It started while we were on holiday. We were camping and I was suffering from neck pain, but at 29 weeks pregnant I didn't think anything of it so I took some painkillers to ease the pain. My mum suggested I book a doctor’s appointment just to be on the safe side.
We walked to the GP, not expecting it to be anything serious. A few minutes later I was told I had pre-eclampsia and needed to go to the hospital straight away. My partner drove us as we only live a few minutes away and we were met in the car park by a nurse and doctor.
I was immediately put on bed rest. We still both hadn’t grasped the seriousness of the situation until a doctor told us the baby would be coming that night or the next day. At this point, our world fell apart. I pleaded that it was too early but it was out of my hands. Our daughter was putting my life in danger and there was a chance we could both lose our lives. Ruby was born the next day, on 6 August 2015 at 30 weeks gestation. She weighed just 860g and was 29 cm long.
She didn’t breathe for the first ten minutes of her life. All I can remember is seeing James crying and the NICU nurses fighting to save her life. When she did cry it was a kitten-like sound, but I was just so relieved she was finally breathing. I felt numb, not like how a new mummy should. The nurse and midwife were amazing, I will never forget them.
James went up to the unit to see Ruby while the doctors were putting lines in her and trying to stabilise her. He kept sending me pictures so I could see her but I felt like a failure as I hadn’t looked after her for the nine months like I should have done.
When I saw her the next day all those feelings had disappeared. She was so precious and tiny, she needed me to be strong so that I could see her and be with her. She was the only baby on the unit at the time, so she had three nurses to care for her for ten days. We had good days and bad days but the nurses did all they could to help me feel like a mum. They showed me how to change her nappy, feed her through a tube and hold her tiny hand in the incubator. It was six days before I could hold her as she had so many wires.
Before then I spent several nights wrestling with myself. Was it my fault? Should I have gone to the doctors earlier? After talking to other mums I realised we all felt the same. It wasn't my fault.
I soon learned that you just need to take each day as it comes, both good ones and bad ones. After two months on the unit we were allowed to ‘room in’ before taking her home. This was the best experience of my life, there were no nurses, no wires, just me and my baby. I took countless videos and cuddled her until she fell asleep.
She came home at 3lb 5oz, and although it was scary, I'd never felt so much love and strength from our little girl. She is truly an inspiration to us. No one ever says it’s easy having a baby, and it certainly isn't easy having a premature baby, but somehow their strength gives you strength to realise you can make it out the other side.
If you have been affected by any of the issues mentioned in this post, you can call our helpline for support on 0808 801 0322 or view our online support pages. If you would like to share your story with Bliss, please email firstname.lastname@example.org