When Ezra arrived, his Dad Chris and I were absolutely ecstatic. We had waited months and months to give our baby a cuddle.
Ezra was born a healthy little boy at our local hospital in Bradford and we were allowed to take him home the following day. Though Ezra became quite poorly and at nine days old he was admitted back to Bradford with an infection of the lymph nodes known as lymphadenitis. He was treated with IV antibiotics for three days and we were sent home.
Despite the situation, we remained relatively calm. But after five days of being at home and feeling things still weren't right, I took him to our local GP who said the infection had gone. Three days after this visit – when Ezra was three weeks old - an abscess appeared on his neck and we took him to A&E.
Maybe on some level our senses were heightened – we just knew something was wrong. And we were right. At 21 days old, Ezra was readmitted and we were told he needed an operation quickly.
How would it be possible to operate on such a tiny thing? We were scared and panicking. And then we were delivered even worse news – Ezra couldn’t be treated locally. He needed specialist treatment. Leeds General Infirmary was the closest suitable hospital to our home in Bradford, but they had no beds there. We had to go to Sheffield.
All of a sudden, what had already been an incredibly scary situation just became much, much worse. Worries flew through my head as we waited for the special transport to arrive to take Ezra to Sheffield Children’s Hospital. Where would we stay in Sheffield? Would I still be able to feed him? What would Chris do?
There was some relief though. The nurses at Bradford could see the anxiety written all over our faces. They then told us that we would be able to be with Ezra as much as we wanted, because there was free accommodation available at the hospital run by a charity. This charity was The Sick Children’s Trust and that accommodation was their ‘Home from Home’ Magnolia House.
It was a huge weight off my mind, to know that we would have a place to stay so that I could be with my son, through thick and thin while he – such a small, young baby – battled through this.
After a long and emotional ambulance journey we arrived at Sheffield Children’s Hospital. Although we thought his surgery would take place immediately, it was delayed as they wanted to do a CT scan and some tests to make sure the abscess wasn’t anything more serious. Fortunately it wasn’t. He was scheduled in and taken to theatre. Later when he came out of surgery we were there to greet him, because of Magnolia House.
The next 11 days were focused on Ezra’s recovery. Magnolia House was great, because as he grew stronger, he became hungrier and hungrier. I was able to continue breastfeeding because of the facilities at Magnolia House, which kept things as normal as possible. If I was away from the ward when Ezra woke up and needed a feed, the nurse would call directly to my room and let me know. Within minutes I could give him what he needed. That was what was so important to me, giving him what he needed, still being able to breastfeed and have that important bond as a first-time mum.
For any parent, having your child in hospital is stressful and draining. I hadn’t long given birth, and at times I was absolutely exhausted. Exhausted physically and exhausted with worry. It was so important that Chris could be there – we both needed to be there for each other and Ezra to help make him strong, and that was possible because The Sick Children’s Trust gave us a twin bedroom at Magnolia House.
Magnolia House was also a place to rebuild ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally – it gave us respite from the stressful environment on the wards. In Magnolia House there are communal areas where families can cook and relax. In these surroundings you meet lots of families who have seriously ill children, and when they share their story and tell you how well their child is doing it gives you that most important thing. Hope.
We feel very lucky that Ezra came out so strong and recovered so well. We believe that may be because he wasn’t fighting his plight alone, and that we were with him every step of the way because of Magnolia House.
It really was a lifeline, and we can’t thank The Sick Children’s Trust enough for that.
Deborah Moralee, Ezra’s Mum