'There Is A Courage You Never Knew You Had': Melbourne Couple Fight For Critically Ill Baby
Baby Amalia was born so small she could fit in the palm of your hand -- heartbreakingly, it is for this very reason her parents can't hold her in theirs.
Amalia was born 16 weeks early with a weight so low, doctors deemed her a micro-preemie baby and rushed her to the Neonatal intensive care unit.
She currently lays in an 'artificial womb' in Melbourne's Monash Children's Hospital's NICU, her parents Amanda and Angelo Dourdounis stay unrelentingly by her side.
Speaking to 10 daily, Amalia's father Angelo Dourdounis detailed the pain and chaos of his baby girl's birth.
"We are in the midst of a whirlwind at the moment. Everything is unfolding at a speed," he said.
Born on the 16th of December 24 weeks gestation, Amalia has only been on this planet for a fortnight. And in this time she has already shown more resilience and determination than many do in their lifetime.
Amalia is in critical condition with countless complications, largely with what doctors described to her parents as "a major bleed in her lungs."
The Dourdounis' have been told a number of times their daughter won't make it, but she continues to battle ahead.
This is not Amanda and Angelo Dourdounis' first heartbreak, but they are resolute this time they will see their happy ending.
In 2016, the couple experienced the heart-wrenching stillbirth of their daughter Anastasia, also born at 24 weeks gestation. "After the stillbirth of our daughter Anastasia in 2016 we have lived through the heartache of countless failed attempts at IVF."
The couple endured a number of miscarriages before successfully falling pregnant with Amalia this year.
Mr Dourdounis described the immense impact the loss of Anastasia and their miscarriages has had on his family, and the way these tragedies have made them all the more determined to fight for their sick baby daughter.
I will say that at some point there is a courage you never knew you had that emerges and takes you to a place where you would ordinarily quiver at the knees, and stands you upright with a power you doubted.
In order to be there for their daughter, the Dourdounis' have had to turn down work.
"I am self-employed and as such work is the last thing on my mind at the moment. My wife Amanda, prior to undergoing this emergency caesarean, was employed part-time. Outside this vortex of sorts, life still has its demands."
The loss of income, combined with the unfathomable cost of Amalia's medical treatment, has placed an extraordinary strain on the pair. It is for this reason that Amalia's Aunty and Uncle have created a GoFundMe page to assist the grief-stricken family.
The page as it stands has tipped just over $13,000 of its $48,500 goal.
"To say that we are overwhelmed with the messages and giving from family and friends is an understatement," said Dourdounis.
The family have continuously taken to the page to thank their supporters and give updates on Amalia's condition, including a touching update that came on Boxing Day.
"A Christmas miracle..." the post began.
On Christmas day, Amalia finally got to have her first cuddle with mummy Amanda. They were able to have skin on skin contact to help the bond between mummy and baby.
Accompanying the heartwarming words was a beautiful photo of Mrs Dourdounis with her tiny baby nestled on her chest.
The news is positive, but there remains a long and complicated road ahead for the family.
"As far as Amalia and her ongoing care requirements, as she was born so premature she will likely develop lung conditions moving forward as well as the possibility of neurological and learning issues," said Mr Dourdounis.
"These are unclear at the moment but well documented online. And I guess not something I wish for her mother or me to focus on right now.
Our primary objective is just to be her mum and dad.
It is with the support of their family and generous donators, as well as their faith, that has helped the couple hold their heads high in these trying times.
"As Orthodox Christians, our faith has never wavered. I trust in what the Lord has in store for us. But in the meantime, I and my wife would again like to echo our appreciation of the level of support and prayers as we forge ahead into the unknown."
Amalia's journey to health is extraordinary and absolutely frightening. As the support and awareness of her family's situation rises, her parents zero in their focus on their little girl.
Mr Dourdounis left with these words, directly addressed to his incredibly strong baby daughter.
"Amalia, as your proud father I want to say that I thought I was courageous, but you have firmly grasped my hand and are currently taking me to school."
You can donate to baby Amalia Dourdounis and her family by following the link to Go Fund Me.
Featured Image: GoFundMe