Life On The Neo-Natel Unit

Living on a neo-neonatal unit while Poppy fought for her life was hard. Surrounded by premature babies who were slowly getting better, while we waited for any signs or news that Poppy would be ok. A tough place to be but also a safe place to be. Isolated in the hospital, away from the maternity ward down the corridor. Our home for 3 days and a place I wish no parent should have to stay in. We only spent 3 days on the neo-natel unit, other families can spend much longer. We lived there with Poppy while she fought and we waiting for news.


The first moment I walked into the unit in Leeds was at 3 in the morning after walking empty corridors and silent staircases. It was warm, there were no windows and all I could hear were beeps and beeps from all the machines. It was unnerving, scary and a world away from where I should have been. Poppy was 12 hours old now and she should be snuggled up next to Emily. I should have spent the last few hours holding her and showing her off to the world.

Now I was walking into a Neo-Natel unit unsure of what to expect, unsure of what to do and just completely lost. All I knew was that I had to be here for Poppy and that was it. The night staff there were fantastic. They explained everything that had happened with Poppy since she had got there. Tried to relax me as best as they could considering where I was. They set up a sofa bed for me in the room next door to Poppy so I could try and get some sleep.


As I lay on that sofa bed. All I could hear was the beeping and beeping of machines. The alarms going off. I had no idea what they all meant, little did I know I’d know what every one meant by the time I left. I was warm, it was incredibly warm on the unit. I was used to that by the morning. Just laying there with all the alien noises and sounds was scary. This was not how I should be spending the first night of Poppy’s life.

I was alone with Poppy on the unit for the whole morning the following day. Seeing nurses and staff come and go. Watching them tend to Poppy, I was so scared to touch her incase I knocked a wire loose. I was scared but determined to be strong and as brave as I could be. I felt powerless and all I could do was sit and talk to Poppy. To let her know Mummy was coming and that we were proud of her.


Little did I know what each depending beep was slowly taking Poppy away from us. At this moment we had no idea how poorly she was. We didn’t know that these few days would be our only moments together. Each moment a precious one that will never be forgotten.

When Emily arrived we still couldn’t hold Poppy. But we were together as a family finally. Mum’s were there, Emilys Dad and Aunt. We would spend the time sitting with Poppy, talking to her. It is still important to try and look after yourself while you are on the Unit. So at times I’d take Emily outside to see the world. To see sky for the first time in hours To get fresh air and have a moment of emotion. To be sad together, to cry and just take a minute. To try to make sense of the craziness that had suddenly happened to us.

When we weren’t walking the halls or with Poppy we were in the family room. A room that after ended up being a room we would stay in for 2 nights. A room that we all sat in. A room where we got told we had 24 hours to see what Poppy’s next scans would show. For signs of improvement. We spent one more day by her beside until we again all gathered in the room. Nervous faces all glued to the floor while the TV entertained itself in the corner.

This was the room where our world collapsed and we were told that there was nothing that could be down for Poppy. The room where we sat and made a choice to spend one more day with Poppy. Holding her, touching her and trying to make as many memories as we could with her.


I hope that no parent who’s baby has had to go on a neo-neonatal unit has to hear the news we heard. To be told that nothing more can be done. If you sadly are you will be meet with amazing and touching care from the staff. The nurses in Leeds were incredible with Emily and me. Nothing was too much trouble for them. They would do all they could to make the last day with Poppy as good as it could be. They got the sofa bed out in the family room and set it up for us. It was like a hotel room. They allowed us to come and go from Poppy’s bedside. We could now hold her and they would help us to hold here whenever we wanted too.

When we took Poppy off life support and after she died we stayed on the unit for one more night. It was a tough night. Unlike the first night I was now used to the noises and sounds. Now I didn’t wang to leave this place. I didn’t want to reenter the world, a world that now no longer had Poppy in it.

The unit had been our isolation from the real world.

We had to leave and return to the real world. Our time on the neo-neonatal unit was over It had ended in a way we could never have imagined. We had lost our daughter. Our world had collapsed.

This might be a similar story for other parents and if it is I hope this has helped or for any parent going through life on the unit. I hope this helps.


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