Chloe's Story - Chapter 3
Chapter 3! The first two chapters are on the blog if you missed them. Thanks Jamie, over to you...
We arrived in Bristol in the early hours at Saint Michaels hospital, were shown to a side room and told to rest before we met with the surgeon. Chloe was taken straight to the Bristol Children’s Hospital for the surgery. When the surgeon arrived, we had to agree to the surgery and sign to say we knew that there was a very strong chance that Chloe may not return from that surgery. We were exhausted, out on our feet after five days of hell. This was now down to the surgeons to do what they could to save Chloe’s life. We signed and then waited for what seemed like forever.
The surgeon eventually returned a few hours later at dawn and told us the surgery had gone as well as could be expected; he explained that rather than NEC which we’d feared, Chloe actually had a perforated bowel and they performed a repair which they were confident had worked well but that being born so early came with fragility and meant we just had to see if Chloe was strong enough to recover.
Chloe came out of surgery and was placed on the NICU back at St Michael’s. She remained on this ward for 10 weeks…
Chloe after her surgery, her scar visible in the top picture, and how small she remained having had a life threatening operation.
We were fortunate enough to get a room at Cots for Tots, a charity house which is literally outside the front of the hospital doors for parents with sick children to stay at. What an amazing place this was, ran by a lady called Anne who couldn’t have been more caring and supportive. We were in this house with other families who were going through similar difficulties, some even more extreme than Chloe’s situation.
My wife Lisa was an absolute warrior throughout this whole horrible period: we'd arrived in Bristol five days after she had major surgery and three weeks after a two week spell in hospital with meningitis, but you wouldn’t have known it. We were back and forth to the hospital, she had been expressing milk since day 1 and freezing it so Chloe would have the best start when she could be fed, she co-ordinated with the nurses and learned so much in such a short space of time. I cannot stress enough how that determination and iron will to do anything and everything to make sure Chloe got the best care, made all the difference.
While in Bristol we got into a routine whereby we could visit Chloe to look after her care needs and feed her milk through a 1ml syringe and when the doctors came to do their ward rounds, we would head off for breakfast or lunch. We had a local place called ‘Mocha Mocha’ that we liked to walk to.
Chloe having skin to skin, (top right), her 1st Christmas card (bottom left), and 1st picture when we got home (bottom right)
We are so fortunate to have a special group of family and friends who helped us immeasurably - I could never thank them enough. They arranged a beautiful memory box for Phoebe, sent us practical gifts like a wash bag, money to spend towards whatever we needed, they even arranged for a cleaner for the house before we returned for Christmas and bought presents for William. We did return home for Christmas, which was a difficult decision to leave Chloe, but we also had to think about William and make sure everything felt as normal for him as possible. We spent Christmas day at my mothers and then returned to Bristol with William on Boxing day. We were there for new year and I remember watching Bryan Adams and seeing fireworks from our room.
The optimism a new year usually brings was sadly void this year - it wasn’t negativity but it certainly wasn’t positivity - it was nothing. Looking back, maybe it was nothing because what did I have to be optimistic about? Our number one priority for the new year was Chloe’s health. The next thing on the list, was Phoebe’s funeral.
Chapter 4 to follow soon...in the meantime, please consider donating generously to this important cause. CLICK HERE to donate.