In the early months of 2013, we were delighted to find out that we were pregnant with our first child. Preparations began! Clothes were bought and a nursery was decorated and equipped!
Everything seemed fine until Mum felt poorly and was asked to visit hospital, "just to be on the safe side".
Mum received lots of checks and next thing we hear is "Baby is on its way!".
The horror, the surprise, but way more than anything.... the worry!
Gloucester Royal hospital worked tirelessly to ensure they slowed baby down whilst they searched for a bed in a hospital elsewhere that was able to facilitate and support such an early pregnancy.
A couple of days had passed and then suddenly we were informed we needed to pack up and that we'd be heading off to John Radcliffe Hospital Oxford.
We arrived at JRH and from the start knew that we were in safe hands. Friendly staff who made us feel safe, reassured and in the know right from the start.
JRH knew that baby needed to come out so proceeded with everything that was needed to be done to ensure baby had a safe arrival.
The next few hours to be honest are such a blur but I know I've never seen so many nurses and doctors in one room before.
Baby was safely delivered weighing just 1lb 11oz! At the time I didn't quite realise just how light this was. I knew from seeing him that he wasn't your average size baby but the mixed feelings of, I'm now a father, is everything going to be okay, where are they taking him seemed to dismiss just how small he was.
We were told they needed to take him away to help him and that was it. No first-born cuddles. No "first family" photos, apart from a small dot of a baby wrapped up in foil having wires and tubes attached and inserted.
Later on in the day we were able to go and see baby in his flash incubator with wires, cables, TV's and monitors all linked up to him.
There and then we named baby. Joseph George Wellington.
We remained in Oxford for just over 6 weeks. Watching Joseph grow day by day. It wasn't all plain sailing as Joseph encountered many problems and hurdles along the way. Blood transfusions were needed, potential septicaemia, a heart valve that wouldn't close are just to mention a few.
We were so thankful to be supported by everyone at Oxford during this time. As new babies came into the unit, accommodation in the hospital was prioritised to their parents. We were faced with the prospect of having nowhere to sleep. One thing was for certain. We were not leaving Oxford. We were even contemplating sleeping in the car one evening. We wanted to be by Josephs side as much as we could. Thanks to JRH and SSNAP we were able to stay in the Hospital flat as well as the house situated just outside of the hospital grounds.
We will be forever grateful for the nurses who didn't just care for Joseph but also comforted us in some very troubling times. The Doctors and Consultants who made huge decisions in Joseph's best interests. And of course, SSNAP who without their support we wouldn't have been able to be by our babies side every day. For the pastoral care that we received and for making what can be a traumatising experience and time, a much more relaxed, comforted and cared for experience.
Joseph turns 10 in September this year and I wanted to take this age milestone to celebrate, be thankful and to give back just a small part of a huge part of my life that was helped by SSNAP.
Joseph is such a caring young man who makes anyone who meets him smile. He excels at school and is definitely a musician in the making!
I look forward to supporting SSNAP by taking part in the Oxford Half Marathon.