Harry Downer-Burgess's Story
Harry was born on 24th July 2020. He was only 29 weeks gestation, weighed just 2lb 2oz…1 kilo (a ‘bag of sugar’ baby) and was a tiny 25cm tall.
It definitely wasn’t the pregnancy I was expecting- having to attend all my appointments and scans alone, no antenatal classes-despite it being our 1st baby, not being able to go to work as I was ‘vulnerable’ and some people didn’t even see my bump! That seemed to be the worst thing- until I got ill and ended up being admitted to the Princess Anne at 28 weeks pregnant (after being told at scans that everything was fine and healthy.) When I was sat alone on that hospital bed and they told me that they had to “get rid of the placenta and get the baby out” as I was extremely unwell, I honestly thought that they were going to ‘get rid’ of my baby- I couldn’t comprehend that they could deliver him so early and that he could be healthy. I had severe Preeclampsia with HELLP Syndrome.
But no matter how poorly I was in the week leading up to my c-section, the sting of steroid injections to help Harry’s lungs, the sickness of the magnesium drips to help his brain development, the pain of 4-hourly blood tests (where they even had to jab needles into my feet to try and get some blood) and how close to death’s door I was at points, none of that could compare to the agony that you go through having your baby whisked away in an incubator within minutes of him being pulled out of your stomach.
Nothing could prepare us for the next 6 weeks of ups and downs in NICU, anxiety every time a machine beeped or our phones rang. The guilt at having to leave him, tiny and alone, each evening because I also had to try to sleep and look after myself (as the nurses and midwives had to remind me that I was also recovering from major abdominal surgery and the HELLP syndrome I was suffering from.)
But the day we were told Harry could come home was a different kind of shock, terrifying but amazing- proof that there is light at the end of the tunnel!
Meeting important milestones like his due date, 1st Christmas, smiling, weaning, rolling over, sitting, crawling, cruising… is a testament to how much of a fighter he is and continues to be- as one of his nurses once said “It’s like he doesn’t want to believe he is a premature baby”.
It breaks my heart that Harry’s not been able to experience the closeness of cuddles with everyone, see the smiles on everyone’s faces without a mask, or even meet some of our family and friends yet!
When I fell pregnant, the world was ‘normal’ and my husband and I were not expecting to be experiencing our own rollercoaster on top of the craziness of a pandemic. But we are so thankful to everyone who cared for myself and Harry at the Princess Anne, and are blessed with our little miracle, our little ‘Lockdown Baby’.