It was a traumatic time, leaving my very tiny baby at the hospital while also caring for my 18 month old son at home.
Holly Thomas’ preterm birth experience may have been almost 13 years ago but it’s an experience which has shaped her and her family – and she’s as keen as ever to be a part of the solution.
In March 2008, Holly was just 24 weeks pregnant with Nika when her waters broke. She was taken to King Edward Memorial Hospital (KEMH) and placed on strict bed rest. Despite the best efforts to further prolong the pregnancy, Nika would be born at 29 weeks, almost 3 months early and weighing just 1395 grams.
“By 29 weeks I had become sick with chorioamnionitis and needed to deliver Nika via Caeserean section,” Holly explains.
“Nika spent eight weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, before being well enough to come home in June. It was a traumatic time, leaving my very tiny baby at the hospital while also caring for my 18 month old son at home.”
Holly’s ordeal would continue with additional gynaecological surgery and another hospital admission from a subsequent infection, later that year.
Fast-forward to 2021, Holly and the now 13-year-old Nika, are both the picture of health.
“Nika is a normal high school student showing no signs of her premature arrival. Her resilience and fighting spirit has been something we’ve all marvelled at since her very first day.”
Supporting the Alliance and the Women and Infants Research Foundation and their research and programs into preterm birth prevention isn’t new to Holly.
In 2015, Holly would run the half marathon in the HBF Run for a Reason, raising almost $4000 in the process. She went back for another half marathon in 2016 and raised almost $2000.
“I'm eternally grateful to the doctors, nurses and staff at KEMH for their care of me, and to the NICU and SCN teams who looked after my beautiful girl so well,” Holly said.
“The work being delivered through the Alliance in reducing the rate of preterm birth ais truly remarkable and something that every Australian should be proud of.
“My premature birth experience may have been almost 10 years ago, but as any mother of a preemie will attest to, it’s something that you’ll never forget. I know that Nika was one of the lucky ones. It still tears at my heart when I think or talk about it or see pictures of just how little she saw.”
The Alliance are now working with Holly to reconnect with mothers of preemie babies to revisit their experience and celebrate just how far mother and child have come.
“With work, family life and many other competing priorities I think it’s sometimes easy to forget about the first steps of the preterm birth journey and how important they were in shaping our story.
“Our story is just one of many that make the work of the Alliance so worthwhile and important, and I’ll do what I can to ensure more families have an equally happy outcome. If Nika and I can survive a preterm birth experience we can really do anything!”