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Mother praises hospital as she looks forward to first Christmas at home with premature son

A mother from Alfreton has praised the neonatal unit at the King's Mill Hospital as she prepares to have a proper Christmas at home with her baby son for the first time - after his first was spent in intensive care.

Chloe Parkes gave birth to Lucas 12 weeks early last October, and he weighted just over 1kg.

Chloe Parkes with son Lucas Credit: Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Now he's doing well at home, and will have a proper festive period with the family.

Last year he left the intensive care unit on Christmas Eve, so his mum had very little time to prepare for his first Christmas.

He had been born by emergency caesarean section on 27 October 2017.

I noticed that the baby wasn’t moving around as much as he had been and after spending all night awake worrying, I plucked up the courage to call my midwife, who advised that I should go into hospital to get checked out.

My mum took me in and we found out that the baby had something called Amniotic Band Syndrome. I was taken straight to theatre and Lucas was delivered weighing a tiny 2lb 4oz.

– Chloe Parkes

Amniotic Band Syndrome is a rare condition where strands of the amniotic sac separate and entangle digits, limbs or other parts of the foetus.

When Lucas was born he had bands around some of his fingers, his toes and round his leg. Surgeons were able to save his toes and leg by removing the bands and leaving behind just scarring, but two of his fingers couldn’t be saved.

Tiny Lucas was born 12 weeks premature Credit: Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

He was also born with chronic lung disease, an eye disorder known as Retinopathy of Prematurity, and Hypospadias.

He was really tiny when he was born and it was a scary time with him having such a rare condition. I had never even heard of it.

He spent the first two months of his life on a ventilator on the neonatal unit, had to be operated on to remove the bands from his limbs and he also had laser eye surgery to correct his vision at just a few months old. It’s such a lot for a tiny baby, but he really has been a little miracle.

I definitely wasn’t prepared for him coming so soon. One minute I was enjoying pregnancy without any worry and the next Lucas was here! I hadn’t even collected his pram!

It was hit and miss whether Lucas would be home for Christmas. Some days he was doing well but then other days he would take a few steps backwards.

I really wanted him home for Christmas and the nurses did say he might be ready to go home in time, but I really didn’t want to get my hopes up and I just wanted the best for him.

In the end we did manage to get home for Christmas, but it was quite late on Christmas Eve so I hadn’t done any planning. My mum got him a couple of teddy bears as a present, but I spent the day just in the house in a daze trying to get used to having him at home.

– Chloe Parkes

Lucas has now been home now for almost a year, and Chloe says he's thriving, as well as starting to walk.

So many babies on the Neonatal unit do spend their very first Christmas with us and we try to make it special for the babies and their families.

We were pleased that Lucas was well enough to go home just in time for Christmas last year, but I’m sure Chloe, Lucas and their family will really make the most of their first proper Christmas at home this year and it’s wonderful to hear that he’s growing so well.

There are new parents on the unit at the moment whose babies will be spending their first Christmas with us, but I hope Lucas’ story reassures them and gives them hope for the future. Being on the unit at any time of year can be difficult for new parents, but we know Christmas is especially difficult for them. We’ll do what we can to make all the babies’ first Christmas extra special.

– Rachel Barker, Matron for neonates, children and young people at King’s Mill Hospital