BEING a new parent is a wonderful experience. Bringing new life into the world comes with its fair share of joy, exhilaration and of course tiredness, but above all, you feel a great deal of love for this tiny new person.
However, for the parents of the 60,000 babies born prematurely in the UK every year, the experience also brings worry, stress and fear.
These babies, the equivalent to one in every 13, often need a lot of extra care to survive.
As the official charity of the Trevor Mann Baby Unit (TMBU) in Brighton and the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) in Haywards Heath, along with all the neo-natal wards across Sussex, Rockinghorse knows how incredibly important this care is to more than 750 families whose babies are admitted to these two units every year.
And this care consists of so much, from specialist medical equipment to help keep tiny bodies working, to expertly trained staff to provide the 24-hour care required.
Working closely with the consultants, paediatricians and champions at the TMBU and SCBU, Rockinghorse can make sure they provide the equipment and services which will benefit the babies and families who need them most.
Families like Kate and Stuart Gare from Brighton with their 7-year-old twins Edie and Harry. Edie and Harry were born nine weeks early via caesarean after Kate went into premature labour with an undiagnosed heart condition.
Weighing just 3lbs, the twins were rushed to TMBU and into special incubators to provide the care they needed.
“It was all deeply traumatic. We thought they might be early because they were twins but not nine weeks early – we had planned for about four weeks which is common for twins, but 31 weeks felt way too soon, and we didn’t realise I was in labour for ages because it was so early.
“Once they were born I wasn’t allowed to see Harry and Edie for the first six hours, and it was absolutely terrifying not knowing whether they were going to live.”
“When I was allowed to go and see the twins, I made a recording of them to show Kate, but it was all beeps and noises. They were absolutely teeny but there was just so much care and attention being shown to them.”
“They both needed help breathing and as I was working for Rockinghorse at the time I had been around when these amazing pieces of equipment had been bought for the hospital and it brings tears to my eyes now because neither of them could breathe or swallow without the help these machines provided.
“Luckily, they both improved and eventually moved from intensive care and that was when we realised, we could both breathe because they were doing really well. Looking at them now you would not have a clue that when they were born, they were so fragile.
“The staff in the TMBU were absolutely amazing and we can’t be more grateful because now Harry and Edie are nearly eight, they have just finished Year 2 at school, and they are amazing!”
With your help, Rockinghorse can support more children like Harry and Edie so that they can grow up to play football, bounce on their trampoline, have fun and reach their potential.
How you can help
The needs of premature babies are really broad, not to mention the things that would help make life easier for their parents, which is why Rockinghorse is fundraising for a range of things to help.
This could be specialist baby equipment like neonatal ventilators specifically designed for tiny lungs, incubators to support sick infants or cooling mats that can slow down the processes that cause brain damage in poorly babies.
Or donations could help provide equipment like cot rockers to help children get to sleep and toys like baby gyms that can help babies with their sensory development while spending a long time in hospital.
Donations of any size can help babies like Harry and Edie to get better, go home and enjoy getting back to what they do best, just being children.