Stevenson House allowed me to be at my best for Sienna

When baby Sienna was born six weeks premature with organs on the outside of her body, our Stevenson House 'Home from Home' provided vital support to her parents Jordan and Josh.

I was only 21 when, in 2019, I fell pregnant with my daughter, Sienna. I was still living at home with my mum and working as a nursery teacher in Romford, Essex.  

The pregnancy was far from straight-forward. My 12-week scan, at Queens Hospital in Romford, revealed that the baby had a hernia, but at my next scan, things took a more serious turn. They discovered she had gastroschisis, a hole in her abdominal wall where some of her organs were outside her body. I was told that there was a strong chance that she could be born premature, which was very difficult to hear. I was hospitalised by a major bleed at 16-weeks, but thankfully Sienna was fine.   

Baby Sienna. Credit: Jordan Richardson.

Sienna was born by emergency caesarean section, six weeks premature. She was tiny, weighing just 4lb 1oz. With her organs on the outside, Sienna was immediately wrapped in cling-film and connected to the wires and tubes needed to keep her alive. She was wriggling so much, pulling at her wires and tubes. At 20 minutes old she was given morphine to calm her down, before being placed in a travel incubator and rushed by ambulance to the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, where she needed immediate corrective surgery. It was devastating to see her taken away from me, especially as I had to stay at Queens while I recovered from my c-section.  

I was relieved when my partner Josh, who’d travelled to the Royal London, called to tell me that her operation was a success. I was discharged from Queens 24 hours later and headed straight to Whitechapel, travelling the hour journey from Romford by train. I was in absolute agony, and the trains were so busy. It was horrible, but I was prepared to do it to be with Sienna.  

Credit: Jordan Richardson.

After three days of travelling from home, we had a chance meeting with Chaz Pathan from a charity called The Sick Children’s Trust. He told us that he had a room spare at Stevenson House, a ‘Home from Home’ just a few minutes away from Sienna’s ward, which was free of charge. He took us there straight away, giving us a room that we would end up staying in for six weeks. It changed everything for us.  

I had an amazing support system around me at Stevenson House. Josh stayed for a couple of weeks before he had to return to work, at which point my mum came to stay. Chaz and his team were brilliant, too. I’d lean on him quite a lot and he’d always check in with us to see how Sienna was doing. I found a degree of normality at Stevenson House. Being able to wash my clothes or make Spaghetti Bolognese was so important for my own recovery, allowing me to be at my best for Sienna.  

I’d also speak to the other mums staying at Stevenson House, which really helped. I was very young and could have been thinking ‘why has this happened to me’, but those conversations with the other mums made me realise I wasn’t alone.

Sienna, pictured at Stevenson House in 2023. Credit: The Sick Children’s Trust.

Sienna was tube fed for the first five weeks of her life. The quantities of milk were tiny, receiving just two or three mils an hour. We were so happy when there was an increase, even by just one ml, as we knew she was making progress.

At six weeks, Sienna was well enough to be transferred back to Queens, finally coming home a week later, on her official due date. She’s doing great now, she’s such a little character. She’s got a younger brother now, with Shai arriving in 2021. I was closely monitored throughout that pregnancy, but there we no complications, thankfully.  

I don’t know what we would have done without Stevenson House. To have that room so close to where Sienna was being cared for was just so important. We couldn’t have afforded a hotel, and I’d have wasted so much time and money commuting every day. We’ll never be able to thank the charity enough for the support they gave us at such a scary time.  

Jordan Richardson, Sienna’s mum 

Jordan, Shai, Sienna and Josh on a visit to Stevenson House last year. Credit: The Sick Children’s Trust.

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