Two years ago I would never have even thought to set something up like Presents For Preemies. I had a safe and steady career where I was working my way up the promotional ladder. So what changed?

My pregnancy

Early in my pregnancy I got the news I had PAAP-A. I was told it was nothing to worry about, it is a protein deficiency in my placenta so I would have regular routine scan from 30 weeks pregnant. I arrived for my first appointment (there was no parking so I was on my own whilst my husband circled the one way system of the hospital).

Pregnant woman holding her bump. Photography credit: Michalina
Pregnant woman holding her bump. Photography credit: Michalina

On the way to the room I explained the parking situation to the sonographer and told her I was just going to text my husband with the room number. She started the scan and then told me to check my phone. It was blank so she said to call my husband and let him know he was to park in the 10 minute bay. She left the room before I could ask any questions. I made the call with butterflies starting to form in my tummy.

My husband arrived in the room and we were given the bad news that our baby boy had a fluid build-up that shouldn’t be there (Hydrops) and his heart was beating too quickly (SVT or Supraventricular Tachycardia). I was rushed up to theatre for an emergency caesarean section.

Surviving NICU

The next few weeks we just didn’t know if our son, Neil, was going to survive. His heart was repeatedly going into SVT with very few breaks of a normal rhythm. The doctors mentioned a few times the possibility of heart failure. This was not how I pictured the birth of my child or my introduction to motherhood!

A premature baby in his incubator
My little boy in his incubator

Family and friends slowly found out that Neil had been born and about his health conditions. They didn’t know how to respond. I had plenty of texts asking for hospital updates and checking to see how we were. After about 2 weeks and people could see Neil was a fighter we started to get cards, in fact we were getting cards and gifts for weeks to come!

So many gorgeous gifts

We had so many gorgeous gifts that I just couldn’t use. Clothes and nappies were too big, products were too harsh, toys were too big for his incubator/cot and we didn’t want to go out and spend vouchers or wait in for deliveries. I put them away out of sight to start with, I just didn’t know if I was going to be able to take them out to use.

Neil got bigger and stronger and eventually he was allowed to come home. I was able to take the gifts out and put them to good use. I was also in a better head space to be able to thank everyone for their amazing gifts. This is when people started to tell me that they really struggled buying gifts for Neil.

One of many gift bundles given to my son
One of many gift bundles given to my son

Going back to the day job

I was due to go back to work full time and was struggling with anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). So I started to look into options that would mean I could work from home until Neil was a little older. I looked into lots of different options, none of which I was very passionate about.

I invested in a short course about setting up your own business and one of the key messages was to do something you are passionate about and what you are good at. I racked my brain for days! Then I had that light bulb moment…

I am passionate about helping parents who are going through what I went through

I’m passionate about sourcing thoughtful and useful gifts that parents with a premature baby can use

I am passionate about sharing my story so that awareness around having a premature baby is raised

I’m passionate about helping family and friends gain an insight as to what the parents with the premature baby are going through.

Presents For Preemies logo designed by Lydia Berman
Presents For Preemies logo
designed by Lydia Berman

The idea of Presents For Preemies came about. Once I started with the idea I couldn’t leave it alone and I ran with it (and haven’t stopped!). I have had an amazing response and support from so many, some of which are complete strangers. The feedback so far is that I am helping which is amazing. I did go back to work full time and got help with my anxiety and PTSD. I love having Presents For Preemies even though it keeps me very busy. I have big plans so watch this space!