Written by Natalie Newman

Hello I’m Natalie Newman. I have two boys Henry 8 years old ex 32 weeker born 2.11 lbs and Leo 4 years old ex 29 weeker born 760grams. I have just had my first book published that I co-wrote with my 8 year old son Henry. Our book is called Lark The Shark.

My NICU journey’s

I went to triage in my local hospital Whipps Cross when I was 27 weeks pregnant with severe swelling all over my body. I stayed on bed rest there for 5 weeks until my son Henry was born, weighing 2.11lbs, at 32 weeks by an emergency section after having two sets of steroids.

Henry has dexta cardia and situs invertus. This means his heart is on the right and has all his organs mirror imaged on the other side. Was a bit of a shock when you get told this on your second day in NICU!! Henry stayed in NICU for 4 weeks and came home just over 4lbs with a hernia in his testicle. He had this mended at Great Ormond Street Hospital. He stayed under their care for heart scans until he was 2 years old.

My second son Leo was born at 29 weeks after a routine growth scan showed he was very small for his gestation. Suffering with IUGR I was given steroids at 27 weeks and scanned daily for 9 days. Then I was blue lighted to St Mary’s hospital Paddington.

On arrival I was given the magnesium drip, which helped Leo be delivered before 30 weeks. Another emergency section and Leo was born tiny but mighty at 760 grams. Leo’s journey was a lot harder, firstly at 29 weeks I had no breast milk. I squeezed my breast until I could at least get the colostrum out. I managed to fill a syringe with 5ml of my milk. He was lucky enough to be born at a hospital that had a milk bank.

Travelling to the NICU

One day stay I would and then I’d go home to see Henry. Travelling up every day to London to see Leo was tough after a section. You become selfless though and pain is nothing. Thankfully I had my parents locally and they would pick up Henry and make a fuss of him while he was confused about mummy coming home without a baby.

Henry got to visit Leo before the hospital closed its doors to siblings due to flu season. Leo stayed at St Mary’s hospital until he was 1kg. Then he was transferred to Whipps Cross hospital which was local. This meant I could give Henry more of my time not being away from home in London traffic.

His journey was tough infection after infection and constant worry of NEC. I look back and think I was possessed as you become a warrior ready to take on any medical challenge. Thank god he came through all of that, accomplished feeding and after 8 weeks was allowed home. Again at the 4lbs mark!!

Leo is still under a paediatrician team. He’s just had a growth test to check his hormones as he is still a bit small for his gestation. NICU definitely leaves a huge mark on your life. Until you go through it you don’t know how strong of a person you are. Good luck to all the mummies out there that are currently watching your baby in a incubator, watching the sats and Brady’s machine’s. I hope your journey will be a good one.

Lark The Shark

Literature has always been my passion as a child and later as an adult too. My son Henry also shares this love. I have always been a shark admirer and was discussing with my then 7 year old son how sharks get such a bad reputation. All they are doing is being at home in their ocean. And from this discussion Lark was born and his journey began. Working with Henry was fun and exciting. We bounced ideas off each other and was a lovely bonding experience.

Lark The Shark
Lark The Shark

And yes!! We have already been discussing and writing more stories about Lark The Shark.

The book is aimed at children 0-8 years old. I am currently doing book readings to schools, private tuition groups across the country and globe to encourage reading, discussing literature and pollution.

I’m hoping children and their parents will enjoy and love our book. It’s fun and has lovely messages in it. And importantly giving sharks a platform to be appreciated and conserved.
Wishing all you NICU mummies lots of strength and courage through your journey.

Lots of love

Reading to preemies

As you may know from our previous blogs studies show that reading to a premature baby has a few really good health benefits. The familiar sound of their parents voices can calm them down which improves their heart rate and oxygen saturation levels. It also helps parents to bond with their baby as well as giving them something to do during their visit. It adds a little bit of normality to an abnormal situation and it’s a great feeling knowing you are helping your baby in another little way. The studies also showed that premature babies that were read to in the NICU also developed better language and communication skills compared to those not read to later on.

Front cover of Lark The Shark by Natalie Newman
Front cover of Lark The Shark by Natalie Newman

Here are the links so that you can follow Natalie or buy your very own copy of Lark The Shark!

Amazon – Lark The Shark
Live book reading on Facebook – click here
Book trailer – click here
Instagram page – click here

Did you see…

Our blog on being mums to boys? We loved writing this light hearted blog and hope you will enjoy the read