Amelia is 5 years old and was born at just 30 weeks into mum, Jenni’s, pregnancy. In 2016 she started visiting Bluebell Wood for short breaks, and she loves making noise in the music room and getting lots of attention from the Care Team. Jenni tells her story:
“When I was pregnant I just expected to have Amelia and go home, but when she was born she was very poorly. The doctors thought she had NEC – a serious gut infection – and she was rushed to St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester to have a mainline put into her heart, because her nerves and veins had started to collapse. It felt like a nightmare.
“It wasn’t until she was five weeks old that Amelia had an MRI scan, and she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and spastic asymmetric quadriplegia. I was told that half her brain was dead and that there was nothing there. That really freaked me out. When you’re having a baby you assume everything is going to be OK; the hardest thing in the early weeks of Amelia’s life was working out what all this would actually mean for our lives.
Amelia and her mum finally got to come home in April 2012, ten weeks and two days after she was born. When Amelia was fifteen weeks old she started going to a nursery where she could be around other children, but there wasn’t much support for her – or for Jenni.
Jenni said, “Amelia has to have medicines and physiotherapy at regular times every day. She has to wear splints on her legs which give her horrible nightmares and she often wakes up in the middle of the night. She’s a typical cheeky five-year-old, but it can be really tiring sometimes fitting this all in and having mummy-daughter time too.
“I first heard about Bluebell Wood when Amelia was four. At first I thought -‘Bluebell Wood is for end of life; what’s that got to do with Amelia?’ I expected it to be really clinical, and thought it was just a place where children went to die but it’s so incredibly different from that.
“As soon as I walked in, I felt calm. I could quite happily live there! I get to lie in bed and watch DVDs and just relax for a bit knowing Amelia is being looked after by their fantastic Care Team. Amelia loves it at Bluebell Wood. She bakes, plays in the sensory room and soft play room, she loves all the dolls and being outside. It’s loads of fun for her”.
“Bluebell Wood aren’t just there for Amelia, they are an emotional support for me too. I can ring anyone there and ask them anything, or just have someone to talk to. Without them, our life would be much harder, and they make a massive difference to us. They help me and other families in so many ways. Whatever we need, they’re always there.”