Knox Lambert was two weeks old before his parents Jorja Ermel and Daniel Lambert could hold him.
It wasn’t how the Eaglehawk couple had pictured their first cuddle.
Knox was covered in IV lines and monitors. A nurse put him on their chest, where they had to hold him completely still.
It made everything feel like they hadn’t imagining the past fortnight.
Baby Knox was born unexpectedly and quite sick at 33 weeks in January.
Read more: Bendigo mothers pound the pavement for prems
After birth he was diagnosed with Congenital chylothorax and Hydrops fetalis.
He didn’t breath on his own until he was eight days old.
“It just felt real to hold him, because he was in an isolate unit before that, you were pretty much looking at him through glass,” Ms Ermel said.
In the end, Knox spent 71 days in Neonatal Intensive Care.
For weeks Ms Ermel and Mr Lambert didn’t know whether their baby would survive, as Knox’s health went up and down.
“That was pretty scary, because we had no idea what we were walking into each morning,” Ms Ermel said.
“The hardest thing was not knowing what was going to happen.”
Ms Ermel’s pregnancy had been uncomplicated until the days before Knox was born. She was at the hospital in Bendigo for a separate scan when doctors realised something was wrong.
They were lucky they had happened to go in, Ms Ermel went into labour naturally the next day.
“It all happened very quickly. We went to the hospital to get a scan… and she got admitted and the next minute she’s off to Melbourne having the baby,” Mr Lambert said.
Hydrops fetalis had caused fluid to collect under his skin, leaving him heavily swollen. Congential chylothorax saw fluid from his lymphatic system lead into his lungs.
The conditions saw him weigh three kilograms at birth, due to the build up of fluid. In his first week in the world Knox lost one kilogram, all due to fluid loss.
While in NICU Knox had six chest drains to remove fluid from his lungs.
It was the week after his due date that Knox’s health took a turn for the better. He started having less fluid in his lungs, and was able to take breast milk.
Doctors weren’t sure what caused either condition, and weren’t sure what cured them. One theory is that his body just grew out of it.
“It was a bit surreal,” Ms Ermel said.
Three weeks later they could take Knox home.
The drive back to Bendigo was the scariest of Ms Ermel and Mr Lambert’s lives.
They had only put Knox in the baby seat once before the trip. He was “a champ” his Dad said, but both parents were on the edge of their seats.
Now Knox is a healthy, happy eight month old.
Ms Ermel, Mr Lambert and Knox will be taking part in the Walk for Prems in Ballarat, to raise funds and awareness for sick and premature babies.
Their team is called Fightlikeknox.
They know they couldn’t have gotten through the difficult time in Melbourne without the support of their families, and the doctors and nurses at the hospital.
They also credit the Ronald McDonald House and Life’s Little Treasures Foundation with getting them through.
Funds raised will go to Life’s Little Treasures to help provide parents’ packs to support families going through premature births.
Little things like the foundation providing special premature baby nappies, which are quite expensive, helped them to cope.
Walk for Prems will take place on Sunday October 28.
More information at bit.ly/2zxCx2h
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