Survival

Miracle Maverick: ‘He Has 20 Minutes To Live!’

Mum Courtney is so grateful for her rainbow baby
  • Courtney Matulis, 36, from Mornington Peninsula, fell pregnant in May, 2022
  • When her boy Maverick was born at 23 weeks and 5 days, he weighed 719 grams – as much as a loaf of bread
  • After 142 days in hospital, Courtney and her husband Rhys finally got to take their four-month-old home

Here Courtney tells her story in her own words.

Tying the knot in April 2014, my husband Rhys and I couldn’t wait to start a family.

‘You’re going to be the best dad,’ I told my hubby.

But after eight years of trying with no luck, we began seeing a fertility specialist in 2018, when I was 31. Amazingly, our first round of IVF was successful, and I had my first positive pregnancy test.

Everything was going perfectly.

Then tragedy struck.

At almost 19 weeks, we lost our precious baby girl, Savannah-Jane, due to an incompetent cervix – that’s when the cervix opens, weakens or shortens too early in a pregnancy.

We’ll never forget you, I thought, distraught. ‘I want to try again,’ I sobbed to Rhys, soon after.

‘Let’s do it,’ he agreed.

After two more rounds of IVF, I was pregnant again in May 2022.

I prayed I’d get to hold this little one in my arms.

To try to strengthen my cervix, I was prescribed progesterone to help maintain the pregnancy.

At 10 weeks in, we found out we were having a boy.

‘How about Maverick?’ I suggested to Rhys, as we went through baby names.

‘I love it!’ he said, being a massive fan of the movie Top Gun.

A week on, my cervix was stitched closed to try and prevent another loss.

In late October, when I was 23 weeks along, I went on maternity leave.

That Saturday, I was having lunch with my lovely co-workers Emma, Teileigh, Skye, and Molly.

Posing for a group photo, I suddenly felt a gush.

‘Court, look down, your feet are bright red,’ Emma said, concerned.

Glancing down, I saw I was bleeding heavily. I let out a scream, terrified this was a deja vu nightmare.

Emma wrapped me in a picnic blanket from her car while Teileigh called Rhys, and Skye frantically phoned Triple-0.

Rhys arrived at the same time as the ambo, and it was lights and sirens to Monash Hospital.

Examined in emergency, I was told that the cervical stitch had failed and I was in labour. As the doctor did an ultrasound, I feared the worst. But as she turned up the volume, while Rhys squeezed my hand, I could hear Maverick’s strong heartbeat.

He’s a fighter! I thought.

Courtney Matulis and baby Maverick
Courtney cuddling 12-week-old Maverick (Credit: Supplied.)

‘‘Please do everything in your power to keep him alive,’ I cried.’

Doctors tried to stop my labour progressing with meds, but sweet Maverick was born on Tuesday morning, November 1, by C-section, at just 23 weeks and five days.

I briefly glimpsed my baby boy as he was whisked away to the NICU.

Nine hours later, I finally saw him again in his humidicrib. At just 719 grams, he weighed as much as a loaf of bread.

‘He’s beautiful,’ I said, in awe of our tiny son.

The next day, due to sepsis from an E. coli infection in my amniotic fluid, my body shut down four times in 21 hours. Doctors pumped me with strong antibiotics and I began to take a turn for the better.

At just seven days old, Mav had surgery to repair a hole in his stomach, which is more common with premmies. It left a scar across his whole tummy but the four-hour op was a success.

And 12 days after Maverick was born, I held him for the first time. This is pure magic, I teared up.

Later that day, I was discharged, but poor Maverick was nowhere near ready.

Every morning I was back at my baby’s side. But it was so hard to say goodbye each night.

Waking to missed calls from the hospital one morning when Mav was 16 days old, I felt very nervous.

Calling back, my heart hammered.

‘Maverick has late onset sepsis due to an infection,’ a doctor said. ‘His lung and kidneys are failing. We don’t think he’s going to make it.’

Then my stomach flipped as he said, ‘Can you make it to the hospital in 20 minutes?’

A 40-minute drive away, I felt sick.

‘Please do everything in your power to keep him alive,’ I cried, racing to the car with Rhys.

I don’t want to lose another baby, I panicked, at the horrifying news my son had just 20 minutes to live.

Arriving at the hospital, I exhaled the breath I’d been holding – and our boy was still hanging on.

Mav, Courtney and Rhys
Mav, Courtney and Rhys (Credit: Supplied.)

‘He’s our little fighter.’

Maverick’s only chance was to go on nitric gas as it’d force his lungs to work. But it can be dangerous for babies under 34 weeks.

‘Anything to save him,’ I pleaded.

Rhys and I stayed in a room at Monash’s NICU to be near our boy and the next 48 hours were excruciating as we waited for our bub to pull through.

Thankfully, he did.

‘My little fighter,’ I said.

Transferred to Casey Hospital four months later, about 45 minutes away from home, our boy now weighed 3.5 kilos.

He loved being held by me and his dad.

After 142 days, we finally got to take our smiley four-month-old home. Weighing 4.6 kilos, he was still on oxygen and being fed through a tube, but was doing much better.

Now one, our miracle bub loves toys and bouncing in his Jolly Jumper.

‘You’re such a cutie!’ I grin, watching Mav clap.

Smiley Maverick
Smiley Maverick (Credit: Supplied.)

Reaching most of his milestones, he’s no longer on oxygen, and doesn’t need a feeding tube.

Rhys and I feel so lucky to be Mav’s mum and dad.

And without the amazing nurses and doctors, our boy wouldn’t be here.

Our rainbow baby has so much courage. He is the ultimate fighter.

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