EARLY ARRIVAL: Stephanie Gribble holds baby Jake Gribble with proud dad Alex Pickles.
EARLY ARRIVAL: Stephanie Gribble holds baby Jake Gribble with proud dad Alex Pickles. Samantha Oneil

Tiny Jake spends his first 119 days in intensive care

WHILE Warwick woman Stephanie Gribble had always wanted to be a mum, she never quite imagined it to be like this.

After suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum - nausea and vomiting so extreme it can be deadly - from the beginning of her pregnancy, Stephanie started suffering from bad cramps at just 24 weeks.

She did not think her baby was on his way.

"I presented at Warwick Hospital with bad cramps about 10.30pm on July 6, and the doctor said I was in labour," Stephanie said.

"I said 'No, no. I'm 24 weeks. I'm not in labour'."

Stephanie was flown by aeroplane to the Brisbane Mater Hospital, as the labour was progressing so quickly doctors feared she would deliver on the way.

"Apparently there is not enough room in a helicopter to give birth," she said.

Stephanie was asked while in labour whether she wanted the baby to be worked on if there were complications.

"I said 'He's fought this far so do all that you can'," she said.

Despite injections to try to stop the labour progressing, tiny baby Jake entered the world at 8.50am on July 7 weighing just 737g.

Immediately after delivery, Stephanie was rushed off for emergency surgery and Jake was taken to the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

Jake suffered from numerous complications, including chronic lung disease, multiple infections and a spontaneously perforated bowel, which required surgery.

"Twice we were told they thought he might not make it," Stephanie said.

"They didn't expect him to live past the 24-48 hour mark." Stephanie said.

Jake spent 119 days in NICU.

"The nurses are miracle workers with the time they dedicate. I don't think many would make it otherwise," Stephanie said.

Stephanie said she considered skin-to-skin contact to be important, with her first short cuddle of Jake being when he was two weeks old.

"It was then a month later before we could have proper cuddles," she said.

"(My advice to new parents would be) to demand skin-to-skin contact." Jake was 17 weeks old when he was finally able to come home, with continuing appointments to monitor growth and development as well as eye care.

"Jake has retinopathy of prematurity (excess blood vessels in the eyes that can cause blindness) so he has to have his eyes monitored," Stephanie said.

"Jake is on a special prescription formula as he cannot tolerate breastmilk.

"I had 50 litres of breast milk which I had expressed that he can't have, so I donated it to research."

A Warwick Hospital doctor recently told the proud parents that Jake was the youngest surviving premature baby from Warwick.

With World Prematurity Day being celebrated tomorrow, Stephanie would also like to raise awareness of these issues.

"You just have to believe in your baby and take it day by day, and believe in yourself too," she said.