Host: Mel McDonald – Rangeland NRM
Written by Mel McDonald – Kimberley Project Manager, Rangelands NRM.
It is amazing how an experience can give you a new perspective on life. For me, the early arrival of Trent gave me new appreciation for humanity. In the months after Trent’s birth, we received an overwhelming bout of support which has literally left us speechless.
After Trent’s birth, it did not take long for the reality to set in that he and I would be in Darwin until at least his due date – nearly four months away yet! One of the nurses at the hospital helped Judd find a furnished unit only five minutes drive from the hospital for me to rent which was extremely lucky as accommodation in Darwin is not easy to find. The cost of this would have been a huge financial strain if it was not for the fantastic Patient Assisted Travel Scheme, which in WA receives Royalties for Regions Fund support, so is more generous than in other states.
My mum came up from southern WA, “just try to keep me away” she said, to help me settle into the unit while Judd flew home to get my car. This was a 2000 km drive but even with stopping to have drinks with friends to wet the baby’s head, he and his mate, who came along to provide moral support, managed it in two days.
Both Judd and I received fabulous support from our workplaces. Judd kept busy with work, flying up to Darwin for about four days per fortnight. It was hard as when he was on the Station he just wanted to be in Darwin, but when he was in Darwin he felt helpless and was constantly on the phone sorting out things back at the Station. Rangelands NRM was very supportive and allowed me to keep working remotely from Darwin. The plan was for me to drop back to part time after the birth – it just came a bit earlier than intended! Being able to continue working kept me busy in between hospital visits and maintained a connection to home. I spent time at the hospital at least twice every day and a few times even visited in the middle of the night – I was up expressing every three hours anyway!
I simply cannot believe the support we received from friends and acquaintances. A girl who I had only met a few times collaborated with a good friend to organise a fund-raising raffle with tickets sold at the Broome Rodeo and the Willare four hour Enduro motorbike race. They then travelled out to Yeeda Station and used the money raised to paint and furnish Trent’s nursery. This was finished off with the most comfortable nursing chair you can imagine, which many friends had put in for. I don’t know how Judd managed to keep it a secret, but it was the most wonderful surprise when I finally got home.
Something that makes me so proud to be a part of the Kimberley community was that a hat was passed around at a meeting of the Pastoralists and Graziers Association Kimberley Division. This, along with a very generous donation from the Ord Valley Country Women’s Association amounted to quite a sum. Most of these donations were anonymous and we are humbled by this support — proud and speechless.
All this is in addition to the wonders of modern medicine and the delightful staff of Derby and Darwin Hospitals. The nurses in the Neonatal Unit are so patient and gentle with both the tiny babies and the parents! I will be forever grateful for the support given by two girls volunteering their time at Darwin Royal Hospital to support parents of premature and sick babies through the Miracle Babies Foundation. The confidence it gives when you receive support from someone who has been through exactly what you are going through and come out the other side is phenomenal. These girls have now become good friends.
There are countless others who helped both Judd and myself through this traumatic time. We will never forget the gratitude we feel and hope we can pass on that feeling to others in the future.
We count our lucky stars every moment of every day that we seem to have a healthy happy little seven and a half month old boy (seven and a half months from his due date). He just has a few scars from hospital procedures and will have his first birthday in less than one month’s time!!