When my son, James, was born 10 weeks premature, I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t get to meet him until four hours after he was born, and I didn’t get to hold him for almost 24 hours.
I spent the first few days by his cot side in NICU, trying to comprehend what had happened and convince myself that he was my son. I would return to my room on the postnatal ward each night and cry myself to sleep as I heard other Mum’s next door comforting, holding and feeding their babies.
I was wracked with guilt; my body had failed us both and because of this, my son was lying on his own in a humidicrib with life-saving equipment burying his tiny fragile body. On day one, a beautiful nurse handed me a journal and told me to write everything down. She took a photo of my first cuddle (which she printed then and there) and placed it inside the journal. It is a moment I will never forget.
I was discharged from hospital just four days later. The pain and grief of arriving at hospital pregnant and going home without my baby will never leave me. Even now, with tears streaming down my face, I can feel the hole in my heart that will never heal. But from that moment onwards, I spent every waking hour scribbling in his journal, taking photos and celebrating every little milestone my boy reached. This was my way of slowly healing my wounds and staying strong.
It was my way of simply surviving each day and bringing hope at such an uncertain time. And it was through this process that the idea of premature baby milestone cards came to me. The milestones these little fighters reach are incredibly special, not only because they are unique, but because they offer hope and give parents the strength to go on.
I remember feeling so proud when James had his first suck of his dummy that I cried, and then I laughed at how surreal the situation was!
Since leaving hospital almost a year ago, I have been working tirelessly to bring my idea to life. I spent nine months in between naps, after bed time and I swear even in my sleep, designing these milestone cards (with zero design skills and on 100 software programs I didn’t even know existed).
I spoke to hospital staff and other premmie Mum’s for advice, ideas and inspiration.