Updated: Aug 27
Joshua and Sophie are now older siblings, their brother Oliver James couldn’t wait to make his arrival! On Saturday 6th July, Oliver James was born at 15:17pm after spontaneous labour which came as a huge shock to us all at 33 weeks plus 3 days.
We are all absolutely besotted and overwhelmed with love, Oliver's arrival was an extremely emotional experience, more so than most births, due to the devastation of us having experienced #childbereavement.
Oliver is currently on the #NeonatalIntensiveCareUnit (#NICU) though he is doing brilliantly! We are thankful to say that he is breathing without the need of any assistance or oxygen, he is feeding well and has latched beautifully though he will need an #NasalGastrostomy Tube(#NG) so that nurses are able to feed him over night. Oliver has jaundiced so he is under a lamp, happily sunning himself until his levels reduce. We are unsure as to when Oliver will be allowed to join us at home but we know that he is in the right place for now; after all he should still be snug inside my womb.
The journey or giving Joshua and Sophie another sibling has been a difficult one, firstly the decision to extend our family was/is a huge decision to make, knowing that Joshua passed of what is a #genetic condition and we therefore pose the risk of having other children with the disorder. However, this decision wasn’t taken lightly and it was ours to make, having said that of course the #anxiety of pregnancy was intensely heightened, more so after my #miscarriage last year. Perhaps bearing a child whilst my body was/is carrying the immense weight of #grief was all too much? I have always had ‘hope’, I had hope that Joshua would recover, I had hope in extending our family, I have hope for so very many things, we now hope that Oliver grows strong and lives a healthy long life.
Being a Mummy to Oliver after #ChildBereavement #ChildLoss is going to be a very different experience. I was so relaxed with Sophie and Joshua (until he became poorly), yet my senses are naturally heightened now. My children are my world, I look at Oliver and I am so emotional that we have been blessed with another child, another son! Though #anxious thoughts creep into my mind, ‘what if?’ I feel myself block them, I’m not sure whether or not this is healthy but it is my coping mechanism, I need to have #hope. I then sadly remind myself that hope has failed me in the past and that of course I am going to be nervous and ‘on edge’ as we watch Oliver grow and develop, looking for signs of the disorder as he ages-how could we not? Though that is not the Mummy that I want to be, I want more than anything to enjoy him, to be ‘normal’ without the worries and concerns of an uncertain future. So though these thoughts, which are not irrational, do and will be at the forefront of my mind however I aim to set them aside and focus on ‘hope’.
We have received such incredible care and support from our #NHS, as expected after our situation, I do suffer with #PostTraumaticStressDisorder #PTSD and hospitals heighten this. We had intended for Oliver to be born at home, just as Joshua was, though instead we were on the labor ward at @OldhamRoyalHospital, as always we praise and thank everyone involved as we were very well looked after! After experiencing life at @ManchesterChildrensHospital and @DerianChildrensHospice with Joshua, then a month later having my Nan suddenly taken ill and to pass away in @NorthManchesterGeneral I have seen more than my fair share of how blessed we are to have our #NHS and those who work for it and the private charities which support care. One such charity which @JollyJosh has collaborated with is @Spoons. Kirsten, the founder visited us at #JollyJosh on #WorldPrematurityDay 2017 and 2018 to meet our families. Spoons provides supports for families with children in/after neonatal care. Our own family have also been supported by Spoons in that my niece Isla was born in 2018 at 28 weeks, she was in NICU for some time, Spoons have been of great benefit to my sister in law and brother. Little did I know that we would become part of the #NICU #Spoons family all the more with Oliver’s early arrival.
I asked to be discharged and I’m thankfully in good health post birth, meaning that I only spent one night in hospital, though I will be here of the days and evenings with Oliver. The bleeps of the machines, the smell of hospital gel, the hospital ‘diet’, the endless reminders all-around me of hospital life with Joshua. For example, I had a cannula inserted prior to birth as there was a possibility that I would require a C-section, I never appreciated how much a cannula would hurt, it made me think about Josh, he had so many! His veins were ‘shot’ and so many times he’d have to have a new one…Until they could not insert anymore. I thought about the number of times that I no doubt caught them and caused him more pain, yet he could not show pain and I would not have known-only now do I realise.
I have already called Oliver by Joshua’s name, or wrote Joshua rather than Oliver in a message and had to amend it. I am not concerned by this though, it surely must be normal. Also, when you have 3 children I am told that on many occasions you’ll get confused, saying all of their names before you actually say the right one!
Going home every night without your newborn baby is an awful experience, it is very strange, and leaving him is difficult though he is in super care with the nurses. I am very aware that some parents do not get to bring their baby home; I know that pain all too well! So we are simply thankful, thankful that Oliver is here, that he is stable and that we will at some point get to take him home.
As you can see from the photographs, Sophie is going to be a wonderful big sister again, this time round she is nearing 5 instead of 2 and therefore understands much more. We prepared her prior to meeting Oliver, talking about the various machinery, wires and attachments etc. She took everything in her stride, seemingly un-phased and used to hospitals, perhaps more settled as she had visited Isla on NICU last year. Oliver will be showered with love and attention by us all, especially his big sister. We continue to nurture Sophie in the best way we can, involving and including her in as much as possible, answering questions as honestly and appropriately as we can. We are being wonderfully supported by our family and friends who are helping us to juggle the challenges of meeting both Sophie’s and Oliver’s and our own needs.
I look forward to watching Sophie and Oliver’s relationship develop, taking Oliver to his brother’s oak tree, and spending time together as a family and with friends. For now though, I look forward to stealing cuddles during Oliver's feeding times when he can come out from underneath his lamp.
Please understand that I may be slow to reply to emails/messages, etc. and respect our time as a family. The Jolly Josh sessions will continue to open as normal- see our timetable for details.