By Derek Schlennstedt

Not particularly concerned, but unable to get rid of a worried feeling, Jacquie Smith from Monbulk drives to The Angliss hospital hoping everything is ok.

She’s 31 weeks pregnant – surely her baby can’t be arriving, she thinks.

“I had contractions on the early Saturday and by Sunday lunch time I went into the Angliss hospital,” she said.

“Alexcia was born three hours later.”

“It was my first birth and considering I had quite a good pregnancy up and till then it was a real shock … I wasn’t expecting it at all.”

“It was quite scary especially for your first time – I was in denial until I saw her.”

Jacquie’s little girl, Alexcia, was born at only 31 weeks – nine weeks earlier than expected. She balanced the scales at a meek 1.8kilograms.

Raising a premature baby has been an emotional rollercoaster for Jacquie, but her love for her daughter has never once wavered.

For the first seven weeks of her life Alexcia was in hospital. The hardest part Jacquie said was not being able to take her home.

“Not being able to bring her home was probably the hardest part.”

“You get up every morning and go in to hospital constantly and you’re on the phone to the hospital too and just seeing her go through her daily battles was really hard.”

“She was on a breathing ventilator for a few days and did quite well but she’s had some problems being able to breathe properly, as her lungs weren’t fully developed – we know now she has chronic lung disease.”

More than 48,000 Australian babies are admitted into neonatal and special care units every year.

On October 28 the Smith family is taking part in an Australian charity event for Life’s Little Treasures Foundation Walk for Prems. It aims to raise money for premature and sick babies who are immediately placed in neonatal intensive care.

In the past nine years the foundation has raised $1.4 million for sick and premature babies, and hopes to receive $300,000 in donations this year.

“Because I’ve been through the whole experience and didn’t really know much about how common it was until now and how much support you really do need when going through it, I wanted to give back.”

“It’s something that means a lot to me and to raise money for people to get that support-I’d love to be able to be a part of that.”

“Just being able to help in anyway is good.”

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