Having a special care baby can be a very lonely and frightening time for parents. This is something that mum Lisa found when her daughter Olivia was sick, but Bliss was there to comfort her and provide hope. This is their story.
“Olivia Grace Jenkins was born at 28 weeks gestation on Sunday 24 June, 2012, weighing just 715g. The period of time that followed was the worst and best experience of my life, all at the same time. I wanted to be happy because I had just had my first baby but I was absolutely petrified that she might die. She was so small I just didn’t think it was possible for her to pull through. She was covered in tubes and wires and there were constant sounds of beeps which terrified me. I even started to make excuses not to go and visit her while I was on the ward as I didn’t want to get too attached to her.
After a week we had a meeting with the consultant who advised that Olivia showed good signs as soon as she was born and was only ventilated for eight hours. He said babies under 2lb are usually ventilated for longer. This made me feel a lot more positive and later that day I visited her on my own for the first time.
As soon as I saw her I broke down. A nurse took me aside and just chatted with me, explained things to me, explained how Olivia was doing and explained what all the alarms meant. She also handed me a Bliss leaflet. I will never forget her. She also invited me to help her with Olivia’s cares. After that I would count down the hours until I could go back and see her, I felt ready now.
She was 11 days old when I changed her nappy and washed her with cotton buds, it was amazing. It was then that it truly hit me – I totally fell in love with this little girl and I couldn’t believe she was mine.
It got easier as I started to understand more what was going on, and I was having weekly meetings with the consultant to update us on her progress. My partner was so strong throughout our journey – for me and Olivia. He had his days where he would need to shut himself away but most of the time he would try to remain positive.
Bliss helped us a lot during our stay. When I was at the hospital I felt I didn’t have anyone to turn to that understood what I was going through. My family and friends were supportive but I felt like nobody knew what to say to me or how to handle the situation. It really helped me to read stories from other mums, and it gave me hope. I couldn’t have really asked for more in a situation where I felt so helpless.
Olivia will be three in June and is a perfectly happy, healthy little girl. The experience made me appreciate life a whole lot more and not to take things for granted. It has also taught me never to give up hope – miracles do happen!"
If you would like to help families like Lisa's, please donate to Bliss online or ring 020 7378 5740. Anything you can give will go towards helping babies born too soon, too small, too sick.