|Kit with her super-proud daughter Kate, the award, and Jenny Frost.|
Anyone who knows me (or reads this blog) will know that S's birth was fairly traumatic for me. During my time in hospital, a nursery nurse called Kit offered me so much help and support, and really helped me to find my way as a parent. I wrote about the first time I met Kit here.
In November last year, it was World Prematurity Day and Twitter was awash with tweets and photos of new mums with their tiny babies doing "kangaroo care." I posted a photo of myself with S and mentioned that I wouldn't have even known what kangaroo care was if it weren't for Kit. They suggested I nominate her for a Big Heart Award. I took a look at the site, and then emailed in my nomination. This is what I wrote:
When my daughter was born 5 weeks early, she had no suck/swallow response and so was fed formula through an NG tube. The morning after she was born, Kit came down to the ward to feed Samaire. Kit told me about kangaroo care, and how all of the mothers on NICU were encouraged to do it. She undressed my baby and put her on my bare chest, then put a blanket over us.
After a couple of days, my daughter had jaundice so they moved her into NICU. I was distraught. I wanted to breastfeed, but my milk hadn’t come in yet. While Samaire was in NICU, Kit got screens to put around me so that I could sit next to my baby and keep trying to express milk to encourage my milk. When they tested for bilirubin levels Kit would bring the chart into me and show me where her levels were, and what it meant. When we went back to the ward, Kit came down to help with every feed when she was on shift. She worked really hard to help us establish breastfeeding. She helped us try different positions. When I was tired and fed up, she showed me how I could feed my daughter whilst laying on my side. She stayed with us while my daughter fed, and would always tell me well done, you’re doing really well, look how well she’s feeding, she’s really getting it.
I was in hospital for almost two weeks. By the last few days I was really fed up. Kit came in one day and told me we couldn’t go home yet because my daughter’s bilirubin levels had gone back up, and she needed to go back under the lights. I was distraught at the thought of being separated from her again while she was taken back to NICU. Kit stayed and talked to me until I’d calmed down. She told me that although it felt like the end of the world now, it was just a few days at the start of a long life. She went off to speak to some people and came back with a lamp. She told me we could have the lamp on the ward over night, so that we didn’t have to be separated. Then she had me take my shirt off, laid my baby on my chest, and set the lamp up above us. I suddenly went from “oh no they’re going to take my baby away again” to complete contentment, cuddling my baby on my chest and felt relaxed for the first time since she was born.
I felt like more than just a patient to Kit. She seemed to take a personal interest in our wellbeing and really helped and supported me. She never made me feel like she was too busy to spend an hour sitting at my bedside helping me. I will be forever grateful for the extra work she put into helping us establish breastfeeding. My daughter went on to breastfeed until she was 17 months old.
I forgot all about the nomination, until last month when I received an email to tell me Kit had won the award. I sent her a message to warn her to expect a call, and she thought I was joking!
So yesterday we went up to London for the awards ceremony. There was free champagne and fancy sandwiches, and even a few celebrities - but the main point of the event was to celebrate amazing people who've done amazing things. There were a lot of tears as very emotional stories were told, and I was a bit of a wreck when Kit's award was announced.
|Me with Kit enjoying some champagne!|
We had a really lovely day and despite Kit's insisting, "I was just doing my job!" everyone else agreed that she regularly goes above and beyond what is expected of her. She is passionate about her work, and rightly so. She's not just looking after sick babies, but helping their shell-shocked parents to come to terms with what's happening, and helping the whole family to figure out how to cope. She spends endless hours helping women to express milk, to learn to breastfeed, to change nappies, to deal with the emotional hell that can be having a baby in NICU.
I know how lucky I am that S was only 5 weeks early, and that she was relatively healthy. I feel even more lucky that Kit was on shift that first day. Since we left hospital I've heard horror stories of how other women have fared in similar situations. The world needs more Kits in it, for sure.
|Well of course, when you go to these things you need to have your photo taken with the doormen!|