When she was 26 weeks pregnant, New South Wales mum-to-be Youna, noticed she was losing fluid. She was at work and assumed that perhaps her waters were starting to leak. She wasn’t in any sort of pain without any suggestion of early labour but she still thought it was a good idea to get it checked.
Youna called her husband, Shadlee and he drove them to the nearest hospital in Wollongong. Upon arrival, the midwives confirmed that Youna’s waters weren’t just leaking.
They had completely broken.
She would need to deliver her baby girl much earlier than anticipated.
An unexpected delivery
Youna, who still wasn’t in any sort of pain, was told she would need to be transferred to The Royal Hospital for Women where they were equipped to handle babies born this premature. She was told her daughter would need to come anywhere from 24 hours to 7 days.
However, just ten minutes later, the baby’s heart rate started to drop. Doctors knew they had to act fast so they prepped Youna for a c-section. This is when the panic set in.
They called everyone in to help with the delivery,” Youna tells Mum Central. I was still in no pain, but I was panicked. I kept wondering, is my baby going to survive or not?
They took me to the operating theatre and they put me completely to sleep. When I got my senses back, I discovered I had given birth to a baby girl.”
Baby Sarrinah, who was born at 26 weeks and 2 days gestation, weighed just 830 grams. She was immediately whisked to NICU and quickly transferred to Liverpool Hospital. Before she was airlifted out, Youna was able to briefly see her baby and hold her little hand.
Youna recalls just how teeny tiny she was and how hard it was to get a proper look at her little girl.
She was covered in so many tools and machines, I could barely see her skin.”
Alone in recovery
Just minutes later, Youna was sent to recovery and her newborn was sent to another hospital. She would have to spend her first night as a new mum alone.
Youna’s husband, Shadlee was also air-lifted to Liverpool Hospital with Sarrinah. However, once Sarrinah was settled into the NICU, he was sent home.
The new family spent their first night in three separate locations.
A happy reunion
The next day Youna was sent to Liverpool Hospital to be with her daughter. She spent two days there before being sent home and discovering the journey that comes with having a baby in the NICU – something so many mums with premature babies know or remember well. Youna and Shadlee spent every day driving back and forth to see their little girl.
She was doing well but she was born so early that she required a lot of medical care. Youna and Shadlee also noticed something beautifully unique about their baby girl – she had incredibly white hair.
At first, we didn’t think anything of it. After one and a half weeks, the doctor told us that she may have albinism.
We didn’t know what that was at this time so we googled it. The first things that we read were all negative. We stopped reading and waited for the doctor, worried about whether she would have a normal life.”
At just one and a half weeks old, Sarrinah was too small to do a blood test to check for albinism.
However, at four weeks, she was able to to have an eye exam where doctors confirmed that she does have this incredibly rare condition.
Albinism is an inherited genetic condition caused by the lack of melanin, the pigment formed in the skin, hair, and eyes. In Australia, about 1 in 17,000 people have some type of albinism.
It occurs in all ethnic and racial groups and the levels of pigmentation can vary depending on its type. In some instances, it can cause health conditions, especially eye problems.
For Sarrinah, it’s too soon to tell if she will require glasses, but at this stage, the beautiful little girl has good vision and is able to fully see her mum, dad, and surroundings.
They were checking her eyes every week, every two weeks and now she is fine.”
‘Finally at home with us’
After about a month and a half in Liverpool, Sarrinah was transferred to The Royal Hospital for Women where she stayed for another month. Then they transferred her to the Wollongong Hospital for another three weeks.
Sarrinah, who was born in late February 2022, finally came home in mid-June 2022.
Youna tells Mum Central that Sarinnah is a chilled-out little baby who doesn’t cry often and is happily settling into her new world.
She’s finally at home with us. She is still in her feeding tube at the moment, and she doesn’t have the strength to suck. But she sleeps well and is doing just fine.”
She’s now 5kg and is growing leaps and bounds every day.
When Sarrinah was in the hospital all the nurses and staff used to come and see her and our friends and family adore her.”
We can see why! What a beautiful little girl – thank you to Youna for sharing her birth story with Mum Central. Youna shares her story to help raise donations for other premature babies like Sarrinah. You can learn more through The Royal Hospital for Women Foundation.
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