Feeling Blessed: Mackenzie and Milani’s Story

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On World Prematurity Day, mum Melisa shares her hardship when her babies were born too early.

“Every single day has had an impact on our family”

Guest blogger: Melisa

When I was just 23 weeks pregnant, I was taken to Saint Mary’s Hospital in Manchester not knowing what would happen to my babies or myself. My twins, Mackenzie and Milani, were delivered at a gestation of 25 weeks and 6 days. My first twin had to be resuscitated and I was devastated, not having any idea what this would lead to. After giving birth, I was in such a bad condition that I could not walk or even stand up. I had to have a blood transfusion and given a different type of iron to help me get better. There was no way that I could go home in my condition, I was sick both mentally and physically. Knowing that my babies had been born prematurely killed me inside.

As I became stronger, my concerns focussed upon having to leave my newborn babies on the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit when I was well enough to be discharged. If I was to return home, I would have been in constant worry and fear about the health of our twins. Quite simply not knowing if I would return to find that my babies were in a worsened condition or if they had even survived. As they remained in hospital, it was like a rollercoaster – anything and everything could go wrong at any moment.

My wife Akinde and I were soon informed by one of the staff nurses about the Ronald McDonald House Manchester and immediately we felt as though we had some hope of staying close to Mackenzie and Milani. We could also have our three-year-old daughter Mia Sara with us. We could all be together as a family.

Once we were told that we were offered a bedroom at the Manchester House, we felt incredibly lucky. Having a place to stay that was so nice and clean, with helpful and supportive staff made us all feel blessed. The Ronald McDonald House is absolutely amazing, it does more than just keep families like ours together – it gives us more faith in people and God. The House was so much more than I initially expected and even with everything going on, we all immediately felt safe.

There is one particular memory that comes to mind about staying at the Manchester House. I remember going into the communal kitchen area and found another mum who was visibly upset. I ended up consoling her just by talking things through with her and giving her some positivity. It really gave me some perspective and understanding knowing that I was not the only one going through a hard time and I began to get to know families staying in the House with very similar situations. Our little girl, Mia Sara, even had experiences whilst staying there that will help her in the future. When the House organised a Halloween party, she had the opportunity to meet and interact with other children around her age with different conditions and situations. As parents we were able to teach her a valuable life lesson about the understanding of love and respect for everybody no matter what.

Every single day has had an impact on our family. The fact that I can be so close to my poorly twins at any time has really helped me personally, not getting deeper into a depressive state of mind. The different events and activities around the Manchester House have really helped me take my mind off things a little and have been a welcome distraction at times.

Our babies have definitely benefited from us all being so close to them in hospital. Whenever they have had to have tests or procedures, we have been there almost instantly so we can hold them and give them our love and support. When we are with them, they are much calmer and settled. They can be touched by us and can smell us. I am able to breastfeed at any time and spend some valuable bonding time together.

This is our first stay and I strongly believe that without a bedroom at the Manchester House, I would have become depressed due to my difficult delivery and it would have been so hard on us a family to be separated. We would have had to invest our time and money travelling to hospital every day and would have taken us over an hour to arrive if anything were to go wrong during the night.

When anyone completes any fundraising or donates to Ronald McDonald House Charities UK, they are not only keeping families like mine together, but they are putting different families from all walks of life together with the same worries, fears and situations under one roof. I believe that there is no better way to gain positivity in a terrible situation than being able to communicate with someone who understands exactly what you are going through. Donations and support for the Charity give us the chance to cry with someone and not feel guilty or alone and gives siblings the chance to have a ‘normal’ life whilst their brother or sister is in hospital.

I have not yet left the Manchester House, but when I do I can imagine I will feel a mixture of emotions. I will feel forever grateful to have been given a place to stay close to my babies. I will feel happy that Mackenzie and Milani will be going home with us but also sad in a way too. I will be leaving many people behind, such as the families I have bonded with, the supportive staff, the children around the House – all the people I came to rely on to get me through. We will definitely be back to visit in the future.

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