Miracle BabiesBy Business Chicks | Apr 16, 12 04:05 PM
Premium member Melinda Cruz is helping premature babies and their families across Australia.
Melinda Cruz is the CEO and Founder of the Miracle Babies Foundation. Here she shares her Big Dream ...
What is your Big Dream? My big dream is for every family who goes through the heartbreak of having a baby born premature or sick to have access to support. At a time when a family should be experiencing wonderful highs, filled with joy and love as they welcome a new baby, it is devastating to be coping with the fear and trauma of watching your baby fight for its life.
What started this passion?
I never actually set out to change the world and my life was going in one direction until I had my children. Due to a bicornuate (heart-shaped) uterus my first son, Elijah, was born at 34 weeks. I spent five weeks prior to his birth in hospital on medication to stop my contractions but when my waters broke at 32 weeks, all medication was ceased to allow my labour to proceed. However, the labour did not start for another two weeks and after a long 32-hour labour, Elijah was delivered. Elijah spent two and a half weeks in the NICU before being allowed home.
I really thought that my experience with Elijah was a one-off thing. That was not to be as when I was pregnant with baby number two, I began experiencing pains at 26 weeks and was admitted immediately into hospital. Dillon was born at 27 weeks. Dillon was resuscitated at birth and spent nine long weeks in hospital before being allowed to go home. He then had to return for two days for a hernia operation.
I think the experience of having Dillon so early is what truly changed my life. When a baby is born so early and is fighting for its life, even with a happy ending, there is so much disbelief and heartache. You really do mourn the ideal of what having a baby would be like and unfortunately nobody talks about the guilt you hold for “having done this to your baby”. As a mother, your promise is to protect them and when, from the very beginning you can’t, you feel like you have failed them before it has even begun.
After the experience of having two babies cared for by the NICU, I desperately wanted to stay linked to other mums who had gone through a similar experience. I approached senior hospital staff at Liverpool Hospital’s NICU with the desire of creating a charity and support group based at Liverpool.
They were very supportive and helped by putting me in contact with other passionate mums; it did not take long for a group to form. This was July 2005. By August, a name was decided: Miracle Babies.
In September 2005, I discovered I was pregnant with baby number three. This time, pains began at 23 weeks and remained till the baby was born. I safely delivered a beautiful boy at exactly 37 weeks. Jasper was taken home on day four, however two days later it was discovered that he had jaundice at dangerous levels and was admitted into the NICU immediately to begin phototherapy treatment.
Before having my boys, I had no concept of what it meant to have a premature baby or how widespread it was – most people aren’t.
While most Australians are aware of the impact on society of breast and prostate cancer, many are totally unaware of the number of cases of premature and sick newborns each year. Unfortunately, more Australian babies are admitted into a NICU or SCN every year than the combined number of people diagnosed with breast and prostate cancer.
What have been the biggest obstacles? As Miracle Babies was created by mums whose only commonality was having an NICU baby, not the particular skill sets necessary to build an organisation, we have had to learn, and still are learning, so much along the way about what it takes to run a long term, successful, sustainable organisation that will help thousands and thousands of Australian families every year and the NICUs that care for them.
What do you do to get through the difficult times? During tough times, I draw on many things to get me through. I think about my children and what they went through. I think of the devotion of my team and all our volunteers and the belief they have in what we are achieving. I think of all the families we are and can make a difference to. I also think of how far we have come. Sometimes taking a moment to look back and see what you’ve accomplished gives you the strength to move forward.
Finish this sentence. “If My Big Dream becomes a reality, I would … feel that I gave real meaning to the way my babies, and the babies of those in my team, chose to enter the world. I would feel that their struggle to be here filled a purpose that was bigger than them.
Connect with and request Melinda's online business card here
May is Miracle Babies' National Awareness Month. Get involved in some way;
During the national awareness month, the Miracle Month of May, Miracle Babies invite individuals, community organisations, schools and corporates to GO MUFTI FOR MIRACLES.
Tuesday 1 May 2012 - WA Golf Day at Mount Lawley Golf Club, Perth
Friday 4 May 2012 - Annual Ball at Doltone House, Darling Island Wharf Pyrmont, Sydney