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ruby and ebby Sisters Ruby and Ebby Merrett are peas in a pod. Little blondies who go everywhere, do everything together. But their starts in life couldn’t have been more different. Ruby was the result of a hope and wish so strong, despite all odds. Ebby was a gift, as unexpected as she was celebrated. The goal to start a family wasn’t as smooth sailing as most for Bendigo couple Kristy and Shaun Merrett. Eventually, after Kristy underwent surgery to correct kinks in her tubes, Ruby was conceived through the help of IVF. A little miracle. “Ruby has been a real eye opener for all of us,” Kristy says. “If I get caught up in the world my dad says, ‘look at Ruby, look at what we’ve been through’ and everything is in perspective.” Ruby was born at 25 weeks, defying all statistics. Kristy’s waters had broken 10 days earlier, and she was sent to the Royal Women’s hospital in anticipation of the early arrival. It was a harsh eye opener for Kristy and Shaun. “Every three days the doctor would come down from NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) and go through the percentages with me, of survival, of whether or not the baby would be breathing if it was born then, of the likelihood of brain damage. Then, the girl I was sharing a room with down there, she lost a little baby three days before I had Ruby. Her baby only survived two days. They had a little service for her in the chapel there.” When Ruby was born, she was too fragile to touch. “Her skin was translucent, you could see through it to all her organs,” Kristy says. “She was my hand in length, that’s all she was and her ears looked like someone had pencilled them in, they hadn’t popped out yet.” Ruby was placed in an isolette in the intensive care unit and placed on a CPAP machine, which pumped air into her lungs. Kristy describes the effort for a baby that premature to breath on their own would be like trying to blow up a new balloon with each and every breath. Hard work. For the next three months, Ruby had a loved one by her side. Kristy spent 15 hours a day by the isolette, helping care for her tiny baby, watching her grow. “At least Ruby was my first and I didn’t have anyone else to think about – she had my whole, undivided attention,” Kristy says. “At the time it didn’t seem like it was easy but in hindsight, she was really good for a 25-weeker. Not many get out of hospital before their due date, and she did.” The 12-month mark of a baby’s life is a big date for any parent, but for parents of a prem baby, it’s a milestone to truly celebrate. And for the Merrett family, the joy was doubled. “We found out I was pregnant with Ebby the day before Ruby’s first birthday,” Kristy says. “We’d already started to talk about another round of IVF, because we thought it would take a while and we didn’t want a big age difference.” But Ruby’s little sister couldn’t wait for that … ■

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Loddon Mallee Kids (LMK) is a local organisation that provides support, information and resources for families of premature babies. LMK premmie support group Bendigo, have volunteers who visit new parents of premmie children at both St John of God and Bendigo Health. Parents receive a support bag, resources, information and peer support. LMK hold fortnightly playgroups for families and their children. Relying primarily on corporate sponsorship and philanthropic donations to operate, LMK hold various fundraising events throughout the year. The next event being the LMK Ball, to be held on Saturday the 18th of February at The Foundry Hotel Complex Platinum Room. For more information visit or call Laura Campbell on 0407 534 950.

BgoMag Issue 25  
BgoMag Issue 25  

Bendigo Magazine Issue 25 - Summer 2011