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Being in NICU can be very hard. It can be helpful for families on the unit to hear about the stories of other families - it can bring hope, perspective and help them to feel less alone. For supporters of the charity, these stories show you just how far your donation, fundraising or volunteering goes. If you would like to share your story, we'd love to hear from you - reach out to us on

Nikki, Oliver and Spencer

Nikki, Oliver and Spencer

After an uncomplicated pregnancy, it certainly was a shock to end up in the labour ward five weeks ahead of our due date. I hadn’t started maternity leave yet, and just that weekend my friends had thrown me a baby shower and we had gone to our first class of the NCT course. Thankfully, I had already packed a hospital bag, had birthing preferences for pretty much every eventuality and had been practicing hypo birthing techniques – so I felt relatively calm considering the circumstances!

I could feel that our baby (we didn’t know the gender) was in breach, so I asked for this to be checked as soon as we arrived. The positioning was hard to determine from the normal checks, so they did a scan, which revealed this was correct. I was monitored as labour was progressing naturally but we were waiting for a c-section, as the doctors had advised this to be the safest method of delivery due to his gestation and positioning. We had to wait quite a while for the theatre as there were a number of emergency c-sections before us – gas and air kept me going until then! The procedure itself was uncomplicated and calm. Spencer was born within minutes, weighing 5lbs 8oz, which is a healthy size considering his gestation. My husband announced his sex to me and after a couple of very quick checks, he was placed on my chest for skin-to-skin. After a few minutes had passed, I had a gut feeling that something wasn’t right. I asked the midwife and she explained that she was also tuned in to some noises that he was making. After a few more minutes she called the paediatricians back in to carry out some further checks. He was taken off my chest and moments later, he rushed through to the neonatal unit for intervention, as his temperature was dropping and oxygen levels were a cause for concern.

Spencer then spent ten days in the NICU. His lungs were not mature enough and x-rays later revealed that he had an infection in one of them too. He was on and off a ventilator for the first five days. Being separated from our baby and seeing him so sick was absolutely heart wrenching – there’s no feeling I can compare it to.

We stayed by his side for as long as we could (I was recovering from a c-section and suffering from a lot of swelling from all the fluids I had been on). We’d only leave for short periods – just long enough for me to regain enough energy to get back there again. I definitely struggled to process what was happening – it felt like a nightmare and no one could tell us it was going to be okay until he turned a corner and improved enough to come off the ventilator. I don’t know how I would have got through that time without both my husband and the truly amazing staff on the ward. We found the most useful thing was to understand everything we could about his position, what the machines did and what the readings meant. We spent as much time by his side as we could and made sure we were there for every doctors’ round and handover. Other things that helped were the updates we received via the vCreate platform when we spent those few hours at home and the little touches like two small knitted hearts (I kept one on me and Spencer kept one in his cot), to help me feel connected when we should have been at home in our newborn bubble, rather than in hospital, unable to hold and comfort him. We feel so incredibly lucky and will be forever indebted to the NICU. They perform nothing short of miracles and deal with very difficult scenarios with a smile on their face. It’s true that not all superheroes wear capes!

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