Isabelle Barnett is finally home after being born almost four months early.By Ivy Wise
Born nearly four months early and weighing a tiny 727g, Isabelle Barnett has not only defied enormous odds; she made it home the day before her due date.
Isabelle was due a week ago today, but has spent the past 15 weeks in hospital fighting to stay alive.
Last Thursday, mum Kelly finally took her home to Mathoura, where dad Warren, sister Georgia, 6, and brother James, 4, were waiting.
‘‘I didn’t think the day would come when I got to bring her home,’’ Kelly said.
‘‘The kids were so excited to bring her home.
‘‘It feels like we have been in a whirlwind. It took a fair amount of weeks before Isabelle had improved enough that I could even think she would one day be able to come home.’’
Born on October 11, at only 25 weeks gestation, Isabelle had a 50 per cent chance of survival. She had to be resuscitated three times.
Fortunately, Kelly had been airlifted to Melbourne’s Mercy hospital three days before Isabelle was born.
‘‘I had been feeling unwell for about seven weeks,’’ Kelly said.
‘‘I was bleeding and losing weight, so my doctor in Deniliquin thought it would be best for me to go to Melbourne.
‘‘We thought I’d get a month or two in hospital before she was born, but I got there on the Monday and Isabelle was born on Thursday.’’
Because she was extremely premature, Isabelle had to be resuscitated immediately and it was several hours before Kelly saw her for the first time.
‘‘I was surprised when they came in and told me I had a girl. There wasn’t much hope at that stage,’’ Kelly said.
‘‘I knew she was going to be small, but when I actually saw her, I was blown away at how something so little could be alive.’’
Because of the chest compressions, Isabelle developed a pneumothorax (collapsed lung) and the specialist doctor told the couple there was a chance she might not make it, while her extreme prematurity meant there was a high chance of cerebral palsy, deafness, eye and lung problems.
In the first month of her life, Isabelle had already undergone heart surgery, three blood transfusions and during her time at the Mercy, underwent four shots of adrenaline while receiving countless courses of antibiotics.
‘‘Once she had the heart surgery, she improved within six days. It made a big difference in her outcome,’’ Kelly said.
Kelly stayed in Melbourne with Isabelle nearly the whole time, making a few trips home.
This meant Warren had to prepare Georgia for school and James for pre-school, as well as make school lunches, cook dinners, clean the house, do the shopping and drive them to their weekly swimming lessons, all the while milking the cows at their 2000 hectare farm.
He also had to drive Georgia the 25km to Bunnaloo Public School on multiple occasions.
‘‘The first week, I missed the school bus every day,’’ he said.
‘‘Georgia was also the only one to turn up in uniform on free-dress day.’’
Warren said it was just a matter of coping as best as he could.
‘‘Once I got into a routine, the kids just adapted,’’ he said.
‘‘They learnt how to do stuff on their own and be more organised.
‘‘I guess it made me realise how much stuff my wife really does.’’
After 97 days in the Mercy, Isabelle had improved enough and was transferred to Deniliquin hospital, where she spent nine days, before going home.
She remains on a low-flow oxygen delivery system, which she will need for about another three months to help with respiratory support for her chronic lung disorder.
‘‘She’s been through so much and for her to come through pretty much unscathed is a miracle,’’ Kelly said.
‘‘Her doctor told us she has defied the odds.’’
Although it has been a tough, emotional and confronting few months for the family, Warren said they were stronger for it.
‘‘It’s life. When there’s a challenge, you just have to work your way through it,’’ he said.
Weighing 668g at her lowest, Isabelle is now a healthy 2.82kg, the size of a small newborn.
And thanks to a combination of breast and expressed milk and vitamin supplements, she is getting stronger by the day.
‘‘Now she’s home, we’re looking forward to getting back to normality and just enjoy having a baby,’’ Kelly said.
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