“It was half an hour after River was born, and all of a sudden he turned blue. Our midwife pressed the panic alarm, and my heart went into overtime as our world turned upside down.
What was one of the most magical moments of my life, turned quickly into the most harrowing. Our beautiful boy was rushed off in an incubator and it was an agonising two hours before we laid eyes on him again.
The consultant told us the devastating news that River’s oesophagus hadn’t formed properly, so he couldn’t swallow. He went blue because he was choking on his own saliva. He was transferred to St Michael’s Hospital by the Neonatal Emergency Stabilisation and Transport Team (NEST) for a critical operation.
Early the next morning, Paul and I travelled from our home in Gloucestershire to see our baby. He would have surgery the following day, and we knew then we wouldn’t be returning home soon.
We were given a room at Cots for Tots House, which became our home for the next four weeks. A million questions raced through our minds. How do we get in? Where is our daughter Maisie going to stay? Where are the nearest shops? Where can we store our food?
But we settled right away and, after a week or so, got into a routine and felt at home. We got to know other parents who were staying there too, and we all shared our stories. One of the best things was that our daughter Maisie could stay with us; she loved the lounge with the toys.
River’s operation was a success and, after five days, he managed to drink some milk. A huge milestone in his recovery.
For the next few weeks, the house continued to be an absolute lifesaver for us. We could cook healthy meals, have a hot shower every day, sleep in the comfiest bed ever and, best of all, be right by the hospital. If it wasn’t for the house, we would have had to have paid for a hotel, which would have been hugely expensive.
Claire, River’s mum
We would have never got through the toughest time in our lives without Cots for Tots House. We were able to cook healthy meals, have a hot shower every day, sleep comfortably, and best of all be by River’s side.
River is now 21 months old, and he’s doing really well. We are extremely proud of him and he amazes us every day. He has severe reflux and we will have to go back to Bristol for more appointments. But he is here. And he is our happy River.
To everyone that donates to Cots for Tots and The Grand Appeal, your support has a huge impact on children, their parents, and siblings. We’ve been on the other side and don’t know how we would have coped without you.”
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