My son Louie was born in July 2016, 12 weeks premature. He spent 116 days in neonatal intensive care, nearly 4 months, and came home on at the end of October. It was the second best day of my life, the first being the day he was born – even though that was an emotional rollercoaster!
Louie went through a lot during his stay in NICU; breathing problems, chronic lung disease, NEC, suspected meningitis, metabolic bone disorder, growth problems and a hernia repair.
He came home on home oxygen as well as lots of medications. How could I possibly leave my baby after only 2 months of having him home?
I could have taken the rest of my years entitlement, then it would have been 9 months that Louie would have been home; but I still didn’t feel as if I could go back so soon.
I couldn’t trust anyone else, apart from my partner who worked full time, to give Louie his meds and to check his breathing, making sure his oxygen was ok. And what about all his appointments and check ups -how could I take all this time off work? So I decided that I couldn’t go back….
I am currently a full time stay at home mum and even though it is hard financially it has to be done.
Louie is now 14 months old and he’s still so tiny, weighing just over 14lbs. He isn’t sitting on his own just yet, although he thinks he can! His mind wants to do things but he’s just isn’t physically able.
Would more time have helped? I think so. Longer maternity leave may have prevented me from handing in my notice. I could have used that time to adjust, to have found care for Louie, someone I could trust. Any mum will always do what is best for their baby and at the time and looking back I knew I was doing the best thing for Louie and for me.
I really hope the government will look again into this matter. No one wants their baby to be born early and with medical problems. How can it be right that we are denied time with our babies or forced to give up work? Having a premature baby is nowhere near the same as being the mother of a healthy full term baby – our circumstances are totally different and our maternity leave entitlements should be too.
If you agree with Louise, please sign The Smallest Things petition to extend maternity leave for mothers of premature babies.