Splitting time between my children - Naazia's story

When Hamza arrived 16 weeks early, his mum Naazia was faced with the struggle of having one child in hospital and two older children at home.

“We were all excited that I was pregnant, especially my daughter who couldn’t wait to have a new baby to play with. Everything looked fine at the 20 week scan so my husband and I thought we could relax.”

Then at 24 + 4 weeks, Naazia’s waters broke and Hamza was born at City Hospital in Birmingham later that day, weighing 765 grams. As he was so small, he had to be transferred to Women’s Hospital which meant Naazia wasn’t able to see him until she was discharged from hospital a day later.

“When I first saw him in the incubator, he looked dark red, not quite like a baby at all.

“I saw other mums with their babies and just wanted to be able to cuddle mine. I started to question myself; why had this happened to my baby?”

Naazia then faced the difficult task of explaining to 15 year old Yaseen and 8 year old Salmaa that their baby brother was poorly.

“When I got home, I told the children that Hamza had been born much earlier than he should have been and we didn’t know what would happen. Salmaa said ‘don’t worry mummy, he’ll be fine.’

“We all went to the hospital and the children’s faces dropped. Even though we’d told them how small their brother was, it was a shock for them to see him.

“Being older, my son took in a lot more of what the doctors had told us and kept telling me not to worry, but I think he was just trying to be strong for us.”

Over the coming weeks, Naazia dropped Salmaa off at school before making the one hour trip to the hospital, and then back again in time to pick Salmaa up.

“I took the bus during the week when my husband was at work and we travelled to the hospital together at weekends.

“It was hard as I’d come home too tired and upset to do much with the children during the week. I felt guilty if I didn’t cook them a healthy meal and I was always on edge, expecting the hospital to ring to say something had happened.

“Looking back, I didn’t really ask other family and friends for help because I just didn’t think anyone would understand what we were going through and I didn’t want to have to explain.”

Naazia received a lot of support from her eldest son but this added to her feelings of guilt.

“Yaseen learnt how to do everything at home by himself but I felt like he was supporting me when I should be supporting him.

“He also started to ask what was going to happen with Hamza and I didn’t have the answers.”

Naazia drew comfort from going to the hospital’s prayer room and also spoke to the psychologist on the unit who told her to have more time to herself.

“The hospital was so supportive. I was feeling quite down and it was good to hear someone tell me that I needed to stop putting so much pressure on myself. She helped me to understand that it wasn’t helping anyone if I was exhausted all the time.”

In total, Hamza spent 182 days in hospital. Now at home, his doctors are happy with his progress but his family still feel concerned about his future.

“He had a bleed on his head and we don’t know yet how this will affect him in the longer term.

“Even though he’s at home, there are still lots of hospital appointments and my daughter will say to me ‘Mum, you’re always at the hospital’. It’s hard for her to understand why things haven’t gone back to normal now he’s home.

“I have to tell her that Hamza is still little and needs more of my time right now.

“It’s really important that we spend time together as a family as much as we can so we’ll play board games and watch movies, and we talk about what a year it’s been for all of us.

“My husband used to say that I needed to be more confident. I never used to really speak to other parents on the unit and now I talk to strangers on the bus who ask why Hamza is on oxygen; I’m used to talking about it now.

This story was originally featured in Little Bliss magazine - for parents on the neonatal unit.

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