‘Miracle’ baby Laurelai is the perfect little wedding day gift


A young couple have celebrated their wedding next to the cot of their precious baby daughter in a neonatal unit.

Tiny Laurelai was born four months’ premature and faced a desperate fight for life – but pulled through to provide her parents with the best-ever wedding day gift.

Cassidy and James Barlow had hoped their brave daughter would be allowed home in time to attend their 23 November wedding ceremony, but doctors advised she was not well enough to leave hospital.

Instead, the couple, who have an older son Kaidyn (2.5), tied the knot at Brisbane’s New Farm Park and visited their “guest of honour” in hospital to ensure she would be part of their special day.

“It was very special. We were all dressed up in our wedding attire and to be there in the neonatal unit with Laurelai was memorable,” Mrs Barlow said.

Laurelai was born unexpectedly at just 23 weeks and four days gestation on 20 June at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital and was transferred to Mater Mothers’ Hospital for life-saving around-the-clock care.

She weighed 637 grams at birth – less than a loaf of bread – but Mrs Barlow, from Petrie in the Moreton Bay region, said she “never gave up on my little girl”.

“Doctors had given Laurelai little chance of surviving when she was born. I look at her now and she is kicking goals,” Mrs Barlow, 22, said.

“We wanted to make sure our miracle baby was part of our big day, so we made a special trip to Queensland Children’s Hospital where she was being cared for.

“I was so hopeful she would be there with us on the day – it was upsetting being at the ceremony without her, but she was where she needed to be.”

Laurelai, who is currently a patient at Queensland Children’s Hospital, has undergone three major surgeries, including bowel surgery.

“She spent 160 days at Mater, and we are so lucky to have her with us today,” Mrs Barlow said.

“I remember the first time I held her; it was 16 days after she was born. She had all these tubes and wires coming out of her, I thought I might break her.”

Each year around 2000 sick or premature babies receive round-the-clock care from the multidisciplinary clinical team at Mater Mothers’ Neonatal Critical Care Unit.

Now tipping the scales at 4.2kg, Laurelai is on oxygen to help her breathe and has Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), an eye disease that can occur in babies who are born premature.

But Mrs Barlow is grateful her daughter is progressing well, having lost a baby girl named Delylah to stillbirth at 25 weeks into her pregnancy in 2020.

“I had been in and out of hospital with bleeding since I was nine weeks pregnant,” she said.

“It was constant. My waters ruptured at 20 weeks and six days. Having Laurelai has been a rollercoaster of emotions.”

Mater Neonatologist Dr Luke Jardine said to watch little Laurelai grow and progress over months of care was really great.

“The care for Laurelai was a big team effort,” Dr Jardine said.

He said when membranes rupture (waters break) at 20 weeks gestation, a baby has a survival rate between 20 to 40 percent.

“Babies born at 23 weeks have about a 55 per cent chance of survival,” Dr Jardine said.

Mrs Barlow thanked the staff at Mater for saving her daughter and hopes she will be home in time to celebrate her first Christmas with her family.

Pictured: Cassidy Barlow and her miracle baby Laurelai.

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