My name is Roz and I am lucky enough to be called mummy by Millie (5years) and Lucy (8mths). Millie was born at term, however had to have a 12 day stay in our local NICU/SCBU for high jaundice levels. My husband and I found that to be the hardest 12 days of our lives, until 2020 hit.
We decided to try and expand our family when Millie was almost 3. It became quite a difficult journey and we then made the decision that if we weren’t lucky enough to be pregnant by the time Millie was starting school, then it maybe wasn’t meant to be. On Millie’s second day of school, I noticed I felt a bit “off” and low and behold we saw those 2 wee blue lines! Fair to say we were both shocked, as I think we had resigned ourselves to being a family of 3, I had just started a new job, we had just bought our home but we were so excited.
From our first scan we were repeatedly told our baby was very active and struggled to get proper measurements. We had numerous repeated scans and in November we found out we were having another girl. We had an amazing family Christmas and were planning on going to my brothers for dinner on hogmanay when I had some light bleeding. I had experienced something similar with my first pregnancy so wasn’t too worried but we thought we should get it checked out. Once I had been examined they told us, I was 2 and a half centimetres dilated and could go into full labour at any minute. I was 23 weeks and 5 days pregnant. My husband and I were both floored and I vividly remember shaking with adrenaline while the doctors and midwives tried to explain what was happening. We certainly didn’t anticipate bringing in the New Year of 2020 in our local maternity ward, before being transferred to Glasgow the next day.
We were introduced to Glasgow NICU a few days later when Lucy made her appearance at 24weeks and 1day, weighing just 650g, stealing both of our hearts and my birthday no less!! She had an incredibly difficult first few weeks, having suffered a Grade 3 cranial bleed and then 2 bleeds in her lungs. The first few days were so fragile we were told we would have to take it hour by hour to see if she would survive and we were fortunate enough to have a naming ceremony for her on the ward. The neonatal nurses caring for Lucy definitely ended up caring for us as much as Lucy during those difficult days. Lucy was ventilated for the first 40 days and then again when she had her ROP surgery and shunt insertion surgery. All in all we spent 142 days in NICU and SCBU before being discharged on home oxygen. Due to covid restrictions Millie or our families hadn’t seen her for 2 months. We decided not to tell anyone until we had her safely home, which was an amazing surprise. Lucy continues to be reviewed under neurosurgery for her shunt, ophthalmology for her ROP and paediatric review for her development, respiratory needs and reflux however is absolutely thriving at home.
We had so many rollercoaster moments during our time at NICU, however I really struggled having to split my time between home and Lucy. I felt I had to choose between my girls, which certainly wasn’t helped by Covid-19 making its appearance and minimising support that extended family and friends could offer. We were so lucky that the team at Glasgow NICU were so thoughtful and really looked after us all, even Millie who wasn’t able to visit. It was the seemingly little things that made a massive difference to us, like sending cards to Millie from Lucy to help her feel involved when she couldn’t visit. I honestly can’t praise the neonatal nurses enough and in some bizarre way, missed speaking to them on a regular basis. Millie missed Lucy so much but we tried to keep her included as much as we could by sending her videos of Lucy and getting her to read stories over video calls. It also made me realise how strong a team my husband and I are. It certainly wasn’t without its bumps, but we made it through, together, in ways that only we could.
There were so many things that kept me going through our NICU days, from getting involved being able to look after Lucy when we could, including tube feeding, kangaroo care and administering medicines to documenting our days. I have a memory like an elephant and have forgotten full conversations, particularly in the early days. I used to cry every time I met a new doctor or nurse who was looking after Lucy. I was also fortunate enough to make an amazing friendship group of other mums in the unit at the same time. They have helped massively, especially in the days and weeks since we have been discharged home.
Since having time to reflect, it’s made me realise how lucky we were, in such difficult circumstances. We never dreamed of bringing our baby into the world in this way, however we were so lucky to have such an amazing team at Glasgow caring for Lucy and supporting us every step of the way.
Since having Lucy home, her superstar older sister Millie has raised an amazing £4000 plus two iPads for the NICU that cared for Lucy. Millie hopes the iPads will mean the nurses can "make lots of pictures and videos of the babies".
Millie took part in all manner of challenges over 10 days, including hill runs, a dance-a-thon, hosting zoom Bingo, baking cakes, washing cars and cycling amongst other things, and even made the local news!
Well done Millie!