MYLES Caelli’s premature arrival into the world was an intensely stressful time for his parents, Aaron and Hayley.
But for the past 10 weeks, webcam technology has been keeping the Singleton family connected, even when they had to be apart.
Myles was born at 26 weeks gestation, and he has been a patient at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at John Hunter Children’s Hospital ever since.
Each bed in the ward has a “NICView” camera, which allows families separated due to work, school or care commitments to connect and bond with their newest family member, no matter how far away they may be.
“It has been pretty awesome,” Aaron Caelli, who works at a mine near Muswellbrook, said.
“I had to go back to work two weeks after Myles was born. And once I was back at work, it was definitely a big help in calming me down when I couldn’t be there.
“They set up a little camera over the top of him, and you just log into the account, wherever you are, and get a live feed of how he is going.
“With all the stress that was happening at the time, it was reassuring to be able to watch him whenever we wanted to.
“It did get a bit full on there, because being premature, they just go through a few things that full term babies don’t. So it was nice to be able to log in and see him when he was so far away.”
Mr Caelli was looking forward to his first Father’s Day on Sunday. They were planning to drive down from Singleton to be with Myles.
“It is so hard to leave him there,” Mr Caelli said.
“They are meant to be with us, at home. We live an hour away, and we have to get in the car and drive home every night, and that is pretty hard.
“Hayley drives in every day. And I come in the days I’m not working.”
Mr Caelli said the last thing they do when they leave the hospital is make sure the camera is set up in a good position.
The first thing they do when they get back home is log on to check on their boy.
Mr Caelli had even been busted watching Myles sleeping on “baby TV” briefly while at work, but his boss had been understanding.
Thanks to Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation grants of $239,000, 489 families have been able to use the NICView system since it was implemented at the hospital in the past year.
To access a camera, each parent is provided with a unique login and password, which they can then pass on to extended family, such as those who are overseas.
Viewers have logged in from 29 countries – including Australia, and on average, the cameras are accessed 1905 times per week.
The Caellis hope to be able to take Myles home with them in the next few weeks.
All 55 beds in the NICU are now fitted with NICView after the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation offered an extra $53,000 to ensure every family with a child in the unit could benefit from the webcam system.