I am delighted to become the Ambassador for Bliss Scotland. I am passionate about the work they do and am thrilled to become part of the team.
In my previous life (before children!) I was a senior lawyer and then went on to work alongside my husband, Sir Chris Hoy MBE, who retired from track cycling in 2013, as Britain's most successful Olympian.
After Chris's retirement from professional cycling, we were overjoyed and overwhelmed in equal measure to learn we were expecting our first baby. We were quite honest in admitting we didn't have a clue what to expect! However, what we couldn't have known was that when I became unwell at only 27 weeks, our little boy Callum, would be delivered 11 weeks early, at 29 weeks.
I first met Callum when he was just over a day old, weighing 2lbs 2oz. He looked like a frail little bird who had fallen from its nest. I was utterly terrified by what I saw and was scared at what the future held for us all.
Despite the unfailing support of our families, the encouragement we received from the public, and the 24 hour medical care given to Callum, I felt completely alone. I had never heard of babies being born so early, so I couldn't comprehend that this was an experience that many families endure.
Since those dark days in the NICU, I have learned so much about having a premature baby. Firstly, that 5,800 babies are born every year in Scotland who need specialist neonatal care to help them survive1. Many of these babies are born much earlier than Callum was and I understand how fortunate we are to have had such a positive outcome.
I also realised that all the emotions I went through, including the ones I barely dared to verbalise, were not unusual. In fact they were very typical. I wasn't alone after all.
This is why I am such a proud and passionate supporter of the work Bliss Scotland does. They provide information and offer essential emotional support, both on the neonatal unit itself and beyond. All of this empowers parents and families, which in turn helps them to care for their babies, in a situation where they often feel powerless and out of control.
The more we can do to let families of babies in neonatal care know that they are not alone, then the better outcomes for those babies.
I am looking forward to what lies ahead and can't wait to start this journey with Bliss Scotland.
Lady Sarra Hoy
1 Information Services Division (2015), Live births by level of care and NHS Health Board, Scotland: year 2015