When Jess gave birth unexpectedly at 29 weeks, her daughter was admitted to neonatal care. Read her story here, and how she found a unique way to document Bethany’s first few weeks of life:
Last year, our baby girl made her surprise early arrival at 29 weeks and we suddenly found ourselves living in a whole new world as parents of a ‘special care baby’. Bethany’s big brother was born at term and healthy and my pregnancy with Bethany had been relatively straight forward, so the special care baby unit (SCBU) really was a world that we knew nothing about. We consider ourselves extremely lucky and blessed that Bethany had a relatively positive journey through SCBU and at the time of writing this, she is heading towards her first birthday and appears to be thriving. However, I can vividly remember the mix of emotions following Bethany’s admission to the unit, not knowing whether it was OK to be scared or optimistic and how we would manage as a family over the weeks and months that lay ahead - it was all such unknown territory to us.
Our unit was fantastic and the nurses and staff that cared for Bethany were truly wonderful and helped us as parents adjust to our new world. I really had no idea how to express my thanks to them but knew I wanted to work on something special for the unit and for other parents who found themselves in the same position as us - completely overwhelmed and bewildered by the new world they had suddenly crash landed into! I always found it comforting and inspiring to read the parent stories and ‘where are they now’ features in the Little bliss publications, and during the endless expressing sessions in the ‘milk kitchen’ I eagerly read and re–read the same beautiful thank you cards displayed on the noticeboard with tales of life beyond SCBU. I'm keen to ensure that as Bethany grows up, she will know all about her incredibly special start to life, so I decided to create a photo book (see below), detailing her time on the unit and to hopefully give new special care baby parents some idea of life inside SCBU.
Creating the book itself became a bit of a labour of love, especially with two small people to look after, and it took a good few months to complete. This timeliness had the added advantage of allowing me to reflect on and process what little Bethany went through and just how far she has come. When we were in SCBU, I think we were in 'fight or flight' mode and didn't really have the time or head space to process what had and was happening, so revisiting it all in such detail months later was in some respects therapeutic for me.
I have been told by the unit that the book has been well received and read by both parents and staff which I am so pleased to hear. Sharing it amongst our family and friends has also helped them to fill in the bits that they missed during Bethany's first few weeks in the world and I really hope that sharing Bethany's photo book with the wider Bliss community will help other parents and families too. Bethany also has her own copy of her special book - but she is more interested in eating the shiny pages.
If you are using a PC you can look at Bethany's photobook here.
If you are using a mobile phone or tablet you can view the book in PDF format here.