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The Begum Family
On the 2 December 2013 my little boy, Atif, was born at just 26 weeks at Leeds General Infirmary. My partner, Mamun and I were in complete shock and felt so unprepared.

Atif was born weighing a tiny one pound and nine ounces. As he was born early he hadn’t had enough time to grow and build his strength so he had several complications and struggled to breathe. He was immediately whisked away into the intensive care unit for specialist treatment and this was just the start of a long stay in hospital.

I was discharged five days after Atif’s birth and I panicked about being away from him for any length of time. While I was admitted in hospital, I would sit by his bedside all day and even when I went to sleep I could rest well knowing that I wasn’t far away if there was an emergency. We live in Keighley which is an hour and a half away by car, the thought of going home and leaving my new born son in hospital really frightened me; I couldn’t bear to be away from him.

Fortunately soon after I was discharged my husband, Mamun and I met Jane, House Manager of The Sick Children’s Trust’s Eckersley House. She handed us the keys to what became our home for seven weeks. Meeting Jane was such a relief and at that moment I was the happiest mummy ever, to know that you can stay somewhere just a two minute walk from your baby’s ward is wonderful.

The house was so homely and had everything we could ever need including a kitchen, lounge, bedroom, laundry room and playroom. Everything was sparkling clean yet had all the comforts of home which was a real change from the clinical hospital wards. We have two other children too, Akib who is ten years old and Isha who is six years old and although we were lucky that they could stay with our family while Atif was in hospital, it was wonderful that they could come and visit at the weekends. We really missed them and it was lovely to be able to spend time together with Atif and also have some time as a family in Eckersley House.

Atif was on a ventilator for two weeks in intensive care and after this was put on oxygen as he still had difficulties breathing. Following further complications he also had to have surgery to remove a hernia.

Staying in Eckersley House enabled Mamun and I to be there for Atif all day, every day, and also helped us to learn about the essential care he needed. Being close to the ward meant that the nurses could show us how to change his dressings, use medical equipment and we could also do his personal care; changing his nappies, washing and dressing him. Twice a day we had skin to skin cuddles too which was so special. If we had been commuting to and from home every day, we wouldn’t have been able to pick this up as quickly and wouldn’t have bonded with Atif so early on.

Atif was in hospital over Christmas and New Year which was difficult for us as we are used to spending family Christmases at home. However, Jane and her team did all they could to make the house as festive as possible; the house was decorated beautifully, there was a Christmas tree and they even left little Christmas presents outside the bedroom doors.

Akib and Isha came to stay with us at Christmas and it was lovely waking up to hear all the other siblings in the house excited for the day. There was a truly cheerful atmosphere even though every family was facing such a difficult and stressful time.
Atif changed throughout his stay in hospital, not only did he put on weight and grow in strength but his little personality began to come out too. Because of Eckersley House we could watch him grow, bond with him every day and be there when he opened his eyes for the first time.

Atif was transferred to Airedale General Hospital on the 23 January where he spent a further five weeks and we were finally able to take our little boy home for the first time on 25 February. He is now thriving and we cannot thank The Sick Children’s Trust enough.

Eckersley House enabled us to stay as a family while we faced such a worrying and emotional time; we could be with our new born son and Akib and Isha could be with their new baby brother. Without them we wouldn’t have coped financially, physically or mentally.

Aklema Begum, Atif’s mum
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