While thousands of mums spent Mother’s Day in 2010 at home with their families, Kayla, who was just 18, spent hers next to her son’s incubator, grateful to just get a cuddle. This is her story:
“On Thursday 4 February 2010 I started spotting, and on Saturday I started cramping so I went to hospital to make sure everything was ok. I was checked over and there were no signs of labour so I was sent home. The next day the pain started getting worse so I was readmitted. On the Monday morning I was examined and told I was in labour, eight centimetres dilated and about to deliver. I was devastated, I was only at 24 weeks gestation. I had no idea that babies could survive that early, and was convinced that was the end.
Within about half an hour my tiny little bundle was born, weighing 900 grams. He had a head of black hair and was kicking away. This is when I thought he might have a chance and if I was strong then maybe my baby boy would be too. Once he had been ventilated and stable enough for the journey, he was transferred to another hospital with an intensive care unit.
I was told that he had a long journey ahead, and if he did survive then he could be left with severe disabilities, I just asked them to do everything they could and made the promise that I would do the same. I named him Oliver Stanley Phillip Mills.
Within the first few weeks Oliver had a lot of battles to fight, he had two brain bleeds, a Patent Ductus Arteriosus (heart condition), jaundice and was ventilated for more than two weeks. I never knew what was round the corner, he was never out of danger. He was a fighter and at 19 days old I was finally allowed to hold my little boy for the first time.
Then at just over a month old Mother’s Day came along. Everywhere I went there were Mother’s Day cards and gifts, and other people celebrating their first Mothers’ Day. It was horrible that my first one was going to be spent on a hospital ward. I couldn't wake up with my baby, I had to travel to see him, and there was no knowing whether it would be a good day or a bad day for him.
Luckily, Oliver was having a good day and the nurses had left each mum a small gift of a mug and a bear with a card with a photograph of their baby on the front. I had a lovely cuddle with him and treasured my card, it was our first Mother’s Day and although in hospital, I still got to spend it with my baby boy and that's the most special Mother’s Day gift you could get.
Oliver carried on getting better and growing and was transferred back to my local hospital. He still had a lot of hurdles but finally on 19 May (my birthday) I got the best news ever, Oliver was allowed home in the next week. By the time we left he had spent 106 days in hospital.
Bringing Oliver home was a bittersweet experience, I was so happy that he was home and out of the hospital, but it came as a shock to finally have him free of machines and alarms and have no nurses to call if I needed help. I found it very difficult to bond with him at first but that came on its own and now he is my little best friend.
Before his third birthday he was diagnosed with autism. He is now five and can be a handful but he is wonderful to be around, he's funny, gorgeous and he absolutely lights up a room. I'm so proud of him, he fights every challenge life throws at him. Our journey has made me a much better person and mum, and just because we don't always spend days like Mother’s Days and birthdays in the same way as other people might, they are always special because we are together.”
Bliss would like to be there to help all of the mums going through this, but we can only do it with your help. If you would like to help support a mum on the unit today, please donate to our Mother’s Day appeal.
If you are affected by any of the issues in this story and would like support, please call the Bliss helpline or if you would like to share your story with Bliss, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.