"Oh wow, what a lovely job cuddling babies all day", says a mum when I tell her that I am a NICU nurse. Well yes it is a great job. A privilege and a huge responsibility. But it's also an emotional roller coaster. Knowing the life of these delicate babies is often held in my hands.
If anything was to go wrong I wanted to be at a hospital where I knew and trusted the neonatal services. Little did know that six months later I would be walking through their doors as a NICU mum and that I would hardly recognise the medical environment where I had once worked.
In neonatal intensive care the small things matter, particularly when you are unable to hold your baby. Simple acts such as wiping tiny eyes or cleaning tiny fingers can leave lasting memories, create bonds and fulfil a mothers need to care; the importance of these acts must not be underestimated for all parents, no matter the length of their NICU stay - days, weeks or months.
Grief and loss go hand-in-hand in neonatal intensive care. Without warning, pregnancies come to an abrupt end and parents of premature babies often describe similar feelings of loss. When my own first pregnancy came to a sudden end at 30 weeks I found myself grieving for the final trimester that I never had.
"He's a little fighter."
In October 2015, Arkell Graves announced his wife had given birth at 24 weeks and was in "critical care". "Today, our baby
A premature baby's incredible transformation in the first 100 days of his life has been captured in a moving time-lapse video
A two-week-old baby born in the seventh month of pregnancy has been abandoned by her parents because of her rare skin condition
The distinction in Hugo's care between 'there being no hope' and 'no further treatment' being worthwhile with 'nothing more can be done' is crucial. Nothing more could be done to save Hugo's life, but we were able to give him a good death.
When Kate and David Ogg were told they were expecting twins after three years of trying to conceive, they were understandably