”Archie’s arrival was a real shock. All I can remember from those first few days was this overwhelming fear that he wouldn’t make it and me, completely powerless to do anything to help. To make matters worse, Jane had to be kept in after her c-section, but Archie was so sick they had to transfer him to a specialist hospital miles away.
“I’m not ashamed to admit that I was in tears as they wheeled him into the back of that ambulance; he was just so small and helpless and surrounded by all these wires and machines. I followed them in the car and it was the longest hour of my life. It was even worse for Jane, left behind. I’m not sure how we managed those first couple of weeks – I had Jane in one hospital, Archie in another and poor Soph at home wondering what was going on.
”Poor Sophie, she was distraught with her mum being in hospital and became very clingy. I wasn’t able to be there as much as she needed me to be because of going back and forth to hospital; I feel I’ve let her down.
”The biggest struggle has been going back to work. My employer tried to be accommodating, but my role is quite specific: there’s simply no-one else on site that can do my job. It’s been so difficult, there was one day when I’d just returned to work when we nearly lost him and I just spent the whole day clutching my mobile waiting for a message from Jane to say he was OK.
”I’m just trying to hold everything together; bring enough in to make ends meet, be there for Jane, make sure Sophie’s all right and spend as much time with Archie as possible. We’ve had to take out a loan so we can keep going. I’m not sure how we’re going to clear it, but right now all that matters is Archie and that his mum and dad are there for him.
”The doctors say it’s two months until Archie can come home and I keep coming up with milestones to make that seem closer. He should get home just before Sophie’s birthday and I know we can’t do anything big, but in my head I have this picture of the four of us together and Sophie blowing out the candles on her cake with her little brother there beside her; a proper family.”