Over this year, I have got involved in fundraising and awareness work with Tiny Lives, the charity that supports my neonatal unit. The project I have been working on recently, is a commemorative quilt to hang in the unit that has squares dedicated to nearly 100 graduates from special care as well as numerous sponsored buttons from friends, relatives and well-wishers. As well as seeing all the parents and staff delighted with how the project is going, the sad bit is when babies don't and haven't made it. NICU is a turbulent place, and the sad truth is that babies can go downhill in a matter of hours. Sometimes a problem increases and sometimes it can come out of nowhere. Some of these babies may have been born critical, some may have had congenital and underlying health problems, some may have contracted an infection, some may just not have been meant for this world. Baby loss is a heartbreaking subject, and one I would never do justice to having never experienced it personally. I can sympathise, but not empathise however much I may like to. These parents have had the hardest thing in the world and are nothing short of heros and heroines.
Whilst working on this project, some parents dedicated a square to their newly born 26 weeker. Tragically, she has passed away, most likely in NICU. It really hit home that sometimes, life is not fair for people. It seemed so poignant that this couple started out, probably shell shocked, but with hope and in a short space of time have had to tread a path they never ever expected. Over her short life, her parents have been passionate in supporting the charity and advocating how important it has been, and it seems such a cruel twist of fate that their daughter has been taken after their generosity in helping other babies too.
NICU isn't 'just' another hospital ward; it isn't 'just' an extension of the maternity unit. These babies are not 'just' in miniature. It is all too easy to forget that these units are incredibly intense places that are on the cutting edge of medicine, and that sadly, lives hang in the balance every hour, every day. These units may shape a child's life and abilities and will stay with the parents and families for the rest of their lives. The facilities we have here in the UK compared to other places are fantastic, but that is no reason to cease striving for improvement to make sure stories like this little girl's might have had a different ending. Research is being done all the time, and that research needs to be correctly implemented and it is these units that miracles can be worked and that they will be.