Baby Charlee’s Story
Every year, 4,800 babies are born at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital (WCH) and hundreds of them will need the specialist care of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Please donate to give babies like Charlee their best chance.
On the 1st of June, first-time parents Ali and Josh welcomed their baby girl Charlee at just 23 weeks. Weighing a tiny 560 grams, her parents’ wedding rings could fit around her arm like a bangle.
Ali passed her 20-week scan and, like any new mum, hoped she was in the clear! However, just shy of 23 weeks, Ali woke with severe pressure in her abdomen.
Frantic, Josh rushed her straight to hospital. In those late hours on a Sunday night came the terrifying news that she had bulging membranes – their fears turning immediately to the wellbeing of their unborn child, and the chances of her survival.
At just 22 weeks and 4 days, Ali was at serious risk of miscarriage.
Here, the goal was simple: try to keep baby Charlee in the womb as long as possible to give her the best chance of survival.
“All we could do was wait and hope for the best,” Ali said.
Just hours into her 23rd week, Ali awoke to the daunting discovery that her waters had broken. The baby was coming now!
Baby Charlee was born at 2:05pm on 1 June 2022, exactly 120 days before her due date. Ali and Josh touched Charlee’s face, then she was whisked away to the NICU by staff.
Ali says the doctors and nurses provided the most incredible care in facilities that were friendly, welcoming, and comfortable, but we all know there is no place like home. After 89 long days in NICU and another 29 days in the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU), baby Charlee is home – just in time for Christmas.
“I’m just so ridiculously happy. When she was born, we didn’t know what to expect. That fact that she’s home, and she’s going to be home with us for Christmas, is just the best thing in the whole entire world.”
Your support helps families in crisis.
Other babies, just like Charlee, aren’t as fortunate. Heartbreakingly, more than 450 babies are admitted to the WCH NICU each year.
The WCH Foundation knows the importance of providing ongoing support to alleviate the stress and disruption that an admission to NICU can cause new parents, but we can’t do it alone. We need YOU to help us continue to ensure the Hospital’s tiniest patients have access to the greatest medical care, as well as offer support services to their families during what is an incredibly emotional time.
Help provide the best care for families and their tiny babies at one of the most critical times of their life. Donate today to give the gift of joy to the tiniest of patients.
Your support helps families celebrate every milestone.
With your help, we would like to create more NICU baby books that are customisable and specific to families with a vulnerable baby. The idea, brought to us by NICU nurses Natasha Woodall and Robynn Lindner, recognises that milestones for a NICU baby can look very different. This book gives families the chance to remember big moments such as coming off the ventilator, reaching 1,000 grams or graduating from NICU.
By providing families with a personalised baby book, we aim to enhance their memory-making experience that is specific to their NICU journey. These books will allow for parents to celebrate, record, remember, share and process this joyful and challenging season. Ali says it was a lovely memento to walk away with and was a great activity to keep her busy while in NICU.
Your support helps bring a sense of joy to the hospital wards.
Through our Arts in Health program, we arrange for specialised musicians to play in the neonatal nursery. As well as providing a calming atmosphere for the babies, families and staff, music has been shown to assist the brain development of fragile newborns, especially in the stressful environment of an intensive care unit.
One of the regular musicians, harpist Ilona, was an instant favourite of baby Charlee’s and whenever her music filled the neonatal nursery, Ali says it made a world of difference.
“During those times when the harpist was playing, I just felt so calm. Charlee was also just so settled. Now that we’re home, I pop that kind of music on just to provide her with those experiences, and she just loves it.”
Your support allows our tiniest patients access to vital equipment.
We have funded equipment in NICU and SCBU such as infant warmers and breast pumps. Having constant access to equipment is a true weight off parents’ shoulders and allows families to spend more time with their babies in hospital. Ali frequently used NICU breast pumps and says:
“Having access to the equipment made a huge difference, especially not having to lug my breast pumps into the hospital every day. The fact that they were there and available all the time meant that I could express right next to Charlee, and just being with her while I was doing that made it more meaningful.”