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Richard, Aoife, Bo and Isla

All three of Richard's daughters have had to receive special care. Whilst there, they recieved such great care that he was determined to do his bit to help, and has now run two marathons for Bliss. Along with other fundraising he has raised over £5000, an incredible amount that will make such a difference to the lives of babies born too soon, too small, too sick. Read his story here:

While our first visit to neonatal care was completely overwhelming, our second and third visits were like returning to family.

No one ever expects anything less than the textbook pregnancy and delivery so it was an enormous shock to be meeting our first born at 31 weeks gestation. We had warning signs before-hand – my wife had been admitted to hospital twice with threatened labour. Steroids were administered and we were told it was entirely likely that we would meet baby before our due date. I’d been given a tour of the neonatal unit and it was at that point that it all became very real.

Isla arrived almost nine weeks early – the labour room was filled with specialists, doctors and nurses and here was this little 4lb 6oz baby girl relying on them all to keep her well. We had brief cuddles before she was whisked away to the neonatal unit.

We were told that most babies who are born premature do remain in neonatal care until their due date and Isla followed suit – although she thrived initially, she developed Meningitis and then had a reoccurrence. These were the darkest of days for my wife and I, we were told to prepare for the worst and invite family members in to see Isla so that they might know her, albeit briefly. During this time, the neonatal nurses cared not only for our very poorly daughter but also for us. They brought us empathy and compassion, they offered us every opportunity to stay connected to our daughter and picked us up when we were crumpled on the floor. Isla came home just shy of her due date – her stubborn nature won through and she is now a very healthy and happy six year-old. It wasn’t long before we returned to the neonatal unit, when we welcomed our youngest daughters, Bo and Aoife in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

Bo was born at 34 weeks, weighing in at 5lb 9oz and whizzed through neonatal, spending only 10 days on the unit. Aoife was born at 32 weeks and weighed 4lbs 14oz. Aoife was out of neonatal care after a few weeks; both girls were thankfully less dramatic than their elder sister. Our time spent on the neonatal unit during 2011 and 2012 was a time when we reconnected with staff who had supported us so beautifully during our first visit, rejoiced at the girls’ development and achievements and enjoyed the high level of care that we had been afforded in 2009.

It can be frightening and overwhelming when pregnancy results in a premature birth: seeing our baby laying in a plastic bubble, attached to wires and machines that make all kinds of worrying sounds and being assisted by CPAP is not something we had prepared ourselves for – it didn’t really feature in the pregnancy books we had read. It felt alien to us that we were not our primary carers for our baby in the first instance – odd that we should place this enormous responsibility and trust in others. My wife said that sometimes she felt like she was ‘borrowing our baby,’ but as her confidence grew in this unexpected environment, she was able to provide cares for our daughters and felt more involved as a parent – something that was actively encouraged.

We remain incredibly thankful for the care and support afforded to us by the neonatal staff of the they shared in some of the most precious moments of our lives; they ensured we brought home our three beautiful daughters and for that we will always be grateful.

Running the marathon to raise money was one of the ways I thought of to help say thank you. I have raised just shy of £5100 to date completing various events. London Marathon is a truly amazing event, with Bliss and the Bliss team being exceptional throughout. I have met and developed new friendships that will last forever through raising money for Bliss and trying to support other families.

The marathon is a tough event, but the supporters and fellow runners make the event one of the proudest moments of my life. The supporters in London are with you every step of the way and all involved on the day are a real inspiration. London Marathon shows humanity at its very best. I am proud and blessed to have been able to experience this. And I know I want to raise more for Bliss and run the London Marathon in the future.

If you would like to run the London marathon for Bliss in 2016, click here for more information on how to apply. Alternatively, if the marathon isn't for you, there are countless other ways that you can make a difference for babies born too soon, too small, too sick. 

If you are affected by some of the issues in this post, you can call the helpline on 0500 618 140, or visit our forum on Netmums for support. 


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