“Bliss was there for us when we felt out of our depth” – Jess' Story

Jess and Caleb

When Jess’ son Caleb was born prematurely in June this year, the support Jess received from Bliss meant she felt some comfort and reassurance during those lonely nights in hospital.

Caleb was born early at 36 weeks in June 2021 after I developed sudden unexpected preeclampsia, which caused the placenta to rapidly fail. This resulted in an emergency C-section where Caleb was quickly whisked away from me and his Dad immediately after birth, with an oxygen mask on his face. He was taken to the SCBU where he was monitored overnight with oxygen delivered by nasal prongs. The next day however, Caleb deteriorated very quickly and had to be intubated and placed on a ventilator to help him breathe.

Caleb was diagnosed with Respiratory Distress Syndrome, which can be fatal without appropriate and quick treatment. The decision was then made to transfer him to a hospital over an hour away so he could stay in their NICU. The doctors gave Caleb a poor prognosis and warned us that he may not pull through. As new parents, my partner and I couldn’t believe what was happening.

Over the coming days, after numerous tests, scans, a lumbar puncture and various antibiotics, as well as treatment for sepsis, Caleb’s condition gradually improved. He was eventually extubated and moved out of the NICU and into the SCBU nursery before being transferred back to his original hospital via the neonatal ambulance service.

Throughout this time, he was fed through an NG tube before gradually taking a bottle feed. Caleb is now nearly five months old and thriving at home with no lasting damage.

No number of words can describe how scary it is to see your baby covered in tubes and wires with all the machines beeping continuously. As a first-time parent, you never in a million years think that you will end up in neonatal care with your baby. The staff were amazing at both hospitals but one thing that helped more than anything was listening to the ‘NICU, SCBU and You’ Bliss podcast doing those lonely nights on the postnatal ward. Listening to the podcast in between visiting Caleb meant I was able to hear the experiences of parents talking openly about their mental health when they arrived on the unit for the first time, how they faced challenges, and the things to ask for when you are not sure.

Bliss really helped me to know that there is no ‘normal’ way to react to a situation and that each person behaves differently. Bliss was there for us when we felt out of our depth and had a fear of the unknown. Their information and support is really invaluable and they understand the experience of being on a neonatal unit can be incredibly overwhelming and stressful. For parents out there who find themselves in this situation, please always remember you are not alone, Bliss is here for you.