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A fighter from the beginning: Ivy's story

July 12, 2022

In July 2018, baby Ivy-Rose was born 15 weeks prematurely, weighing a tiny 405g and was a fighter from the very beginning. Her mum Gemma, also mum to teenagers Kieran and Joey, was told during pregnancy that Ivy was going to be born early and as such, she had been transferred from her local hospital in West Sussex to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, so that Ivy could receive specialist lifesaving care at the Trevor Mann Baby Unit (TMBU).

Throughout Ivy’s lengthy hospital admission, a room was made available for Gemma at the Ronald McDonald House Brighton over the road, providing somewhere safe and comfortable for Gemma and her family to stay, for as long as they needed it.

Guest blogger: Gemma

Being born so early and so small, Ivy was very poorly. We were warned very early on that the odds for her survival were not in her favour. Doctors, we learned, liked statistics. Ivy showed us from day one that she does not!

Without the highly specialised care she received, the outcome for Ivy could have been very different. Ivy-Rose spent a total of 378 days in hospital, spending her time in TMBU, The Royal Alexandra Hospital in Brighton and the Evelina London Children’s Hospital.

When Ivy was just five days old, I was told I was well enough to be discharged from the hospital. I was faced with leaving my very poorly little girl and travelling 45 minutes each way, every day, to be with her. My wonderful midwife came and told me there was a room for me at the Ronald McDonald House Brighton, just a stone’s throw from where Ivy was being treated.

I could stay for as long as I needed and remain minutes away, for as long as she needed me. When I walked into the House and met the lovely House Assistant Jazz, I immediately burst into tears! It was a mix of relief and a sense of feeling at home.

Having a premature baby was like being in an awful storm and the Brighton House felt like my anchor in that storm. They held onto me and kept me strong so, in turn, I could be story for Ivy-Rose. I was able to be close to Ivy, sleep, wash, eat, do our laundry, and have space away from the hospital to be with my other children. We celebrated birthdays, Halloween, and had Ivy’s first Christmas in the House. It kept us together as a family which was so important for us all.

My son Joey says it was one of his best Christmases playing with a remote-control car around the hospital wards and nobody made him eat a sprout!

The friends I made whilst in the House, with staff members, volunteers and other amazing, brave families, remain lifelong friends. More than friends, they became our families. I am truly blessed to have them all in my life.

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