West Footscray’s Sharon and Chris Reay have shared their experience of heartbreak and hope in a bid to help others at high risk of losing their baby.
The pair share a healthy 18-month-old daughter Ellie, who was delivered at 37 weeks at a clinic at Frances Perry House.
Hailed as the first of its kind in Melbourne’s private sector, the clinic helps women who have experienced a stillbirth or loss of an unborn child or who are at high risk of having a preterm delivery.
Ms Reay credits the clinic’s Preterm Birth and Pregnancy Loss Group, run by obstetricians Scott Shemer and Mark Umstad, for giving her the “greatest gift” – the birth of her daughter.
Ms Reay had her first pregnancy soon after getting married. When due for her 20-week scan, some bleeding occurred.
She said she rang and subsequently visited her GP, and was told to proceed with the scan.
“We came back home and I just told my husband that I’m not feeling right about this, so called the hospital,” Ms Reay said.
“Within probably 10 minutes of us being there [at the hospital], my waters broke.”
Ms Reay suffered a condition known as cervical insufficiency, or short cervix.
“To this day, I kind of have blanked out that hour of my life,” she said.
“They moved us … to, they call it the Butterfly Room, which is where all the babies that they know are not going to survive … all the mums get sent there to have their babies.
“My husband and I, we had our baby boy. His name was Oscar.”
The couple decided to go through Frances Perry House with their second pregnancy.
At her 21-week appointment, Ms Reay was advised by Dr Shemer to get a cervical stitch.
“To this day, I always tell him that he’s given me my greatest gift and he’s literally saved Ellie’s life,” she said.
“What Scott and Mark Umstad … are trying to do by promoting this service is actually going to change so many people’s lives and will save so many babies.”