Mum run­ning hard


ELAINE Webb beats a path into Cornwall Park’s boundary line with her hair pulled back into a loose pony­tail and run­ning shoes on.

It’s a run she of­ten does twice a day as part of her 720 kilo­me­tre chal­lenge to raise money to fur­nish three new suites in the former Ta­maki Ward at Auck­land Hospi­tal.

The main pur­pose of the new rooms, now called the NICU Moth­ers’ Suite, is to al­low dis­charged moth­ers to stay near their sick or pre­ma­ture ba­bies who are in the New­born In­ten­sive Care Unit (NICU).

Mrs Webb’s mind is on the chal­lenges faced by the par­ents who have to re­turn home and leave their new­born ba­bies at the hospi­tal.

It’s a har­row­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that she is all too fa­mil­iar with af­ter the pre­ma­ture birth of her son Alex two years ago.

Alex was born at 33 weeks ges­ta­tion, re­quir­ing a 51-day stay in the NICU ward to ma­ture and un­dergo her­nia surgery.

‘‘The whole thing was quite trau­matic,’’ Mrs Webb says. ‘‘I had a cae­sarean and then five days later I had to leave the baby there in some­one else’s care and that’s what I found really hard.’’

The mother-of-three says af­ter get­ting Alex home she knew she wanted to give some­thing back to sup­port new fam­i­lies go­ing through sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences.

So she set her­self the chal­lenge of run­ning 720km in 51 days.

The dis­tance rep­re­sents the kilo­me­tres that she and her hus­band trav­elled from their Three Kings home to be with Alex in the NICU ward and the 51 days rep­re­sents the length of his stay.

And the syn­chronic­ity doesn’t stop there.

Her jour­ney be­gan on Novem­ber 30, Alex’s sec­ond birth­day, and will con­clude on his dis­charge date of Jan­uary 17 with a 51km run fin­ish­ing at Auck­land Hospi­tal.

‘‘I wanted to give my­self some­thing that I would find really chal­leng­ing like go­ing into NICU and leav­ing Alex be­hind to go see my other kids,’’ she says. ‘‘I wanted to try and epit­o­mise the strug­gle that the fam­i­lies have.’’

Her goal is to raise aware­ness of the dif­fi­cul­ties and iso­la­tion faced by NICU par­ents, as well as raise $6000 for the Moth­ers’ Suite.

The ba­sic up­grade has been com­pleted but any money that Mrs Webb raises will be used to add crea­ture com­forts to the rooms such as TVs and chairs. Mrs Webb says the abil­ity to stay at the hospi­tal a few more days when Alex was born would have been a tremen­dous re­lief, and she wants other par­ents to have that op­por­tu­nity.


Run­ning high: Elaine Webb was in­spired to at­tempt run­ning 720km in 51 days to raise money for Auck­land’s Neona­tal Trust af­ter the pre­ma­ture birth of her son Alex.

Lit­tle fighter: Alex Webb was born at 33 weeks ges­ta­tion and spent 51 days in the NICU ward.


Big boy: Alex Webb cel­e­brated his sec­ond birth­day on Novem­ber 30.

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