Friday 14 October 2011

I Watched Jeremy Kyle Today

Now I know my husband and perhaps others think that all I do is sit around in my nightie watching Jeremy Kyle on a regular basis, but it isn't so. Jeremy Kyle annoys me. The people he has on are often, well, undesirable. The DNA tests, the lie detectors, the screeching, it's not something I want to watch. If I want to see such things I only need stand in my street on a Saturday night.

However today one of my friends put the following on Twitter today.
Crying over this poor couple need a to talk too x (kykaree being my twitter name, long story)
So I switched on ITV + 1 and watched. This lovely young mum was being grilled by our Jeremy, glib and annoying as ever. She was clearly devastated and traumatised. Her 11 month old was in the studio, they panned to him a couple of times, the oxygen tube clearly visible below his nose.

They showed a picture of a tiny baby in an incubator, this little lad was born at just 25 weeks weighing 1lb 10 oz. There were tears in the mum's eyes. "Why are you crying?" asked Jeremy. Choking back tears she tried to explain.

Jeremy, she was crying because she was back there, by his side, watching, waiting, willing him to live another day, hoping that she would have a "take home baby" at the end of it. That at times, she cannot see this baby as an eleven month old who is doing well, to her, he is still tiny, fragile and vulnerable. I know, because I have been there. I recall for months and months I could not see a baby in an incubator without being in floods of tears.

This couple had come on to the show because their relationship had taken a battering following the birth and hospital stay of their son. It was clear that the father was struggling too, he had tears pouring down his face. He admitted he had been violent towards the mum.

My heart just went out to her and to him. I wanted to just give her a huge hug, make her a hot chocolate and a cupcake and let her just sit and pour her heart out to me for as long as she needed. Forget Jeremy and his promise of doctors and counsellors, just sit down with someone who can relate, and get it all out.

What upset me about this, is that this couple felt they had no where to go. There isn't enough support or enough education out there about dealing with a traumatic birth and with a poorly baby. Jeremy kept saying "but he's fine now". So I guess he's been the father of a premature baby has he? He's been there agonising over oxygen sats, waiting for the next download, administering medication, worrying about RSV? No Jeremy, I don't think you have. Or you wouldn't say "he's fine now".

Having a baby is isolating, especially if you are young and your friends are all out having fun. Added to that that your experience is so very different to those of your friends, and that 11 months on it still isn't over. People are ignorant about babies on oxygen. and I know its just curiosity and a desire to know more, but for a mum, its confronting. You just want to be like every other mum, with their baby. You don't want to have to explain things every 5 minutes.

And with winter coming up, its more isolating than ever. Babies on oxygen are more susceptible to infection. Baby groups and the like are not recommended in winter for babies on oxygen. There's a constant risk of infection that can land a susceptible baby in hospital. As a mum you live with that fear everyday, that your baby might become desperately ill, and again you are back in hospital sitting by your baby's cot willing them to pull through.

There is support for people who have had small babies, start with Bliss who offer face to face counselling, phone counselling, support groups and other forms of support too. Bliss have a message board, with a special locked section for young people who have had premature babies. There are people who have walked in these shoes that are happy to help.

You are not alone.


  1. I couldn't watch the whole interview. I cried my eyes out seeing her photos as it too me back 'there' too.

  2. I saw the last half of JK this morning so saw the couple you have written about. I haven't had a premmie baby but couldn't believe he said "why are you crying now?" such an insensitive question. It's clear and obvious that it's a very long journey x

  3. Oh bless, she just felt so "raw" didn't she, huge hugs to you, its still very close to home for you too x x

  4. Having seen a close friend go through this a few years ago its incredible how much pressure and stress they endured. All is well now 3 years later but the shadows are still there.

  5. I love this blog post. I sympathise entirely with the mum. My oldest son was born at 24+5 and was on oxygen until December last year. He is now two and a half but it still isn't over. I've just had my second son and I'm enjoying having him at home, but it hurts that it wasn't like this for my first born.

  6. I know, I just wanted to hit him and cuddle her! I think its very hard to understand if you haven't been there, however there is no excuse. And I guess it makes good television, but it seems such a shame. I just hope they both get the help they need.

  7. Thank you for your comment, it does place a huge pressure on a relationship and statistics vary but something like 1 in 4 relationships break down if a child has a long term hospital stay. I'm glad all is well, but I think the ghosts of the NICU stay around forever

  8. I think that's a very good point, that having another child particularly at term highlights everything that you and your firstborn missed the first time around. And for a lot of premmie babies, its never truly over, the effects of prematurity can last forever.

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