Lee, Shanice and Saskia’s Story

We first came into contact with Spoons after our daughter, Saskia, made an unexpected entrance into the world at 28 weeks due to pre eclampsia via emergency C-section weighing only 2.5lb. She was born at North Manchester hospital. She got transferred to Oldham Royal Hospital straight away. Then, after a couple of weeks got transferred back to North Manchester. Altogether she was in hospital for 7 very long, hard, challenging weeks.

We were fortunate enough to meet the Spoons volunteers at Oldham and North Manchester. My husband and I couldn’t be more grateful. They’re such a friendly, welcoming face. Having a baby in the NICU is such a stressful, frightening time. It’s not an experience you expect to go through.

As much as our family, friends, and work colleagues offered support and were there for us. Because they haven’t been in the situation, we felt like they couldn’t relate. They didn’t really understand what we were going through. Which is why Spoons are such an amazing organisation that we will forever be grateful for.

Speaking to someone else who has known exactly what we’re going through, who can share their own experiences and prove there is light at the end of the tunnel, (because when you’re in the NICU you really think the worst), was such a positive feeling and made a massive difference to our mindset to speak to not just one but multiple and different people who can relate.

When we first started our NICU journey, Spoons gave us a ‘Welcome Pack’. It included vest that said “I’m going home”, and we couldn’t wait for that moment.  We used the notebook in the pack to write in what our daughter did each day. We used it as a journal of her NICU experience. We wrote each weigh day result in, and the first cuddle, the first time she wore a vest, the first time she left the incubator. It has all the milestones she achieved in the book. If no milestone happened that day, we would still write a short message of how proud we were of her. One day when she’s older and understands, we plan on giving her the book to read about how far she has come. We also received a ‘going home pack’, which was so thoughtful.

The support the Spoons team offer is amazing, and it doesn’t stop when you leave the NICU.

Spoons offer some great community classes, we attended a free weaning class. Having premature baby, the thought of them doing the weaning process is such a scary thought. The class was beneficial and reassuring. They also offer different playgroups for our NICU warriors to attend. There is even a Spoons’ parents group chat on Facebook. So if you ever have questions, you can always post on there and connect with other parents who’ve been through it. The Spoons charity, is a very welcoming and friendly place for families who have experienced the NICU.

When our daughter turned one, it was an emotional time for us. It brought back the memories of what we went through. We did a cake smash photoshoot, but we wanted to show how far she has come. Which is why we also included a photo of her in the NICU in her cake smash shoot.

At the time you can’t imagine celebrating your baby’s 1st birthday, but hang in there.

My advice for parents experiencing neonatal care, is don’t be too hard on yourself, don’t blame yourself either. Your baby is in the best and safest place. They have 24 hour care and support around them. By medical professionals who have trained years, and know exactly what they’re doing.

It is a rollercoaster. Some days are better than others. You may see other families going home and you aren’t, but don’t worry, your time will come. It does get better. Also, make the most of speaking to the Spoons volunteers. Speaking to someone who can relate makes a massive difference. Take as many photos as you want, on the discharge day we made sure we got a photo in front of the quote saying “we have such a long way to go… But look how far we’ve come, it’s time for home.” Because it’s such a beautiful and true quote.

We are now expecting our second baby, and Saskia is going to be a big sister. We are scared whether our second baby will end up in the NICU. But after going through what we’ve been through, we know there is light at the end of the tunnel and everything will be fine.

Saskia and mum and dad Saskia in NICU Saskia is one Saskia is a big sister