Nobody expects to be in the position where they have a sick child in hospital. In the most difficult times, having a place to stay at one of The Sick Children’s Trust’s ‘Home from Home’ can make the small things easier. This time last year I would never have thought we would watch our baby boy fight for his life at the most magical time. Nearly a year on, we cannot wait to see in 2020 at home surrounded by our wonderful friends and family.
Jack was born on Halloween 2018 (he’s such a little character, always keeping us on his toes!) and our daughter, Esme, who is two years older than him celebrates her birthday in December. As we started decorating the tree and preparing for Father Christmas’ arrival, we were very much looking forward to celebrating the holidays and welcoming in 2019 as a family.
However it turned out to be quite different. Esme had been poorly on Christmas Eve but bounced back by Christmas Day. But then Jack started to show some cold symptoms. By Boxing Day night, he was struggling to breathe.
An ambulance was called and we went to urgent care at North Tees Hospital and later we were sent home with a suspected viral infection. That night, Jack’s breathing started to become more strained and we were back in hospital the following day. It actually turned out he had bronchiolitis.
Initially Jack did well but he had to be ventilated and transferred to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary on 29 December. We were told about Crawford House, a free ‘Home from Home’ run by The Sick Children’s Trust. Despite having 24 bedrooms Crawford House was in demand and full of other families who found themselves in a similar situation to us, with children in hospital. That night and the following night Joe and I tried to get some rest on Jack’s ward or in the family room.
We’d hoped to see our little Esme who I had not seen since Boxing Day on New Year’s Eve and our dream was made possible because really late in the day we were offered a room at Crawford House. For us mentally we could start 2019 positively as we could see in the New Year with both our children, in the same place. The way we’d always wanted it to be.
I can’t even describe the relief of having a real base where we could cook, shower, store our belongings and more importantly have our babies in the same city. It also gave us the opportunity for Esme to see Jack as it was such a confusing time for her. We had so much to look forward to having our first full family Christmas. I remember watching the New Year fireworks with Esme through the windows of the hospital and feeling overwhelmed with emotion in relief that Jack was in the best place and Esme was with us.
Luckily Jack responded really well to treatment, and after two weeks was allowed home. We are forever grateful and humbled by the experience and know that our stay at Crawford House was just a short one and that for some people this is life. We took a lot of inspiration those who had spent a lot longer in the hospital who we met at Crawford House. It really makes you realise that the work The Sick Children’s Trust does is so important in keeping families together.
For us as a family it was a very humbling experience and the help we were given by both The Sick Children’s Trust and Team Evie, a charity that provides support an items to families while their child is in hospital, inspired us to want to make sure we gave something back. We organised a family race afternoon and managed to make £2,000 to share between the two wonderful charities.
Jack is doing really well now and this year I am looking forward to a fortnight off work with all the magic of two children who believe. It’s going to be absolutely fantastic.
Anna Burn, Esme and Jack’s mum