The silver lining in battle for baby Emerson

The silver lining in battle for baby Emerson

“We are so lucky and grateful to be where we are now.”

These are the beautiful, soulful words of warrior mum, Bernadette Murphy.  

For it is gratitude and kindness of spirit – despite a journey of heart-wrenching adversity and setbacks – that now defines Mater supporters Bernadette and her husband, Grant.

Born full-term but with a serious medical condition, tracheo-oesophageal fistula (TOF) and oesophageal atresia (OA) - baby Emerson Murphy spent 75 days at Mater’s Neonatal Critical Care Unit (NCCU).

Due to COVID restrictions – Bernadette and Grant had to “tag team” between NCCU and their Toowoomba home while their two-year-old son, George, wasn’t even able to meet his little sister.

After her first major repair surgery, more traumatic challenges would confront Emerson at Queensland Children’s Hospital before she was finally given the green light to go home in December 2020.

“I say to my husband all the time - you go through this intense, traumatic experience and you’re a totally different person on the other side of that,” Bernadette reflects. “It’s like bootcamp to become tough, so now anything we face we just take in our stride. It really changes you.

 “It is a silver lining - the change to our perspective and attitudes and how grateful we are. Before we were probably really entitled, whingey people who complained about stupid stuff that doesn’t even matter. But now we have so much more perspective, so it’s made us better.”

During their journey, Bernadette and Grant forged lifelong friendships and feared the worse when a series of setbacks led surgeons to label Emerson “the perfect example of cascading complications”.

A miracle materialised six days before last Christmas. After five heart-wrenching months, Emerson went home, and the Murphy family could finally be together.

“Anyone who goes through that… you have gratitude for the tiny little things,” Bernadette reflects.

“Other parents may not think anything of having their baby with them at the shops or playing on the mat - but we’re so grateful for that.”

While Bernadette’s career as a senior bank manager remains on hold, and Emerson’s condition will require lifeline treatments, they tick off every milestone through a new lens.

And their generosity extends to donations to Mater, supporting other families by funding vital equipment.

“Now I can look on the positive side,” she says. “At the time I was not grateful. I was just surviving, bitter about it, resentful, sad, grieving, angry, jealous of other people and their babies that they didn’t have to go through what we had to, all that stuff.

“But on the other side we have perspective about how lucky we were… not every family at NCCU has a happy ending. I do believe in helping other families. Now that I’ve been through it, I want to do anything I can to help.”

You too can help other families like the Murphy's this Christmas.

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