Little Owls Day Nursery Support NICU Awareness Month

Parents Please read our latest nursery Blog from Vicki our resident nursery blogger and her experience of Little Owls following on from her son Elijah’s life saving operation at Great Ormond Street hospital. Something which is very close to our heart at Little Owls.

We have just celebrated Elijah’s fourth birthday and sending him into nursery with his ‘Colin The Caterpillar’ cake and sweets for his friends that he had chosen, made me realise how grown up he is becoming.
We have celebrated 4 birthdays at nursery now, and have come so far since he first joined at just 9 months old and in recovery from open heart surgery.
Elijah’s birthday brings many conflicting emotions, remembering his birth and just hours later his admission into the Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit where he fought for his life, where we received the diagnosis that changed everything can be bittersweet.
I didn’t in my wildest dreams expect to have a baby with an undiagnosed heart defect that would suffer a neo natal stroke, and require open heart surgery all before his first birthday.
1 in 8
1 in 8 babies in the UK born are admitted to NICU, whether it be for a couple of hours, weeks or even months it stays with you. September isn’t just Elijah’s birthday month, but it is also NICU awareness month. A month which honour all NICU babies, past and present, their families and the amazing staff that look after them.
I hadn’t even thought about nursery for Elijah until a friend of mine mentioned it to us when he was around three months old. We knew he needed a surgery and were yet to have a date so I didn’t even know how it would work, if he needed specialist care or if he could even go.
The consultants were not sure how the stroke would effect Elijah’s development and it was something we had to think about when we thought of him starting nursery.
We contacted Little Owls Nursery and explained the situation and it was met with understanding, empathy and we were invited in for a tour around.
Back then, I was still very much in denial about the diagnosis and the fact that Elijah needed surgery. I couldn’t move past what we had gone through in NICU and was very over protective of Elijah. To then have to put the trust into someone else looking after him was hard for me to do.
I had a number of questions, but they were answered and all my worries were put to bed before we had even left the building. We decided it was best for Elijah to start nursery after his surgery, rather than get him settled and then pull him out.
We kept the nursery updated with the progress of surgery, and when we were finally home it was a pleasure to be able to call them up and arrange a date to begin settling in sessions! They were so kind and understanding and really cared about Elijah from day one.
Care Plan
Our care plan was perhaps a bit different from the norm with us going into detail about Elijah’s condition, his surgery recovery and what to expect and what to do if he had an episode. Every keyworker we have has been briefed about Elijah’s condition and they have always handled it with such care and understanding. Each member of staff learnt how to hold and life Elijah up correctly while he was still healing and signs to look out for.
I of course worried, A LOT but never once did any of Elijah’s keyworkers make me feel as through I was over reacting. They have been so supporting of Elijah and us as a family as well. They always informed me of an illnesses that were going around so I could deem the best course of action to protect Elijah.
Elijah isn’t the first NICU baby at Little Owls with a heart condition, and neither will he sadly be the last but the nursery have been a in integral part of his containing development, and mine. It is where I learnt I could let go, it is where I learnt to trust someone else look after Elijah. It is where I felt for a couple of days a week that Elijah could be a normal little boy just like everyone one of his friends.
The nursery even put on an amazing fundraiser in Elijah’s first year with them to raise money for Great Ormond Street, where he had his surgery.
This #nicuawarenessmonth when I think about our time in NICU, those first few months, I have to acknowledge the part Little Owls had in our lives and in the first year the effect they had on all of us, not just Elijah but us as a whole family.

Vicki Cockerill is a Freelance Content Writer and NICU/CHD Mum to two boys, she authors The Honest Confessions Of A NICU Mum Blog and co-founded the @KnackeredandNorwich Social Club and campaigns for NICU and MMH issues. You can contact her via her blog or social media;
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