As part of the commemoration
 of the 2023 Prematurity Day in Port Vila yesterday, Miss Debbie Melsul, the mother of a premature baby shared her experience about her tough journey as a parent of a baby born during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2022.

The baby came early at just 32 weeks, weighing only 0.89 grams. She shared how they had to be separated because of COVID-19, making it a challenging time.

The baby had to stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and the mother had to wait at home until she tested negative for COVID-19 before she could see her child again after a week.

For eight weeks in the NICU, “it was hard and challenging. I was flooded with thoughts of what I could have done as a preemie mum to prevent this. I was terrified. I cried for my son. I’m sure other mothers present today had felt the same thing,” she shared.

Ms Melsul continued, “I cried seeing my son had tubes all over him. I was anxious. It was a roller coaster experience. Some days you think everything is going well, and the others, there may be complications.”

The journey had its share of problems like an infection in the baby’s umbilical cord, which lasted for a week, and trouble with feeding. But the mom stayed strong.

She stayed at the NICU, where days became weeks, which turned into months. Melsul said she and other preemie mothers had to wake up every three hours to feed their babies. She found comfort in a special kind of care called kangaroo care, commonly known as skin-to-skin care, where she held her baby close against her skin.

“I found myself singing to my son during kangaroo care. Talking, laughing, and above all, feeling his heartbeat against my chest. That was all that mattered during my journey,” she said.

Even when things got tough, a team of doctors and nurses, were supportive. She acknowledged that teamwork was displayed by a dynamic team of nurses and doctors working together and looking after their babies. The mom is thankful for their hard work and also appreciates the help from her family.

Her son is currently one year and eight months old, wearing extra-large diapers, and weighs over 17 kilograms.

Ms Melsul expressed her utmost gratitude to the nurses and doctors. The mother’s message to others in similar situations is full of hope.

“To mothers out there going through the same situation, you will get through this. Those little humans are fearless fighters. The courage and strength that a tiny little human holds is phenomenal and amazing. Just as the banners read, ‘Small actions, big impact’. For each day that passes, be optimistic. Be faithful in the small things.

“Believe in small actions of care provided to our little humans, because that makes progress.”

A young father who is also a first-time father, also shared his experience of having premature twin-baby girls. The twins were discharged from the hospital on Thursday this week.

Junior Pakoa mentioned that he learned a lot from the experienced nurses in the NICU.

According to Pakoa, his babies spent three weeks at the NICU before they left for home.

He said it was a challenging time because one of the twins was really sick. The young father stood by his partner, the mother of the babies, and together they took care of their little ones. He pointed out how important it is for both parents to be there for their newborns.

He also thanked the nurses and doctors who supported them during their stay at the NICU.