Charlie was born at 31 weeks weighing 2lbs 6oz after Anna, my wife, had eclampsia – something that affects 1 in 4,000 pregnancies and results in fatality for 1 in 14 babies. Charlie survived and was delivered by emergency ceasarian.
At 8 days old Charlie contracted Necrotising Enterocolitis, a disease that destroys the bowel and kills 50% of babies. We were so lucky not to lose him – another 30 minutes and he would not have made it. After 2 major surgeries and 4 months in hospital we finally brought him home.
Having to leave our tiny little boy every night was awful. Not being able to do anything to help him, or hold him because of the lifelines from medication and machines made us feel like we were failing him. The Sick Children’s Trust provided us with accomodation on the hospital site, 2 minutes from Charlie, with a direct line to the ward. This was our lifeline. Being so close to him meant we didn’t feel like we were abandoning him at the end of each day. And they do this for famillies all over the country. When babies and children are at their most poorly, and parents feel most helpless, this charity gives them a comfortable space to rest and console with parents going through the same thing. There is no way we can thank them enough for that.
Tiny Lives provide equipment to make the babies as comfortable as possible in hospital. Nests to support their little bodies and special covers for their incubators so they can rest under the harsh strip lights, and a physio to help keep their bodies moving and give parents confidence to handle the fragile arms and legs. Most importantly for us they supply miniboo. A shaped piece fo fabric, one for Anna and one for Charlie. Anna would wear ‘boo’ against her body and sleep with it. Then every morning we’d swap it with Charlie’s in his incubator. This meant they still had each others scent, wherever they were, and they were never truly apart. Such a simple thing made a huge difference to leaving Charlie every day.
You can see below Charlie’s first few years through photos
The time in hospital got me running again; that is why I have chosen the Great North Run 2017 as a way to try and raise money. An injury a few years ago stopped me doing sport. But looking at tiny little humans, some weighing less that 1kg, overcoming incredible odds and doing nothing but fighting to survive changed something in me. Seeing them fighting, everything they did was about surviving. Some of the procedures they would endure, the conditions they had – it’s heart wrenching. But they just accepted it and carried on fighting. That’s what made me realise never give up.
Charlie has also inspired Yoga loving mum, Anna, to get toddlers involved in Yoga!
Raising funds for The Tiny Lives Trust and Sick Children’s Trust, Anna has created this lovely poster to help parents juggle their own yoga practice at home and looking after a little one! As Anna says:
I have always been a huge believer in the power of Yoga and meditation. I love how it makes you feel and Charlie enjoys it too. This is why I chose to make a simple poster to try and encourage toddlers to give it a go!
You can buy this wonderful poster online at toddleryoga.co.uk
We would also like to honour this page in loving memory of Charlie’s little brother Oliver:
At the beginning of 2017 we got pregnant again. Then at the 20 week scan we found out our baby was very poorly. Multiple heart defects and issues with his organs meant we had the toughest decision to make. We decided that we didn’t want to put our second son through a life of suffering. On 20th May, Oliver – a name taken from the Oliver tree, meaning peace – was born at 21 weeks old. We said goodbye and laid him to rest. 4Louis supplies memory boxes to parents of babies still born and born like Oliver. The box has everything grieving parents need to remember their little one incuding a memory card for photos and a certificate of existance, because they don’t get a birth certificate. It’s a beautiful thing they do at probably the hardest time in peoples lives.