“I hope that I never get separated from my baby again” - Elleasha’s story #ByYourSide

A collage of images of Elleasha's baby

Elleasha shares the traumatic experience her and her husband faced when separated from her baby boy Keyun at birth. From their neonatal journey, she provides helpful advice to future parents with a baby in neonatal care.

I was a high-risk pregnancy and I went into natural labour at 33 weeks and four days. I had been having issues in pregnancy from around 22/23 weeks and was prescribed dihydrocodeine (a painkiller), which I took as and when required.

In the week before my baby was born I’d been given morphine, oramorph, tramadol and codeine to try and relieve the pain I was experiencing.

My baby boy Keyun was born by emergency c-section on 19 March, and he was taken out of the room instantly. I remember hearing a cry and being told it was my baby - my husband was called out of theatre to go and find out the gender.

My son was then brought in to meet me for just one minute. That’s all I was allowed - not because my baby was going to NICU - but because the surgeons had perforated my large bowel during my delivery. I needed to be put under general anaesthetic so it could be repaired.

My baby was taken to the NICU and my husband was able to be with him, although he was not offered any skin-to-skin and was only allowed to touch him through the incubator. I was taken to ITU where I stayed for a week before being moved to a ward.

At two days old, my baby was given surfactant and ventilated over night to help support his lungs and breathing. The following day he was transferred an hour away to a different hospital and I wasn’t allowed to go with him.

I was expressing breast milk so every day, my husband was coming to me, collecting my milk and then driving an hour away so my son could receive it.

My son was transferred because he was receiving CPAP support for his respiratory distress, caused by the opioids I’d been prescribed during pregnancy - and he had exceeded the 48-hour policy that the neonatal unit of his birth hospital had.

I pleaded with doctors to consider that I was in ITU and didn’t want him moving away from me. The fact that I was expressing and wanting to eventually breastfeed, alongside the obvious disruption it can cause in bonding with him, but it was no use.

I saw Keyun at birth, at two days old, and then finally allowed hold him at three days old - only because he was being moved. I watched as they strapped my baby up in an incubator to be transported to a different hospital.

I then didn’t see him again until Mother’s Day - when he was eight days old. I was kept up to date with vCreate videos and messages. My husband also FaceTimed me daily and we did scent swapping of small, knitted squares.


My husband - we’re both first time parents - had to not only become a dad all alone, but be a NICU dad on his own, we were both robbed of the chance to bond with our baby together, as a unit, due to negligence and policy.

My husband was not allowed to hold our baby at the hospital he was born in, but the next unit let him hold him, change him, and even taught him to gravity tube feed.

When Keyun returned to his birth hospital at eight days old, my husband was able to get him in and out of the incubator safely without tugging at any wires and helped me to hold him (I was scared due to how weak I was still feeling).

I was able to spend five incredible days with my baby. I fed him by tube and by bottle, changed his nappy and clothes and felt my husband really supported me. The hospital - not so much. My husband had been so well supported that he was able to settle my fears.

At two weeks old (35 weeks and four days), my son graduated from the NICU and went home with his daddy and grandma. I had to have a second surgery with extra recovery time, so I wasn’t allowed to go home with him but my husband brought him to visit me in ITU before he took him home.

Whilst our time in NICU was short – a lot happened in such a short space of time that it will always be there in my mind. I have prepared myself that I am likely to have another NICU baby in the future but I can only hope and pray that I never get separated from my baby again, because that has left me with a trauma that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

My advice for other parents is to ask questions. If you want to know what the machines are, ask. If you need help caring for your baby, ask. Communication is absolutely essential. It’s terrifying seeing your small baby wired up and having tests done but finding out why and gaining understanding really helps.