I am the 1–10 statistic.

I am a NICU mummy. I am a mum who gave birth to one of the 60,000 premature babies in the UK each year. I am the 1–10 statistic.

My brave daughter was born two months before her due date 11 days before Christmas 2012. Three days earlier my GP didn’t take my blood pressure even though family history pointed strongly at pre-eclampsia thankfully my midwife performed a home visit 72 hours later that most likely saved mine and Olivia’s life. Within an hour I was placed on the delivery suit steroids to strengthen my babies lungs administrated and surgeon on call.

I was completely unprepared and shocked when my midwife told us I would have to deliver our daughter prematurely. I remember so vividly the look of concern on everybody’s faces as the room quickly swarmed with medical professionals taking my BP, monitoring Olivia’s heart. As I was wheeled to the delivery room my eyes filled with tears amongst the chaos I’d lost Michael and I’d never felt so alone surrounded by people before.

There is nothing more anxiety-inducing than the sterile white walls and eery silence of a packed operating room.

You could feel the collective nervousness in the room. When I heard an almost silent cry I knew our baby was here and she was alive but I wasn’t sure of her condition. Multiple questions were running through my head but I couldn’t speak.

And so our harrowing journey of having a micro preemie began. From the second my baby was whisked away to NICU and placed in an incubator for almost 100 days, we were in survival mode. The first time I saw her three days later the emotions are indescribable I couldn’t believe how small she was. She weighed 1lbs 15oz tubes coming out of her mouth and nose hooked up to machines that beeped constantly. IV lines administrated medicine and she received multiple blood transfusions. Those first few days were terrifying.

Three months transferred between three hospitals was terrifying, more than I ever imagined and I was certain we would lose her.

I learned so much. I learned about how unpredictable micro preemies are, feeding tubes, digestive complications, brain damage, how to read oxygen levels, TPN and surgery complications. Every day a new struggle presented itself and all we could do was sit back and hope she would survive it.

My daughter is now 5 years old and it’s been far from easy, she has a weak immune system and has regular physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy. She has been registered blind due to a condition called CVI, she has food allergies and for a short while had a stoma. She will need extra help for the rest of her life.

Looking at my daughter I’m hardly able to recognise the fragile baby in the photos, hardly able to picture her as the child of those memories. I know she was that child because every fibre in my body is haunted by those NICU memories. I blamed myself for not being able to carry her full term even though logically I knew it wasn’t my fault. There was nothing I could have done to prevent her from being born early Pregnancy and complications that can follow are complex.

I am the 1–10 statistic.

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