“Your baby is in the best hands possible” - Ryan’s story

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Ryan's son Freddie is currently receiving neonatal care after being born prematurely at 28+6. In his story, Ryan shares Freddie's rollercoaster journey and offers his advice to other parents.

This is the most scared and useless I have ever felt.

Early in 2023, my partner Roxanne and I found out we were pregnant which was very welcome news. I had been told I was infertile over the past ten years and we had a miscarriage in 2022. When our 12-week scan came around, and we found out our baby was fine, it was a fantastic feeling.

Then came the 16-week scan, which was an early gender scan - we were so nervous because of the previous year’s miscarriage. Again, it was all fine and we now knew that we had a little boy on the way, due on 11 November 2023.

Apart from constant worry, this pregnancy had no issues and I was almost looking through the nerves and getting excited.

When 25 August rolled around, Roxanne said she was having some period-like pain. She did what was normal for her which was to have a bath because it would usually take the pain away. While Roxanne had her bath I set off for my nightshift at work – I hadn’t heard anything more about the pain so presumed it had gone away. However, when I looked at my phone I saw four missed calls. I went white and instantly phoned her back, before hearing the words, “Ryan you need to get me to hospital - I’m bleeding.” I left work in a heartbeat, got home and took her to the hospital.

The midwife got us straight in and got a heart rate monitor on Roxanne. Neither of us were expecting to hear a thing, however, there was a heartbeat which was getting slower, so a doctor was needed to examine Roxanne.

Within ten minutes of the doctor coming in the room, she had decided an emergency c-section was needed to get our baby out as soon as possible. Roxanne was suffering from a placenta abruption and it was a race against the clock. She was rushed to theatre and I wasn’t allowed in as she needed a general anaesthetic, so I paced up and down in the recovery ward for 90 minutes waiting for her.

I was expecting the absolute worst for both of them.

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Roxanne got wheeled back through to me in recovery so I knew she was okay, followed shortly by a wonderful nurse from NICU saying our baby was safe, in an incubator, and that when he was settled I could go and see him.

Only 15 minutes later he was settled. I was told whilst walking up to see my son that it was me speeding to get them to hospital that had saved his life. The doctor who did the surgery came to see Roxanne in her hospital room and told her she had lost 1.7 litres of blood. If I had left it any longer getting her to hospital, then I would have lost them both. This was hard news to take but I ended up with the best outcome for them both.

As I write this, Roxanne has been discharged from hospital and is back home with me but our son, Freddie Bernard Walker, is currently on the NICU ward on a rollercoaster of progress but ultimately going strength to strength. Being born 28 weeks and six days is a real wriggle bum.

My advice to other dads and parents going through a NICU journey would be to take it one day at a time, and to get involved with your baby's cares and feeds wherever possible. Also remember that just because they’re premature, they might not necessarily be ill. You could think of it as: my baby has just turned up early and needs assistance. The incubator, as scary as it might seem, is just simulating your baby - it's like they are still in the womb.

Your baby is in the best hands possible in NICU.