I met Cindy last winter at St. Michael’s hospital where she gave birth to her incredible son, Elliott, at 29 weeks gestation.
Up until 28 weeks, Cindy had a textbook pregnancy. She felt nauseous during her first trimester, but apart from that she was doing well. She was attending pregnancy yoga classes, and had just returned from a holiday in Scotland where she had been hiking.
At 28 weeks gestation, after a lovely day of music and dancing at St. Paul’s Carnival, Cindy’s waters broke, and she was told to go to St. Michaels hospital so that her baby could be monitored. She was there for five days, and everything appeared to be fine, so she was discharged and given antibiotics to prevent any possible infection due to the premature rupture of her membranes.
She returned home, but was shortly met with a surprise! Her waters broke again after being home for only 6 hours. Cindy went back to St. Michaels Hospital and her baby was monitored once again. This time, however, Elliott had no intention of staying in his mum’s tummy, and, as Cindy had put it “he decided it was time to discover the world!”.
Elliott was born at 29 weeks and only weighed 1.5kg (3lbs 5oz), yet he still managed to let out a huge cry. Elliott needed some extra help to breathe, so he started to use a CPAP machine (a machine that helps to inflate the lungs in-between breaths), before going onto a high flow and then a low flow cannula which helped air to flow into his lungs. Cindy says that her happiest moment was when she and Elliott had their first cuddle. Two nurses were required to help Elliott out of his incubator and hold all of his tubes and wires – Cindy barely moved as she was afraid that she might interfere with them or make him uncomfortable.
Overall, Elliott stayed at St. Michaels NICU for 5 weeks before he and Cindy transitioned to a different ward so that they could establish breastfeeding. They soon returned home and, Elliot and Elliott has not required any medical interventions since.
Cindy felt that the staff at St. Michaels NICU supported her well, and explained everything that was happening in an easy to understand way. She said: “we felt that our little one was in the best possible hands.”. Talking to other parents at the NICU was one of the things that helped her through, as it made her realise that she was not alone in her situation.
Elliott was in an incubator for the first two weeks and Cindy found it very challenging (as I’m sure any parent would) to bond with her baby, especially as most of his care was carried out by the NICU nurses. Slowly, the nurses showed Cindy how to care for Elliott, and talked her through what he needed.
Cindy found it quite difficult to organise herself between her time in NICU and while preparing for her son’s arrival at home. Her family lives in France, so being far away from them was not easy for her. Luckily, she had some friends in Bristol that were able to provide her with support.
Some advice that Cindy would give to parents in a similar situation would be “Do not hesitate to ask for support from friends and family, and to go for a walk outside of the hospital to get some fresh air, a meal, a coffee... Take some time outside of hospital as well to prepare for your baby's arrival at home, the time will come very soon! Share contacts with other parents to see the roommates of your little one growing at the same time as yours, and share your worries and your good times as well!”.