Having a baby born too early is a very traumatic experience, no matter how prepared you think you are.
My wife Amanda is a midwife so when things started to not feel right for her at 28 weeks (out of 40) she took herself straight to hospital and was given steroid injections to help the chance of the baby’s lungs maturing enough to breathe when they arrived. This experience was already quite close to home for me as I had a sister that was born prematurely when I was 4 who sadly did not live so this was really playing on my mind.
7 days later, in March 2012 when our little daughter Leila was born 11 weeks early it was an incredibly frightening time. Sadly I don’t remember much about the actual birth as I guess I was in a little bit of shock, but I remember being so overwhelmed with relief when little Leila came out crying (her lungs definitely worked). The poor little mite was bright red as her skin had not fully formed, we nicknamed her our little Prawn.
|Leila, a few hours after birth|
Leila’s progress was strong and the doctors and neo natal nurses seemed very positive, but as she started to lose weight after a few days (which happens to all babies) is when the ordeal really hit me. She looked like a wizened old man and her skin began to hang off her tiny bones. This was one of the few times I became overwhelmed during her time in hospital, it was horrendous to see.
|A few days later|
While Amanda took to being a mum like a duck to water, it took me at least a week before I felt like I could hold Leila, with all the wires and tubes coming off her, I felt she was still too fragile to hold - to put things in perspective, my thumb was fatter than her thighs.
We spent six weeks in intensive and then special care but fortunately, thanks to the excellent Doctors and neo natal Nurses in the NHS, Leila thrived and left hospital a healthy (but still tiny) little baby.
During that emotional roller-coaster, Bliss, a charity that supports premature and sick babies and their families was a great help, I feel incredibly indebted to them and I know that they are also important to the families of the 80,000 babies born premature or sick every year. This is why we are walking.
|Happy and healthy - Leila at 10 months (7 months corrected age)|