After experiencing a complication-free pregnancy with her son, four-year-old Luka, Zvendana Drakula was expecting the same when she was pregnant with her second child.
However, halfway through her pregnancy, she was given the news no pregnant woman wants to hear.
“During my ultrasound I was told I had a short, but closed cervix. I was given progesterone and went home, but was told to come back in two weeks to be checked again.”
Two weeks later, at 22 weeks, things had progressed and she was immediately admitted to hospital on strict bed rest to avoid going into labour. Soon after, fearing she would go into labour at any time, she needed to be moved to a hospital equipped to care for a premature baby that would likely be born before 30 weeks.
This news was the beginning of long journey to safely delivering her baby.
“You’re never really ready when something like this happens to you, but from 22 weeks we were just trying to take it week by week,” she said.
Zvevdana came to Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s at 26 weeks, hoping to make it at least another month. However, at 29 weeks, Zvevdana’s water broke.
“We tried to keep the baby in for as long as possible after that, but I was starting to feel sick and knew my body wasn’t right. I was experiencing contractions but wasn’t dilating. I had also developed an infection so needed to have an emergency c-section.”
Baby Sofija was born on 3 November at 30 weeks weighing 1.49 kilograms.
Having been told at 22 weeks that her baby was unlikely to survive, hearing those first cries was something Zvendana had only dreamt about.
“I was able to be awake for the delivery and it was so amazing. When I saw her, when I heard that she was crying I was so relieved, I really didn’t expect that. I was really expecting the worst.”
Sofija is now almost two weeks old and thriving.
“In the beginning it was so shocking, I was hearing about funerals for my baby. The first 24 hours after being admitted to hospital that first time were so shocking with the information I was given.
“But as the weeks have gone on, I’m so pleased we’ve managed to get from week to week and have Sofija here with us. The doctors here have taken good care of me, and I know Sofija is in the best hands.
“She’s already breathing on her own without a CPAP machine and not requiring any additional infusions or fluids. She’s taking breast milk well and I get to spend a couple of hours each day cuddling her.”
Now, Zvevdana is looking forward to the moment when Sofija is ready to go home, whenever that may be.
“It’s been a really emotional time being in hospital, especially being separated from my son for nine weeks. But we know we will be home soon.
“From 22 weeks I wasn’t expecting a good outcome, I was just praying to get to 28 weeks. But she made it, it was up to her and she did it. Even now, when she’s ready we will be able to go home.”
Western Health have joined 50 other hospitals in Australia as part of the National Preterm Birth Prevention Collaborative, with the aim to reduce preterm and early term births by 20 percent by March 2024.