Tag Archives: guest post

Neonatal Care: Shattered Dreams and Precious Moments

Our journey started last April when our son Jake was born suddenly 10 weeks early. Nothing can prepare you for the journey that was about to start and we were lucky that he was a healthy 1.53kg – a good weight for a 30 week premie!

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The dreams you have of holding your baby when they are first born, the pictures capturing those first precious moments, are shattered. And instead you are filled with loss, longing to hold a fragile baby. With the tubes and wires, it’s not what you imagined, but the nurses help and support you with your first kangaroo care cuddle – and it’s worth the wait!

These small steps that most parents take for granted are celebrated along the rollercoster ride of neonatal care. There are bad days, when all you do is hope and pray that they pull through, the days without cuddles when all you can do is sit and wait, knowing you would give anything to swap places with your baby.

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What you can do is express your milk, but this was hard work and mother nature didn’t make the job any easier. While some mums filled bottle after bottle, I bearly made enough, expressing throughout the day and twice during the night, just to keep up. This will always be the bit I feel guilty about, Jake didn’t take to breastfeeding no matter how hard we tried. The nurses were amazing in supporting us, (I’d never had so many people see my boobs!), but no matter what it just wasn’t working and after a few days and 12h with no wet nappies we tried a bottle. He gulped it down! It’s not what we had planned, but none of this was. I cried loads and will always feel guilty that I didn’t breatfeed – but he is healthy and that’s the main thing .

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We were extreamly lucky and made a special bond with two other wordering familes. Going through something like this can bring people together and sometimes you have to take the positives of what life throws at you. The amazing team that works in SCBU are all angels and I could never repay the times they saved Jake’s life. The times they supported us – the hugs, the chats and the occasional light moment of laughter – we missed them hugely the firate few weeks we were at home.

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The journey doesn’t stop when you go home though and for us it seemed like the begining of weeks of obsessing about infections. Hand gel became my best friendnand no one was allowed in the house with the slightest sniffle. The first cold at home was hard and I spent the whole day scared he would end up back on a ventilator. It’s hard to admit, but it was terrifying bringing him home. At least when he was in hosital the staff could keep him safe and knew what to do if he had an infection. But with time this got easier.

By the time we were ready to go and meet ‘normal’ mums and babies I was half way through my mat leave.  This was my next challenge, of always feeling like I had to justify why Jake was slightly behind and in knowing how to explain his early start and corrected age. I’m so proud of my reslient, funny and sociable son and wouldn’t change a thing, but it was sometimes hard to hear other mums stories.

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It does get easier and I remind myself that I am one of the lucky ones. I am currently due to go back to work on friday to a job I love and Jake has settled into an amazing setting which he loves…

…..but I still feel cheated from my full maternity leave. Seven weeks in hospital and then by the time I was finally ready to fully embrace mummy life if feels as if half of it was gone already. It’s been a long, and at times uncertain, journey – and now together we’re about to embark on the next chapter!

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With special thanks to Claire Mountain for sharing her story with The Smallest Things.

If you’d like to help us raise awareness of life through neonatal care then please use the Twitter and Facebook buttons to SHARE Claire’s story. 

Meal Time with a Premature Baby – Weaning, Seating & Spoons! 

Feeding a preemie baby doesn’t stop being a bit different when you leave hospital. Weaning is one of the few things (immunisations are another) that are done on actual rather than corrected age. So, despite only having been home with my 24 weeker for about 6 weeks, and only really just feeling like we were finding some semblance of routine, we were advised to start her on solids.


First problem, what on earth was she going to sit in? 

Unlike a lot of other 6 month old babies, she wasn’t even trying to sit up, let alone be ‘high chair ready’. The answer for us was a good old fashioned bouncy chair, with occasional 5 minute sessions in a Mamas and Papas Snug seat wedged in with a blanket!

Then came the spoon problem, most weaning spoons were just huge compared to Sophie’s tiny little mouth! Fortunately, I had some Boots ones that I’d used for my son 4 years earlier that were just about small enough.

Eating out was an experience – both in logistics and in being on public display. People seemed to think it was fine to remark on how come such a small baby was having solids, usually to whoever they were with, but once actually to me. To be honest, I got a bit used to that. 

Sophie is on home oxygen therapy and the tubes were very often a talking point for complete strangers. On the plus side I think that the tubes prevented a lot of the unwanted touching that preemie mummies often struggle with. As for the logistics, I found that a fabric highchair that ties over the back of a chair was good when it wasn’t possible to feed her in her car seat. Once she was in the buggy, I could feed her in there, but when we started weaning she still fitted in the carrycot and I was getting my monies worth!

Lumps….don’t even think too hard about baby led weaning a preemie! Whilst her tummy was ready for solids, her throat and chewing couldn’t cope with even the smallest lump. Fortunately, I’d previously weaned my son born at 34 weeks, (yes, I am a NICU repeat customer), so I was ready for pureeing everything! 

I found it hard not being able to give her some finger foods to buy me 5 minutes while I got her meal ready, but I just got more efficient with the freezer and defrosting ice cubes of puree. 

Sophie is one now and coping with lumps nicely, she managed a finger of toast last week!


When I was told that I had to wean at Sophie’s chronological rather than corrected age it felt like another loss of a baby stage. It was one of the times I really felt the loss of those first months in hospital, (going back to work was another) which is why The Smallest Things campaign is so important. That said, preemie babies need to grow and food is the best thing for that!

With special thanks to Sarah for sharing her experiences of feeding a premature baby – part of our “Feeding a baby born too soon” 2017 series 9-15th January. 

If you like Sarah’s blog and would like to help us raise awareness then please hit the Facebook and Twitter buttons to SHARE!