Lucy Hamill was born prematurely at 28 weeks and 6 days weighing only 1.29kg. Lucy is a miracle baby, part of a miracle family.

Her mother, Nikki Rodgers, had no way of knowing what herself and her family were about to go through.

“It’s an experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone,” she says. “The first 24 hours is terrible. You’re down in maternity but you don’t have a baby with you, it’s a bit strange.”

In Australia approximately 44,000 babies each year require the help of a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or Special Care Nursery. Every journey is unique, and no pregnancy book or birth plan can prepare you.

Lucy was born at 3.30am on a Thursday morning. Nikki was discharged the following Monday, however her baby didn’t come home for another seven weeks.

Nikki describes the feeling of leaving the hospital without her baby as being the lowest point of the whole experience.

“We went to the Mater, then had to be transferred to the Royal North Shore. She was in intensive care for two weeks, then high dependency for four weeks, then back to the Mater. She was discharged on day 51.”

Nikki was lucky to have the support of her family, as well as of the Miracle Babies Foundation, Australia’s leading non-profit organisation that supports premature and sick newborns, their families and the hospitals that care for them.

Since 2005, Miracle Babies Foundation has been passionate in developing vital programs and resources to support and enhance a family’s experience from a threatened pregnancy, the hospital journey with a premature or sick newborn, transition to home and beyond.

The foundation was formed by a group of mothers of premature and sick newborns. They shared the same common desire of wanting to support other families of miracle babies and give back to the wonderful hospitals that care for them. Nikki says the support of the foundation was invaluable.

“It’s a really trying time and they’re not in your face it’s just little things here and there and they’re there if you need them,” she says.

In particular, the foundation offers Nurture Groups, which provide an opportunity for parents and carers of premature and sick newborns to share stories, form friendships and ease the isolation that can often be felt.

“I think mother’s group is something that’s great when you’re a new mum but it’s really hard because everyone compares. In Nurture Group it’s really casual and there’s no normal,”says Nikki.

“It’s just really, really supportive to be able to go to a place like that to talk to people who really understand and get support.”

Despite her traumatic experience, Nikki maintains that she is one of the lucky ones and that she and her family are “blessed.”

“They say premature babies are particularly feisty, because they have to survive, and that’s definitely true of Lucy,” she says.

By Jessie Goldie