Tag Archives: NHS

From The Bottom of our Hearts – Thank You

Olli has come home!

Mum to premature baby, born at just 28 weeks, has written a letter to the neonatal nurses and doctors who cared for her premature baby at Burnley General Hospital. Lynsey, who spent every day of their 82 day journey through neonatal care visiting her tiny son, has shared with The Smallest Things her moving letter to the professionals involved in their special care.

Dear NICU Nurses and Doctors,

You have no idea how much you mean to us, or how you will always hold a very special place in our hearts. The love, respect, and admiration that we have for you can compete with no one.
You took care of our baby, when we, his parents didn’t know how. We didn’t know how to change his nappy without moving his lines. We didn’t know how to pick him up to change his bedding. We didn’t know what medication went where, or how to run the machines that were keeping him alive.

We tried our best, we really did. But he was so sick, and we were so scared. We were thrust into the NICU hours after his surprise early delivery. The first time we saw our baby he was in an incubator, and hooked up to more machines than we could count. You told us how we could touch him without stimulating him too much. You had tissues ready because you knew that we would cry. You encouraged us to interact with him even though you knew we were frightened too, you let us bath him, you let us change his nappy and didn’t get mad when we fumbled through three nappies and bed sheets because our little boy kept peeing before we could get the new nappy on. You let us change his nose cannula stickers, even though we both knew you could do it 10 times faster. We never felt more like his parents than at those times. You let us take home NICU souvenirs like his heart monitor leads and his first tiny dummy. When he opened his eyes you helped us get a picture of them. You answered every single phone call we made. You listened to us asking the same questions over and over and made us feel welcome being by his bedside day after day. You comforted us while we cried and encouraged us to believe he would come home.

You gave him, and us, every piece of your strength, day in and day out, for weeks. You did everything in your power and more to keep him alive. We feel like ‘Thank You’ isn’t enough, but it’s all we have to give you. You’re amazing, and you do things no one else can. So from the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

Lots of Love
Lynsey and Daniel & his big brother Eli xxx

Lost in a medical world I once knew

I used to work in neonatal care; I used to think I knew what NICU was like. – I had no idea what NICU was like. I thought I understood the importance of enabling mums to be mums in neonatal and intensive care. – I had no idea of what it was like to be a mum in neonatal intensive care. I used to think how amazing it must feel to take your baby home and that when mums walked out of the NICU doors they said goodbye. – I now know that NICU never leaves you and the emotions that you feel as you leave are often complex and conflicting. I used to work in NICU, but I had no idea what it was like. You see, as an Occupational Therapist* I have worked with premature babies in NICU, critically ill children in paediatric intensive care and children with life limiting conditions. In these settings a considerable part of my job is to enable parents to fulfil their occupations as mums and dads. Often teaching students of the importance of giving parents the opportunity to be parents I never imagined that I would be that mum, the one who stands by watching and waiting, feeling helpless. Pregnant for the first time my GP asked which hospital I would like to be booked into, I responded without hesitation. If anything was to go wrong I wanted to be at a hospital where I knew and trusted the neonatal services. Little did know that six months later I would be walking through their doors as a NICU mum and that I would hardly recognise the medical environment where I had once worked. Alarms, bells and buzzers – part of the background noise for staff; but as a mother beside an incubator the alarms and buzzers could cut straight to your very core. Hand washing – for staff part of the everyday routine; for parents not only a delay in being able to see their baby, but a time where anxieties around infection are felt or a time to worry about how your baby will be when you see them. The ups and downs of NICU – part of the course for NICU staff, all to be expected; for parents, even the smallest bump along the way can hit you hard.  Touching, handling, changing and holding – second nature to an experienced NICU nurse; scary, frightening, overwhelming and precious to parents. I used to think I knew what NICU was like; I had no idea. As an Occupational Therapist, tiny babies, poorly children, anxious parents, lines, machines and tubes were what I did. As a mother I did not recognise this medical world in which I had worked and had felt so at home. The machines and monitors seemed alien to me, the smallest bump hit me hard and the sound of alarms and buzzers still stop me in my tracks. Becoming a mother, but not able to be a mother, I felt lost. I thought I understood the importance of enabling mums to be mums in neonatal and intensive care. I did know the importance – it is vital; but I had no idea of the lasting trauma and the overwhelming sense of emptiness and loss mothers can experience in NICU. I reflect upon my journey often in my medical profession today, knowing that my practice and care for families is improved  through empathy and understanding. To know and understand a parent’s journey through NICU and beyond is key if we are to truly offer the right support and care. Only those who have been there though, those who have experienced NICU first hand can truly understand, which is why speaking openly and honestly about our experiences is so important, together raise awareness one step at a time. * Catriona has worked in healthcare since the late 1990’s. Qualifying as an Occupational Therapist in 2004 she has worked in a number of large teaching hospitals treating children and young people and their families. Catriona was chair of the College of Occupational Therapists Specialist Section for Children and Young People (2009 – 2011) and founded the Smallest Things in September 2014 following the premature birth of both her sons.