Thomas13 Jul 2019, 9:04 a.m.
It was their 20-week scan and Gemma and Jonny were excited to find out their baby’s gender. But as soon as the midwife stopped halfway and called for a doctor they knew something wasn’t quite right.
They were told the news that not only were they having a son but their baby boy had a heart defect. His aorta, the main vessel in his heart, was too narrow and he would need urgent care as soon as he was born. Gemma and Jonny made the long journey from Wales to St Michael’s Hospital to be induced at 38 weeks. After three days, Gemma was taken to theatre for an emergency caesarean and Thomas was born on 9 June 2017.
Gemma and Jonny only had a brief moment to meet their son before he was whisked away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Finally, a few hours later they could hold Thomas but their time on the Unit was difficult; Gemma struggled to watch the NICU team look after Thomas doing the very things she wanted to do for him. Not being able to immediately hold her baby and having to ask for permission each time was particularly distressing for her. However, the NICU team were on hand to reassure Gemma and before long she was able to change Thomas’ nappies.
Meanwhile, a comfortable room at Cots for Tots House awaited Gemma and Jonny as soon as Gemma was discharged.
“The house was lovely, welcoming and before long it felt like home. I loved just being across the road from Thomas and being able to ring and see how he was.”
After four days in NICU and at just five days old, brave Thomas was transferred to the Seahorse Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Bristol Children’s Hospital for surgery. Seeing their tiny, fragile son undergo such major treatment tore Gemma and Jonny apart but they knew he was in the safest of hands. Six hours later they could finally lay eyes on Thomas as he recovered at the children’s hospital.
For Gemma and Jonny, Cots for Tots House was a lifeline. Living so far away and being two struggling students, there was a very real chance that if it hadn’t been for Cots for Tots House, Thomas would have had to have gone through his surgery alone. Thankfully he didn’t and after a further month, he was transferred to Cardiff for the final stage of his recovery.
“Thank you to everyone at St Michael's, Bristol Children’s Hospital and Cots for Tots for helping us come through the hardest thing we have ever had to face as a family.”
Thomas is now two years old and a proud big brother. As Thomas grows stronger by the day, Gemma and Jonny will be forever thankful for the help he received during one of the scariest times of their life.