Sleepless nights - Hannah's story

Hannah's son Jack was born at 29 weeks. She shares what night time was like for her both before and after her son's birth.

Sleepless nights started long before our son Jack was born. I was admitted to hospital with severe bleeding at 23 weeks; every night my bleeding would start and every night I would not know if my son would survive. I remained in hospital as an inpatient for 4 weeks before being discharged home on bed rest.

At 29 weeks to the day I was re-admitted as Jack’s heart rate was being affected by the bleeding. We were told that I would need an emergency C section in the next 12 hours to give Jack the best chance of survival. All night I prayed that I would get to see my son grow up and that I would do anything I needed to in order for him to survive.

At 3:45pm the next day our gorgeous boy Jack was born weighing in at 1lb 14ozs. Jack was immediately rushed to NICU due to his breathing and size and I didn’t even get to see him let alone hold him.

After my partner left that evening I just burst into tears, being all alone and not having even seen my son was too much to cope with. Thankfully the nurses on the ward understood my pain and at 10 o’clock that night I met my son for the first time. Jack was so small and delicate I was scared to touch him. I don’t know if it was the relief of seeing Jack alive and doing ok or the medication but I did sleep a lot better that night.

The next 4 weeks were the hardest of our lives, we were at the hospital most of the day into early evening. Unfortunately we weren’t eligible to stay in the parents’ house close to the hospital so we had to travel 45 minutes to be with Jack.

Jack developed sepsis at 7 days old and had regular stomach infections which slowed his growth and caused concern. As the hospital were calling us all hours with updates on Jack’s condition we were getting home only to nap.

At night I would be scared to sleep in case my phone rang and I wouldn’t hear it. I would often have a nap in the hospital whilst sat next to Jack, as this is where I felt safest.

On several occasions we received phone calls in the middle of the night because Jack's breathing had changed. We rushed into hospital at 3am to make sure he was OK, be with him and let him know his mummy and daddy are there no matter what. The hospital at night was so quiet and only the sound of the machines could be heard. Only having 4 hours sleep wouldn't stop me being there first thing to see the doctors.

The Bliss volunteers visited us when Jack was a week old and popped by each week, it gave me someone to talk to about Jack and they would always tell me to get some rest so that I was well enough to see Jack every day. I found them hugely supportive and looked forward to their visit.

It felt so strange as everyone says that when you have a new born you don’t get much sleep because of the night feeds and crying. I longed for this. Most days I would drive away from the hospital in tears as I just wanted a “normal” evening with my little boy.

Looking back I don’t know how I kept going with little or no sleep, these days we are all in bed by 9 o’clock and it’s very rare that Jack wakes up now.

Those sleepless 3 months will always hold mixed memories for me but I always feel thankful for all the support we received as a family and for the fantastic staff at St Michael's as I watch Jack sleep on our baby monitor.