Bernadette Murphy’s pregnancy with baby Emerson came with early complications.
At her 20-week scan, Bernadette was told that doctors couldn’t see her baby, Emerson’s stomach.
Bernadette was quickly referred to Mater, where it was confirmed that Emerson had Oesophageal Atresia—a rare birth defect where baby is born without the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach.
With this news, the rest of Bernadette’s pregnancy was consumed by anxiety, stress and the unknown.
Soon after Emerson was born, doctors confirmed something no parent wants to hear. Emerson would not survive without surgery to repair and connect her vital organs.
But Emerson was too tiny and too fragile to undergo the operation yet. So instead of taking her baby home, Bernadette had to leave Emerson at Mater Mother’s Neonatal Critical Care Unit (NCCU) for five and a half months.
During those months, Emerson clung on for survival, and Bernadette clung to the hope that one day, she’d take her baby girl home. At the same time, the Murphy family were juggling life between Emerson’s hospital stay in Brisbane and their home in Toowoomba.
“I just didn’t expect how hard it would be emotionally—leaving her there. It felt like a physical reaction. I felt like I had lost a limb and I was leaving the hospital without a part of me,” Bernadette explained.
Thankfully, Mater’s expert doctors and nurses were there, not just in a medical sense, but also providing emotional support for the whole Murphy family.
Eventually, Emerson was strong enough to have her surgery, and when the time came for the Murphy’s to take her home, they were overwhelmed with emotion.
“It’s just beyond words, you can’t even imagine how grateful you are to have your child… I say to my husband, Grant, all the time—you go through this intense, traumatic experience and you’re a totally different person on the other side. You have gratitude for the tiny little things that helped you survive. We are forever grateful to Mater—not just for the treatment they provided to Emerson, but for everything they did for us so we still felt like ‘mum and dad.’”
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