Getting pregnant wasn't an issue for us; we fell pregnant after the first attempt, so not much practise needed there!  I knew that I was pregnant very soon after the late period as the nausea and vomiting kicked in as well, everyday for 14 weeks and then every other day for the next 4 weeks, how we managed to keep the pregnancy a secret, with me retching all the time is 

Trouble brewed at 21 weeks when I palpated/measured 26 weeks size, I just thought it was enjoying food and me blossoming!

We were urgently sent for detailed scans and the ultrasonographer couldn't give us any definite answers and asked us to return in 2 days time when a consultant would be available to rescan us!  I was racking my brains and everyone else's  (including all the text
books to hand) to try and decide what was going on.  The second scan revealed that the baby was fine but that I had developed poliohydramnios (excess fluid around the baby) I then had to have a GTT (glucose tolerance test) and TORCH (infection screening) to identify the reason for the extra fluid.


I was advised by the hospital to get a sick note, something I had never had before, so reluctantly I went, expecting the GP, to sign me off for a week or two, and she signed me off for two months, until my official maternity leave would start, advising me to take it easy!  That’s not something I did a lot of either!
All the results were normal, and off work, so I had to sit back and plan the nursery, write shopping lists and polish the needlework bag, ready for a long wait and another 18 weeks!   Well, I got that bit wrong as well. My waters broke at 24+5 weeks and I was taken to Harrogate Hospital (where we were booked) but had to be transferred to Bradford Royal Infirmary as ventilated babies are not accommodated in smaller units).


I Spent 3 weeks on the antenatal ward feeling like a fraud, when at 27+5 started with a period type pain and within 5 hours our baby had arrived, taking the last ICU space on the unit that night, weighting in at 1320g, 2lb 15oz, (who by the way, I thought was Jessica, but no, definitely Thomas).

I was allowed to hold him before they took him around to the unit, but wanted the staff to take him back off me as I felt he needed to be with them, and given oxygen, etc.  I remember being wheeled back onto the ward feeling very surreal that our baby was now on the neonatal unit and tried to explain that to our families who we had spoken to earlier in the day, while I was still very much pregnant.


Here started the rollercoaster of life on SCBU.  Alternate days on biliblanket for week 1, day 3 off vent, and into CPAP, and by day 5 oxygen via a head box.

Things seemed to be happening/changing so quickly, too quickly?  By day 6, I held Thomas for the first time, too frightened to ask before that and too frightened to hold him for too long in case it disturbed his wires or saturation's (I was so relieved when someone explained that this was not true) and in fact Thomas would settle better on me in kangaroo care, which we practised at every available opportunity, (he still loves that position now!).

The following day daddy got his first cuddle. We started to feel like parents and that we owned him now. 

We visited the unit from 8 am till 8 pm daily, together or me alone when Matthew had to return to work, and fend off the questions and explanations about our little man, joining us in the evenings. 


Once stabilised, we were moved back to the smaller unit, where there was 6 other 27 weekers, the most that they had in one time!


The night we arrived at the Unit, the first parent craft sessions were held, (which we had been booked to attend but didn't get to,) as we continued along the corridor to see our son on SCBU. The classes had a tour of the Unit including SCBU, which surprised me as our privacy was invaded. The midwife stopped outside our side room and asked how many weeks our baby was born at, 27 we said, to which she replied, “don’t worry your babies will be bigger than that”. That left me very angry and jealous of this still pregnant women and made me miss being pregnant and mourn the loss of the last 3 months of pregnancy! 


Thomas's time on SCBU followed the daily routine of cares and feeds, bath after 27 days, twice weekly blood tests, blood transfusions, lumbar puncture, and investigations for 'neck' disease (which were negative) and regular ROP checks which I dreaded having done to my wee man, and would have swapped if I could.  Memories of expressing milk with Daisy the mechanical cow whilst in hospital and the hand pump (at home, have pump will travel, even to the mother-in-laws for Sunday tea) and crying over a bottle of fresh EBM spilt on the kitchen floor (gives a new meaning to my mother saying don't cry over spilt milk, when you know the time and effort that goes into every drop of EBM).

I even carried the expressed milk to hospital in a GROLSH BEER freezer bag  (a freebie, all that I had to hand, well I didn't expect to be taking my milk on buses 12 miles to our son!).


Discharge from hospital, a day I never thought would come, wondering what to do with this sleeping tot in the Moses basket who slept and fed, fed and slept.

Arguing over pushing the pram around the town in the rain, but we were home, and alone, after 9 weeks, 5lb 3 oz, bottle-fed EBM and we were glad to be together at last!

It hardly seems like 6 years since these events but we can well remember it all, we've had good days and bad days since, mainly fairly common childhood illness, but with being our first and being premie, we are always cautious, although we have had our best winter yet!

Thomas has 100% attendance at school, which he is so proud of. 

Development has been near enough the milestones with or without corrected age), as we always say “Thomas will do it in his time and no one else's!” 


Our proudest days were seeing Thomas go into school (like a little soldier) and settling so well, something I didn't know would happen, also the saddest days not knowing what he was doing in the 6 hour day, and giving him over again to another authority.


Thomas loves life to the full, is very happy and chatty (wonder where he gets that from), and enjoys school, swimming and Gymbobs.  Can cycle his bicycle with a bit of a push, wears
a size 13 shoes and age 7-8 clothes (just has no waist to hold anything up).


Everyday we look at him we are so thankful for how well he has done and what an amazing character we now have.

Every night when we left him in the Unit, we whispered, God Bless, Thomas, Mum, and Dad,
etc., and I promised that I would pick a special star, from the nighttime sky.

I keep that promise every night I go out after he is asleep.


But we know we have the best and brightest star here with us always.