Shropshire Star

Mother of baby born at 26-weeks raises awareness on World Prematurity Day

The mother of a little girl who was born at just 26 weeks, has recalled her near 100 days on a neonatal ward, to raise awareness of premature birth.

Molly-Mae when she was on the ward

World Permaturity Day takes place on November 17 each year to raise awareness of premature birth and how it affects families.

Sarah Stephenson, from Bentlawnt, near Stiperstones, and her husband, Greg Wainwright, spent nearly 100 days at the neonatal unit at the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford after their daughter, Molly-Mae Wainwright, who is two next month, was born more than three months premature in December 2021.

"I woke up early one morning when I was 26 weeks pregnant with cramping and some light bleeding," said Sarah, adding that after calling the hospital, staff at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust (SaTH) asked her to go in.

"I asked my partner to stay home with our eldest daughter and I drove myself into Telford," she remembered.

"I arrived at 10.40am and two hours later, following an emergency C-section, Molly was born."

Molly-Mae Wainwright as she is now

As Molly was born at only 26 weeks, she and her parents had to spend the next 97 days on the neonatal unit until she was strong enough to come home.

"The first few days on the unit were hard as I was physically sore and exhausted from the C-section and emotionally exhausted by everything that was going on," said Sarah.

"It was hard as we had a four-year-old at home and felt like our life had been turned upside down. After a few days, things did improve as we started to process what was going on and we quickly found a new routine."

She continued: "I used to take in some lunch and pop it in the fridge in the family room and I became familiar with the other parents on the unit, some of whom I still keep in touch with.

Molly-Mae when she was on the ward

"Everyone on the unit is incredibly friendly and supportive, they become very much like your family. Throughout Molly's 98 days on the unit, extended family were not allowed to visit due to Covid and I was therefore even more grateful of the chats that I used to have with the nurses."

Following weeks on the neonatal ward, which was made even more difficult by Covid, she was eventually let home with baby Molly-Mae.

"The day we left the unit was probably one of the most emotional days of my life and sadly, something that our extended family will never understand, but the love and gratitude that we have for every single one of those staff that made that going home day possible, is just…. well I can’t put it into words.

"Not only did they give Molly life, they changed all of our lives as they made it possible."

Dr Sanjeev Deshpande at SaTH

Dr Sanjeev Deshpande, a consultant neonatologist at SaTH, who looked after Molly when she was born, said her care had been a "partnership".

“It was a genuine partnership with Molly’s parents in looking after her needs," he said.

"We together shared our hopes, expectations and worries, and the parents’ close involvement made it so much easier. It was a privilege to support them during these difficult times made even more challenging by the pandemic-imposed restrictions.”

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