'Brave battle': Mum's worry for 510gm baby girl
SOPHIE Saul has experienced the "longest 10 days" of her life.
Her third daughter, Maddison Jade, was born on September 22, 16 weeks earlier than expected.
The four walls of a humidicrib at Mater Mothers Hospital has been Maddison's home since birth.
Because of her fragile body, with a birth weight of just 510g, it took 10 days before Mrs Saul could hold her newborn baby.
"It was lovely. It was just amazing," she gushed.
"It's been a long 10 days not being able to hold my child.
"This is just a very different world to enter."
A rare infection on Mrs Saul's uterus and in her blood, called chorioamnionitis, brought on the early labour.
Mrs Saul said she felt "seriously ill" and her doctor in Gladstone recommended she be flown to Brisbane for further treatment.
Mrs Saul's water broke during the Royal Flying Doctors flight.
What followed was days of monitoring before she gave birth, naturally, to Maddison.
Since then Mrs Saul and her family's lives have been thrown upside down.
Overcome with fear and a feeling of "the unknown" Ms Saul said she was trying her best to remain positive and strong.
It's a conversation she thought she would never have: explaining the condition of her third daughter at just 11 days old.
"We're as good as we can be," she said.
"Not knowing what the future is, that's the scary thing."
Maddison is undergoing tests, x-rays and scans every day and has had a blood transfusion.
But they are not alone, living at the Mater Mothers neonatal intensive care unit nursery.
The nursery has 79 cot spaces for the intensive and special care of babies, which are affectionately named Mater Little Miracles.
In Australia about eight per cent of babies are born prematurely every year.
Most babies of those are born between 32 and 36 weeks and statistics show almost all of th0ese babies grow to be healthy children.
"The staff here are unreal. They become like your second family because they're there day and night looking after your child," Mrs Saul said.
"They've become a big part of me.
"It's an amazing place. I suppose that's why they call it the Mater Miracles."
Doctors have told the Gladstone hairdresser she could be in hospital for the next six months.
But Mrs Saul said she and her family would take it all "day by day".
At just 11 days old her daughter has had her first blood transfusion, another step taken to make sure she stays stable.
"Until you've been through it yourself you don't know what it's like to be in this kind of situation," Mrs Saul said.
"A big thing, too, that I want people to know is how important donating blood is.
"A lot of premmies do need blood transfusions to get them through.
"The support from back home has been amazing.
"I want to be able to mention that, too. Our community has helped so much. There's been a massive amount of help and support for us."
Meanwhile, husband Ben and daughters Ella, 5, and Indee, 1, are spending time between Gladstone and Brisbane, travelling south when they can.
Mrs Saul is living in Brisbane and visits Maddison every day.
To follow Maddison's journey visit the Facebook page, The Journey of Maddison Jade Saul.
A GoFundMe page has also been set up to help financially support the family. In two days more than $7000 was raised.
If you want to assist find the page at Family Means Everything to Maddison.