I'm not scared anymore
The regime of the “Stiff upper Lip” has been a long one. We British may overcome any obstacle we put our minds to and we may do so
We have partnered with the charity, Bliss to raise awareness for the complications that premature birth can cause both baby and the families who support them. Bliss exists to give every baby born premature or sick in the UK, the best chance of survival and quality of life. They champion the rights of babies to receive the best care by supporting families, campaigning for change, supporting professionals, and enabling life-changing research.
It is startling how many people are affected by premature birth, whether they are part of a family who have been through the trauma of premature birth, or were born prematurely themselves. Some of our McGinley family know too well the impact a premature birth can have, as our Learning and Development Manager Lucy Moore, who gave birth to both of her children prematurely, shares her story:
Both my babies were born prematurely. Poppy was born first at 32 weeks weighing 3lb 13oz in 2010. Being 8 weeks early was a huge shock for my husband and I – we were really looking forward to parenthood but didn’t expect it to happen so suddenly and, in the way that it did. At birth, Poppy was taken to Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) where she spent the next five weeks. Because Poppy was born so early and because she was so small, she had to spend her first weeks in an incubator … so we weren’t able to cuddle her like most parents. The only time we were able to hold her in the early days was at feeding and changing time. Luckily, over the weeks Poppy learned to feed, gained weight and was soon out of the incubator and on her way home.
It was a scary and stressful time where you simply go into survival mode. People would say how great my husband and I were doing but we didn’t have a choice. I spent all my time at the hospital living on chocolate and ready meals, while my husband went to work during the day and visited Poppy in the evening for as long as he possibly could.
Fortunately, Poppy was a strong baby. She continued to develop well so we were able to take her home and start our family life together.
Two years later, I gave birth to my son, Harrison. Harrison kept up the family trend by arriving at 32 weeks and also weighing in at 3lb 13oz! We’d been told I might have another premature baby but we were hopeful it wouldn’t happen. Like Poppy, Harrison spent five weeks in hospital with a few ups and downs but was soon able to go home. Unfortunately, this time, things didn’t go so smoothly.
Five days after Harrison came home we had to rush him to A&E where he was placed on a ventilator, suffering from apnoea, a condition that interferes with the airway and prevents breathing. Harrison contracted pneumonia, had a collapsed lung and, as a result, developed meningitis. We were very close to losing him. Thankfully the NICU doctors and nurses were amazing and after two weeks on a ventilator, he was well enough to come home again.
Harrison’s journey hasn’t been as smooth as Poppy’s and he has had various developmental challenges but he is now a happy, healthy five year old.
These experiences put a huge amount of emotional and physical pressure on both my husband and I. It’s important to remember the effect that premature birth has on the whole family with husbands quite often forgotten, as the focus tends to be on the mother. But I can assure you, it is no less traumatic for either party! We lived on three hour cycles waiting to hold our baby again, spending days and nights in hospital because we didn’t want to be apart from Harrison – whilst also trying to be a mummy and a daddy to two year old Poppy who was being cared for by friends and family.
Bliss were a huge support throughout. The literature they provided explaining what was happening made it easier to understand and cope. They work with hospitals to encourage family-centred care for the babies to ensure parents are hands-on wherever possible. They continued to be a huge support after I took Harrison home and I was lucky to benefit from counselling, thanks to them.
They made a stressful and seemingly impossible situation, a little more bearable.
If you wish to contribute in any way to help us to raise greater awareness of the problems premature birth may cause, please share or like our blog & posts that will appear throughout today across our Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter & G+ pages. If you’d like to share any of your own stories with us, we’d love to hear from you, so please contact us on 0330 024 1340 or email@example.com.