewhat sane. We had no idea what was happening or how things were going to turn out and I certainly felt helpless during this life-changing situation.”
After spending her first 11 weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit at King Edward Memorial Hospital, Molly was finally able to come home and join her big sister and brother.
Life at home and on the field, would largely return to normal for the Hussey’s until June of 2012 when son Oscar would mirror the three month early birth of his sister, also weighing just one kilo.
“Before deciding to have a 4th baby I had lots of testing done and the results showed I was not at risk of having another preterm baby, so we decided to go for it,” Amy said.
“When I went into labour at 28 weeks, we could not believe this was happening again and the anxiety and fear returned. The second time around was harder as we knew what to expect and the long road ahead for our family.
“As the mum, I knew I would be spending up to 16 hours a day at the hospital for the next 12 weeks and when I wasn’t at the hospital my mind was still there.”
Oscar would have an extended 12 week stay in the hospital’s NICU after some early health problems; a period which would take its toll on the entire Hussey household.
“It was a scary time. I was worried about the health of my wife and baby Oscar as well as trying to run a household and look after three other children,” Mike said.
“I was completely exhausted, anxious and stressed but kept trying to put on a brave face to the world. I had so many thoughts of what my life may look like if my wife and baby didn’t make it through the ordeal, as my cricket career would be over and how I would cope trying to bring up three kids on my own. It is amazing how your life can be turned upside down in the blink of an eye.”
Having a preterm baby has a huge impact on the whole Hussey family.
“For Oscar’s sisters and brother, the first time they got to meet their baby brother was the day we brought him home, 12 weeks after he was born,” Amy reflects.
“We are passionate about being Ambassadors for WIRF. We know all the research WIRF does results in lowering the rate of preterm birth and prevents other families having the experiences we have had.”