Scarlett was very much a surprise baby – I didn’t even find out I was pregnant until I was three months! So it was even more of a shock when, at 28 weeks, I was told I would need an emergency caesarean section to save both her life and mine.
I was only 18 years old when Scarlett was born. My friends had just started at university, and I was a single mum, so I felt very lonely. As much as friends and family tried to be there for me, I couldn’t help feeling like I was totally alone.
Scarlett was moved to another hospital for intensive care as soon as she was born, but I was too ill myself to go with her, so I was separated from my daughter. That was the hardest part of the journey. I hadn’t had the chance to get used to being pregnant, and now I had a baby that I didn’t remember being born, and that I couldn’t see. Luckily the staff were amazing and kept me informed by ringing me several times a day with updates. After just over a week, we were finally both back in hospital together, and that’s when our journey really began.
Scarlett was in hospital for 11 weeks in total, and it was the hardest time of my life. I spent so many nights sitting by the incubator crying, thinking what I could have done better to stop everything that had happened. She battled through an infection, a bleed on her brain, numerous scans and tests. My tiny baby was managing to stay strong, but I couldn’t even get through the day without crying. I didn’t want the nurses to see me cry in case they thought I couldn’t cope – I was already convinced they were judging me for being a young mum.
One day, I saw a Bliss leaflet and thought I’d give it a read, and it was like a light had suddenly been switched on; all of a sudden I wasn’t alone any more. That evening, I went on to the Bliss website and spent half the night reading through stories from other parents, and information on the various terms I’d heard on the unit.
After reading through everything on the website, I suddenly had the confidence to ask the doctors the questions I hadn’t been able to ask previously, to understand what was really happening. I started asking to hold Scarlett, rather than waiting for nurses to offer. I helped to tube feed her and I even gave Scarlett her first bath.
Even though things were getting better on the unit, it soon became obvious that I had postnatal depression. I convinced myself that I wouldn’t be able to take Scarlett home if I told anyone, especially being so young, so I kept it hidden and struggled on. It wasn’t until a year later that I found the Little Miracles Bliss Sheffield support group on Facebook and I finally started to get some support. Realising that how I felt wasn’t normal gave me the confidence to finally go to the doctors and get some help, and it really has changed the relationship between me and Scarlett.
Scarlett is now a happy, healthy three year old, although still slightly small in her 12-18 month clothes. I’m so proud of how far we’ve both come, and despite a difficult few years, I wouldn’t change any of it because it’s made us the people that we are today. I recently became a Bliss volunteer on the unit at Rotherham hospital, so that I can help parents like me that need just a little bit of support to help them through their journey.
Support other babies like Scarlett and donate now.