World Prematurity Day (17 November 2021) is a global movement to raise awareness of premature birth and the sometimes devastating impact it can have on families.
On this day Bliss comes together with partners from around the world to talk about premature birth in our countries and to raise awareness about the hurdles babies and parents face, and overcome, every single day.
Adèle Petty, mum to two girls Isla Maeve & Cici James, shares her story for World Prematurity Day. Cici was born in October 2020 during the pandemic and they spent 6 days apart whilst Cici was transferred another hospital.
Our story is unlike others but my fear is that in the coming years it won’t be quite as uncommon. So, if my experience can help any parents that might find themselves in a situation similar to ours, I want you to know that you will get through.
Unfortunately, after a difficult pregnancy, our little Celine James was born prematurely and in need of specialist care. We were separated from our daughter at just seconds old and she spent 6 days in the NICU in a different hospital, without us. I know to some this sounds shocking, and it is, it’s taken a long time to wrap our heads around this and even one year on I don’t think we have fully. I remember at the time feeling like I was in a bubble, floating along barely surviving, whilst the staff at the NICU would upload photos of our baby on an app.
I think to cope I detached myself at times from what was happening, I had to convince myself that she was in the best place and that she needed this treatment. How could my tiny perfect baby be okay without me or her Dad there with her? But she was, and with the incredible care of the Evelina Staff she made amazing progress – it was like she knew she had to, to make it home to us.
A lot of people ask me how we did it? I don’t really have the answer, but what I do know is that you will. It’s true you never know how strong you are until you have to be but believe in yourself and know that you have this strength inside of you. It’s not an easy journey and my god it is for sure one of the craziest emotional rollercoasters you will be on! Whilst sometimes it can feel hard to see the light, try to take each day as it comes. Start by taking every minute or even every 10 seconds and once you’re through that, take a deep breath and start the next count over again.
Don’t be afraid to lean on people for support. Remember that you are only human and that you can’t possibly bear the entire load alone.
It’s now one year down the line and we are home with our beautiful girl. She is thriving and so beautiful and happy, and although the hole in my heart (approx 6 days deep) will never be fully healed, I do know that I do not take a single second of time that I have with her for granted. Our experience has changed my life and I find peace in helping other families going through the same.