Reading Through Hugo’s Legacy

Some of the funds raised in celebration of Hugo’s first birthday have enabled First Touch to buy some beautiful box sets of books for families to enjoy reading to their babies.

First Touch is the charity for sick and premature babies at St George’s Hospital, where my son was cared for.

Martin and I loved reading to Hugo in his incubator. Hugo loved it, too. Our son was comforted by the familiar sound of his parents’ voices in such an alien environment.

Reading to our boy gave us something constructive to do. As a parent of a premature baby, many hours were spent by our baby’s incubator, mostly feeling rather helpless. Reading stories to Hugo was something useful that we could do.

Mummy, Daddy, Hugo

Mummy, Daddy, Hugo

We learnt that research had suggested that reading to your premature baby helps aid their brain development. So, with all these benefits to be gained from reading to Hugo, we read to him a lot.

Despite being told the reading material didn’t matter – it could be the newspaper, or the phone directory for all Hugo cared (his parents’ voices were more important to him than the content) – we preferred to read children’s books to him. It felt right, and to be able to do such a ‘normal’ task as a parent felt comforting in a world that had been turned upside down.

Both Martin and I are bookworms, and we’d bought some beautiful boxed sets of classic children’s stories for the baby we were expecting. The trouble was, they were at home two hours away (I’d been transferred from my local hospital in Bedford to St George’s in south London, a specialist hospital better equipped for how sick both Hugo and I were).

A lovely friend had sent us a copy of Guess How Much I Love You. It’s a beautiful story, and absolutely perfect for Hugo and me. I read it again and again and again. Improvisations were made, the pictures were described, and comments made about them. There were a few children’s books in the parents’ room for visiting siblings, and we read them until we were well and truly bored of them, too.

We especially enjoyed reading the couple of Mr Men books from the parents’ room, though.

One of my fondest memories is, ironically, from the day that Hugo died. After we had received the news that there was no more hope for Hugo, I had an epic three hour cuddle with him, skin-to-skin. Daddy sat close by, and read to us. One of Martin’s favourites was the Animal Bop, which is a numbers and counting book made fun through rhyme (Daddy loves numbers; Mummy, not so much). On that day, Martin somehow managed to make reading the book sound very silly, which made me laugh. Hugo liked that, too, and I remember him boogying and kicking his feet against me. It made us feel like we were a proper family, for a few precious moments.

Hugo was buried with a selection of favourite Mr Men books: Mr Strong, Mr Brave, Mr Happy, and Mr Tickle. Martin and I read them to Hugo before leaving them with him.

Books and some of the other treasures that help keep Hugo company.

Books and some of the other treasures that help keep Hugo company.

The amount of money that was raised on the occasion of Hugo’s birthday exceeded our wildest expectations. There was lots of money over and above the original fundraising purpose (DVD players and headsets for information DVDs). While thinking about how the excess funds could be used in Hugo’s memory, I had a brainwave: to buy some box sets of classic children’s books for other parents to read to their babies. Hugo’s legacy could help other families enjoy such precious moments.

First Touch agreed. They ordered a box of Mr Men books, and the complete works of Beatrix Potter. There is a box each for the neonatal intensive care unit, which is where Hugo lived, and for the special care baby unit (they are part of the same ward, but in different units a short distance apart).

Mr Men and Beatrix Potter book box sets.

Mr Men and Beatrix Potter book box sets.

I would like to extend a HUGE thank you to everyone who has so generously donated to Hugo’s Legacy. The Just Giving page remains open. The money will continue to help sick and premature babies and their families, and we shall continue to keep you all up-to-date about how the funds raised are spent.

Spring Has Sprung

Spring has long been a favourite season. The days get gradually longer, the first flowers start to bud, the birds tweet away more brightly. At last, an end in sight to the cold, short days and long nights of winter.

This spring carries bittersweet feelings.

When I was admitted to hospital in mid-February 2014, it was freezing outside. I was dressed for the weather in a big coat, scarf and hat. When I was discharged just two weeks later, spring was already in full swing. The temperature was much milder, blossom was on the trees. The grounds of the hospital where Hugo and I were cared for are very well-tended with displays of beautiful flowers that I enjoyed looking at. No longer being an inpatient, being able to go outside, feel the sunshine on my skin and see flowers was wonderful. The simple things.

In addition, I had recently become a mum, to the most incredible little boy.

Spring is about new life. I had brought a new life in to the world. Far too early, but we were so hopeful of bringing Hugo home, eventually. Spring 2014 had brought us a different, new kind of life.

Whenever I left Hugo, I would tell him where I was going, and when I returned I would tell him where I had been and what I had seen. I described to him the daffodils, crocuses, tulips and blossom: resplendent in their kaleidoscope of colour. The flowers seemed to me to represent hope.

The daffodil became another symbol for Hugo: bright, vibrant, loved by everyone – and when seen from behind, they can look like stars.

It is common, I understand, for the bereaved to find symbolism in every day things. We returned home the day after Hugo died, and in the garden we found three daffodils: two tall flowers, flourishing and in front a shorter one, wilted. It represented our situation perfectly.

Time was spent sprucing up our garden, filling it with an array of brightly-coloured flowers in tribute to Hugo.

Hugo's funeral tribute.

Hugo’s funeral tribute.

Our floral tribute at Hugo’s funeral was a magnificent star comprised of yellow crystanthemums. I always make sure Hugo’s grave garden has flowers on it, whether they are fresh flowers or flowering plants. Bright, colourful flowers are a way of showing our love for our son, and representing his personality.

This spring, I have seen the daffodils, crocuses and tulips growing with mixed feelings. Part of my mind relishes the range of beautiful colours, wants to stop and admire the flowers. And I do, I admire them, enjoy them, photograph them.

But it’s not the same.

Another part of my mind is reminded with the arrival of spring of the hope we had last spring. The flowers I described to my little boy, and was looking forward to showing him in real life. This spring is a reminder that we have only grief, no new little life.

When passing daffodils, though, I try to let them make me smile.

A cluster of bright yellow stars.

Hugo saying hello.

Daffodils overlooking the sea.

Daffodils overlooking the sea.

Prompt word: Yellow

Improving Communication for Neonatal Families When Making End-of-Life Decisions

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has today issued new guidance about “when it can be considered no longer in the best interests of the child to give life sustaining treatment.”

The new guidance has received prominent coverage in the national media, such as this article in The Telegraph.

Discussing not just the death of babies and children, but withdrawing treatment that prolongs only suffering and the inevitable is an emotive and challenging issue. I believe every child is valued and has a right to life. However, despite significant advances in medical technology some children, especially babies born extremely prematurely, will not survive despite extensive medical intervention. It is something that deserves more open discussion for the benefit of those directly affected by such impossible decisions.

As regular readers of my blog will be aware, the focus in the media of premature babies ‘success stories’ can lead bereaved parents to feel like they failed in some way. That is not true of course, as discussed in Five Reasons All Preemies Are Completely Inspiring.

Families directly affected by these decisions need better communication and support from clinical staff than is currently often provided. This provision needs to be considered in conjunction with the new guidelines.

The timing of the announcement is for me especially poignant because this Friday (March 27) marks one year since the death of my son Hugo. Hugo was born at 24 weeks because I had HELLP syndrome and pre-eclampsia, and lived for 35 days. Weighing just 420 grams at birth, the odds were very sadly stacked against him. While I sort of understood that, I clung on to hope, as mothers do. This was complicated by me not reading any information, because I was too ill and exhausted to take in the reams of leaflets and booklets we were given.

Hugo’s lungs were his main issue and despite every possible treatment being attempted and him receiving the best care, the decision was made by the clinical team to withdraw treatment. This decision was based on Hugo’s poor prognosis, and the fact that to continue treatment would prolong his suffering and give us, his parents, false hope. As it turned out, Hugo told us he had had enough, and he died in my arms later that day.

Hugo receiving a comfort hold from me.

Hugo receiving a comfort hold from me.

Consideration for improving communication with parents in making end of life decisions on a neonatal unit include:

  • First and foremost, how the news is given. It is news no parent ever wants to hear, but the way I was told – in the Grand Round, with me on the floor sobbing and hyperventilating – was traumatic, unkind and lacking in compassion. I have written about it in more detail in this post.
  • Ensuring parents are given information about their baby’s care that is easy-to-understand and digest, at the first available opportunity. Consideration needs to be given to the fact that one size never fits all, and that stressed, tired, and emotional parents will find it difficult to absorb information. Parents also need to know how to access other sources of reliable information, that there is no such thing as a ‘stupid question’, and how to get in touch with relevant staff when needed.
  • When a baby dies, making sure the parents have the opportunity to get all mementoes they might like, including foot and hand prints, a lock of hair, and photographs for example. It is vital to remember that parents might not know what is possible, so they will need to be gently guided by staff.
  • Information about coping with bereavement, again in a way that is easy-to-understand and digest. The information should include details on how to get in touch with the hospital with any further questions, and how to access relevant support. This relevant support can, of course be difficult to find, and frustratingly can depend on what is available in your local area. It took months of upset and tenacity for me to find the support I needed – most quite clearly did not have a clue about what to do with me.

Note: I have designed a simple information poster for neonatal parents, and a succinct bereavement card for St George’s Hospital, where Hugo was cared for. Please do get in touch if you would like to discuss using them in your hospital.

Best Beginnings’ Small Wonders films are also an excellent resource.

Gorgeous Hugo

Gorgeous Hugo

Consideration for postnatal care includes:

  • Postnatal inpatient wards to recognise that the needs of mothers of babies who are being cared for in the neonatal unit (or do not survive) are different to those of the babies who are with them. This did not always happen in my experience, and I am aware other mothers in a similar situation shared these frustrations.
  • The relevant services to make sure women whose baby is in the neonatal unit (whether or not they survive) receive all the postnatal checks that they would have if all had gone ‘to plan’. Too many women in this situation miss the usual checks and may fall through the cracks, creating another hurdle between them and the help they need.

I am fully aware that NHS resources are stretched to their limit. However, many of the improvements above require staff to just think differently. Be human. To think about how they, or a member of their family would like to be treated. To remember that the smallest gestures can often mean the most to a patient’s experience.

Mummy, Daddy, and Hugo

Mummy, Daddy, and Hugo


Rollercoaster Reflections

The experience of having a baby in a neonatal unit is often described as a ‘rollercoaster’. I understand why: ‘rollercoaster’ outlines the ups and downs, the twists and turns, the fear and exhilaration of a baby’s and their parents’ journey. A pretty succinct description.

While it is an apt description, I have never liked the ‘rollercoaster’ term. To me, it implies something fun. Something undertaken voluntarily. An activity that creates adrenaline, the fear is forgotten. Once the rollercoaster has finished, you might be so exhilarated you exclaim ‘again, again!’.

The neonatal experience is not fun, nor was it undertaken voluntarily, and I am in no hurry to repeat it.

I am reflecting on rollercoasters today because it is the first anniversary of the day we were told that Hugo was unlikely to survive. Every day since Hugo had been born four weeks earlier was full of joy, happiness, worry and anxiety – but we were not at all prepared for that news, or the subsequent days (I don’t think it is possible to be prepared).

A year ago today, Hugo’s nurse told us the consultant wanted to see us at a certain time. That time was around the same point I would be expressing my breast milk, so I shifted my timings and hurried back to the nursery. He and Martin were sat next to Hugo’s incubator. I walked in with a smile, which quickly vanished when I saw the look on Martin’s face.

Martin had already been told the consultant’s news: that morning, while we had popped out for a break Hugo had started to regularly desaturate, and to a worryingly low level. While he had subsequently recovered, the consultant explained that one day Hugo might one day desaturate and not come back. No one could say when that could happen.

Hugo holding Daddy's finger, on the day we were given the news.

Hugo holding Daddy’s finger, on the day we were given the news.

Ultimately, he explained, babies with similar issues do not survive. This explanation was given softly, kindly, compassionately. He repeatedly said how sorry he was.

He advised that steroids could be tried to help Hugo’s lungs develop, but they don’t work on all babies. The steroids had potential side-effects that could make other functions worse.

I remember sitting in shock. Yes, we knew that Hugo was very ill, and with an uncertain outcome. But I didn’t want to admit that to myself, and Hugo Boss was so very strong and feisty I thought (hoped) he just needed time to grow bigger and stronger.

I was terrified that Hugo might have a final desaturation when I was not there, that I would not be with him to comfort him.

The consultant left, and I sobbed over Hugo’s incubator. The nurse hugged me and told me how sorry she was, too.

Hugo hated being handled, meaning we had not yet had a cuddle. In the aftermath of that news, we were told we could have a skin-to-skin cuddle that afternoon. It might be our first and only chance.

I went to the toilet to get myself ready (I needed to whip off my bra etc). I was still so shaken by the news and wracked by sobs, but wanted to make the most of my cuddle with Hugo and try not to cry. Furious, I got my anguish out the quick way, by kicking the toilet wall several times. Fortunately, I was wearing boots, otherwise I would have had broken toes to add to my list of woes.

Hugo cuddles Daddy

Hugo cuddles Daddy

The video footage we shot on our mobile phones clearly shows our raw emotions. Getting Hugo (a baby who weighed no more than a tin of baked beans) out of his incubator was quite a process, involving three nurses because of all the wires. When he is lifted out you can see exactly how tiny he was, in perspective to the adults around him.

Hugo settled quickly on the skin between my boobs. It was absolutely incredible. Exhilarating, wonderful, amazing and all other similar words you can think of. For four weeks I had made do with comfort holds, and with Hugo gripping my finger.

Getting Hugo out of his incubator was hard work - but worth it!

Getting Hugo out of his incubator was hard work – but worth it!

Now, I could feel his soft, warm skin against mine. I could smell him. I could feel his little hands tracing my skin, and feel his feet kicking me. I could feel him boogy as I sang to him. I could hear the little sucking noises he made.

I sang to him, told him how much I loved him, and told him all sorts of other things too.

Despite the devastating news I had heard just an hour or so earlier, I felt on top of the world. In fact, the rest of the world ceased to exist. It was me and my baby (and Daddy, too).

Knowing it was possibly the first and last cuddle, I wanted to drink up every single moment. I didn’t want to let Hugo go, but Daddy needed a turn too. Watching Hugo snuggle into Martin’s chest, and the look on Martin’s face was equally wonderful.

Leaving the unit later, I felt like I had won the lottery. The flood of hormones and emotions relating to the precious mummy and baby moment overrode my sense of sorrow.

For a while.

Once those hormones had worn off, the reality hit. I sobbed and screamed in despair, sorrow, fear and frustration.

Both Martin and I spent a lot of time with Hugo that evening, so scared of losing him.

Mummy, Daddy, Hugo

Mummy, Daddy, Hugo

Hugo held on, and the next morning it was agreed to start the course of steroids.

The previous day had been a rollercoaster of emotions. As the week progressed, it turned out that rollercoaster was one from a small funfair. The biggest rollercoaster, like all the scary ones from Alton Towers put into one, was to come.

At first, the steroids seemed to be working brilliantly. We hoped they were working. We might take our boy home! The scary rollercoaster journey was all worth it.

Then they stopped working.

The second cuddle with Hugo - you can see how eager I was for that cuddle!

The second cuddle with Hugo – you can see how eager I was for that cuddle!

Out of the five weeks Hugo lived, the last was by far the most wonderful because of all the cuddles we enjoyed. It was also the worst because of hopes raised, hopes dashed, awful decisions made.

Like the rollercoaster at Alton Towers that disappears vertically into the abyss. But doesn’t raise you up again.

It sometimes felt like a pretty effective form of torture.

What I try to remember from that week is those amazing cuddles. Watching Hugo’s face in a mirror, him opening his eyes. Such simple pleasures.

Memories no one can take away from me.

I love you, Hugo, and miss you so much.



Recovering from HELLP Syndrome: My Postnatal Inpatient Experience

I had finally met my son Hugo, born 16 weeks early because I had HELLP syndrome.

A bed in the maternity high dependency unit had been finally found. I reluctantly left my precious little Hugo to be taken to my new bed. Thankfully, the ward is adjacent to the NNU.

There was a small welcoming committee waiting for me, including an obstetric consultant and midwife. We discussed my stay in intensive care, and the unacceptable delays in bringing me to see Hugo. The discussion was heated, emotions heightened, tempers frayed from the events of the past few hours, piled on to the trauma of the week.

I was informed of the official complaints process. Caring for a critically ill baby and recovering from major surgery myself meant following official complaints processes was unappealing, to say the least. I did not have the time or emotional energy to expend on writing letters. It was agreed the intensive care matron would visit me after the weekend, which she did. Sadly an official complaint letter still needed to be written because they just did not understand how I felt, and eventually I had a meeting with senior staff on that ward to help them understand. Unacceptable, and a topic for another blog.

The midwife caring for me was wonderful. Kind, calm and reassuring. She and Martin hand-expressed my colostrum for Hugo. A couple of times they had competitions to see who could express the most (the midwife won, the benefit of years of experience). I was unable to help – my hands had swollen so much I had lost the ability to grip anything.

Most of the night was spent staring at the clock on the wall opposite my bed, watching the hands go around. When she came in to do my observations the midwife told me to try and get some sleep. I must have had some catnaps at some point, but my brain was unable to rest. My head was racing with the intense love I felt for my new baby son, amazement and relief that he was alive, sadness that we were separated, anger at being kept from seeing him for all those hours, and bewilderment at everything that had happened that week. Far too much to take in.

The next morning, an anaesthetist arrives to remove my central line. I no longer need a cocktail of drugs to be administered through it. I had become quite fond of my central line; with the range of coloured tubes dangling from it, it was almost like a fashion accessory. I was left with a couple of tiny scars on my neck from the stitches that had held it in place. They healed quickly, and in the meantime I looked as if I had been nibbled by a vampire.

Me with my central line.

Me with my central line.

Next was the removal of my catheter. I had to record my fluid intake, and pee in to a bedpan so the midwife could monitor the output. Eventually, I was able to record it myself. Luckily the room was ensuite, meaning I didn’t have far to waddle to the loo. The sensation of a full bladder – and recognising it as such amongst the pain and discomfort of my C-section wound – especially after having a catheter for six days took a bit of getting used to. Over the coming days, I learned to empty my bladder regularly rather than wait for the full feeling, which could hurt.

Mercifully, I was able to have my first proper shower in nearly a week. I had as much of a shower as I could four days earlier (without getting anything too wet!), and a bed wash on my first day in intensive care. While it was the least of my worries, I was aware I smelled. Being able to wash my body and my hair felt wonderful. I couldn’t move very much, so Martin handed me all bottles I needed. I was scared of doing something to my wound, but just patted it dry.

Even better – after my shower, I was finally able to wear my own pyjamas. A glamorous standard-issue bottom-baring gown had been my attire since I was admitted. Feeling clean, and in my own clothes I was starting to feel like me again. The only problem was my body was still so swollen none of my knickers fit. My friend bought some emergency granny knickers for me – I am never, ever revealing their size!

I was able to visit Hugo, and under calmer circumstances. He was doing as well as could be expected, though I knew nothing at that stage was certain. I savoured every single moment with him, trying to take him all in, and taking photos and videos.

It was during that weekend we had ‘the chat’ with the consultant on duty. He told us that due to his size and prematurity, Hugo was still very sick. We could expect to be in hospital with him for at least 16 weeks – the time he was supposed to have arrived. We were told about some of the things – complications and the like – we could expect to happen. Considering before Hugo was born we had been told to prepare for the worst, I chose to believe the consultant was again giving us the worst-case scenario. Hugo was strong, and feisty, and we had to keep him free from infection until he grew bigger and was able to come home in the summer.

The following day, I was assessed as being well enough to go to the regular post-natal ward. I was relieved to have my own room, although I could still hear babies, and see proud parents going home with their new bundles. I tried to think ahead to taking Hugo home.

The first photo I took of Hugo.

The first photo I took of Hugo.

Martin, who had been sleeping on a mattress on the floor of my high dependency room, was equally relieved to now be able to sleep in a proper bed. We were fortunate to have a room in the Ronald McDonald House on site for as long we needed it.

The greatest nuisance about the post-natal ward is that it was several floors and a couple of corridors away from the NNU. I was still unable to walk, meaning Martin had to wheel me there and back. The lifts were infernally slow, too.

There were a couple of occasions where I would be all ready to visit Hugo, and a midwife would ask me to wait as the doctor needed to see me, and they would be with me ‘in a minute’. That is a turn of phrase of course, but the doctor took quite a while to arrive. Martin would wait with me, and the delay meant we were unable to see Hugo because the NNU’s round had started. Missing precious time with a critically-ill baby because of simple communication issues is unforgivable. Eventually, I would go to see Hugo anyway – sometimes I was called back, while other times I missed meds. The needs of neonatal mums on post-natal wards need to be better considered.

My visits to Hugo were supposed to be brief, because I was still recovering. I wanted to spend all the time with Hugo that I could – my own health was secondary to me. One evening my body took control, making me faint, shake, and a racing heart. Poor Martin got another fright. An ECG revealed there wasn’t a problem – I just needed to rest more.

Family and friends sent congratulations messages and lovely presents for Hugo. I was so grateful for all that kindness – not only did it help us feel not alone so far from home, it also helped me revel in the excitement of being a proud new mum, which was especially important in amongst the strangeness and the trauma.

Me on the postnatal ward, still horribly swollen.

Me on the postnatal ward, still horribly swollen.

Doctors from all sorts of specialties came to see me on the postnatal ward. A special case, I suppose. I don’t remember much of what I was told, and I remember asking the same questions repeatedly. I was able to retain little information. A kind anaesthetist arranged for a physiotherapist to visit me to look at my hands: even when the swelling had subsided, I was unable to grip. I couldn’t hold a pen, cutlery or toothbrush properly, meaning I had to rely on others to help me – I hated being so helpless. It was assumed the swelling had affected my tendons, and I was given some exercises to help the normal function to return, which it did after a couple of weeks.

I was on lots of medication – tablets for my blood pressure, iron tablets, painkillers, and ranitidine. The latter is for heartburn. I remember the midwives asking if I still needed the ranitidine, and being adamant that I did – I reasoned it was keeping that awful pain away. I did not realise that the awful pain had gone because Hugo had been born, and the worst of the illness had gone.

Daily blood thinning injections were also given. I learned to do it myself, because I would need them for several weeks after discharge. The midwives were good tutors, and as long as I got the angle right and didn’t dither, the injection wasn’t that bad.

Hugo was sent some lovely presents.

Hugo was sent some lovely presents.

Expressing my breast milk for Hugo meant that I was very conscious of all the medicines I was taking, even though they were all approved as being fine. For several days the midwives had been encouraging me to try Tramadol, not only because it would help with the pain, but it would also help me relax. I gave it a go – and found out what I had been missing. Tramadol is AWESOME! I remember giggling over nothing after my first dose, and blissfully sleeping for hours. It was much-needed.

My first photo with Hugo - taken on March 3.

My first photo with Hugo – taken on March 3.

By the Tuesday, I was assessed as being fit for discharge. Martin didn’t agree, as I was still weak. I was unable to hold a conversation, and the room would frequently spin, like it does when you have had one too many glass of wine.

I completed my friends and family test, and while I was waiting for my meds went to take a shower. The shower and loos are down the corridor. I built up my mobility and helped reduce my swelling by walking (waddling) there and back. My body again told me I was doing too much by making the world all blurry, my legs weak. I used my last ounce of energy to stand against the wall while awaiting rescue. After that episode, my hospital stay was extended, and I had to be wheeled to the loo and shower. Annoying.

The midwives would check I was already awake and expressing my breast milk to do my nightly obs, to save waking me up again. That helped me get a bit more rest.

It was agreed I needed a blood transfusion, as my symptoms indicated my body was not naturally replenishing the blood I had lost when Hugo was born. That would mean another cannula, which after the palaver of the previous week I was not looking forward to. Mercifully, an anaesthetist inserted one in my left hand, first time. I was given two units of blood, and started to feel so much better soon after. Colour returned to my cheeks, and I had more energy.

There was a little bit of panic when my platelets went from being dangerously low to very high. My logic was that if low platelets meant I was at risk of bleeding to death, surely a high level of platelets meant clots. I was paranoid, convinced every twitch in my leg meant a thrombosis. Being more mobile and my muscles getting used to functioning again caused the twitches, but considering the extraordinary and unexpected had already happened, I worried about what could be next.

After so long in hospital, I was desperate to be discharged. I wanted to be free to see Hugo whenever I was able. I wanted to go outside, to see the area we would be staying in. All I had seen of the hospital and locality was what I could see out of the window – it was quite disorientating.

I was also desperate for a decent meal. The hospital food is revolting, and I gave up on the evening meals because they would be left on a tray while I was on the unit with Hugo. I craved tasty, healthy food for my own recovery and so good nutrients could be passed to Hugo through my breast milk. Thank goodness for the M&S in the hospital reception for endless supplies of their salad bowls, and fruit yogurt.

Hugo holding my finger.

Hugo holding my finger.

And so, after two weeks in hospital I was finally discharged – a year ago today. There was a bit of unhelpful confusion about where I would get my postnatal checks (the options included seeing my own GP two hours away, or going through the palaver of registering with a local GP – either option was unrealistic).

Once that was resolved (I would see the community midwife at the hospital) and my huge bag of meds was prepared I was ready for Ronald McDonald House, and the next stage of our journey with Hugo.