Labour Journey

Birth story – Premature baby

I lay in the hospital bed, less than eight hours after giving birth to you and a song came on Spotify: ‘I get to love you’ by Ruelle.

“It’s the best thing that I’ll ever do. I get to love you. It’s a promise I’m making to you: Whatever may come your heart I will choose. Forever I’m yours, Forever I do.”

Tears streamed down my face, my darling girl, because you and Daddy were not with me. My heart broke, it broke for you and it broke that I was not with Daddy, and he had to do this by himself.

My darling girl, you decided to arrive very early. But you know what? I trusted you. I trusted you so much in knowing that you needed to come early. 27+6 is a number that I have read, heard and said so many times. This was when you arrived, just over 12 weeks early. Kennedy girl, you gave me such a shock. Mumma thought she had a great plan, an elective c section (after a very traumatic birth with your brother, Brook). This did not happen, you pushed me into something that I never ever wanted to do, have a vaginal birth and be in labour again. But that’s OK, because you know what? I did it! We did it!

I was scared

Kennedy, I am so sorry, when you were born the delivery team asked if I wanted to look at you. I said no, I just couldn’t. Mumma needed to process what had just happened, and I was so scared, scared to admit that this was actually reality.

Once you were born, the amazing team did what they needed to do, they intubated you and took you to the Specialist Care Baby Unit (SCBU). Mumma and Daddy are sorry we left you, that we weren’t by your side. We had to listen and trust the medical team and come back to you when we were allowed to do so.

It felt like hours before we were back with you, but we came back to you, I said we were always going to.

Kennedy, I saw you in the incubator. I saw you with all sorts of wires and machines around you. I saw your face that was so bruised. I saw your tiny 1,260g body lying there. I saw your dark brown hair just like your brother Brook’s. I saw you hurting. I saw you. I saw myself cry. I saw myself hurt. I saw Daddy hurt. I saw Daddy cry. And then I saw you and Daddy leave to fly to Wellington. And I was alone.

I cried for you

My darling girl, I lay in bed that night after having you without you in the room. I heard other babies cry. I cried for you. I cried because I had no idea. No idea what it meant to have an extreme premature baby. No idea what it meant that we had to be in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). No idea what any of this meant.

Kennedy, I remember flying to Wellington to be with you and Daddy and this heavy feeling came over me. I didn’t get to say goodbye to your brother Brook. I didn’t get to kiss him. I didn’t get to explain to him what Mumma and Daddy were doing and what had happened. I didn’t get to pack his bag with all his special things for Nannie’s house. I didn’t get to say “I love you” to him. Kennedy, Mumma had no idea how I was going to be a Mumma to both you and Brookie, while you were in two different cities, 318km apart.

Your Daddy is so strong

My darling girl, your Daddy is so strong. He really is. He was with you every moment while I couldn’t be with you. He met me after I flew in and took me to see you in your room in the NICU. Kennedy, your Dad had learnt so much already. Mumma could see a look in his eye, it was a look that he knew that you were going to be OK.

Kennedy, I learnt so much that I thought I was never going to learn. Intubated, Continuous Positive Airways Pressure (CPAP), longline, blood gases, blood transfusion, cares, full feeds, intravenous IV line, iron, Vitadol C, morphine, oxygen saturation, daily weight, nasogastric tube, intravenous lipids, human milk fortifier, TPN, high flow, low flow.

These our darling girl became a focus in the conversations Daddy and I were having. Every progress you made we celebrated with you, and every setback you had we knew that you were going to fight.

Kennedy, Mumma struggled so much not being able to hold you. All I wanted to do was just grab you and run. I wanted to just run and get away from all this. It took so much of me to stay, to stay and fight with you. You are so lucky little girl that me and Daddy make such a great team.

Soaking up the moment

The day came for my first cuddle with you, and you know what? I didn’t cry. I think I was overcome with so much love that there was no way I could cry, but all I could do was just soak this moment up because I knew that I would have to wait another 24 hours to hold you again.

Kennedy, I am so sorry that I couldn’t be there for a lot of the medical procedures you had to go through. Head scans, eye tests, the longline procedure, vaccinations, blood transfusion, IV line change. It hurt too much for me to see you having to go through these. It hurt knowing that you would cry and be in pain. You had Daddy there. Daddy was there to hold your hand when he could and to comfort you when he was allowed to.

I had to look after myself

Kennedy, I had to look after myself and I knew that being there for those procedures was not OK for me.

My darling girl, it broke Mumma’s heart every single time that I left you in NICU or SCBU. I knew that I had to be well, and I knew that in order for me to love and give you the best of me I had to have some time for me. Kennedy, Mumma felt so guilty about this. How could I go for a walk or for a coffee when you lay there by yourself without me?

Every single time I left you it hurt. It hurt so so so much. And no, it did not get easier as time went on.

Flying home to Hastings

Kennedy, after being in NICU for four weeks the day finally came for you to be transferred back to Hastings SCBU. This time, me and you flew back home together, I had to, I didn’t want to, but Daddy was taking Brookie back home. I’m sorry that I didn’t want to. Mumma was so scared. I was so scared that something was going to happen to you. Mumma watched the monitor and listened to every noise.

I told myself that coming home was going to be easier, but it wasn’t. It was so much harder you being in SCBU than in NICU. I was so much further away from you. I couldn’t look out the window like I did at Ronald McDonald House and see the unit. I was a 20-minute drive from you now and leaving you was even harder than it ever was before.

You were getting bigger and stronger and I saw you lying there needing your Mumma. But I had to be there for Brookie as well, and it hurt me so much that he only saw me for a few hours a day.

You will be so proud of me

Darling girl, Mumma was never going to breastfeed you or express milk for you. I was still hurting from the painful experience I had with Brook. Breastfeeding was not for me, but I knew that I had to give you everything that I could, and one of the best things was breastmilk. So Mumma expressed every three hours for you. I had to do this. You needed my milk and it meant that Mumma could do something to help you.

Kennedy you will be so proud of me. I decided that when you were ready to start feeding orally I would give breastfeeding a go. Kennedy we did it, me and you. We breastfed! But you know what, baby girl, it wasn’t for Mumma again. I know you will be proud of me for being strong to say no and not do it. But Kennedy, I felt so bad for stopping. I knew that you needed the goodness of Mumma’s milk so Mumma made a decision to continue expressing for however long I could do it. We got to five months exclusively, and still I kept going for you.

I didn’t want to get sick again

Kennedy, Mumma was so scared that I was going to get sick again. Mumma did not want to get post-traumatic stress disorder and postnatal depression. Every day in the beginning I felt like I was just waiting. Waiting to lose control, while at the same time trusting myself in knowing that I wouldn’t.

I would sit next to you in NICU each night and write. I would write and show gratitude for my day. I needed to keep telling myself what I was grateful for and what had gone well in that day. I needed to know that I was OK, and at times I was not OK and that was fine. Kennedy, I could see people around me worrying too, worrying that I was not OK.

But you know what, Mumma got help. Mumma saw a clinical psychologist, and this was one of the best decisions Mumma had ever made. A weekly check-in with her to talk about you helped me so much darling girl. Mumma was not ashamed that I had to do this, I was proud. I hope you are proud of me too.

We trusted the nurses

Darling girl, you would have heard Mumma’s voice so much in your time in NICU and SCBU. That’s because Mumma needed to connect with the nurses. I felt better in knowing that you were left with them because I was able to chat with them and talk to them about us, our family and about them. Mumma had lots of good chats with the nurses, which I know you heard. This is why it was so hard leaving NICU and SCBU – because of the relationships we had formed with the nurses. Even though every single day of the 11 weeks we did in hospital I just really wanted for us to be a family at home together. It was such a bittersweet moment leaving SCBU. I never knew that I would feel so isolated at home. I missed SCBU so much, which I know is odd, but I really did. It was like I was grieving. I felt like a big part of us was gone.

My heart is full of love

Kennedy, you have passed the six-month milestone. Just last week I looked at you and I cried. I cried so much because there was this feeling of disconnection for me. I have the images and memories in my head of you when you were born and at the beginning of your journey. I look at you now and it does not feel like you are that baby. How is that so? How do I work through that Kennedy? Will time help with that? Or is that something I will forever feel? But what I do know Kennedy, is that Mumma is so proud of me, you, Daddy and Brookie in this journey. My heart is so full of love for you, our precious girl.

Kennedy my darling girl, I get to love you.

Love Mumma

Sam and Kelsie Moroney live in Napier with their two beautiful children, Brook and Kennedy.

Some links if you need to get help, of any kind:

  • Parents Centre – find a childbirth education programme or parent education class near you
  • PADA (Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Aotearoa) – a website with resources and information for wha-nau suffering perinatal distress
  • Lifeline (open 24/7) – 0800 543 354
  • Depression Helpline (open 24/7) – 0800 111 757
  • Ministry of Health Healthline (open 24/7) – 0800 611 116
  • Samaritans (open 24/7) – 0800 726 666
  • Suicide Crisis Helpline (open 24/7) – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends
  • Youthline (open 24/7) – 0800 376 633. You can also text 234 for free between 8am and midnight, or email
  • 0800 WHAT’S UP? children’s helpline – phone 0800 9428 787. Online chat is available from 7pm to 10pm every day at
  • Rural Support Trust – 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP)
  • Alcohol Drug Helpline (open 24/7) – 0800 787 797. You can also text 8691.
  • Mental Health Foundation has a free resource and information service


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