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Chris Hoy and his wife Sarra were hit with an ‘urgent grief’ after son Callum’s premature birth

‘It feels like the impossible when it happens’: Chris Hoy and his wife Sarra reveal they were hit with an ‘urgent grief’ after their son Callum was born 11 weeks premature

  • For support & information for those affected by babies born premature or sick visit bliss.org.uk 

Chris Hoy and his wife Sarra were hit with an ‘urgent grief’ after their son Callum was born 11 weeks premature.

The couple discussed their difficult experience on Tuesday’s Morning Live to mark World Prematurity day, admitting they should have asked for support while their son fought for his life on a neonatal unit after weighing just 2lbs 2oz at birth.

Chris, 44, and Sarra, 37, said that while Callum, now six, had a ‘tough start’ to life due to his early birth, they couldn’t be prouder of their little boy as he’s come on in leaps and bounds since.

Hard: Chris Hoy and his wife Sarra were hit with an ‘urgent grief’ after their son Callum was born 11 weeks premature

Sarra revealed she and Chris weren’t given any advice while she was pregnant on Callum on the possibility he could be born premature, but said it ‘felt like the impossible’ when she went into labour nearly three months early.

She explained: ‘Six years on, I feel like I’ve learned more and more in what I needed at the time. 

‘In hindsight at the time you’re dealing with so many other things but also you’ve got this urgent grief to deal with as well. You don’t think that you need something as well. 

Moving: The couple admitted they should have asked for more support while their son fought for his life on a neonatal unit after weighing just 2lbs 2oz at birth (pictured)

Moving: The couple admitted they should have asked for more support while their son fought for his life on a neonatal unit after weighing just 2lbs 2oz at birth (pictured)

‘What I do know now is that you do, the parents need a lot of emotional support and information about what’s happening with your baby, and that’s why World Prematurity Day is so important, it’s starting a conversation. 

‘This doesn’t just affect babies, it’s not just mothers, it’s families and it’s the babies growing up as well and it’s about trying to let people know there is support out there. I’m an ambassador for Bliss baby charity, they provide support, and at the time I didn’t know I needed that.’

Looking back Sarra and Olympic gold medallist Chris said they wished they asked for more support while Callum was in hospital, agreeing with host Kym Marsh is can be such a lonely time for many parents.

She added: ‘If I could go back now I’d tell myself you need support, reach out and just ask the question ”can you help me?” because on so many different levels you need the help through such a trauma. 

‘Your’e not counselled about prematurity when you’re pregnant, and it feels like the impossible when it happens.

‘But actually you just look around, the neonatal units in the country are amazing. You are not alone. At the time when you’re in that situation you can’t see beyond it. 

‘Try not to wish away the time you’re trying desperately to give your baby hope, but actually you have to turn your face to the light accept what’s happening and take joy from every single day you’re in here.’

Sarra and Chris, who married in 2010 and are also parents to daughter Chloe, three, shared their own support for any parents to a premature child who have been restricted from visiting them in hospital due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said: ‘I think it’s distressing at the very best of times and maybe at the worst of times access is being restricted.

‘So what we’re seeing is parents who should get 24 hour access to their baby, they’re often being restricted to just two hours a day which is very trying in different circumstances. 

‘It’s trying to get across the point that parents aren’t just visitors in this situation, they are absolutely essential caregivers.’

Despite their son’s early birth, Sarra and Chris proudly said that six years on he’s never been better.

The cycling champion said: ‘You’d never know he had such a tough start he’s doing really well and keeping us busy.’

Sarra added: ‘He’s all we could ever have hoped for he was so small in hsoptial. It is in my wildest dreams that are here now.’

For support & information for those affected by babies born premature or sick visit bliss.org.uk.

WHAT IS A PREMATURE BIRTH, AND WHAT ARE THE RISKS TO BABIES?

Around 10 per cent of all pregnancies worldwide result in premature labour – defined as a delivery before 37 weeks.

When this happens, not all of the baby’s organs, including the heart and lungs, will have developed. They can also be underweight and smaller.

Tommy’s, a charity in the UK, says this can mean preemies ‘are not ready for life outside the womb’.  

Premature birth is the largest cause of neonatal mortality in the US and the UK, according to figures. 

Babies born early account for around 1,500 deaths each year in the UK. In the US, premature birth and its complications account for 17 per cent of infant deaths.

Babies born prematurely are often whisked away to neonatal intensive care units, where they are looked after around-the-clock.  

What are the chances of survival?

  • Less than 22 weeks is close to zero chance of survival
  • 22 weeks is around 10%
  • 24 weeks is around 60%
  • 27 weeks is around 89%
  • 31 weeks is around 95%
  • 34 weeks is equivalent to a baby born at full term

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