“Make sure you do things for yourself” – Naomi’s story

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Naomi gave birth to her daughter Charlotte unexpectedly at 28 weeks. As Charlotte was so unwell, they were transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital before moving to Barnet Hospital. Naomi has shared how she navigated her neonatal journey and has given advice to other parents.

When we found out we were pregnant with Charlotte it was a pleasant surprise. I was so happy but quite early on I knew something wasn't right. Every time I voiced my issues to my local hospital it was pushed to the side.

Then when my waters did break at 27 weeks, the doctors still didn't listen. They even sent me home but a few days later, I knew that my baby was coming.

My husband had been out the night before because we didn't expect to have a baby at 28 weeks. At four o'clock in the morning I had to wake him up as I was in pain. I knew something was wrong – we found out later that me and the baby had sepsis, so we were both really poorly.

We called an ambulance and they took me to the hospital with blue lights and sirens.

Charlotte was born after two pushes and it was so scary – I couldn’t hear her cry. When they lifted her up and she was just limp. I asked my husband to take a picture of her as I needed to see what she looks like, but by the time he got there, they'd already intubated her.

Our local hospital said that they couldn't look after her as she was too unwell, so they called Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH). The ambulance came to take her there, and it was pretty scary because they didn’t have the all the right equipment with them.

My husband went with her, and the doctors told me to kiss my baby goodbye. It was all bit wild - I call it twilight zone. I just thought, “is this happening?”

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When they took Charlotte that night, I was placed on the ward with new mums and babies and it was really horrible. I just wanted to be with my baby.

The next day, after a lot of tears, they let me go to GOSH with antibiotics. We stayed there for a week and the people at GOSH are absolutely lovely. I remember trying to express milk and I was constantly massaging, but I got one little syringe.

I walked over to the nurse and I just broke down and then she hugged me. She said, “you're doing amazing. You're doing great. Everything's fine, it’s just going to take time.”

When we left, the doctor even said, “is this the same baby that came in?” because when we arrived, she needed a CT scan, she had cannulas in her and she had to have a lumbar puncture.

When we left the NICU at GOSH to go to Barnet Hospital, Charlotte was in a big incubator and everybody was just looking at her. I remember that journey felt like it took forever, but when we got to Barnet it was like fresh air – there was greenery, calm and peace.

I can't praise the staff at Barnet Hospital enough. They said we could be as involved as much as we wanted. And we were - I would go up there every single day. She was in Barnet for about eight weeks, and I was there every single day from half eight in the morning until nine at night.

The nurses would come in and make sure that all the mummies and daddies had eaten, see if we needed a cup of tea, and make sure we were taking breaks. If we had any questions, they made sure that they were answered.

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They also had rooming-in rooms which gave me the opportunity to bond with my baby. It was great because I needed that encouragement and support before I left hospital.

However it could be intense being in those rooms, especially with the beeping noises – the sound will never leave you. If I walk past the TV and there's a hospital program on, hearing the noise is like a flashback.

When they removed Charlotte’s final tube I burst into tears because I'd never seen my child without a tube or wire over her.

Charlotte is a very endearing, happy-go-lucky girl and I wouldn't change her for the world. Luckily she didn’t have any other complications other than that she was born very prematurely.

She has an asthma pump and we’re waiting for an ADHD test, but she’s doing really well. I've got another little girl now too - she's five and was born at nine pounds four.

I love Charlotte’s birthday, but it's such a bittersweet moment. It was her birthday last Wednesday and in the morning we made it loud - such a celebration. But by the evening I was so down and my husband noticed it. I couldn’t snap out of it, I just wanted to hold her.

If I had any advice, it would be to go easy on yourselves, mummies and daddies. It’s such an emotional rollercoaster because you just want to be there for your child. Make sure you're eating and make sure you do things for yourself.

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