It took away all the other worries allowing us to focus on Adam
The nurse drew her breath, “It’s not good news”.
I was 26 weeks pregnant and my baby was coming. All hell broke loose as I was pumped with steroids and magnesium sulphate to delay the labour at my local hospital in Romford.
As Adam would be very small and poorly when he arrived, lots of calls were made to see where we would be transferred to for his best chance of survival. We were sent to the Royal London in Whitechapel which was an hour and ten minutes away from our home. While this felt far away from everything and everyone we knew it wasn’t as bad as some of the alternatives. We were blue lighted there on 9 December 2018 and 52 hours later I gave birth to Adam on 11 December.
We were prepared for the worst. Adam’s skin was so fragile that I couldn’t hold him, or even touch him. For three minutes I lay a finger on my baby who was wrapped in what seemed to be a sandwich bag before he was intubated and rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
We didn’t know how long Adam would be in the Royal London. All we knew was that he had to maintain his weight, as he was only a teeny weeny 2lb 1oz, and improve his breathing. I was discharged two days after giving birth and although we had been told about a place we could stay called Stevenson House, run by a charity called The Sick Children’s Trust, there was no room. Left with no choice we travelled back home, leaving Adam in hospital which broke my heart.
We were added to the waiting list for Stevenson House, which was a glimmer of hope in an incredibly tough time. Until there was space, we would spend over two hours every day on the train getting to and from our son’s side. God forbid if anything did happen during that time as our hands were tied. Even then, at such a serious time in our child’s life, we couldn’t be there.
When your baby or child is sick in hospital, all you want is to be there for them. You just want to stay. You don’t want to worry about missing the last train home, but the reality is you can’t stay with them all the time without a place like Stevenson House.
I remember the day the House Manager, told us there was a room available. Adam had been having a terrible time that day and this was the news we needed.
Of all the things you have to think about, the last thing you want to worry about is the financial side of traveling or a hotel. The Sick Children’s Trust takes all the other worries away so that your focus can be purely on your child.
We were just a couple of minutes away from Adam at Stevenson House and it had everything we needed. We had our own room and own space. There were breast pumps so that I could express and take it over to the hospital when Adam needed it, which was every two hours!
We were in London for six weeks and Adam yo yo’d. Something happened every day. He had three blood transfusions, complications due to two severe bleeds on the brain at birth and a partially collapsed lung. It wasn’t until he was two weeks old that I got to hold him, which was helped by staying at Stevenson House. This was because every two weeks the incubators are changed, but this normally happens late at night. A nurse had told me that if we were around they’d let us hold Adam while they changed his bed. Up until this point I felt a bit detached, but that cuddle bonded us more than I can ever describe. That hold made me feel that everything would be OK.
During this time, my husband Paul had to go back to work in Ilford and yet again Stevenson House made this situation easier. If we’d been at home, he would’ve struggled to see us and be there but because he was going to work and returning to Stevenson House he was able to go across to NICU to see Adam and then also spend time with me.
We celebrated Adam’s first Christmas together in the Royal London Hospital. People had left advent calendars and chocolates at Stevenson House for us to enjoy and the nurses made it special on the unit. Adam wasn’t meant to arrive until March so we weren’t prepared for Christmas, but we made him a Christmas card and the day was memorable. On Boxing Day another twist in our journey occurred. Unknowingly, I’d retained placenta and that night hemorrhaged. Paul had to carry me over to the hospital from Stevenson House. Fortunately, we were there.
As a premmie parent, it’s really hard not to get worked up about everything you can’t do and focus on the things you can do. It was hard not being able to hold Adam, but the nurses were so good at involving us in his care. I learnt how to feed him through his tube and to aspirate him which really made a difference to our experience. Everything became so much easier with Stevenson House, even the midnight phones calls. We were never far away, and it was a real comfort to both of us.
You never think that you’re going to need charity. We didn’t think we would and you’ll never know when you will need that help until it happens. No parent thinks their child is going to end up in hospital and can imagine not being there for them which is why I’d encourage everyone to support The Sick Children’s Trust. Especially at a time like now when they need as much help as possible.
I’m really pleased to say that Adam turned one in December and has come on leaps and bounds. His mobility has been slower given how early he arrived, but nowadays I’m putting him down and he’s off, he’s gone! He moves so fast and is trying to pull himself up and do everything babies like to do. We’re incredibly proud of him.
It costs The Sick Children’s Trust £30 to support a family for one night. £30 gives a family so much more than just a roof over their heads when their child is in hospital. £30 gives them someone to talk to, and a calm place to rest with their family.
Every year we help almost 3,800 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.