At My 1st Years we’re not just here for your celebrations, we’re also here for your difficult moments.
That is why we donate everytime you shop, to our partner charity Bliss.
a donation to
who help support premature and sick babies
WHO ARE BLISS?
As part of My BIG Community, we’re partnering with Bliss to help support them in providing the very best care to premature and sick babies.
One baby is born needing neonatal care every five minutes in the UK. Bliss exists to give them the best chance of survival and quality of life. Founded in 1979, when a group of concerned parents discovered that no hospital had all the equipment or the trained staff it needed to safely care for babies born premature or sick, now it serves those families through giving them somewhere to turn for information and support, ensuring that their needs are recognised by the Government and helping healthcare professionals to deliver the highest quality of care.
Helping to support families like these
I went into labour at 27 weeks pregnant and 200 miles from home. My son, who weighed just 950g, was taken straight to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit so when I got to see him for the first time, he was in an incubator, covered in wires and tubes. He looked so small and helpless that I burst into tears. There was no room at my local hospital so my son was first transferred to one on the other side of London, but I wasn’t able to stay with him. The commute on public transport every day was physically exhausting, on top of all the fear and sadness I was already feeling.
But when my son was finally moved to our local hospital, I met a Bliss Champion called Barbara. She went above and beyond to support me: she sat with me during the doctors’ rounds, helped me to get involved in my son’s care (doing things like changing his nappy, tube-feeding and giving him his first bath), and above all, she was someone to talk to. As a lone parent and far from my own family, she became the mother figure I needed. Every time my son reaches another milestone, I think of her and how she helped me to keep going for him.
Lewis was born 11 days overdue, weighing 8lb 4oz. But he wasn’t moving or crying. He wasn’t even breathing. The doctors performed CPR on him and, after what felt like forever, he let out a tiny little cry. He was taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) while I had to have surgery. Not long after, a doctor came to the postnatal ward to tell me that Lewis was suspected to have significant brain damage and was having seizures. He needed to be transferred to a specialist unit for cooling treatment and lots of tests.
My husband and I sat with Lewis in the NICU every day. He felt cold as we held his hand through the incubator holes. His skin was so dry and red from the infections and the infusions which he kept needing. The silence in the unit was broken by the constant beeping of the monitors. We couldn’t hold him, feed him or dress him and he wasn’t allowed blankets. But we were allowed to give him one teddy, a little white dog, that sat on his incubator every day. It was a little bit of normality for us. Making his first home feel homelier was the one thing we could do for him, and it was a comfort for us to do that when otherwise we felt useless.
Despite the odds, Lewis fought back. At five days old, we were able to give him his first cuddles. Then after five weeks in hospital, we could take him home, though we were told that Lewis would be significantly disabled and that he may never walk or talk. When Lewis was 18 months old, I was living in Germany while my husband was fighting in Afghanistan when Lewis was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
Now, nearly 8 years old, Lewis can walk, run short distances and loves riding on his trike. He is learning to read and do maths and he has a great sense of humour. And the little dog which used to sit on his incubator, which Lewis named Doug, is now above his bed, still watching over him.
You’d think already having a daughter born prematurely would have prepared me for having a second neonatal journey. But giving birth to twins at 34 weeks at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic was unlike anything I had experienced before. Because of the changes to visiting at hospitals, I couldn’t have my husband, Shayne with me for the final four of my weekly scans, so I was terrified to receive any bad news without him there to support me. He was there for the birth of our boys, Miles and Elijah, but he could only stay for an hour afterwards.
Then, for the next 31 days, when they were in neonatal care, we had to take turns being with them in the unit because only one parent was allowed in at a time. We couldn’t hold both boys at the same time because Elijah was on oxygen, so we had to divide our time between them and with our 5-year-old girl, Isabelle, who needed us as well – especially since she couldn’t go to school! It broke my heart to only be able to hold each baby for just 40 minutes a day.
As if one virus wasn’t enough to contend with, our boys tested positive for MRSA while in hospital. So they had to be isolated with a barrier nurse and receive two rounds of treatment, lasting 18 days .Meanwhile, Elijah’s oxygen levels kept going up and down, and the constant worry was incredibly draining.. I couldn’t have got through it without my husband who is my absolute rock.
After a month in neonatal care, our twins were finally able to come home and meet their big sister for the first time. Now we’re able to spend time together as a whole family – no more long drives to be with our boys, no more guilt about leaving them in hospital or Isabelle at home and no more machines!
When my son Jacob was born at 29+2 weeks, weighing just 1lb 10oz, he was too small to be cared for at our local hospital. So, before I gave birth, I was moved to a larger hospital in the next county. Fortunately, my husband, Ed, and I were given a room to stay in on the neonatal unit for the month that hospital was Jacob’s home before he was transferred back to our local unit.
While I was grateful that Jake had arrived, it felt wrong to feel happy about his birth when it had happened before it should and when he was so poorly. But thanks to the support of a nurse, I learned to accept that I couldn’t change the fact that he had arrived early and that it was okay to embrace the special journey that we had found ourselves on.
The cards and gifts we received from our family and friends made such a difference given that we were in an unfamiliar and unexpected situation. Cards arrived for us every day and I used them to decorate the room where I was staying. I was able to make Jacob’s place on the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit more homely too with a beautiful incubator cover which my friend made, decorated with a picture of Noah’s Ark and his name. This got lots of compliments from all the staff and other families on the unit!
Jacob was able to come home the day before his due date, weighing a tiny 4 lbs 8 oz. He spent his first few years in and out of numerous hospitals in our region and is still a familiar face in our local paediatric outpatient department. But he has overcome so many more hurdles than I thought possible in those first few months. And now, aged 4, he is all ready to start school!
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
1. Shop with us today! We are dedicated to helping support Bliss on their ambition to ensure every baby born sick or premature in the UK gets the benefit from their work and has the best chance of survival. That is why every time YOU shop with us, we will donate to Bliss meaning your 1 order = will help 1 premature or sick baby receive the best hospital care
2. Campaign and fundraise! A big part of our partnership is to help spread the news of the amazing work that Bliss are doing to support babies who are born sick or premature, so why not get involved? Whether you share their posts on social media or get involved with one of their many fundraising activities, you will be helping to support both the babies and families of those in neonatal wards across the UK!
3. Donate! Whether it’s a little or a lot your money can really help support the amazing work and research being done by Bliss. So, if you can donate we would love it if you did!