“Be proud of the small steps your little ones make” - Paige and Kieran's story

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Paige and Kieran's son Arthur was born at 30 weeks and spent 47 days in NICU. In their story, Paige offers her advice to other parents going through a NICU journey.

My son Arthur was born at 30 weeks.

On 13 August 2023, I came into triage after having pains in the morning. I was quickly told that I was in labour and fully dilated! I had been put on metformin for gestational diabetes and was told by a few patients on the vascular ward which I work on, that it can give you stomach cramps.

I joked around with one patient and said I hope I know the difference between that and the contractions! I had no idea and as I was 30 weeks pregnant with my first baby, it never crossed my mind that I was in labour at this point.

I was taken to the delivery suite and given all kinds of drips and gas and air and quickly realised that my baby was coming. I had no idea what to think other than be scared, I didn’t know if he was going to be okay.

I don’t remember a huge deal of labour, but I remember looking down as I thought I had a ‘second waters’ break, but it was blood. I’ve been told that my reason for early labour was placental abruption, I’m lucky that I was still able to have a very quick natural birth rather than a c-section as a result.

Arthur was born weighing a smashing 4lbs at 30 weeks, then taken to NICU and I was left feeling odd, a bit numb and not knowing what to think or feel. I was lucky enough to have a few seconds of having a hold and a quick photo with him before he was taken and I’m grateful for this memory.

He was on a ventilator in NICU for 48 hours, if I remember rightly, and then weaned down gradually until he was on just room air. We got ‘promoted’ to the nursery where we thought we would quickly be discharged; however, Arthur’s temperature spiked and he had a climbing CRP level which landed us another couple of weeks. After reading his discharge papers, it appears that he was treated for suspected sepsis.

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Arthur had a lumbar puncture and a central line placed as he was difficult to cannulate. I felt like a stranger having to ask permission - frightened to love him, scared to do things for him until we gained confidence.

I spent day in and day out sitting in the chair there, next to him. I was lucky enough to sleep in the unit accommodation and was able to learn to breastfeed properly. I never planned on breastfeeding, but when he came early I thought I’d give it a go and I managed a good three and a half months of doing so.

47 days later on 27 September 2023 - WE WENT HOME! We rang that bell loud and proud and were finally able to start our family at home.

My partner went back to work while Arthur was in hospital and took his paternity leave when he came home, he really has been amazing and has held us together - he is such an incredible daddy and fiancé.

Arthur has had a few readmissions to hospital from hyperthermia and bronchitis episodes and is awaiting an operation date for hypospadias.

My advice to other parents would be to take each day as it comes. Make the most of those who genuinely support you and hold them close. Seek help if you need it, and mostly, be proud of the small steps your little ones make, as every day counts.

It does get better, there is an end in sight, and you’ll soon be a medical jargon whizz and be a super parent of a brave child.

A huge thanks to all staff and we have a few particular staff members that will always stand out to us and our journey with Arthur!

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