“Big things come in small packages”
Neve was born at 27 weeks gestation, weighing just 1lb 12oz. She was born by emergency caesarean section after my wife, Rey, developed pre-eclampsia during what was her first pregnancy. Neve spent nearly ten days in the NICU, during which time unfortunately she and Rey were separated for five days due a lack of postnatal beds. Thankfully Neve remained stable enough to be moved back to a lower level unit for the remainder of her three month hospital stay whilst she slowly grew and stabilised, before coming home on what would have been her original due date.
Throughout the first year of her life Neve, like all other premature babies, had a variety of treatments, tests and monitoring where we were warned about the potential complications of having a baby so early, such as severe acid reflux, bowel malformation and complications with vision. However, Neve continued to grow and was an absolute little angel and everything any parent could ever wish for.
When she was four, the time came to apply for a school place. We were very worried because her prematurity resulted in her going a year earlier than she would have, had she been born at full term.
I remember her first day like it was yesterday. Neve was so much smaller than everyone else but bright as a button and raring to go. I waved her off with tears streaming down my face! Unfortunately Rey was unable to be there, as she had been hospitalised with pre-eclampsia yet again for our second pregnancy. The next week Neve became a big sister to her twin brothers, Luke and Owen, who were born at 29 weeks.
Despite our worries and concerns about Neve starting school, she absolutely loved it and throughout her years at school has always been very hard working and conscientious, with fantastic school reports from all of her class teachers. She has never been bullied, but has had to put up with a lot of comments regarding her height, as she has never really caught up with her peers. She always responded with “big things come in small packages”, with a huge grin on her face.
As Neve progressed through school, she was given the opportunity to talk about being a premature baby and how her entrance to the world may have been slightly different to the rest of her classmates. She also had the opportunity to take her little brothers in for ‘show and tell’ when they were six months old.
Neve left Primary school in July and is now going to secondary school in a few weeks. We are immensely proud to say that she passed her 11 plus and achieved outstanding results in her SATs, and is now going to a local grammar school, which is all the more remarkable due to her difficult start in life.
I recently had an interview for a job promotion and was asked who my hero was. I had no hesitation is responding that it is my daughter. Seeing her develop into the bright, loving, intelligent and compassionate young lady she has become has changed our lives forever. She also gave us the hope and inspiration to deal with the even more complex second pregnancy.
With Neve, Luke and Owen we have been very lucky with their health and well-being. Although it did take us some time to move on from the traumatic start to their little lives, over time I think we managed to embrace it and accept that their prematurity didn’t have to define them (or us, as parents). They will catch up, prosper and succeed. Maybe they are just that little bit more special (although we are probably just very biased!)
If you have been affected by any of the issues mentioned in this post, please call the Bliss helpline. If you would like to share your story with Bliss, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.