We cried happy tears at Crawford House

Peter was born 11 weeks early and we supported his parents in Crawford House. Here they share their experience

When Peter was born 11 weeks early, my husband, Mark, and I didn’t know where we’d stay while he was in hospital. Thankfully the nurses knew about Crawford House, run by The Sick Children’s Trust.

Mark doesn’t tend to cry, but when we were shown Crawford House and its family room, kitchen and a place where both of us could sleep together we couldn’t believe what we were seeing. In amongst everything we were going through, we cried happy tears.

Our son, ‘Peter Pocket’, was a wonderful miracle. At our 16 week scan, we heard an ‘uh oh’ escape the lips of the sonographer. Something didn’t look right. We were referred to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) where we were offered genetic testing so that we could decide whether we wanted to continue with the pregnancy.

“Peter was an IVF baby and we didn’t want to induce a miscarriage or terminate. We would love him no matter what.”

Ten weeks later, there was an issue with the placenta. It wasn’t flowing for half the time, which meant Peter wasn’t receiving the nutrients and oxygen supply he needed. Gradually, it became worse. If I had Peter at that point, there was little chance he would survive. For two weeks I remained at the RVI as they did everything to delay his arrival.

At 28 weeks, I suffered a bleed that could’ve been life-threatening for the baby. The day had come for Peter to be born. When he arrived, Peter was able to breathe by himself despite being so small. He was 1lb 7oz. We had been warned that he might not cry but our hearts filled with love when we heard him yelping. He’d survived. He was popped into a plastic bag to keep him warm and brought to me so I could touch his tiny hand before he was taken away. This was a very special moment, something I realise a lot of mums in my situation wouldn’t have been able to have.

“Crawford House made a huge difference to us, especially Mark who had been surviving on little sleep for three weeks.”

During the two weeks that I was in hospital before Peter was born, I had a lot of preparation time. I was told about everything that I could expect to happen – the good and the bad. I visited the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where Peter would be treated and met the team that would look after him. During this time, Mark travelled every single day to be with me. It was really hard for him to leave me behind in hospital knowing that at any moment our son might be born seriously ill. He was worried and exhausted.

After my caesarean I had to stay in hospital for a few days until I was well enough to be discharged. Mark didn’t want to leave us so would sleep in a chair on the ward. When I was discharged, a nurse rang Crawford House to see if we’d be able to stay there. Fortunately, there was space and we stayed there for two days. This made a huge difference to us, especially Mark who had been surviving on little sleep for three weeks. It was a huge comfort to be so close to Peter and to also have a space where we could relax a little without feeling guilty.

At Crawford House I was able to express and store the milk in specially designated fridges, which

Mark could just take over to the hospital. There are so many little things like this which made Crawford House such a blessing in one of the most emotionally challenging times of our lives.

Being a mum for the first time and already feeling overwhelmed and trying to stay afloat, The Sick Children’s Trust came into my life and was a wonderful lifeline that helped in the first few days of our child’s life.

We were soon transferred back to our local hospital in Sunderland where Peter’s progress went up and down. He struggled with breathing so needed ventilator support for a long time. But eventually we were able to bring our son home, which was an amazing feeling. Since then, he is doing better than we ever expected.

Throughout our journey our belief in God kept us strong, and to Him we give the biggest thanks. We met many parents who were going through different, longer and harder times than us but have comfort knowing there are wonderful nurses, doctors and charities such as The Sick Children’s Trust that are there making sure families can be together. We will be forever grateful and appreciative for the charity’s support.

Hannah Graham, Peter’s mum

Oh, how I miss him A poem written by Hannah during Peter’s time in hospital.

Distracted, Stomach churning,

Cannot help the yearning,

Thinking of his little fingers,

The smell of my baby lingers,

I want to hold him close to my chest,

I find it hard to sit and rest,

I want my baby here, now , in my arms,

To ease my pain I read the psalms,

Praise you father, for you know,

How you feel my emotions I hide and don’t show,

My God keeps me persevering,

He keeps me strong, keep me believing.

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