Today I am introducing you to three remarkable mummies. I met these women through Bliss and they never cease to inspire me with their courage, resourcefulness and love for their children. I asked them to share their experiences specifically as young mums who have had babies in special care.
I'd like you to meet Abby, who was 19 when her son was born at 27 weeks + 5 days gestation. Abby had swine flu, and despite efforts to keep Luca inside, he was delivered by crash section, whilst Abby was ventilated. Abby then spent 3 weeks on an ECMO machine. Abby had a good experience of her special care unit, which is small, and thankfully Luca was just within the weight parameter to be able to stay in the unit and not be transferred.
Abby missed the first 3 weeks of her precious son's life, and wished the staff had taken photos, hand and footprints, and kept a diary so that Abby could be filled in once she had stabilised. She only has blurry mobile phone pictures taken by her mum to document this time in her son's life, which makes her sad.
Abby found that as a young mum, she wasn't treated any differently to any other mum on the unit. Abby shared the following about her son Luca.
I think Luca is amazing for the fight he's put up. He has been in and out of hospital (at one point re-ventilated) but he never gives up and always has a smile for you. We've got a hard slog ahead, including probably heart surgery, but I know he will approach it with all he's got. My other little boys are amazing because they have had to put up with their mummy being there one day, and away the next. They didn't see me for a whole month, but settled back in straight away. They are brilliant with their little brother and know they have to be gentle and caring towards him. I think to say I am blessed to have these three boys in my life is an understatement.
Next to share, is Nikki. Marcus was born at 25 weeks + 4 days. No one knows why Nikki's waters broke, and understandably this concerns her greatly.
Nikki found her experience frightening, on many occasions Nikki was prepared for the fact that Marcus may not survive the night. She found that although the majority of nurses were kind and supportive, some nurses treated her (and other mothers) differently due to their age, and that some doctors and nurses would talk down to her.
Nikki experienced the trauma of her son being transferred, but found the transport teams a Godsend. Marcus had six surgeries at Birmingham Children's Hospital and Nikki cannot speak highly enough of them, they found her places to stay, so that she could be by Marcus' side.
Nikki feels that there should be more help with expressing, and that nurses should show more compassion. Sadly Nikki found the support from the Health Visitor lacking, she didn't come until Marcus was 6 months old. She hadn't been shown how to bath Marcus. She suffered unnecessarily from post natal depression as the signs were missed, as she did not have adequate support in the community.
Nikki feels very strongly that all mothers should received first aid training for their babies, not just those who have had premature babies.
Nikki says the following about her amazing son Marcus
Marcus is two on July 5th and against all odd has done really well. He has mild general delay and moderate communication delay, but considering he was unable to sit unaided for 30 seconds at 1 year old, I think he did remarkably well to be walking by 17 months of age. The Paediatrician's words were 'that small very sick child who wasn't expected to survive the night, look at him now'. He's my little miracle baby and I would not change him for the world. He is so incredibly cheeky and clever. We were told he would probably have disabilities but so far so good. Only time will tell, and we will continue to be positive.
And finally, Sandi, who was 22 when she gave birth to her daughter Alex at 27 weeks + 4 days gestation. No one knows why Alex came so early, which is a cause of major stress to Alex. She finds thinking of the future, it is awful not knowing what happened.
Alex found that she was numb at first, but had faith that everything would be ok. Alex herself was born at 29 weeks. Sandi, like Nikki, felt that some nurses were patronising, but overall she found her experience positive, and that the facilities in her hospital were superb, and she has made friendships with nurses and other mums.
Sandi also felt there was lack of help with expressing. She had never thought about it, and it came as a bit of a shock. On a practical level, she was never shown around the unit and didn't know where the expressing room was until weeks down the line. Sandi also felt there was no information on financial help in general, and did not claim anything for 5 months. She makes the very valid point when you are running to and from hospital for months, you just don't have time to look into benefits. Also, Sandi feels she has not been given any support relating to her daughter's brain haemorrhage, and it's just a case of "wait and see".
About Alex, Sandi says
She is one on Sunday, she made it! I can't ask for much more. Alex is a smiley baby, and has so far passed all her neonatal checkups with flying colours. She has a huge personality. What can I say? She's amazing
Thank you Nikki, Abby and Sandi for sharing your inspirational stories and babies with us, and I look forward to doing a follow up in a years time!