WHEN Ethan Novotny was born on May 28 last year, he weighed just 597 grams.
His first cuddle with his parents was when he was 21 days old and his first night spent at the family’s Alfredton home was “day 126”.
Ethan was born at 27 weeks’ gestation after his mother, Gabrielle Balfour-Glassey, was rushed to Heidelberg’s Mercy Hospital at 25 weeks due to pre-eclampsia.
“At 16 weeks, they said he was quite small. At 20 weeks, they said he was two weeks behind in growth and at 23 weeks, I knew something wasn’t right,” Ms Balfour-Glassy said.
After being admitted to the Ballarat Base Hospital at 25 weeks, Ms Balfour-Glassey was given steroids to prevent labour and get Ethan through to 27 weeks so he could stay in Ballarat.
However, Ms Balfour-Glassey’s rising blood pressure saw her taken to Melbourne, with the hope of stabilising the pregnancy so she could still have her baby in Ballarat around 34 weeks.
Blood pressure medication, foetal monitoring and twice-daily scans were carried out for a few days before it became obvious Ethan’s umbilical cord blood flow had slowed and he was not putting on any weight in utero.
“It never even entered my thoughts at all that I wouldn’t have a normal, healthy pregnancy,” Ms Balfour-Glassey said.
Ms Balfour-Glassey and her partner Dave Novotny were asked to discuss resuscitation options.
“They thought he wouldn’t come out breathing,” she said.
“We told them to do what they would normally do for a 27-week-old baby, even though he was only the size of a 23-week baby which they wouldn’t aggressively resuscitate.”
Ms Balfour-Glassey had a caesarean under general anaesthetic at 12pm but didn’t see Ethan until 8pm because he was so small that it took eight hours to get his medical equipment fitted.
“Dave came up with a photo on his phone and said ‘here’s our baby’,” she said.
Ethan was born breathing but still required a ventilator and, during his four-month hospital stay, received a blood transfusion, suffered a collapsed lung and had sepsis.
Ethan came back to the Ballarat Base Hospital’s special care nursery for another month before going home in late September.
However, he was still on oxygen 24 hours a day, which was only removed last month.
Keen to help other mums through premature baby experiences, Ms Balfour-Glassey contacted the Life’s Little Treasure Foundation, which supports families of premature and sick babies.
She has since set up a Ballarat support group that meets monthly at the Ballarat Library.
“It’s been amazing. They know what I’m talking about when I say SATS monitors and different machines,” she said.
To join the group or find out more information, contact Ms Balfour-Glassey on 0458 514 039.