Our little Sephy (short for Josephine) was born in the middle of the first Covid lockdown on 18/05/20. Our third child, a straightforward pregnancy although being in lockdown for the last two months of it was very hard (especially whilst trying to homeschool my eldest and not being able to see loved ones). After labour didn’t quite progress to the final stages I was taken to theatre where Sephy was born with forceps and unexpectedly wasn’t breathing and had no heartbeat. Those minutes were agonising as we both strained to hear her cry and it never came. The next thing we knew, a paediatrician came over to us to tell us that she would need to be transferred to the Trevor Mann Baby Unit in Brighton and that due to Covid we were unable to go with her in the ambulance. They wheeled her past us and I briefly got to stroke her cheek, the rest of her was all wrapped in what looked like bubble wrap: cooling therapy had already started. At that point I didn’t believe I had a baby, she had gone from being inside me to being whisked away before I could even hold her. I can’t describe how hard that felt.
Due to Covid, I wasn’t able to meet Sephy until the following day which was a whirlwind of meeting with doctors, being introduced to the term HIE and hearing that Sephy was a “grade 2”. We were only allowed to be with her for a couple of hours each day and only one parent per day. Those early Covid rules in NICU were so difficult and even now I feel robbed of those first few days when I should have been by her side all the time. We had phone calls in the middle of the night telling us she had had seizures and we couldn’t go in until the following afternoon because we had been allocated a certain slot to aid social distancing. We weren’t even allowed to take pictures as no phones were allowed on the wards (in fact no bags at all). Miraculously on day 5 I was able to hold her for the first time, it felt like a huge milestone, she was still with us and she finally felt like she was ours.
Others have written about HIE being a huge “unknown” and that is definitely how it felt for us those first few days, weeks and months. No one can give you any answers and all you can do is immerse yourself in your precious baby and marvel at every tiny movement and milestone that they make. Sephy astounds us every day and we are very, very grateful for the quick thinking paediatric team who managed to intubate her and then cool her so quickly and the incredible staff at TMBU. We were told after her 10 day MRI that she might never walk or that she would struggle with movement but she is so far managing to run around after her older brothers with no difficulty whatsoever.
At a time when there were no Health Visitors or face to face doctors to help us, Peeps were a lifeline, they gave me so much hope and support when I had such little information from anywhere else. Thank you x