A letter to my premature son – Alistair’s story

Alistair's son Harrison was born premature. In this week's blog Alistair writes a letter to Harrison telling him all about their neonatal journey.

Dear Harrison,

I want to tell you about how you came into this world – so loved but so very early. When you read about your first days of life and the challenges you faced, I hope that you will remember that whatever else life puts in your path in the years ahead; you can overcome it. If you can get through the challenges you encountered when you weighed less than a bag of sugar, imagine what you can do now! Here is your little story.

Your Mummy received a kidney transplant when she was just 23-years-old. She had been on dialysis from the age of 17 so we weren’t sure if this meant we’d ever be able to have a baby. Five years after the transplant, we decided to see if we could have our own little family.

Last February, we got the biggest surprise; you were on your way and we would meet you in November.

Now, since you celebrate your birthday during the heat of the summer holidays and not when the cold winter’s sky is filled with fireworks, you probably already know that something didn’t go to plan.

Mummy got very poorly with HELLP syndrome when she was 27 weeks pregnant and was taken into the operating theatre for a general anaesthetic. You came into the world at 9.15pm one August night at the Leeds General Infirmary.

As I sat in the hospital waiting room with Mummy's family, my mind was going through every outcome and I just hoped the call would come to tell me you were both safe – it was one of the most worrying times of my life. After a few hours, I got the call from the amazing midwife Vickie to say you were both out of theatre. We all cried with relief.

Vickie told us that Mummy was in recovery and we had a gorgeous little baby. Vickie used the word 'baby' as we had agreed to wait until Mummy was awake to find out if you were a boy or girl. I was so relieved that you were both ok and couldn't wait to see you.

When Mummy woke up, we found out you were a little boy and that you weighed 930g. Because you were so early and so small, you were being cared for on the neonatal unit. Although we were worried about you, we were so excited to find out that we had a son and decided to call you Harrison which was our favourite name.

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We finally got to see you the following day. As first time parents and having never seen a premature baby before, we didn’t know what to expect or what you would look like but the immediate love I felt was overwhelming. I wanted to protect you from the minute I saw you.

The first time I held you I was terrified I was going to hurt you or that I would make a wrong move. But once we had skin-to-skin – where I held you against me - I fully relaxed and loved it.

You went from strength to strength and moved to high dependency from intensive care after just one week. This is where we met the wonderful nurse Sarah Bennett; she helped us to know what we were doing as parents and she treated you like a king. All the nurses and doctors we met along the way were incredible and we knew that you were in the safest hands.

After leaving LGI when you were four weeks old, we moved to St James's Hospital for two weeks where we continued to tube feed and you were fully weaned off oxygen. We then completed the final leg of the journey at Harrogate SCBU and two weeks later it was time for you to come home with us. We left as a little family in October when you were eight weeks old. The last time we walked out of the hospital with you in your car seat will forever be a memory etched in my mind.

You have gone from strength to strength, after your recent physiotherapy appointments you are hitting all your milestones. Healthcare professionals have told us that you act like you have no idea that you were premature. This fills us with such immense pride and we can’t wait to see what your future holds.

Harrison - you have surprised everyone from the day we found out you were on the way to the day you arrived long before anyone expected. I'm certain you will continue to make us proud every day. We love you so much and will continue to stand beside you for every step of life’s journey.

All my love,

Daddy

If you have been affected by any of the issues mentioned in this post and would like support, you can call our helpline on 0808 801 0322 or view our online support pages.

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