For new mothers in waiting, baby showers are usually a chance to celebrate and enjoy their last moments of child free bliss.
TV actress Kristy Wright has always dreamed of being a mum, she even starred as one on Home and Away.
But this celebration is bittersweet for Kristy, behind her smile lies anxiety and heartache… 6 weeks ago Kristy gave birth to her son Jai… he was 3 months premature.
Kristy was in her 27th week of pregnancy in her adopted home Los Angeles when Jai was born weighing in at just over a kilo or 2 pounds. His hands were the size of a fingernail, his head the size of an orange… for Kristy's partner Michaelis Jacoby it was a huge shock.
“I was filled with a lot of fear and love mixed together falling in love with how cute he ws weird and red and skinny kind of like a little old man he was so beautiful to me, and at the same time seeing all the drs rushing around him it was pretty nerve wracking.” Said Michaelis
“Viability rate for a premature baby is 24wks and he was born 27wks and one day. The Dr's don't give you hope, the nurses don't give you hope, it’s not their job to give you hope it’s their job to prepare you for the worst and that’s the worst thing because what you want is someone in power to say to you it’s going to be ok and nobody does.” Said Kristy.
And so began the rollercoaster for Kristy and Michaelis… spending their days inside LA's famous Cedars Sinai Hospital, urging their baby to survive. The first 2 weeks went well but the new parents could only touch him in the crib.
“His humidity crib was like my womb, most women get to grow a baby here inside them, but my baby gets to grow outside of me for the next 3 months, the positive side was that i got to see him, and I got to meet him earlier and I got to watch him grow and get strong.” Said Kristy
Then in his third week of life Kristy was finally allowed to hold her baby for the first time. Michaelis captured the moment Kristy will never forget.
“The joy was just amazing, I just remember he was so light, there was nothing of him, and I just cried and I think it was the first time I could finally think I can be a mother, this is my chance the opportunity to feel like a mother right now because there's not much opportunity to do that within there.” Said Kristy.
But just after this high, they hit a low. Jai developed a lung infection and blood tests revealed he had bacteria that caused meningitis.
“It was just a really quick slide back down to earth, to watch your baby stop breathing over and over again. I was up there when they had to bag resuscitate him and that freaked me out. He goes blue, having to shake him back to life, he stops breathing and I’m like ok baby come on breathe breathe, and that became par for the course when you become used to making your child take a breath there’s something not right about that, then it got to the stage we couldn't even do that.” Said Kristy
His weight dropped to just 750 grams. Jai fought back and 6 weeks on he's back up to 1 and a half kilogram but he's still tiny
Cocooned in a specially made humidity crib Jai has machines keeping him alive. Hhe has tubes for feeding and breathing, many other wires are monitoring his organs, in particular his oxygen and heart rate.
Already in his short life Jai has undergone 3 blood transfusions and 4 spinal taps... Just last week Drs found out he has cataracts in both eyes.
Today Kristy's life of tv fame starring in Home and Away, Police Rescue and Crash Palace seems like a distant memory to her.
“It's something when I think about now it feels like a lifetime ago that it happened to someone else, someone else’s memories," says Kristy.
But Kristy quit acting and got into events management. 2 years ago she met Michaelis and they immediately clicked.
This morning Kristy is feeling wiped out from a sleepless night. There's no newborn baby crying for milk at home but she still wakes every 3 hours.
“I have to make sure I keep pumping breast milk which when he's ready to feed, which will hopefully be in the next few weeks, I have enough milk to give him so it doesn't dry up so my sleep schedule is like having a newborn, it's every 3 hours I wake up and instead of putting a baby on my breast I put a machine," says Kristy.
We're about to meet Jai but the hospital will only allows us in to film for 20 minutes because he's still 2 months premature his immune system is very weak… infection control is vitally important inside this neonatal intensive care unit……even a minor cold …can be a great risk to Jai
Nurse Moira has been looking after Jay at the Cedars Sinai Hospital says “he's doing awesome, he's doing very well, he's doing exactly what he needs to be doing he's going right down the course he's supposed to be going, right now theres no issues , it doesn't mean there won't be issues later on but right now there’s no issues.”
It's the simple things many mums take for granted that Kristy looks forward to... changing his nappy and holding him for 3 hours a day, skin on skin .
“There's something biological inside me that knows its extremely wrong, just walking away from him every day saying goodnight is the strangest most bizarre thing, it just feels unnatural i just know that I’m meant to have him with me and we don't we leave him there.” Said Kristy
Because Jai arrived so early…Kristy is only now just starting to shop and get prepared. The couple are trying to take it one step at a time.
“Yeah we're a third of the way in, what scares me the most is it's a rollercoaster and I know now from experience that he's doing good now, but something else is going to happen and there’s going to be another challenge that we're going to have to face and then another one and probably another one and that’s the way of the life right now. It could be worse it cold be a lot worse were lucky we have him.” Said Kristy and Michaelis