Benjamin Oliver Spencer’s Story

Benjamin Oliver Spencer (born 4th June 2004)

Benjamin Spencer in incubator Benjamin Spencer sleeping Benjamin Spencer - 7 years old

I am a diabetic and whilst pregnant I worked very hard to make sure my blood sugar levels were as close to normal as possible so as to ensure the health of our baby. Our third child Ben was born 5 weeks early and although not very premature, within half an hour of his birth he started having problems breathing.  We felt totally helpless and so scared that he was not going to survive. After trying various other methods to help him breath he was placed on a ventilator and transferred to the Special Care Baby Unit at the RVI in Newcastle upon Tyne.

We were told that he was not responding or making any attempt to breathe on his own; the consultant spoke of doing a brain scan to check activity and we feared the absolute worst.  The staff were all very supportive and informative, encouraging us to get involved in his care, which is quite difficult when you can’t even hold your baby. We just wanted to pick him up and cuddle him.

We spent all of our time sitting next to his incubator with our other two children visiting. Often it felt like one step forward then two steps back, however slowly but surely Ben started making progress. One of our happiest moments was when we walked in to the ward to find he had been taken off the ventilator and was breathing on his own with the help of an oxygen tube.

Leaving Ben in hospital was a very traumatic experience for me and there was a song playing in the unit which still reduces me to tears when I hear it now.

Our best moment was when we held him for the first time and of course when we eventually took him home!  Though for the first few weeks I barely slept just listening to him breath!

Our worries continued after he was discharged because we were advised that he may have some development or learning difficulties and he would have to attend a clinic to monitor his progress.
At the age of 18 months, Ben was discharged from the paediatric clinic.  He is a happy, cheeky little boy and we consider ourselves to have been very lucky.  We will be eternally grateful to the doctors and nurses.

We experienced such a wide range of emotions throughout our time on the unit and afterwards. I still get goose pimples when I talk about what we went through and that was nearly 7 years ago!