Olivia and Jake are twins so we expected them to come a little early, but they actually came eight weeks early. They were both doing really well and were in the special care room, close to being discharged from the hospital when they suddenly began having problems with their reflux. Olivia was the worst, she would randomly stop breathing, so she was transferred back into the intensive care room on the neo-natal ward at Doncaster Hospital. We soon realised her reflux was not the only problem, so she was then transferred to Sheffield Children’s Hospital for further investigation.
The hospital was able to offer Olivia the specialist care and the team she needed. She was fed by a tube straight into her bowel so the reflux was reduced, which had also caused swelling near her windpipe. Jake had similar symptoms, so Olivia’s treatment was fed back to Doncaster Hospital and they were able to help Jake.
As soon as we arrived at Sheffield Children’s Hospital with Olivia we were offered a room at Magnolia House, just a corridor away from the intensive care unit. As Jake was still in Doncaster, we decided one of us would stay with Olivia and the other would stay with Jake. Staying at Magnolia House was a massive help, it meant we were able to split our time between the twins and we would swap after a couple of days to spend time with both and to see each other.
Magnolia House meant that one of us could always be close to Olivia and, in case we needed to speak to a doctor, there was a direct phone in our room. We could be with her on her road to recovery day or night. It also meant that we had a place away from the ward, a place where it was so easy to come and go as you pleased. Of course you want to be beside your baby at all times, but it is draining and you do need some normality. As much as we were grateful to be able to stay on the ward at Doncaster, it was hard to escape and meant eating the hospital food or spending money eating out. It was nice just to be able to take some time out to cook your own meals and to use the washing facilities at Magnolia.
The House Manager was really helpful, as soon as we arrived she showed us around and we knew if we had any questions we could easily speak to her. We were also able to speak to other families and hear their stories too which helped. My husband’s work was also really understanding and supportive, allowing him to take as much time off as needed to support me and the twins. Talking to other parents we found there was a lot of pressure on them about work commitments and a lot of companies aren’t sympathetic, especially when it comes to dads.
After three months in hospital, the twins were discharged and allowed to come home. They are both doing so well, putting on weight and they’ve both just started to laugh. We have a check-up appointment soon, but I’m sure they will be discharged.
We would like to say a massive thank you to The Sick Children’s Trust for providing us with a place to stay at Magnolia House. We had a rollercoaster three months and couldn’t imagine what we would have done trying to split our time between the two hospitals without somewhere to stay, this was a weight off our minds. You don’t realise how amazing a charity like this is until you go through something like we did.
Jake and Olivia’s mum