Two families brought together by circumstances. These are our stories; why we felt compelled to create something that would provide support to mums and dads in similar situations…
Joanne and Scott
We thought we'd won the lottery when we found out we were pregnant with identical twins.
Everything was going well until being diagnosed with Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome, a terrible disease that impacts 10-15% of identical twin pregnancies. Despite having surgery the next day with the Gold Team at King Eddies, we were devastated when we lost one of our boys, Logan, at 21 weeks.
Our surviving twin Lewis kept fighting and Joanne was admitted to King Eddies on bed rest for what we hoped would be a long time.
Young Lewis had different plans however and was born at 27.3 weeks, weighing just 940 grams.
During his time in the NICU, with the help of the amazing medical team, Lewis battled on, beating challenge after challenge, putting on gram after gram.
We celebrated events like coming off jaundice lights, reaching 2kgs, moving off breathing support, first bath, removing the feeding tube and trying on his baby kilt (wrapped round several times). After 12.5 weeks in the NICU, Lewis finally met his big brother Archie and we came home as a family - that was a big day.
What struck us most about our time at King Eddies was the amazing level of human care shown by the doctors, nurses and staff.
Empathy, warmth and understanding far beyond just medical care.
Providing psychological help to parents who have lost one child, have another battling in the NICU and another at home wondering where mummy is all the time. People doing more than just a job, professionally and emotionally invested in doing their best to look after patients and families.
Getting Lewis home and watching him thrive, wolfing down his food, developing his infectious laugh, seeing him fall in love with his big brother and go from strength to strength helped us reflect on our time at King Eddies.
How could we turn a traumatic experience into a positive one?
How could we take what we had learned on our NICU journey and help others facing a similar challenge?
How could we let our boys understand the help our family has received?
How could we involve ourselves with the type of wonderful people at King Eddies that had given us so much?
Kate and Adam
When we found out we were pregnant with identical twin boys, we were unprepared to say the least. We were told they could come early but we never expected them to arrive so early -- exactly 3 months early. Naively, I clung to the idea that I would give birth and they would come home with us soon after.
Our first days in the NICU certainly shattered that idea. We had to quickly piece together a new normal; one that was very foreign to anything we'd experienced before. James and Fraser had a 'home' and we made it ours.
Four days into our NICU experience both our boys became very ill. We were scared and anxious in an unfamiliar place. We had two sick babies in hospital and one confused two-year-old at home. We spent weeks travelling between the boys' incubators and our daughter's bed trying to spend time with everyone.
After 3.5 weeks James died. After 3.5 weeks I finally got my first cuddle with Fraser.
One hundred and twenty-three days after James and Fraser were born we got to take Fraser home. For over 4 months we juggled NICU life with the needs of our toddler, Evie. We got through it by celebrating milestones (at home and in hospital) -- by baking kilo cakes and painting pictures. We got through it because we had support from family, from friends and from all of the incredible NICU staff.
Life outside the hospital walls is life -- beautiful, chaotic, full of love and laughter. With each day that passes since we brought Fraser home, we are more thankful for the care and kindness shown by the NICU staff. We watch Fraser growing into a very determined, funny little boy and think about how far he has come.
And we think about everyone who has babies in the NICU and how we can help them; how we can make their new normal a better normal.
And so the idea for helping little hands was born
We're not medical professionals, we can't prevent premature births or find the next breakthrough in neonatal care but maybe we can provide support to families to make their NICU journey just a little bit less stressful.
Provide a nutritious home-cooked meal when there's not even time to get to the shops.
Provide a massage when the stress gets too much.
Help out dads by getting the lawn cut or the broken boiler fixed.
Make mum feel human again for just 20 minutes with a manicure or hair trim.
Show NICU families that someone will step in and help hold things together when the journey is at its hardest.
helping little hands can do that.
We continue to be inspired by the people we meet on this journey and hope to meet many more wonderful people that would like to get involved and support NICU families.