Volunteers support new parents with Christmas presents

Edinburgh Cheer'Bliss volunteer Coady Dorman with son Matthew, now four, who was born prematurely.
Edinburgh Cheer'Bliss volunteer Coady Dorman with son Matthew, now four, who was born prematurely.
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When Coady Dorman was 29 weeks pregnant she was forced to have an emergency C-section to deliver her son with no idea if he would survive.

The 28-year-old single mum from Broxburn, West Lothian, had developed pre-eclampsia, a condition which affects a pregnant woman’s blood pressure which can cause problems with their unborn baby.

Edinburgh Cheer'Bliss volunteer Coady Dorman with son Matthew, now four, who was born prematurely.

Edinburgh Cheer'Bliss volunteer Coady Dorman with son Matthew, now four, who was born prematurely.

Matthew was born at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary in November 2014 weighing a mere 2lb 5oz and had an agonising five-day wait until she could hold her beloved son in her arms.

He was then transferred to the special care baby unit at St John’s Hospital in Livingston, where staff treated mother and baby like family for eight weeks.

The make-up artist was going through a rollercoaster of emotions and in addition to support from doctors and midwives, care from baby charity Bliss helped her through such a trying time.

Coady said: “When I was first told Matthew had to be delivered then, I was worried because I’d never heard of a baby being born so early. My first reaction was, am I going to have a baby at the end of it?

“It is such an unspoken world that you’re in and you’re just so scared inside. Most parents just feel hopeless. I didn’t hold him for five days which felt like a lifetime. Your body feels like it has lost a limb and holding their hand through an incubator is just not the same. That first hold makes you feel 
complete and it is so amazing.”

Unit staff provide each baby with a stocking filled with memorable gifts for the childrens’ first Christmas. It was a kind festive gesture that touched the heart of the emotional Coady who was inspired by the support she received and decided to volunteer and help raise funds to help other parents of premature babies. She organised a sponsored walk across the Forth Road Bridge, raising more than £1,000 in the process. She then began volunteering at Bliss – the UK’s leading charity for babies born prematurely or sick – spending at least one day each weeks at St John’s. With Christmas now just days away, Bliss volunteers at both St John’s and the ERI are providing up to 50 gift bags for parents visiting their babies over the Christmas period to ensure they are looking after themselves during an emotional time.

Coady said: “Donations have been made by other families who have been through a similar situation. Now I volunteer I make up gift bags for the parents filled with snacks and drinks. There’s also treats in there for the parents. I wanted to give something back and use my past experience to help others going through the same situation.”

Now aged four, Matthew attends Kirkhill Nursery and is a healthy young boy, something Coady will be forever thankful for. Coady added: “I am 
eternally grateful to the doctors and midwives for all their hard work in saving Matthew. He is now four and doing really well. I saw him in his first nativity this year and it took my mind back to when we were in hospital and I was wondering if he would ever make it to this stage.”

Every year 5,800 babies are born in Scotland who need specialist neonatal care to help them survive and thrive, many without their parents when they need them. Bliss has launched a campaign, Nobody should be alone this Christmas, working to break down the barriers which separate families from their premature and sick babies.

Caroline Lee-Davey, chief executive of Bliss Scotland said: “We are incredibly grateful to volunteers like Coady who go above and beyond the call of duty by putting together Christmas parcels for parents staying on neonatal units. Around 8,000 babies in the UK will spend time on a neonatal unit in December and we know that this can be incredibly difficult for their families. Our volunteers help to ensure that parents are supported during their hospital stay – not just at Christmas but all year round.”

To donate go to www.bliss.org.uk/support-bliss/give-money/christmas-appeal

The Evening News has teamed up with Tesco, Network Rail, Hibs, Hearts, NHS Lothian and the Scottish Government this year to run our Edinburgh Cheer Christmas campaign.