On the 5th May 2015, my water's broke in the early hours of the morning. I was 23 weeks and 5 days pregnant with our first child. I received steroids and antibiotics, but Lucas had other ideas and arrived at exactly 24 weeks. I was still in shock at what was happening, but equally as shocked that he was alive, wiggling and looked like a baby - just very small at 1lb 6oz.
It was about 4 hours after I gave birth that we were able to go and see Lucas. We didn't know what to expect. We had never been in a neo-natal unit and we'd never known anyone have a premature baby. Everyone was really calm in the neo-natal unit and this did help to relax us. I remember that it was night time when we first visited as the lights were down leaving the blue glow of the phototherapy lights.
We quickly got into the routine of doing Lucas' cares and making sure we were there for morning rounds. We always felt that staff included us in every step of Lucas' treatment and did their best to explain things to us in a way we could understand. We'd search for the positives such as taking milk, putting on weight and reducing his oxygen. I became quite obsessed with him coming off the ventilator and I remember one of the consultants putting me at ease about how long he'd been on it for.
For the first week we stayed on the Jessops Ward before being discharged. The fear in our faces about having to commute to and from home was noticed by the nurse and we were placed in the flats - fully aware that we could be moved out if someone else needed it. For now, we were grateful. Mornings were really nerve wracking. You'd hope that he'd had a good night and you wouldn't start your day with bad news. I'd feel sick on the way in, but most days, he'd been a good boy.
One of the most welcoming part of the neo-natal unit is the way that staff greet you. When we'd walk down the corridor staff would acknowledge you and say good morning. Whilst in Lucas' room, they couldn't do enough to try and make things comfortable for you, including allowing me to express at the side of his bed. We'd read stories to him and I'd sing terribly, but we were making as many memories as possible. We felt welcomed in the NICU.
The end of Lucas' life seemed to come very quickly. It was the morning of the 18th day when Lucas had been sedated that we knew things weren't good. We had a conversation with the consultant and we knew options were running out and time wasn't on our side. Visiting rules didn't really apply to us this day. We needed our parents with us, and this wasn't discouraged and we weren't made to feel in the way. We didn't intrude in Lucas' room, but we all got a little bit longer with him. It felt safer not to have to do it on our own.
We made the decision to withdraw support, with the decision agreed by the consultants. We couldn't see him suffer anymore, and we were suffering too. We were able to get him christened, everyone got to hold him, we did new hand prints and footprints, we took some locks of his hair and we let him go. Neil and I spent the night with him and it was good to have some alone time. The silence was the hardest part, it felt like we were waiting, but I'm not sure what for.
Anyhow, that is Lucas' story. He would be starting school this year. He has a little sister now that is 2. We visit him frequently and she still tries to take his toys off his grave, so even though he's in heaven, they still fall out.
We can't thank the neo-natal staff for everything they did for us. They made us feel part of Lucas' life and part of the decision making with regards to his treatment. They gave him the nickname 'spud' and it's kind of stuck. Lucas was always at the centre of their care and everything was done with his best interests, right down to if he was lying comfortably.