Leah Hext decided to start Preemie Playdates Hillingdon - a parent and baby group for parents with premature children - when her second child, Evelyn was around 3 months old, after her birth last December.
Evelyn was born via emergency c-section at 32 weeks because Leah developed preeclampsia.
The new group will be run as not-for-profit, with a donation of £2 on entry to help pay for the hall hire. It is specifically designed for parents with premature children aged between hospital discharge to 4 years.
Leah said: “I’m hoping to make Preemie Playdates Hillingdon very relaxed and welcoming with monthly guests such as baby wearing specialist and peadeatric nurses to answer any questions the parents may have.” Story continues and more pictures below.
Leah told Hillingdon is Here that although supportive groups did exist in the area, they lacked the special focus of someone who had been through the experience with a premature birth.
“We attend a weekly baby group, the same group I attended with my son 4 years prior. The group is great and very welcoming.
“The other mothers just can't understand what we have been through as a family and I feel like at times they feel sorry for me. I also find it hard seeing other babies the same age as Evelyn rolling over, sitting up and developing on track while I still have a baby in arms barely holding up her own head.
“It was at this group that I decided to create Preemie Playdates Hillingdon. My aim is to make a little premature family, we can look to each other for support and understanding in an environment where everyone has had the experience of the NICU.”
Leah’s story came about when she went into triage by chance on 6 December 2017 when it was discovered that her blood pressure was very high.
Leah recalled: “I was admitted into hospital that evening and given a scan the following the morning. When I was back on the ward a nurse told me that the scan was the scariest she had ever seen and that I will be given a c-section tomorrow (8 December).
“She also told me that if left undiagnosed for four more days my daughter would of been still born, they were still very unsure on what the outcome will be; I should prepare for the worst.
“Each nurse that walked past my bed looked at me with unease. My main concern at this point was how am I going to tell my son that his little sister won't be coming home? How do I explain that to a 4 year old?
“During my c-section the room was full of people, I couldn't tell you how many exactly. Evelyn Margaret was born at 4.15pm on 8 December weighing 3lb1oz. She was taken by staff straight away and the doctors started to resuscitate as she wasn't breathing. As soon as Evelyn was stable she was taken to the neonatal unit where she spent the following 20 days.
“While on the neonatal unit she spent 10 days in intestive care in a closed incubator. She was fed using donor milk through a tube. In her first few days she was suspected to have sepsis in her gut so the consultants decided to stop feeding her and put her on IV antibiotics for 48 hours.
“During this time her weight lowered to 2lb9oz. Evelyn was put onto TPN; an IV fluid to help her gain weight. She then went from strength to strength and at day 10 was moved into special care in an open cot with a heated mattress.
“As soon as she was able to regulate her own temperature the mattress was turned off. At day 20 on 28 Decmeber Evelyn was finally allowed home.”
Her son, Kayden Kenneth, wasn't allowed to meet Evelyn until Christmas day because the neonatal unit only allowed parents on the ward.
The group will run every Thursday from 3 May and each session will have a range of refreshments from tea and coffees to squash for the children with no extra charge.