My previous pregnancies had been problem free and I had no reason to think my third would be any different. I had been due to have a scan at 29 weeks because of complications earlier in my pregnancy but my waters broke at 28 weeks. I called my husband, who came home from work and we contacted the hospital. They told us to go straight there and try not to worry.

When we arrived I was given a full examination. We were told that our baby would be born within the next 24 hours and that I would have to be transferred to a larger hospital, where they would be better equipped to deal with such an early baby. It was at this point that we started to feel frightened.

Accompanied by a pediatrician and midwife I was taken to Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry. The journey was one of the longest I have ever been on. When we arrived I was given another examination followed by a scan. Initially, the sonographer couldn’t see the baby’s bladder which caused great concern but thankfully all fears were unfounded. In preparation of the baby’s arrival I was given steroid injections to help develop his lungs. I was also given a tour of the Special Care Baby Unit, to answer any questions I might have. Although this was a great help my concerns grew and I became very upset- I didn’t want my baby to go through this.

I remained in hospital, patiently waiting but our baby showed no signs of its arrival until the 30th week of my pregnancy. I’d been experiencing strong pains for five days but because they weren’t regular the doctors thought I had a water infection.

However, the pains increased and I was rushed, from the 5th floor down to the ground floor, to the delivery room, where I gave birth to Tommy weighing 3lb 6oz. It was the 19th July 1992 he wasn’t due until the 27th September. It all happened so quickly that my husband couldn’t be there for the birth.

I saw Tommy briefly before they took him to the unit. I wasn’t able to see him for over an hour whilst they wired him up to various monitors. You never imagine it will happen to you, nothing can prepare you when it’s your own baby in an incubator. You feel so helpless and lost not being able to hold or feed them. The first night my husband was allowed to stay with me and we were able to visit Tommy as much as we liked. Everyone was extremely helpful but I felt very alone. You expect to wake up in the night and feed your baby, hold them, and change their nappy. I really struggled the first few days, that feeling of contentment you have when your baby lies in your arms just wasn’t there...

After two day’s Tommy was transferred to the Warneford hospital in Leamington Spa, he was making steady progress with no complications. This was a real boost, just what we needed at that time. One week later he was taken off oxygen and we were shown how to feed him through his tube. Things couldn’t have been better.

The following Sunday we were met in the entrance of the unit by a nurse, who explained that his condition had deteriorated and they had had to resuscitate him. We were taken to see him but it was awful, there were wires everywhere and he was back on oxygen. The sister was called in as the situation was serious and we were told we might lose him.

We had taken Tommy’s two sisters, who were only young themselves, to the hospital with us but decided to take them to my Mum & Dads, where we received a phone call telling us that Tommy was being taken back to Walsgarve Hospital and for us to make our way there .I never want to feel how I felt that day ever again. He was tested for meningitis but luckily the test was negative but he did have an infection. After a few days Tommy made good progress again and was taken back to the Warneford hospital, where he very quickly improved.

On 2nd September 1992 we were able to take Tommy home and I cannot tell you how good that felt. He is now 16 years of age, 5 ft 6 and playing Rugby for a local side, we are very lucky to have him and are very much aware that there are parents who are less fortunate. We are indebted to the staff in the neonatal units at Walsgrave Hospital and Warneford Hospital which has since closed.