Premature babies face an uphill struggle
IT'S hard to believe these two healthy looking boys have come back from the brink of death
Both two-year-old Liam Fowler and four-year-old Nate Gourley were two of millions of babies each year who are born too soon.
In the last year there were 139 preterm births at the Gladstone Hospital.
These figures appear to be increasing year on year.
Preterm birth is among the top causes of infant deaths worldwide and babies who survive an early birth often face the increased risk of health challenges such as breathing problems, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities and many other hurdles.
Today is World Prematurity Day.
It's a day which holds special meaning to both Michelle Fowler and Mel Gourley.
Both their lives have completely changed following the pre-term births of their son's Liam and Nate.
This is their story.
Michelle and Liam Fowler
MICHELLE Fowler will never forget watching her newborn baby fight for his life.
"It was absolutely terrifying," she recalls.
At only 29 weeks into her pregnancy, Michelle was induced by doctors because her baby was at risk of dying due to an infection in her amniotic fluid
"My body wasn't strong enough to carry him," she said.
After Liam was born he managed to fight off the infection but being preterm his struggle wasn't over yet.
"He suffered a haemorrhage on the brain and a heart murmur," Michelle said.
His brain haemorrhage managed to resolve itself as Liam grew bigger and stronger, and on November 3 he celebrated his second birthday.
"It's a really big deal."
"The first two years is when any of the major side-effects of the birth will show up."
Today means a lot to Michelle and her family.
"World Prem Day is our chance to honour Liam's journey and show support and love to the all the babies born too soon," she said.
Mel and Nate Gourley
EVERYTHING went from bad to worse when Mel Gourly was pregnant with her son Nate.
At around 26 weeks she was diagnosed with severe pre-eclampsia which was un-controllable with medication.
That's when she was told she would be giving birth pre-term.
"It all happened really quickly," she said.
"At that point we weren't really prepared."
Two days before she gave birth she was transferred to Brisbane by the Flying Doctors.
After 'a gazillion million' tests, Nate was finally born but 36 hours later, his lungs collapsed and stuck together.
"It was pretty horrific," Mel remembers.
After five days on life-support, Nate spent another eight weeks in hospital before he finally arrived home five weeks before his due date.
Almost five years later, life is finally starting to normalise for Mel and her family.
"It completely changes you," she said.