Baby Theo spent a total of 123 days in neonatal intensive care, 113 of them at Saint Mary’s Hospital. His mum Lisa Juniper explains what happened…
We were in total shock and completely delighted to find we were expecting our second baby after many years of infertility. My husband Phil and I told our son Jack the exciting news on his 11th Birthday. We were all very much looking forward to becoming a family of four.
Life doesn’t always go to plan however and our baby boy Theo came into the world at 25 weeks gestation weighing 1lb 14oz (850g). He was so tiny and very poorly when he was born. He was ventilated at delivery and taken straight to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Saint Mary’s Hospital. It was such a shock and a very scary time for our family.
Our lives changed completely overnight – none of us had ever heard of NICU before we found ourselves there. The doctors and nurses worked day and night to care for our baby. We spent as much time as we could with Theo, reading, singing and talking to him. We learnt how to change his nappy, give him tube feeds and wash his tiny little face and body, navigating all of his wires, breathing tubes and drips. Phil, Jack and I tried to get into as much of a routine as we could and ate family meals together in the relatives’ kitchen. We got to know the doctors and nurses and lived in our NICU bubble while life in the outside world continued.
We wanted to be involved with Theo’s care as much as we possibly could, it was important for us to feel like he was our baby and part of our family. NICU was a huge rollercoaster, there are many challenges that premature babies face and this was no different for Theo. He had bleeds on his brain, chronic lung disease, heart and eye problems, along with numerous infections including sepsis.
We spent 113 days at Saint Mary’s Hospital NICU before being transferred to another hospital for 10 days. Theo was discharged home on oxygen and two weeks after discharge we found out he is severely deaf in both ears, for which he now wears hearing aids.
In spite of his traumatic start to life, Theo is doing amazingly well. He is super cheeky, extremely funny, catching up in size and learning how to walk.
We will always be hugely grateful to all of the doctors and nurses on NICU that looked after Theo and our family so well. Without them he wouldn’t be here today. It was an extremely difficult time for us and it has had a lasting impact on our family. We now fundraise for Saint Mary’s Hospital to help other families through their NICU journey.