"There simply aren't enough words to express the praise and recognition this House deserves."
When mum Lesley Anne gave birth to her baby Ellie-Mae, she had never even heard of the House, let alone think that she would end up calling it her home for 28 nights. Two years later, Lesley Anne and her partner have raised over £3,000 to support the Charity!
“When I was first referred to St Mary’s Manchester from Burnley, and I knew my baby would be arriving early there, I still wasn't prepared for it. I don't feel I ever would have been despite having some notice or not.
I walked past the House on many occasions to come for daily scans. I looked at the House and looked away knowing absolutely nothing about it. It still hadn't even occurred to me that this would potentially become my home for goodness knows how long, with a baby arriving in goodness knows what condition.
Things passed me by from that moment on in a worrying blur. Ellie-Mae arrived 10 weeks early weighing 793 grams (1lb 12oz). I never experienced what it felt like to have a baby in "usual" circumstances. Despite her being 30 weeks, because of the condition of my placenta, she only measured up to week 24/25 in terms of gestation. She went straight onto NICU and I went back to a single room with an empty incubator. In pain after surgery, unable to walk, with my heartache hurting the most, I was discharged and went to live over the road.
I don't recall what happened next in what order, as the measure of time became non-existent. Family and friends drove over to us and provided us with daily essentials to get by because even "nipping to the shop" was too long away for me to leave my baby. Essentials such as a coat hanger to hang some clothes up to avoid living out of a carrier bag. Essential as toilet roll and hand wash. Essential as a pint of milk, oh and coffee!
My first morning I sat facing the big glass windows just watching the world carry on. I attempted to force feed myself a bowl of cereal for some form of energy but couldn't. It didn't feel fair that everyone was walking around carrying on with life as normal, and I sat here feeling like mine had just stopped. I began to cry, and a couple approached me. The lady didn't say a word to me, she had no idea why I lived there, just as I didn't her. We didn't talk, I couldn't anyway, the cereal cut my throat like glass and I was unable to swallow, everything hurt, everything was hard. She just held me and we hugged for what felt like forever. She asked no questions, we knew we shared a common reason for being there, despite our different situations. I later found out her teenage son was over the road having serious spinal surgery. We lived in this nightmare bubble for 5 weeks before being transferred to Burnley NICU for a further four weeks.
Despite the trauma however that we encountered, I will never forget, and will always be eternally grateful for the amenities the House provided us with. It was the nearest place we could be to our daughter. There was a phone in our room which made internal direct calls over to NICU. A really comfy bed, adequate space, bathroom, TV, and a kitchen to help us become the most human we could be in order to be able to sit up all hours at Ellie-Mae’s side. There simply aren't enough words to express the praise and recognition this House deserves. I actually missed the house upon our return home because despite us being in our own home, it felt too far away from Burnley General, not as convenient as the Ronald McDonald House or as close. It was also nice to speak with the staff on the desk who would always ask us if we were ok. I also saw a community midwife who came to visit me after my discharge from the ward. A thank you is simply never enough!!!
Looking back now after almost two years is madness! Ellie-Mae did well after birth, not needing much medical assistance. We brought her home just before her actual due date in March 2015 weighing 3lbs. We soon adjusted into our new life and will soon celebrate her 2nd birthday.
I've enjoyed raising money and awareness for this charity once we settled back into life, which at the time, you think you never will. I said to my partner Gaz that I hoped to raise what it would of cost us for the amount of nights we stayed here.
Having to worry about accommodation on top of everything else going on, well, I simply wouldn't have known where to start. I'd have pitched up a tent if I had to, just to be with my baby. Thankfully I didn't have to because of this wonderful charity. There simply wouldn't be enough "stars" on TripAdvisor if I had to rate this accommodation. Unfortunately it's not like a holiday though, it becomes your life and you go home to the House just as you would when you live in the real world day to day. I hope any of you should never need it, but if ever you do, then you’re simply in the best hands possible.
Lots of love and best wishes to each and every one of you. Xxx”