Someone, somewhere, gave us the Gift of Togetherness

Miyah spent Christmas in hospital last year after undergoing major heart surgery. We supported her mum at Guilford Street House

You need a place to stay in order to look after your seriously ill child in hospital. It’s as simple as that.

My daughter, Miyah, was born with half a heart along with other complications which has meant ever since she was born we have been travelling back and forth to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) and our local, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Miyah’s conditions are complex and that can make it difficult for doctors to treat her. I was told that my daughter wouldn’t live to see her first birthday, but Miyah has defied the odds and we celebrated her big day in October. Miyah’s journey hasn’t been easy though.

“All the panic left me the moment they handed me the set of keys to Guilford Street House.”

I knew that Miyah would need surgery for her heart eventually, but I didn’t expect it to come so soon. At three months old she was booked to have a big heart operation on Christmas Eve. Suddenly our Christmas looked quite different to that of our friends and family.

I was terrified that something would go wrong with the surgery. I needed to be within arm’s reach of Miyah, to protect her and look after her and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to be there for her. However, The Sick Children’s Trust gave me a place to stay in its ‘Home from Home’ Guilford Street House. I was as close as I possibly could be. All the panic left me the moment they handed me the set of keys. It was a short walk to the front door of Guilford Street House and as I opened the door to my room I realised that I didn’t have to worry anymore. It meant the world to me that I could be with Miyah. Children in hospital need their families around them, it can be a lonely and scary place for anyone but especially for a child.

Without Guilford Street House, I would’ve really struggled to be with my daughter and support her through her recovery. I couldn’t afford to stay in a hotel room at Christmastime in London. A hotel room also wouldn’t have given me the warm welcome that I received from the team and other families at Guilford Street House. I felt at home and comfortable.

“Miyah won’t remember her first Christmas, but I’ll remember how we were able to spend it together because someone, somewhere, thought of me and my daughter.”

Christmas day could’ve been a really sad day as it was Miyah’s first and not how I imagined it would be, but it turned out to be lovely. Having met other families at Guilford Street House in a similar situation to me, we walked across to the hospital together to see our little ones. It might not have been the traditional Christmas that we’d planned, but the day turned out to be quite magical with presents, food and laughter.

Miyah won’t remember her first Christmas, but I’ll remember how we were able to spend it together because someone, somewhere, thought of me and my daughter. They gave us the Gift of Togetherness, which is more than I could’ve asked for.

We will be spending this Christmas at home with my family this year and I can’t wait to see Miyah open her presents and play with her toys! While I’m looking forward to this, I’m thinking of those who will be in hospital with their child this year.

No child should be in hospital by themselves with no family members by their side seeing them. By donating £30 to The Sick Children’s Trust this Christmas you can give one family the Gift of Togetherness this Christmas. It will be the best present they receive this year. I know because it was for me.

Chloe Conlin, Miyah’s mum

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