Our son was born ten weeks early and needed specialist care miles from home, Crawford House made sure we never missed a moment

Sonny was born ten weeks and needed specialist treatment the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Crawford House made sure his parents could always be by his side

When I was 30 weeks pregnant I started bleeding quite badly. This had happened seven times in the previous three weeks and each time me and my partner Alex rushed to our hospital in Carlisle so I could be monitored. This time things were a lot worse, I started being very poorly with my heart rate dropping and increasing sporadically. Our son’s levels were also changing quickly on the monitor which was very concerning. I was put on a drip to help our son’s brain to develop and we were told he would be born within the next two hours.

Everything was happening so fast and it was difficult for us to take everything in, it was very surreal. As we were both prepped for the birth I continued to be really unwell and so the decision was made that I would need an emergency caesarean – our baby was coming now! Alex put on his scrubs and was a incredible support by side the whole time. Within 15 minutes of being in theatre our beautiful baby boy, Sonny Mark Studholme, was born ten weeks early, weighing a tiny but mighty 3lbs 2oz on Thursday 27th May 2021.

We were surrounded by multiple hospital staff and there was a lot of activity going on around us. It didn’t feel real at the time and I remember asking if Sonny was alive. Alex was able to have a quick look at Sonny before he was whisked away as he was having trouble breathing, needed chest compressions and specialist care. I had haemorrhaged quite badly during the emergency surgery and needed to recover before I go and see him. It was really hard not being able to hold Sonny instantly like all parents expect they will be able to, but Sonny was struggling and needed to get the best care. He was alive which was our main priority.

“With Sonny being that premature anything could have happened in those early days and I couldn’t bear to leave him. The Sick Children’s Trust made sure we never had to and took all that extra pressure away.”

Sonny was stabilised and taken to the Special Care Ward to be monitored. A few hours later Alex got to spend some time him and video called me so I could see him as well. It was extremely emotional for us both. I didn’t get to see our baby boy until hours later when I was wheeled through on my bed by Alex and the midwives.

Later that night a doctor came to see us and we were told that Sonny needed to be transferred to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) as a precaution because he was still struggling with his breathing. Our hearts sank. I still hadn’t recovered enough to be able to travel with him, so as he was transferred in the ambulance, Alex followed his car and I was left in a completely different hospital, separated from both of them. That was incredibly overwhelming and difficult. Alex was very overwhelmed being a new dad and having to with our son to a different hospital and leaving me behind. Our son had just been born very quickly, we had barely any time together with him and now we were going to be separated miles apart.

Alex: When I arrived in Newcastle Sonny was being taken onto the intensive care ward where he was put on a cpap machine to assist with his breathing. The RVI was not what I expected at all. I thought it was going to manic with loads of people running around and a lot of activity, but it was so relaxed and clam. The staff were really great and got me a room on the ward for the weekend until Julie was well enough to be transferred. I was able to change Sonny’s nappy for the first time and help with his care. This was quite daunting as a new dad as I’d never really looked after a baby before. Trying to do it on such a small baby in an incubator with wires and tubes everywhere made it even more challenging.


Julie: When I arrived 24 hours later they were moving Sonny to High Dependency Unit so he had already reached a massive milestone by being able to leave intensive care. I was just so relieved to be back with my little family. I was admitted to the post natal ward just around the corner from Sonny and for the next 2 days Alex travelled back and forward from our home in Wigton, to the RVI everyday.

Shortly after I was admitted we were told we had a place to stay at Crawford House. We’d never heard of Crawford House or The Sick Children’s Trust before, but it’s a ‘Home from Home’ ran by the charity and located on the hospital site. It was brilliant to know we could stay so close to Sonny and it really took the pressure off the both of us. We had our own room where we could get some rest and cook actual dinners in the communal kitchen. With Sonny being that premature anything could have happened in those early days and I couldn’t bear to leave him. The Sick Children’s Trust made sure we never had to and took all that extra pressure away.

We had to wait three days before we could hold our son for the first time. We’d been able to touch him through the incubator holes but he couldn’t leave it until he got stronger. It was terrifying when we first held him as he was so small and we were scared at how fragile he might be especially with his cpap mask on him and all the wires he was attached to. It was really hard not being able to hold him when we wanted, but that first hold was amazing and the moment we really felt like parents.

Sonny spent 13 days at the RVI and for that entire time we stayed at Crawford House. His breathing started to improve a lot during this time, he was quickly gaining weight and got stronger everyday. Sonny was then transferred back to Carlisle for five more weeks before we could finally bring our baby boy home. He’s 21 weeks old now and thriving. Being born that premature you don’t expect a baby to come out unscathed, but he is doing amazing and we’re so proud of everything he has achieved and overcome.

Julie and Alex, Sonny’s parents  

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