When Darcy Scott was born, he was three-and-a-half months premature and weighed less than one kilogram. He spent four months receiving specialist treatment in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Canberra Hospital before he was allowed to go home with dad Hudson Scott and mum Tia Riley.
Now 20 months, Darcy tears around his Kambah home, dancing to The Wiggles whenever he can and showing everyone how quickly he can clamber up the lounge.
"He's going really well. He's got a few health conditions that are ongoing but he's hitting all his milestones and growing," Tia said, with a smile.
On the family's bookcase, there are mementos of Darcy's early arrival - his tiny footprints; doll-sized nappy and beanie, that were both still too big.
Tia was a first-time mum, just 21, and had experienced a textbook pregnancy until she went into labour in late February last year - more than three months before her due date.
"I went to work that day. I felt a bit uncomfortable, like a normal pregnancy. That night I got a really sharp pain while I was cooking dinner and I thought, 'That's weird'," she said.
"I went into labour about eight o'clock and got to the hospital about nine and he was born at 10.30. So, everything happened really quickly and unexpectedly."
Darcy was born at just 26 weeks; the reason for his very early arrival not really known.
"They just put it down to spontaneous labour," Tia said.
Adding to the stress, Darcy was born just before Canberra's first COVID lockdown was enforced in March, 2020. It meant a lonely time for Tia as she was often the only person allowed to be with her son, only one parent allowed into the nursery at a time.
"Although we were understanding with the restrictions, watching your child fight for their life, and surrounded by the alarms and hustle of NICU alone and without emotional support, made the situation a lot harder," she said.
Something that did help was a support pack from the Life's Little Treasures Foundation, which provides information and support to families of babies born sick or before 37 weeks' gestation.
"They sent out a Precious Prem pack for free and that included a pack of nappies, clothes and a guide to NICU and other things that we were searching for, but didn't have anything on," Tia said.
"As soon as we were provided with these things, it opened up a whole new community that we weren't aware of."
On Sunday, October 24, the annual Walk for Prems will be held to raise awareness for the 48,000 babies born sick or premature in Australia each year.
Now in its 12th year, Walk for Prems is the largest fundraiser for the Life's Little Treasures Foundation.
The walk will be done in person in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth but in Canberra, still not entirely out of lockdown, there will be a virtual walk option.
How you do it is up to you - it could be your usual daily walk, laps around a local oval or somewhere new with friends and family.
Anyone who registers will receive a medal, information pack and race bib. You can register at walkforprems.org.au.
Tia, Hudson and Darcy will all be participating in the Walk for Prems.
"They helped us so much," Tia said.
"We had no idea about premature babies before Darcy was born, so it gives us the chance to spread awareness as well. And we want to help out this great organisation that has helped us."
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