We were there at every opportunity to support Jack
When you’re pregnant, you feel all sorts of emotions. Excitement, nervousness, anticipation. What you don’t want to feel is fear. The fear of anything going wrong. But at 28 weeks pregnant that’s how I felt when I was told that there was an abnormality. Our baby, Jack, had duodenal atresia and would need an operation when he was born.
There was such a lot to think about, but one thing we didn’t have to think about was how we’d be able to stay by Jack’s side while he was undergoing his recovery. Fortunately, when we were told about Jack’s condition at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, we found out about the support available at Crawford House, run by The Sick Children’s Trust, which would give us free ‘Home from Home’ accommodation. Immediately it gave us some reassurance and we didn’t have to worry about making a journey from our home in Carlisle to Newcastle every day.
Jack arrived earlier than planned at 37 weeks and was delivered by emergency caesarean. Our little boy arrived weighing a healthy 7lb 13oz and at two days old he underwent his operation. His condition is rare, and occurs in around 6,000 babies. At first most babies seem perfectly well, but the condition effects the first part of the small intestine just beyond the stomach, it is closed off rather than being a tube. This stops food and fluid passing from the stomach into the intestines. His operation at two days old would repair this.
Crawford House was such a huge help, especially in those early days. We didn’t anticipate that I would have an emergency caesarean and would be recovering in hospital while Jack was recovering in the paediatric intensive care unit (PICU), but because of Crawford House my husband Steve was there, at every opportunity, supporting Jack and me in our recovery.
Steve was supported by The Sick Children’s Trust for around three weeks, this way he could help with Jack’s care and we could support each other. As when Jack was moved from PICU to the ward, I was well enough to be discharged and sleep on a pull out bed next to him.
When our daughter visited, she thought Crawford House was a brilliant adventure, she enjoyed breakfast in the kitchen, the playroom and visiting the park with her dad to take some time out from the hospital environment.
Steve and I felt very cared for at Crawford House, although I wasn’t staying there the staff would always pop onto the ward to visit us and ask how we were getting on. They were always so lovely and friendly. And I was always welcome to pop over to have some time to relax and rest and even do our laundry, as being so far away from home the facilities were vital.
Our stay was relatively short and we find ourselves fortunate in this respect. Until I was in that position I’d never considered how long some families are away from home and how difficult it must be to feel torn between staying and being with the rest of the family.
Jack had his one year review in November and he is doing really well, we don’t have to go back for a year and he is slowly coming off his medication for reflux. He’s at nursery now making friends and charming everyone with his beautiful smile and cheeky personality.
We decided to ask Jack’s family and friends to donate to The Sick Children’s Trust as we wanted to say thank you for everything the charity offered us when we needed support. Giving to the charity was an easy choice, we christened Jack to bring him up in the Christian faith and although his Godparents chose to gift sentimental items, as a family we didn’t need our friends to spend any money on gifts, we just wanted them to be present to celebrate. To our amazement £450 was raised. We can’t thank Crawford House and The Sick Children’s Trust enough for all being the support we needed at that time.
Every year we help over 3,500 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.