We were just like your baby – Rebecca and Natacha’s story #ByYourSide

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Rebecca and Natacha were born 15 weeks early at University College Hospital London. They are now 13 years old, and for World Prematurity Day they have shared their experience as babies born premature, to give hope and positivity to parents going through a neonatal experience.

For World Prematurity Day, we wanted to tell our story.

Rebecca: We were born prematurely by 15 weeks, so we know and have faced the challenges that both the child and parents have. Scheduled to be born in October, we arrived on 21 June 2009. Natacha had two operations.

When we were born, Natacha weighed 706 grams and I weighed 720 grams. We have now just turned 13 and both of us weigh the healthy average for girls our age.

Natacha: At the age of five days, I had a bowel perforation and needed an operation which lasted for five hours straight.

During our time at the hospital, our family came to visit. Our grandparents would visit every day and the doctors and nurses stayed with us 24/7.

A very important thing to do with your baby is to talk to it and if possible hold them. It makes an incredible difference if they can hear you.

After 100 days in the hospital, we were discharged!


Rebecca: I do a diverse range of sports: martial arts (Krav Maga, Karate, Taekwondo, Pilates.) I love all sports and we both have no difficulties in sports.

I am also very good at swimming.

Natacha: I am very good at running, I am the fastest in my class (including the boys). I also do Pilates which I enjoy a lot - I also do singing classes which I love. It relaxes me a lot when I am stressed about a test or a presentation. I do it every Tuesday for 30 minutes. I sing duos with my sister but also classic and famous songs.

We also do piano lessons.


Natacha: I have many friends, some that I met a few months ago but we've been close ever since. There are also friends that I've known for years.

The first time I lost a tooth was at the age of six and I was at school in music class. I was very proud and excited to wake up to find a coin under my pillow. The first day of school was amazing, I met new people but I was very stressed. I was six years old and went to school in the centre of London.

Rebecca: At a very young age, we would travel to France to see our grandparents. We were always amazed by the flickering lights of the Eiffel Tower.

At the age of ten, my family and I went to Japan. It was an amazing experience. I was a bit scared of the plane at the time but I still enjoyed the long flight, where I could do what I wanted.

I did not have to sleep which was amazing. We visited many places in Japan but my favourite bit was the amazing nature and the island where there were reindeer.

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Natacha: One of the best school trips was when we went to Valencia, in Spain for our Spanish Classes. It was during the Covid-19 pandemic so we had masks most of the time.

We stayed there for a week, eating very traditional Spanish food and going to bed late.

Rebecca: I love reading, it relaxes me and brings me to a whole new world. I read everything. We read in French and in English - we are bilingual.

I've always loved baking. I remember climbing on my pink stool to reach to kitchen worktop just so I could see my nanny baking cakes. During the lockdown, my mother would ask me to bake her favourite cake. I have now learned the recipe by heart and have eaten that cake quite a lot.

We have a cat named Lulu. She is quite old and sleeps most of the day. In her youth, she used to run around the place. She plays less now and only plays from the floor. She scratches us sometimes but never severely and always accidentally.

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We wrote this ourselves, hoping to give you happy thoughts!

We didn't mean to brag, but to show you how far we've come. From the tiny sick babies in UCLH to happy thirteen-year-olds today.

We will always be grateful to the doctors and nurses who took care of us.

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