Ms Seena George didn’t have an easy introduction to motherhood: her son Austin entered the world in May last year almost 16 weeks too early. Born prematurely at 24 weeks and weighing just 565 grams, Austin had to remain on ventilator support in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for an entire month.
His early birth also led to multiple medical conditions, so he had to remain in a high-dependency ward for almost three more months.
Ms George, who wasn’t allowed to stay with him, visited daily to spend time with her son.
It was physically, emotionally and financially challenging for both Ms George and her husband, but they tried to stay positive and press on, supported by their family and the hospital medical staff.
“Daily updates from the doctor and nurses were comforting as I looked forward to Austin’s discharge. The days when Austin was not doing well were especially tough,” she remembers.
And while they were excited about finally having Austin home, it was the start of more challenges as he adapted to a new environment. He suffered from gastric reflux and was easily agitated due to pain from his wounds.
With her hands full while her husband was at work, Ms George often forgot to eat, sometimes getting by on nothing more than a slice of bread.
Because of his premature birth, Austin also needed injections to prevent serious respiratory tract infections caused by the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Thankfully, help came in the form of the Children’s Medical Fund, which subsidised the cost of the injections.
Ms Lee Poh Ling, a Senior Social Worker from the Financial Assistance Unit, Yishun Family Service @ Children’s Society, also lent her support and a listening ear. She taught Ms George how to massage her baby through online tutorials, which helped her better bond with Austin.
As Ms George celebrates her first Mother’s Day, she is thankful for all the miracles that allowed that to happen.
“While my baby battled for his life, the doctors said three times they might not be able to save him – but miracles do happen. I thank God for giving me the opportunity to be a strong mother and enjoy every little moment with my precious one. I am looking forward to celebrating my first Mother’s Day with him,” she said.