From our 20 week scan, we knew our baby would need an operation at birth. While scary at the time, we are in awe of the medical expertise that helped us stay informed and prepare for what was to come.
The first time we met SSNAP was in December 2022. Kerry stepped away from Christmas party celebrations to meet us and help us understand what to expect from intensive care. Given we knew we would be separated shortly after the birth, seeing the ward helped us visualise where our baby would be. Kerry was so kind and reassuring which made it all feel less daunting.
Charlie was born in January 2023 - he was incredibly brave and has now fully recovered from his operation. We hardly have the words to express our gratitude for the incredible care of all the staff on the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and High Dependency Unit at the John Radcliffe Hospital. From our first engagement, we were struck by how supportive SSNAP were on our journey.
SSNAP funds some of the "big things" - psychological support roles, purchasing life saving equipment, life changing research and training. At the same time, we found some of the smaller, thoughtful things to be incredibly impactful.
We received a welcome box with coffee cups with lids on - something you would not think to pack in your hospital bag. Our spirits were lifted when the snack trolley came around with a smiley face and someone to chat to. We were so moved by the handmade blankets and hats Charlie received - all knitted by volunteers. We were even given a little octopus, designed to feel like an umbilical cord and a homemade bag to carry the breast pump equipment.
I work in digital technology, so I was interested to learn about some of the techy stuff too. SSNAP introduced a facial recognition system so parents can enter the ward whenever they want to. It's hard to express how meaningful that is when you are coming to see your baby and don't feel inhibited at any time - day or night. We loved the App that enables the nurses to send photos of the babies when parents can't be there, helping with separation anxiety and remote milk expressing.
Being in intensive care for the first days of Charlie’s life was the worst of times but also the best of times. SSNAP were a huge part of our journey helping Charlie and us as parents feel supported and cared for. There's no doubt that support helped expediate his recovery - it boosted oxytocin and meant we were looking after ourselves so we could look after him.
It's why we've decided to fundraise as part of a celebration for Charlie this May. The companies we both work for have already kick started the donations and we're hoping to raise a lot more for this incredible cause.
From the knitters to the fundraisers - we want to say a huge thank you to all involved in SSNAP - you make a massive difference.