Our daughter Imogen was born in 2012 at 30 weeks, and spent her first month in intensive care. When the time finally came to leave the hospital, we were relieved and felt incredibly lucky to be taking home a healthy baby, despite her premature entry into the world.
But when she was around six months old, we noticed she had stopped laughing and taking an interest in her surroundings. We knew something was very wrong when she started making strange movements, so we took her to A&E, where we were told that she had a catastrophic and potentially fatal form of epilepsy called West Syndrome. Imogen was subsequently diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and had to undergo major surgery on her hips and femur bones as they had not formed properly.
We were excited but understandably nervous when, 5 years later, we found out my wife was pregnant again. Imogen’s brother Jasper was born at 28 weeks. After two months on intensive care, we were given the devastating news that he had suffered severe brain damage during birth. He has since been diagnosed with severe cerebral palsy.
Neither of my children can stand, let alone walk. We have six pieces of wheeled equipment for each child. Both children have a night-vision camera in their room, so we can spot any seizures. We had an annexe built downstairs for Imogen to live in, and we’ve had the ceilings reinforced so that we can install electric hoists when she gets too heavy to carry. We’re still grappling with the question of where Jasper is going to live when we can no longer carry him up the stairs.
Our children are a blessing and such a joy, and both have a very cheeky nature – probably a great personality trait to have for the years ahead. But it would be untrue to say that life has not been extremely tough for us all. If Imogen and Jasper had been born just a few weeks – even a few days – later, our lives could have been extremely different.
This is why I am so passionate about supporting Borne. By sharing my story, I hope to raise awareness and spread the word about the vital research that they do to find better ways to prevent the potentially devastating outcomes that can arise from premature birth.
Borne is working to end premature birth, everywhere and forever, so that every child has the best possible start in life. Between the 1st and 8th of December, in Borne’s Big Give Christmas Challenge, your donation can go twice as far towards helping us achieve that mission.