Helen Haslett with her baby Naomi. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

CHELSEA BOYLE

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One year on from a traumatic birth, a local optometrist is giving back to a charity that supports families with premature newborns.

Specsavers Masterton co-owner Helen Haslett gave birth to her daughter, Naomi, eight weeks earlier than expected.

Following an emergency Caesarean-section, Naomi spent four weeks in the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) in Lower Hutt, and was then transferred to the Masterton SCBU for another two weeks.

Mrs Haslett said it was hard to describe the extreme emotion and stress when something goes wrong.

“There’s so much that you can’t control and everything happens so fast,” she said.

“I had no idea I was going into labour when it happened, I was just feeling unwell.”

The obstetrician wanted her to come in for a check.

“We got in the car but with nothing, no maternity bag, why would you at 32 weeks?”

Then suddenly the baby was coming, she did.

Naomi was one of more than 5000 babies that are born prematurely nationwide every year.

She had to stay in a covered incubator because she was not ready to be in the light and struggled with multiple apnoeas.

Mrs Haslett said it was hard not being able to touch Naomi in the incubator.

“You’re not really allowed to cuddle your baby – half an hour every day,” Mrs Haslett said.

“So I was staring at the box for six weeks.”

But Mrs Haslett stills considers the family lucky that there were not too many complications.

Her husband was in Wairarapa looking after the couple’s seven-year-old at the time.

“It’s easier if you live in Wellington,” Mrs Haslett said.

“For people in Wairarapa… it’s a long way to be away from your baby, so you will opt to be in Wellington but then you are away from the support of your family and friends.

“It is pretty tough.”

The nurses and doctors were wonderful but outside support would have been a huge help, she said.

Back then Mrs Haslett had no idea about The Neonatal Trust which provides help to families with premature babies.

“They’re an incredible organisation that provide much needed support to families that need it.

“I had never heard of the charity before and wish I had.

“Having access to their wealth of knowledge and support would have helped me immensely.”

Mrs Haslett said she wanted to raise awareness to ensure that nobody else missed out on connecting with the trust to get the help they need.

Today is World Prematurity Day.

Specsavers Masterton will be holding a fundraiser and donating $10 to the charity from every pair of glasses sold.