Life’s Little Treasures Foundation has had an affiliation with The Royal Women’s Hospital since 2003, where a lot of their little treasures were born and they then went on to establish the organisation “Life’s Little Treasures” Foundation (LLTF) in 2005.
As a Social Worker in the Neonatal Intensive and Special Care Nursery at the Women’s, LLTF have proved to be an amazing support for families who’ve had premature babies. They have been an excellent resource for our families sharing in their journey, speaking to parents about resources in their communities and have been a vital support for some of our families who have “done it tough” whilst having a baby in intensive care, particularly families from interstate and rural areas.
They have been an integral part of the process in allowing parents to have their experiences validated, normalised and at our monthly LLTF Morning Teas, parents always cherish being able to meet the LLTF children, highlighting that things for their little ones can improve out of sight!
They have always been available to speak with families who have requested someone to talk to who has experienced the journey and they also are a vital part of our service development here at the hospital.
Secretly, I think they are our ‘Little Treasures’!
Neonatal Intensive and Special Care Nursery
Royal Women’s Hospital
The Victorian Association of Neonatal Nurses (VANN) wholly supports the Life’s Little Treasures Foundation in their endeavour to provide practical and emotional support to families who have babies that have spent time in intensive/special care nurseries. In particular VANN appreciates LLT’s efforts to educate & provide assistance to neonatal nurses who support families of premature or sick babies with their involvement in postgraduate neonatal nursing education and ongoing professional development for VANN members. VANN is honoured to have a professional relationship with the LLT team of volunteers. We look forward to working closely now and in the future with LLT in their efforts to provide support to parents, families and health professionals and participate in research in this important aspect of holistic of neonatal care.
MELISSAH BURNETT, RN
Although I have a great family & we have many close friends, none of them could ever understand what we had been through & continue to go through. Once Alana was home from hospital and life started to quiet down I felt very alone. I remembered seeing information for Life’s Little Treasures Foundation (LLT) at the hospital so one day I gave them a call. I spoke to a lady called Wendy who spent a lot of time listening to me & reassuring me that everything would be ok. Wendy was the first person I had ever spoken to about what I had truly gone through.
After that I went to a meeting, met other Mums who had been through something very similar to me & found great comfort in knowing some people actually understood. I went to LLT morning teas and social functions and made new friends along the way. My husband and my parents went to some social events too. LLT became a very important part of my life. LLT has been an incredible source of support for me & I hope to get more involved. I have met some amazing and incredibly strong people who have helped me to be strong too.
mum to a beautiful little girl
Born at 27 weeks
In my 4 years as the Director (nursing) of Newborn Intensive and Special care I have had the privilege of working alongside Parool and LLT in the shared goal to improve support to the families of premature and sick babies. LLT ensures that support needs embrace parent perspective and are an active member of the RWH family and baby care group proving advice to the multidisciplinary clinical team from a parent / family perspective.
LLT bridges the gap between community and hospital. They actively participate in focus groups giving a parent perspective in to the process of health care. They actively support the families in the RWH Newborn Intensive and Special care (NISC) by providing information, participating in the monthly NISC family morning teas, Christmas tree decoration, gifts and special needs situations such as the Victorian bush fire ordeal where some of the families in NISC were effected. They provide a wealth of knowledge and experience of being a parent of sick and premature babies and sharing their experience. There would be an unfilled need without the support that LLT provide and are worthy of support to continue doing the good work they do.
Director (nursing), of Newborn Services and Special Care
Royal Women’s Hospital
It was through LLT’s newsletters & morning teas at the RWH that I first heard of them and eventually got up enough courage to attend one. Although introducing myself and giving a brief rundown of our situation meant I had to admit to myself this was really happening, it was one of the best things I had ever done. It was there that I met people who had been through the journey, as different as they all are, and had made it out the other side. These were people that truly understood what the NICU and all that comes with it was like. Within a few days of contacting them Karin was at my house for a visit. She was so fantastic. We discussed what services were out there in the community that might be use to us as a family, be it respite, grief counselling, early intervention services for our baby etc.
She put me in touch with another mum who had gone through a similar journey, who was able to relate to how I was feeling and suggest some very useful services and points of contact for our family. Karin continued to ring to check to see how we were going on a regular basis and was able to provide some positive and reassuring support that not even our family & friends could, she still does this today.
I can’t tell you how eternally grateful I am to have had someone like LLT, Karin in particular, to help us through the transition from hospital to home and beyond. I have formed very special friendships along the way and they helped turn what was a daunting, frightening time & experience into what it should be…. A special time to remember, the moment of finally bringing your baby home.
mum to beautiful twin boys, one now a dear little angel
Born 29 weeks
I’m so glad to have known the Life’s Little Treasures Foundation from the beginning and seen how you translated a very mixed (some would say awful) personal experience to a positive way of helping others in your position. You’ve made a huge difference to so many parents facing their worst nightmare and as a small side-effect made our jobs just a bit easier.
Thanks to all at LLT. Having a premature baby is such a frightening event for families. To have the support and perspective of someone who has been through it all (and come out the other side in one piece) is incredibly helpful. Your contribution has made a huge difference to the way our unit operates. Long may it continue”
Royal Women’s Hospital
The Life’s Little Treasures Foundation came to my attention at the Babies and Children’s Expo in Melbourne when visiting the display. I spoke to the ladies whom had shared similar experiences as us, and I immediately felt a warmth in my heart that I had finally found someone else whom understood little triumphs and how having a Premature baby is a celebration and sadness all wrapped into one.
Attending the meetings and receiving the emails and newsletters I finally found a place where we belong. A place where we celebrate what remarkable distances all our families (especially our children) have come. A place you come to and do not compare your children – you accept and celebrate.
A group where we have all experienced a trauma like no other. We don’t have to explain corrected ages. Mothers whom have shared the same loss of a “normal” experience where we HAD to place our children into the care of others, and you HAVE to go home. A place where none of us took our babies home after birth.
Life’s Little Treasures Foundation acknowledges that all our journeys have been different, difficult, real and amazing. We can feel what we feel, share the smallest of achievements as they are sometimes so difficult to reach. A place where we can discuss our hopes and fears for our children without anyone diminishing the emotions being experienced. A place of friendship where we come together with a common goal to spread the word about Prematurity and the effects on mothers, children and families. A venue to support other women in the ways we felt we did not receive adequate support or information. Last but not least, a place of fun where we can celebrate our special Little Treasures”
Mum to a very cute little boy
Born 28 weeks
The Life’s Little Treasures Foundation was a lifeline for me, I was drowning in a sea of the unknown, four months in hospital and a baby home on oxygen, no family nearby and friends who did not understand what we were going through. We came home during winter and this only added to my anxiety and so I withdrew and isolated myself, told myself it was the best thing for bub but in hind sight not the best thing for me.
Each day was such a struggle until the day I was told about LLT by my maternal nurse. It took a while before I could pick up the phone but after 10 minutes of chatting to the most wonderful women, I finally felt that I had someone listening to me, who truly understood what I was going though, who didn’t judge, comment or offer advice but who just listened to my tears for over an hour.
I will never forget that day & I have never looked back since… as from that moment on I became part of a new family. One that was always there for us. Many occasions after they rang to see how we were doing & I knew I could call anytime. Once bub was stronger we attended the support group and last year we celebrated National Premmie day with them. LLT were my angels & I thank them for my sanity and for their wonderful friendship. They made my rollercoaster ride a lot less scary!”
Mum to a beautiful little girl
Born 31 weeks
I first became aware of the Life’s Little Treasures Foundation when my twins were in the NICU at ‘The Royal Women’s’ Hospital. A volunteer from the group came to the hospital for morning tea. She was a mum who had been through the journey of NICU and Special Care. It was great to meet someone who was on the other side of the journey and to be able to talk to them about lots of different things.
When my girls came home from hospital I found I needed someone to talk to who had experienced what I had, so I rang Life’s Little Treasures Foundation and spoke to one of the mums, who was amazing and me feel that everything I felt and was experiencing was all part of the journey of a Prem Baby. Life’s Little Treasures Foundation had their annual picnic not long after we came home and we decided to go as it would be a great way to meet other families who had been through the same journey. It was great!!! From here I joined as a member and about 6 months later I joined the Life’s Little Treasures Foundation committee. I really felt that I had something to offer those families who were going through their NICU and Special Care journeys.
Not long after joining the committee I became in charge of all our Prem Groups, which has grown from 2 groups, to now 5 groups with more in the works. I love being involved with Life’s Little Treasures Foundation and know that there is so many out there who benefit from all the work we do. If it wasn’t for the Life’s Little Treasures Foundation I know I would have struggled a lot more than I did with the birth of my twins.
Mum to two beautiful twin girls
Born at 24 weeks
My daughter was born at 24 weeks, arriving unexpectedly 4 months early. Whilst I had support from family & friends, it was the other parents I met through the Life’s Little Treasures Foundation that were my lifeline. Like many experiences you need to walk in someone else’s shoes before you can really have any clear understanding of what they are going through. I joined LLT as I was keen to meet others in a similar situation to myself and was also hoping that I could act as some form of support in return. The beauty of LLT is that is enables you to feel like a normal parent.
While my family & friends tried to understand it was the conversations, hugs, listening ears and support I received through the LLT parents that made the greatest and most positive difference to my experience. It was also inspiring and gave me hope to be able to meet & talk with past premmie parents, whose children had survived and were now home – healthy & happy. To talk to these parents and see these children running around made me feel that if others had made it & gone home then so could my daughter. By joining LLT I gained a wonderful sense of connection & community, which has continued well beyond the insular of the hospital.
I cannot emphasise enough the value for myself of having such incredible amount of support from LLT. Their information booklet given to me while in NICU was invaluable, while the regular LLT newsletter keeps me up to date on premmie issues. I hope the amazing people who run LLT receive the support they need to in turn continue to provide such to the many families out there who can & will benefit and ease their difficult journey through prematurity.”
Mum to beautiful little girl
Born 24 weeks
My daughter was born at 26 weeks, spent her first 8 months in hospital, 350 km away from home. I was at her side the whole time. When we finally arrived home she was on full time home oxygen & a nasal gastric tube. As a first time mum I felt frightened, very isolated & alone.
I didn’t fit into the regular mother’s groups or playgroups available nearby and I had no other mums to talk to about caring for a baby with special needs like ours. Then someone told me about the Life’s Little Treasures Foundation. I felt really relived to be able to call & chat to someone who understood what we were going through. They also provided helpful information and the regular newsletters have made me feel like I’m part of a much wider community of parents with prems, so I don’t feel so far away from other people in a similar situation. I think the support and information that LLT provides is wonderful especially for people living a long way from the city like ourselves.”
Mum to a beautiful little Girl
Born 26 weeks
“The shock of extreme premature babies, whether anticipated or not, is something no one could be prepared for. When our identical twins were born at 25 weeks gestation, we were blessed to be surrounded by a highly competent and understanding medical team. The focus of this team was around the daily survival of our girls. As non-medical parents, we had so many questions, terms to learn and challenges to face. This is where Life’s Little Treasure became an invaluable source of help for us. First it started with an information pack to help us understand our bizarre new world, but it continued with support meetings where we met parents who “really understood”.
We have made many friends through the help of Life’s Little Treasures. This great support network didn’t stop when we left hospital, but have been with us as we endured flu related hospitalisation, heart surgery and all those little things that differentiate premies from term babies”
LILIAN & JAMES
parents to beautiful identical twin girls
born 25 weeks
“We have seen Life’s Little Treasures Foundation (LLT) evolve from a small peer support group of volunteers at the Royal Women’s Hospital to a large network working throughout Victoria and also assisting other organisations nationally. Because of their dedication to provide information, services and more importantly support to parents and carers of premature babies, Earlybirds is extremely proud to support the Foundation. Earlybirds has enjoyed a positive and rewarding relationship with LLT for over 10 years and as a consequence of our support, the Foundation has reinforced Earlybirds commitment to premature babies, their families and all who are involved”.
“My waters broke at 21 weeks pregnant, and i was taken to hospital fearing the worst, but hoping for a miracle. No babies survive at 21 weeks, and we desperately needed to make it to 23, for our little boy to have a chance at survival. Kian, is now approaching his 1st birthday. He is rolling, chatty and achieving things no one, not even doctors thought possible. He spent 7 months and 3 days in Monash medical center. 115 days in Neonatal Intensive Care on life support. We we called to say our goodbyes on May 17 to Kian, he was gravely ill and not to make the night. After 2 months of fighting. yet he pulled through the night, and hasnt looked back. This has been the longest, most heart wrenching 12 months of our lives. I had no idea about premature babies, and the ride they go through. So to be suddenly thrust into this world, was scary, over whelming and lonely. No one can really understand what you are going through. That was until i found a brochure on Lifes Little Treasures Foundation, in the expressing room at the hospital. It had a booklet called” the short way round” with numbers of support groups, and ways to help get through this ordeal. I instantly joined the Foundation, and was sent further information, to help get us through what was unknown waters for us. I joined their facebook page, and have made many wonderful preemie mother friends, whom have gone through this journey and were able to offer assistance, guidance and support when things were looking bad. The Life’s Little Ttreasures support us in ways no one else could. The little things like mothers day, fathers day, don’t get forgotten. They help you feel normal, in an otherwise ab normal life. I cant thank the ladies enough for the support for Kian and our family, and for being there for all families enduring a preemie birth.I If i hadnt have had access to the information provided by the Llifes Little Treasures Foundation, I dont think I would have made it through. they are a new “family” to us, and we are forever grateful for everything that they have done, and helped us make sense of what is such a challenging time”.
mum to a gorgeous little boy
Born 23 weeks
I’m a mum of an ex-28 weeker, now 7 months, 4 months corrected. I’d like to say a huge thank you for providing the prem pack that I received at the hospital and your ongoing support through your website and playgroups. I found that the pack had great information in it, that was very relevant. There was one sheet in particular that stood out to me and that was the one for friends and family of parents of prems, which was the “What not to say list.” I wish the first hospital that I was at had this pack as I could tick off everything on the list. Other mum’s I’ve spoken to have said exactly the same thing, they could tick them all off. It would be great if these packs were made available more readily to families and friends so that our journey is that little bit easier. Keep up the awesome work!
mum to a beautiful baby boy
born 28 weeks
I would like to take this opportunity to tell you about the great support that LLT gave me and my family. Both of my kids Dane and Emma are special needs children and both have spent time in the Royal Childrens Hospital. LLT made this time a lot easier through financial assistance, I was able to travel from Wodonga to Melbourne every week to support my partner Aderyn and my children. I am very gratefull for this organisation, and feel it’s absolutely necessary to continue the wonderful service. In a time of need LLT helped me and Aderyn provide the love and support the children need. Once again I want to thank Susannah for your kind wishes and support, we have gone through some of the toughest times as of late and your support means a lot. We also realise there are many people who need your support so good luck.
Our daughter was born early at 24weeks gestation. She spent 15 weeks in the Neonatal Intensive and Special Care at the Royal Womens Hospital and a further 3 weeks in Francis Perry House Special Care Unit. Christmas was really difficult for us, she was having trouble with her breathing and we wondered whether she would ever come home. The Life’s Little Treasures Foundation families bought a Christmas tree in and had a morning tea – I needed this so much. We have kept in contact with Life’s Little Treasures Foundation as what we have experienced is unique and difficult for those around us to understand. It has been a great help to have access to information about community services and information specific to these needs by way of an information pack from Life’s Little Treasures Foundation that we received while in the Womens Hospital. We gave our family these brochures to help them understand our situation and needs which was difficult for us to explain to them at the time. I use the LLT webpage multiple times each week to read information sheets. Being at home with a premature baby is isolating and reading others’ stories online helps remind me that I’m not alone and other families are experiencing the same things.
mum to a beautiful baby girl
Born 24 weeks
I would like to express to you my gratitude to the Life’s Little Treasures Foundation and to Parool in particular. On Feb 1 2010 in the afternoon we had a phone call to say that we had a new grandson. We were in shock how could this be. He was not due until May 6 and I had been talking to my daughter a few hours earlier, and she was fine. My only real experience with a prem baby was the baby of a friend 40 years ago and the outcome was dreadful. In the ghastly space of not knowing what was happening and what could I do and all the time fearing the worst I googled Premature babies and found Life’s Little Treasures. In a state I rang the number and the phone was picked up by Parool, she talked to me for over an hour explaining what happens in 2010 with Premmie babies, she talked about the ups and downs the NICU and about all the success stories and the difficulties.
I got off the phone feeling much calmer and feeling that there was a good chance things would be tough but ok and armed with some factual current knowledge. I felt I could be calm and supportive. I was very conscious of not letting my daughter and husband know just how panic stricken I was. I looked up the Life’s Little Treasures website and read everything I could and of course armed with all this new knowledge and support I was much more in control of myself and was able to talk to other family members in a much more informed way. I also understood what to expect and did not need to ask heaps of questions of the new parents which would have only finished up worrying them. Parool rang me every few days to see how things were going and for the months my grandson was in hospital there was always a calm delightful person on the end of the phone if I needed to talk or ask questions.
My grandson has now turned 1. He is a happy delightful little boy with no problems who is bringing enormous joy to all around him. I would like to thank you Parool, the other phone counselors and the Life’s Little Treasures Foundation for being there when I needed you. Best wishes to you all
grandmother to a lovely little boy
Born 25 weeks
The Life’s Little Treasures Foundation has worked closely over the years with the NICU here at the Royal Children’s Hospital. They have assisted us in supporting the families of premature babies through their stay and provide great support through their many services including their monthly morning teas. Two years ago we were able to support National Premmie Day at RCH for the first time which was a huge success. We appreciate the ongoing work and support on every level that LLT offers our families throughout the year and look forward to their future growth within the Neonatal Intensive Care units throughout Victoria.
SHERI WALDRON – Nurse Unit Manager of NICU at RCH