Bliss Lifeline


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Bliss

Kym Marsh hosts an appeal on behalf of Bliss, the UK's leading charity for babies born premature and sick, featuring the story of a mother who went into labour 11 weeks early.


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When I had my first daughter, it was a lovely experience.

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She was born and handed to me and we kept just looking at each other

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and smiling and it was just a lovely, lovely day.

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Which was just an absolute world apart from the day

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when the twins were born.

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The room was silent. It was just filled with anxiety.

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And, "Are they alive?"

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Like Adele, I know that feeling of terror when things aren't right

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because three of my children were born premature.

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My first son, David, was born six weeks early

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and my next son, Archie, was 18 weeks premature.

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Sadly, I lost him seconds after he was born.

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But my daughter, Polly, was born at 33 weeks

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and is now a happy and healthy three-year-old.

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I can only begin to tell you how terrifying

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each experience was for me.

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I felt isolated and completely helpless.

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That's why I feel so passionate about telling you

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how you can help other families in the same situation.

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18 weeks into her pregnancy, Adele Joicey went for a routine scan

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to see how her twin boys were developing.

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But the news wasn't good.

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Her placenta was failing,

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threatening the development of both twins.

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The pregnancy was always beset by worry.

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I really wanted to enjoy it but I never did because

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if they were really quiet, I would worry that one of them had died.

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Adele went into labour very early

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and was rushed to hospital ten weeks before her due date.

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It's just that horrible, surreal feeling and panic

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and, "Why me?"

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They were born and they were taken straightaway.

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It was just really, really scary. I never got to see the babies.

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With the twins being worked on in intensive care,

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Adele spent hours feeling completely helpless.

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You didn't have your baby. You didn't see your baby.

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You didn't even know what they looked like.

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You didn't know if they were OK. It's a really lonely time.

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I know that if there had been a dedicated person around

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to speak to after my kids were born,

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someone who appreciated exactly what I was going through,

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it would have made a massive difference to me.

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And that's why I'm appealing to you on behalf of Bliss,

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a charity who give you just that.

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They provide specially trained nurses to support families

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through what is always a really difficult and worrying time.

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Sue Thompson is the Bliss nurse based in the neo-natal unit

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in Middlesbrough, where Adele gave birth to her babies.

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100% of my time is dedicated to looking after families,

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so I always say to parents, I am here for them.

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I do a lot of talking and a lot of listening.

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Sue's role is to offer specialist emotional

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and practical support to parents and families

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whose babies are born premature, sick or stillborn.

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The emotion you associate with childbirth of joy, elation,

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and relief isn't there.

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The word that every parent uses on the neo-natal unit

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is that it's a roller coaster.

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There are so many ups and downs.

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And actually, it's just trying to support families

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through those times.

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Shortly after Adele's twins were born,

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Sue came and introduced herself.

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I remember the first time I met her.

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She pulled up a chair and made herself comfortable.

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It felt like she was a new best friend.

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I felt like I could tell her anything.

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Meeting someone who understood her fears

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was a huge relief for Adele because after the constant anxiety

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of her pregnancy and the traumatic birth,

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Adele was shocked by her own reaction

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to seeing her babies for the first time.

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I don't think anything can prepare you for that moment

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when you see them.

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There seems to be more wires and machines than baby.

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The first time I saw Luke he cried.

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I wanted to just reach and hold him and I couldn't.

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And I remember just putting my hands on the incubator.

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You couldn't hold him.

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But for Adele, the barrier created by Luke's incubator

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was starting to develop into a fear of getting too close to him.

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It sounds awful, but I never wanted to pick up Luke

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because I was so scared I would hold him and you were watching this tiny,

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tiny baby and his chest was absolutely heaving

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and fighting for air.

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I felt like I was the worst mother in the world,

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feeling like I didn't want to hold this precious little baby.

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Adele shared her fears with Sue.

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I didn't think for one minute she would judge this.

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It was just someone who you could open up to and say anything to.

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Parents can be petrified.

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Sometimes that baby has all sorts of wires sticking out of him

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from various different parts of the body

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and I can just sit and explain what each wire is,

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where is a good position to hold the baby

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and I don't have to rush off and do anything else.

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If it takes an hour to get a parent to feel comfortable

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touching the baby, that's just an hour of my day.

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Nothing else is waiting to happen.

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With her years of experience, Sue understood what was needed

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to help forge the bond between Adele and her son, Luke.

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She made us realise, there's nothing wrong with you.

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It's just you are frightened of the situation, not him.

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She gave us the confidence to keep trying and keep getting him out.

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And I did get my confidence with him.

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Having a Bliss nurse on a busy ward where shifts are constantly

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changing means that families always have that one person

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they can turn to with questions about things they don't

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understand and they've got a shoulder to cry on

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when things get too much.

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She was so knowledgeable and she could answer your questions

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and if she couldn't, she would go and get someone who could.

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The nurses were there for the babies, but Sue was there for me.

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Adele and her husband spent 12 weeks juggling their time

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between the twins, who were in different hospital wards,

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and two other children at home.

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But with support from Bliss, Adele got through it

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and the day came when the twins could leave hospital.

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Getting the babies home was like you were coming to the end

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of a very, very long journey.

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It was just lovely.

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A long journey, but we got there.

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And the care doesn't end when families leave hospital.

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With a national network of volunteers,

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Bliss has helped set up special groups for families

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of premature babies to make sure they feel supported

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as their babies negotiate their first few months and years of life.

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Most importantly of all, Bliss nurses are there to help

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families cope with the distress of having a premature or sick baby,

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which can all too often leave parents permanently traumatised.

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The time you spend on a neo-natal unit,

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no matter how long it is, whether it be days, weeks or months,

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has an impact on the way you will view the future probably

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with yourself and your children.

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I would just hope that if there was a Bliss nurse in every unit,

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the incidents of the emotional trauma would be much lessened.

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I think Sue saved us from going under.

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She saved me, so then I could look after my babies.

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Are you going to tell me a story?

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Is that what happened?

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Over 80,000 babies are born either premature or sick each year,

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so that's a lot of parents in need of specialist support.

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Bliss was to make sure that every family

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of a premature or sick baby in the UK gets the vital help

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and support they need at this distressing time.

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Having a Bliss nurse in every neo-natal unit in the country

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would make an enormous difference to parents.

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You can help make that happen right now.

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Please go to the website bbc.co.uk/lifeline

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where you can donate.

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If you haven't got internet access, please call 0800 011 011.

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And if you can't get through the first time, please keep trying.

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Telephone calls are free from most landlines.

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Some networks and mobile operators will charge for these calls.

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You can also donate £10 by texting SUPPORT to 70121.

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Texts cost £10 plus your standard network message charge

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and the whole £10 goes to Bliss.

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Full terms and conditions can be found at bbc.co.uk/lifeline.

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Or if you would like to post a donation,

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please make your cheque payable to Bliss

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and send it to Freepost, BBC Lifeline Appeal,

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writing Bliss on the back of the envelope.

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If you want the charity to claim gift aid on your donation,

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please include an e-mail or postal address

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so that they can send you a gift aid form.

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Thank you.

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Coronation Street actress Kym Marsh presents an appeal on behalf of Bliss, the UK's leading charity for babies born premature and sick. Three of Kym's children were born early, and the two who survived spent weeks in hospital before they were well enough to go home. So Kym knows just how vital the support that Bliss offers parents can be.

The film features mother Adele and her Bliss nurse, Sue. A complication during Adele's pregnancy meant she went into labour 11 weeks early. Her local hospital was full, so she had to travel to a hospital over an hour away from home and family. Her newly delivered twin boys Luke and Ryan were rushed straight to intensive care with multiple complications and Adele found herself vulnerable and alone. Thankfully, there was a Bliss nurse on hand to help turn an overwhelming experience into one she could handle. And over the following weeks, Sue helped Adele cope with the ups and downs of treatment and to forge a deeper relationship with her new boys.