When we found out we were expecting our baby at Christmas, my husband, Joe, and I felt so excited. When our baby became stuck and distressed 48 hours into my labour, I was sent for an emergency c-section. Our beautiful baby boy, Alfie, was born and we couldn’t believe how perfect he was. Soon after I attempted to feed him, but he struggled to latch on and when he did, he began coughing and spluttering. He was struggling to breathe and then stopped completely, needing to be resuscitated before being whisked away to the Special Baby Care Unit.
With the medical team unable to place a feeding tube down his throat, Alfie needed immediate surgery if he was going to survive. The next few hours were filled with anxiety, patiently waiting for a transfer to one of the surgical hospitals. Joe raced home to pack some belongings, including a sleeping bag just in case he needed to sleep in his car.
The next morning a bed became available at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, over two hours away from our home. On arrival Alfie was diagnosed with oesophageal atresia, a rare birth defect where the oesophagus is not attached to the stomach and was immediately taken to surgery. While the procedure was a success, Alfie had also suffered aspiration pneumonia and a collapsed lung. He was placed on a ventilator, which he remained on for nearly four weeks.
With Alfie being treated on the neonatal intensive care unit, Joe and I knew we wouldn’t be able to stay at the hospital. Thankfully, the amazing nurses arranged for us to stay at Crawford House. There was a large Christmas tree in the reception, a communal kitchen, warm bedroom and bathroom. It really did feel like a ‘Home from Home’. I found it incredibly hard to leave Alfie on the ward each night, so returning to a warm, homely place like Crawford House meant the world to us.
We spent our first Christmas as parents at Crawford House. While it was extremely difficult, the wonderful staff did everything they could to make this magical time of year special. We stayed with Alfie until the early hours of the morning, hung a stocking by his incubator and read a story to him. Though it wasn’t the first Christmas we had planned, we still got to spend precious time with our baby. We are so grateful to the Sick Children’s Trust for providing a place for us to stay at Crawford House. I genuinely don’t know what we would have done without their support.
Following his recovery Alfie is now thriving and we have big plans this Christmas to make up for last year. However, we’ll also be thinking about the families spending Christmas in hospital and at Crawford House. We know how heartbreaking it is to have a child in hospital at any time, but over the festive period is particularly difficult. Our Christmas wish will be that they all get home soon. We’re urging everyone to support The Sick Children’s Trust and their Christmas appeal so that every family can be together over the festive period.
– Becy White, Alfie’s mum