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Resources

World Prematurity Day 2020: what is it, and why is it important?

I start this piece with a confession: up until 2019, I’d never heard about World Prematurity Day. I never paid attention to it, I never even knew about it.

Really though, I never had a reason to… until my sons were born 13 weeks prematurely. Now, as a parent of preterm children, it’s a day I pay full attention to.

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Personal stories

Back to the grind: the agony of returning to work when your babies are in hospital

Business as unusual.

I’m lucky to do a job that I enjoy. But for several weeks in summer 2019, I ambled through my role in a state of fugue. I can tell you precious little about what I did at work at that time and even less about how often my mind was fully on the task at hand.

The reason, though, is simple: my mind was elsewhere. Specifically, it was in a hospital 25+ miles away. It was with my sons, still wired to their machines. It was with my wife, suddenly walking the parenthood road we’d trodden together, alone. And it was with the nurses and doctors caring for our sons.

Alas, we have bills to pay… and so a month after our boys crashed into the world, I once again showed my face in the office. This is what it’s like to return to work when your babies are in the hospital.

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Personal stories

The coronavirus lockdown gave me a second chance at paternity leave

Out of darkness comes light.

It feels almost criminal to even think of this awful situation as a positive in anyone’s life. Yet the coronavirus pandemic and its trail of destruction somehow left the cards stacked in my favour. It gave me the unique opportunity to relive my paternity leave. Or to put it more accurately, live the paternity leave I never had.

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Personal stories Resources

This is how premature births and neonatal care can affect dads

When my sons were born – 13 weeks ahead of schedule – I had no idea what the hell was going on.

All I knew was that this wasn’t normal… and that was soon proven to me. After nine weeks on the neonatal units at two different hospitals, this is what I learned about how dads can be affected.

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Interviews

Interview: Natasha Borton on encouraging parents to write about their SCBU experiences

Natasha Borton is a Welsh poet and spoken word artist. She also happens to be a mum to a little boy who was born 11 weeks premature.

After a bumpy road through the SCBU (special care baby unit) which took its toll mentally and physically, she used her creativity to help others who’d lived similar experiences.

I caught up with Natasha to discuss all things preemie, and to hear more about the neonatal project she spearheaded.

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Personal stories Resources

8 ways for dads to bond with their baby in neonatal care

There’s no doubt about it: bonding with your baby when they’re in an incubator is hard.

Of course, the mother’s role is imperative. She can provide the all-important breast milk to help your child on its road to recovery.

However, dads shouldn’t feel as though they have to play second fiddle all the time. There are plenty of ways you can help out and bond with your baby, even if they are in a neonatal ward.

In this post I’ll cover eight ways that dads can get involved in the NICU experience and start building a relationship with their newborns.

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Resources

6 things we learned from Bliss charity’s #NeonatalDadTakeover

When I heard that the leading prematurity charity, Bliss, was hosting a Father’s Day Twitter event for dads of neonatal babies, I had to check it out.

The event was hosted by Ricky Boleto, a journalist who had a child in neonatal care and a baby born during the COVID-19 lockdown. Ricky took over the Bliss Twitter account for an hour to share his experience and get the conversation started for the Neonatal Dad Takeover.

Following an enjoyable Father’s Day – wildly different from the Father’s Day I spent in NICU last year, I settled down to join in the conversation.

Having shared some of my own experiences and connected with some other dads, here are six things I learned.

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Personal stories

How does it feel to spend Father’s Day in NICU?

I never really gave much thought to what my first Father’s Day as a dad would bring.

Presumably, novelty socks, personalised pint glasses and some chocolates would feature prominently. I certainly didn’t envisage spending it in hospital – yet that’s exactly what happened. If your sons insist on making an extremely premature entrance into the world, that’s the way it goes.

This is what it’s like to spend Father’s Day on a neonatal unit.

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Resources

What’s it like in NICU? A first-hand account

The neonatal intensive care unit. A place you may never know about, and certainly one you hope to never go as a parent.

But once you’ve spent time in NICU, it stays with you forever.

In this article, I’ll recount some of my experiences as a new dad watching my twin sons fight for their lives on two different NICU wards, and answer some of the questions I’m asked most often.

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Personal stories

In the beginning: how my sons were born into chaos

To enjoy the best thing in my life, I had to endure the worst.

Becoming a dad is the most rewarding and satisfying thing I’ve ever done – but it didn’t always feel that way.

For several long, arduous weeks, my twin sons’ lives hung in the balance. This is the story of how they were born 13 weeks early, and how it immediately affected me.