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James was born in 2015 at 32 weeks, weighing a surprisingly large 4lb13oz. There were no warning signs of an early arrival - my pregnancy was fairly straightforward. My waters broke late one evening and so off we went to triage at the Royal Infirmary.

He ended up being born by C-section with the help of the most amazing team of people. Having been whisked away the minute he was out, as he wasn’t breathing, he spent the first 12 hours of his life on CPAP breathing apparatus. Fortunately, he was able to breathe fairly well by himself after that, with careful monitoring. As I had visited my nephew in Simpsons Neonatal Unit a few years prior to this, (born at 28 weeks and now a happy and healthy 10-year-old), I was familiar with the set up of the Neonatal Unit, although it’s different when it’s your own child.

A lot of my time was spent expressing milk in the ward initially and then in the room provided in the unit, when I was discharged from hospital. It felt like this was all I could do to help at this point, as we weren’t allowed to touch James in case of infection for the first little while. We spent a lot of time sitting by his incubator reading him stories. I do believe this helps as some sort of therapy for either you, your baby or both. We were able to help feed him his syringe of milk through a tube in his nose and change his nappies through the tricky obstacle of the incubator. The skin to skin cuddles were a special time where we could take him out of his incubator, wires and all, and have him tucked into our tops, so that he was right against our skin - an important time for bonding.

The nurses and doctors and everyone involved in his care were simply wonderful. They were patient, friendly and supportive - talking us through how to do all these day to day routines that have the added complications of wires, incubators and heart rate monitors. James progressed each day, had his first bath in the ward (a lot of screaming, but to be expected!), breastfed for the first time, and was able to be dressed in a babygro instead of just a nappy.

Home time came - a worrying time initially as we were so used to the 24-hour support and monitoring of him. However, with the knowledge that we could always contact the team if need be and with the support of friends and family, we got home and James is now a happy soon to be 5 year old. Thank you Simpsons Neonatal Unit.


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