With his wife Amy and children by his side, Mike Hussey was one of Australian cricket’s brightest stars in a golden era for the baggy green.
However, it’s what both Amy and Mike have been involved in off the field that has impacted countless families worldwide for the better.
In November 2017, the Women and Infants Research Foundation (WIRF) proudly named Amy and Mike as its inaugural ambassadors. Both WIRF and the Hussey family are proudly Western Australian, but they share a stronger and much more significant bond – their commitment to the prevention of preterm birth.
Of their four pregnancies (Jasmin, William, Molly and Oscar), Amy and Mike have had not one, but two preterm birth experiences.
In May 2007, Amy gave birth to Molly Mae at just 28 weeks and weighing little over one kilogram after suffering a placental abruption; a condition that can lead to a full-blown haemorrhage.
“My pregnancy was going along well when out of nowhere a complication arose,” Amy said.
“Things didn’t improve and when I was told at 6pm on a Saturday night that the baby needed to come out now, I knew it wasn’t good. I was terrified.
“I remember thinking, ‘I can’t believe this is actually happening to me. I’ve carried two full-term babies so why now?’ It was really frightening and I couldn’t imagine having a baby so early and so small.
“I thought for sure I would be okay, but I was very wrong. It was a lot to take in at the time and it was really difficult trying to be mum to two little children at home and a tiny baby in hospital.”
Mike explained how he feared losing both his wife and premature daughter.
“I couldn’t believe this was happening, I was supposed to be celebrating a World Cup win,” he said.
“It was so sad seeing a tiny, underdeveloped Molly lying helpless in the humidicrib with tubes and cords going in all directions. I jumped every time a beep or an alarm went off. The doctors were doing so many tests and I had so many worries, such as how could someone so tiny even survive this.
“The nurses were amazing – so calm and positive – and kept both Amy and myself somewhat sane. We had no idea what was happening or how things were going to turn out and I certainly felt helpless during this life-changing situation.”
After spending her first 11 weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at King Edward Memorial Hospital, Molly was finally able to come home and join her siblings.
Life at home and on the field largely returned to normal for the Hussey’s until June 2012 when son Oscar mirrored the three-month early birth of his sister, but in more dire circumstances.
Amy had become seriously ill with an antibiotic-resistant bug that doctors struggled to treat and her husband again contemplated being left a single parent.
“Before deciding to have a fourth baby I had lots of testing done and the results showed I was not at risk of having another preterm baby, so we decided to go for it,” Amy said.
“When I went into labour at 28 weeks, we could not believe this was happening again and the anxiety and fear returned.”
Oscar had an extended 12-week stay in the hospital’s NICU after some early health problems; a period which took its toll on the entire family.
“It was a scary time,” Mike said. “I was worried about the health of my wife and baby Oscar, as well as trying to run a household and look after three other children.
“I was completely exhausted, anxious and stressed, but kept trying to put on a brave face. I had so many thoughts of what my life might look like if my wife and baby didn’t make it through the ordeal.
“It is amazing how your life can be turned upside down in the blink of an eye.”
When asked by WIRF to become its inaugural ambassadors, both Amy and Mike jumped at the opportunity.
“It just seems like a perfect fit,” Amy said.
“Knowing how tough it is for families to go through preterm births, if we can help raise awareness and support the amazing research being done by WIRF in reduction and, ultimately, prevention, then we will feel really proud as ambassadors.”