“They looked after us as a family, not just Erin” – Mum shares Neonatal experience and the help received from Archie.
With the shell of NHS Grampian Baird Family Hospital now clearly visible, we’re continuing to share parents’ experience of Aberdeen’s Neonatal Unit and the support The Archie Foundation provides for the Unit, its staff and the families who find themselves there.
We‘re committed to raising £2 million to deliver the difference at the new Baird Family Hospital. Our funding will pay for additional equipment above and beyond what the NHS provides, enhancing outdoor and indoor spaces as well as adding homely touches, to ensure the state-of-the-art hospital is a world class facility for maternity, and neonatal services.
Neonatal parent Melissa tells us Erin Rose Smith’s story.
“Due to having reduced foetal movements and my baby having tachycardia, I was transferred from Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin to Aberdeen Maternity Hospital for further monitoring. I was convinced I would just be monitored for a night and sent home.
It was absolutely terrifying when they said I had to go to theatre recovery to be monitored. My husband Chris had to wait in the car park due to Covid because I wasn’t in labour, but thankfully later provisions were made and he was allowed in to see me.
Our midwife, Jamie Crossan, was absolutely brilliant. We were all laughing and joking, to try and take my mind off the potential C-section. Over the next few hours my baby was monitored. Her heart rate continued too high and then started dipping drastically. Jamie came and talked to us about Erin being transferred to the neonatal unit and then we were taken to theatre. In a blur, I was whisked through for an emergency C-section.
Erin was born at 33+5 weeks, weighing 4lbs 15oz at 11.24pm on 11 of July 2020. Being a nurse, I expected a small team to be there, as she would probably be a bit shocked after her delivery, but when more and more people kept arriving, I was terrified. They stabilised her and wheeled her past me so I got a quick glance and touched her wee hand and she was off to the unit. Chris followed and I returned to recovery not knowing what was going on.
After what felt like a lifetime, Chris came back to talk to me. The unit had phoned through the news that she was critical and may not last the night. We were all in pieces.
As soon as I could weight-bear I was taken down to the unit in a wheelchair. The next day Erin had scans to assess what was going on. It was decided to call in the surgeons and at 17.5 hours old our little Erin went in to theatre. They had explained that she may need a stoma and may need to have bowel resection or it may be that there was nothing he could do for her. Thankfully, Erin came back from theatre after having 25-30cms of bowel resected and went from strength-to-strength after that. She was off the ventilator and breathing by herself just four hours after the operation.
We were on the unit in Aberdeen for a total of three weeks. The staff moved heaven and earth to get us transferred back to Dr Gray’s so we could be closer to our two young boys while feeding was established.
I didn’t really know much about the neonatal until I found myself there.
V-Create, which is funded by The Archie Foundation, was great and it was so lovely when staff sent us updates. Having access to the breast pumps were also fantastic and the welcome pack was hugely beneficial as I’d not even packed my hospital bag.
Erin’s first photo was also funded by Archie. It was great and staff printed out a couple to take back to the ward which I greatly appreciated, since I couldn’t be with her 24/7. The Giraffe Incubator – of which Archie has funded 11 – was amazing as we could see and touch Erin easily, as she was too unwell to hold for first three days.
One funny moment was when Erin didn’t open her bowels for a week. As myself and Chris are from a nursing background one of the nurses took a picture and sent it to us through the V-Create software that was funded by Archie, with the caption “I finally pooped!!!”! We understood that her feeds couldn’t be increased until her bowels moved, so it was a massive relief so that she would gain more weight. During the ward round they asked about her bowels/volume/colour. I quipped “yes- and I have a photo!” which gave us all a good laugh.
No-one can appreciate the highs and lows of the unit – the not knowing, the frustration, the emotional rollercoaster – until you have been through it. The expressing room wasn’t just the “expressing room” it’s where we talked and bonded over our wee precious babies, celebrated, and listened to each other and supported each other. As one of the mums told me on a bad day “none of us expected our babies to be here and it’s okay to be laughing one minute and crying the next”.
All the staff on the unit are absolute angels. Chris Driver no doubt saved Erin’s life – a gent of a man! Kareen. who ensured that I saw Erin after the c-section by wheeling her past to allow me to see her, always asked for our other boys at home and fought to get us back to Dr Gray’s. Eilidh, who looked after Erin the first night. Louise, for helping us have our first hold. Morag, Aileen and Jessica were all brilliant nurses. They looked after us as a family, not just Erin.
To find out more about The Baird Family Hospital and Archie’s involvement, please go to – Baird Family Hospital Appeal – Archie