Being a new mum, Crawford House meant I could focus on my baby
When my baby was born, she didn’t breathe for six minutes. I didn’t even get to see my daughter as she was whisked away to the special care baby unit. Luckily her dad got to see her though before she was then rushed to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI).
It wasn’t until the next day that I got to see her. When I walked into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), I turned to her dad and asked, ‘who is our daughter?’. I had no idea what she looked like.
Our baby was connected to everything, so many machines, tubes and wires. I was encouraged to change her nappy, but I was too scared to touch her and didn’t know what to do. She looked so fragile.
We were soon shown to a place called Crawford House, run by The Sick Children’s Trust. It became our ‘Home from Home’ for a week and a half while our baby was in NICU. Crawford House was simply amazing. I remember walking through the big, blue door and going towards the kitchen with a member of staff who invited me to sit down and have a cup of tea. It was all a bit of a blur but sitting down with the staff helped, and that continued throughout our stay. The support they gave me was hugely important.
Although it took me a while to build my confidence with our daughter, her dad was amazing and took charge until I felt sure enough. Soon I was cuddling her, given her skin to skin and kangaroo care.
When we left our daughter’s hospital bedside to go back and have a meal at Crawford House, the most reassuring thing about being there was that there was a direct telephone line to the ward in our bedroom. We were as near as we could be and picking up the phone in the middle of the night to be able to ask after her was really comforting. Things happen so fast with a premature baby and are so unexpected that you don’t have time to sort anything out. Being so close and being able to have a phone call with the ward every night at 9pm was a relief.
By having a place to stay at Crawford House I could totally focus on being a new mum and focus on my baby who was poorly. Crawford House was a huge comfort blanket around me. Everything was covered. From the basic necessities like tea and milk to breast pumps being available to use in the house. There was nothing we had to worry about.
That was in 2014. Our daughter is now seven (going on seventeen!) years old and she is doing really well. After speaking to her Nanna recently, who was also supported at Crawford House in 1999, I have decided to take on the Great North Run. I don’t even run! She told me though how much going back to Crawford House and doing this for The Sick Children’s Trust helped her create new memories. I know as well that if it wasn’t for The Sick Children’s Trust it would’ve made the situation ten times worse. We would’ve slept in a car without having a place to stay at Crawford House. It made such a massive difference to us and we know it could make a difference to so many other people too.
Olivia Cooke’s baby son Jude suffered numerous seizures at Scunthorpe General Hospital before being transferred to Sheffield Children’s Hospital for specialist care, where our ‘Home from Home’ supported the family free of charge throughout that time.
Every year we help families by giving them somewhere to stay near their seriously ill child’s hospital bedside. Sign up to receive our email newsletters to stay up to date with how your support is helping to keep families together.