As told by mum, Ella

My journey began when my doctor told me I’d find it hard to conceive due to PCOS and that IVF might be the only way we would be able to become parents. We were extremely fortunate that in January 2023 I fell pregnant naturally. The start of my pregnancy, I felt great, but as soon at I hit the 6 week mark the vomiting started! I was so crook every morning and night! Everything else was looking good and we found out we were going to have a wee girl!

At about 24 weeks I felt reduced movements from baby girl, and knew something wasn’t right. I saw my midwife who did all of the normal checks and thought I should he send at Christchurch Women’s Hospital to have some scans done. Everything came back normal and I was sent home and to carry on normal activities.

Three weeks later I was on school holidays and I was due to complete a routine gestational diabetes test. After the test the nurse said I should feel a few extra movements because of all the sugar I had just drunk. I wasn’t feeling more moments at all, now less than before test. I decided to message my midwife who referred me straight to CWH. Once I was up there they hooked me up to a CTG scanner and noticed that her heart rate was jumping from normal to below 60 bpm then back to normal again. This is when I knew something wasn’t right.. I was told at 6pm on the 15th of July 2023, I was having my baby girl at 27+3. I have never been so scared, nervous and upset in my life.

Nova Sadie Gibbons was born at 9:15 pm weighing 1032 grams. A beautiful wee girl with a frown that she still has today. This was when I knew that I was going to be living in Christchurch for the next wee while. I didn’t even know where to start…. Where will I live? How will we afford the commuting and the accommodation? What’s going to happen with Nova? All these questions were going through my mind and I felt empty. I felt lost. I felt anxious. This is when we were paired up with a social worker to help us with all of the questions I had.

My first time going into NICU I felt so distant from my wee girl, as I had all these ideals on how the birth would go and our first night together, but instead she was on the floor below us, in an incubator with wires attached to her. This is not how I imagined it.

My first kangaroo cuddle, I sat in the chair and burst into tears, she was so tiny and I never ever realised someone could be so small, all the buzzers, cords and the noises, it was just so hard to experience.

I remember the first day I met Jemma from Little Miracles Trust, I was standing by incubator, it was refreshing to see a familiar face as I knew her from the preschool I use to teach at. I remember giving her a hug and she said to me “everything will be okay, Nova will be a fighter and they won’t remember any of this”. The care package that she brought with her was amazing, it was just what I needed. The purple bag was perfect to transport expressed milk to and from Ronald McDonald House. I then met Susie, she was just this amazing happy lady who experienced being in the NICU with her own baby! It was great listening to their stories and hearing how wonderful their babies are today. I loved coming in and catching up with the ladies throughout the week just having someone to listen and support us in anyway we needed. If I didn’t have them there, the experience would have been harder than it needed to be. I am so grateful for everything they did for us. I am still in contact with them today and make sure I share photos of Nova!

As we moved through all the different rooms within the NICU, it was great to meet all the different amazing nurses who were always happy to listen to us talk about things that just weren’t just NICU related, they gave us advice and hugged me when that was all I needed. It was great having their support whilst my partner Reed was back in Ashburton working. I loved the days when he could come spend time with Nova and I in the NICU.

Nova was amazing in the NICU, we just took each day as it came and celebrated the small wins, such as we weened her oxygen down or her incubator temperature was reducing as these were the small wins to keep me going and my keep hopes up of getting to go home.

I sat in a chair everyday for 11 weeks (80 Days) this felt like a lifetime! She came off oxygen at 34 weeks and I was able to start breastfeeding her. I found this really hard as I wasn’t able to see how much she consuming, but it felt like a good “feed”. I think it’s important to trust your gut instinct and do what’s you think is right, mums know their babies best. I changed to expressed milk and fed her from a bottle, this way I was able to see how much she was getting and this eliminated any reason why she may not have been putting on weight.

As we moved through the different rooms there were different milestones that we experienced for the first time and looked forward to. Nova had her first bath in the NICU, which she loved and still loves being in the water today!

Nova finally came home weighing 2.8 kilos on the 1st of October 2023. She still had her feeding tube attached however that was it.

We made lifelong friends in the NICU with people who could relate to what we had been through and I am so grateful for that and all of the Little Miracles Trust staff, Ronald McDonald House and all of the lovely nurses at CWH.

Thanks so much for sharing your personal story.

We get a lot of positive feedback from families in a neonatal unit who read these stories and feel strength, hope and positivity knowing that they are not alone going through these experiences and feeling certain emotions.

If you would like to discuss sharing the story of your neonatal journey, we’d love to hear from you. Please email

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  • The Little Miracles Trust provides support to families of premature or sick full-term babies as they make their journey through Neonatal Intensive Care, the transition home, and onwards. We do not receive any Government funding and are entirely reliant on the generosity of individuals, companies and organisations in the form of donations, value-in-kind donations, grants, sponsorship and fundraising events to supplement operating costs and fund our services and initiatives.
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