I have three very precious grandchildren and I want to share with you our celebration because the youngest one has just reached the grand age of one!
He was in a big hurry to enter our wonderful world and last July weighing only one and half pounds (680 grams) he unexpectedly burst in upon us …16 weeks early!
Archie was born very prematurely
In the picture above, he is a few days old and is holding his Daddy’s finger so this gives you some idea how small he was. As you can imagine it’s been a rollercoaster of a year, especially for his parents whose lives for almost six months revolved around daily visits to the London UCH hospital for premature babies. Our son visited every day after work, and his partner virtually lived with their baby in the hospital.
THE MIRACLE BEFORE OUR EYES
We made very frequent flights to London to see our precious grandson in his ‘state-of-the-art’ specialist incubator and as I observed that oh so very tiny baby behind the glass I felt a miracle was taking place. I was watching the development of a child who would normally be safely inside his mother’s womb. It is a humbling experience.
Our little grandson is a real fighter for right from the start not only did he cope with all the tubes, hospital apparatus and tests needed to help him develop he also endured two hernia operations and a broken leg whilst still in the incubator (bones are very brittle at such a tender age).
The day I was allowed to open the tiny door and put my hand through the little porthole on the side of his incubator will remain with me forever. I very gently rubbed his tiny arm with my forefinger as a communication of love, but it was the wrong thing to do, for I was told in a kindly manner that stroking was not allowed because his skin wasn’t strong enough and I could rub it away.
HELPING THE PARENTS COPE
Archie’s Mum and Dad were afraid to be too positive and found it difficult to read ‘success’ stories …just in case. People were also unknowingly making declarations that Archie’s parents didn’t find helpful, such as stories of similar babies or statements along the lines of ‘he’ll be fine’ when at the time that outcome couldn’t be known.
The dedication of the hospital staff and the development of such advance equipment saved our little grandson. I will be eternally grateful to the ability of the NHS to cope with such an emergency.
From my experience the best thing we could do for our son and his partner at the time was simply ‘to be there’ for them, to love them and support them. To do simple everyday things like taking them to the pub for a drink. Anything to give them a little break from the non-stop worries of hospital life and give them the perspective of normality for a while.
HOME FOR CHRISTMAS
Archie was home for Christmas and at long last I was able to hold him, very carefully of course. Since then he has gone from strength to strength and last week our family joyfully celebrated his first birthday. You can see from the picture at the end the wonderful journey he’s made and I feel very humble to have been involved in his very special gift of life.
Before you finish reading this I’d like to hold out hope to any of you going through the worry of a premature baby in your family. The worry will not last forever although I know that it does feel like it at the time. I am doing my humble best to write Archie a very special poem and when it is finished I will post it to Oapschat in the hope that it might encourage anyone going through similar experiences.
On his first birthday — July 2016