As told by mum Lydia

In the quiet corridors of the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), where life begins at its most vulnerable, a myriad of tiny battles are fought and won each day. This is the story of Isabelle, affectionately known as “busy Izzy,” whose fierce will to live transformed a place of clinical precision into a sanctuary of hope.

Isabelle’s journey into the NICU was preceded by months of trepidation. After a first pregnancy marked by trauma, my husband and I found solace in the watchful eye of an obstetrician for our second. The regularity of scans brought us closer to the baby we longed to meet, but at 13 weeks, the devastating news of a likely miscarriage loomed over us. Our world was unravelling, thread by thread, with each visit to the hospital.

I was put on strict bed rest and we tried various treatments. I used to count down the hours of each day, praying I would keep hold of the pregnancy. During these early trials, Isabelle got her name from a nickname “busy Izzy”, earned from the obstetrician, who noted her spirited movements during each scan. The next few months were difficult with many close calls. At 23 weeks and 2 days, I had a particularly huge bleed from complications with my placenta and was rushed to hospital. I always remember that discussion in the ED with Drs talking us through the fact she wasn’t yet considered viable and that the end of the pregnancy was now upon us and what to expect in her final moments. I can’t even describe what that was like. It changed me forever.

But against all the odds and by some miracle, Izzy hung on, and at 24 weeks, now considered viable, we were admitted to the hospital, where I remained on strict bed rest and had a full course of steroids. I was determined to try and get Izzy to the 28-week mark because I knew if we could make it to that point, she would have an even lower risk of complications.

At 27 weeks and 5 days, after nearly 15 full weeks on bed rest, numerous bleeds, a failing cervix, and losing all my amniotic fluid, I went into pre-term labour, which, due to Izzy also now being a footling breech, turned into an emergency C-section. The operating room was full of people, with a NICU team already on standby. There was no sound from Izzy when she was born or the usual whoops of delight at her arrival. She was quickly and quietly handed over to the medical team waiting for her and gone. I recollect lying on the operating table for quite some time afterwards, trying to pluck up the courage to ask someone if she had been
born ok.

Nothing prepares you for NICU. The machines, sounds, and incubators with the teeny tiny beings inside them. It’s a rollercoaster and a place of contrasts: the simultaneous sound of high-tech machines and the gentle magic of what happens there. Weighing merely just over a kilogram, Izzy was nonetheless mighty. She thrived on CPAP, never requiring full ventilation—a testament to her tenacity and over the following days she continued to hold her own.

At the one-week mark, I remember the nursing team advising me I would be discharged from the hospital and just being completely and utterly distraught at the thought of leaving to go home without her. It was hands down the worst day.

For 69 nights, the NICU was the epicenter of our lives. I would be in NICU all day, usually just sitting and holding Izzy, and then at night, I would head home and put our son to bed. The dichotomy of life inside and outside the NICU was jarring—yet it was within those walls that Isabelle grew stronger, surrounded by unwavering support and medical excellence.

The NICU became more than a unit; it was a community. Like guardian angels, nurses watched over Izzy around the clock, with a dedication that knew no bounds. Doctors provided clarity and swift intervention when challenges arose. Fellow parents, enduring their own odysseys, became comrades in arms.

Eight years later, Isabelle is a force of nature, and her every milestone is a nod to her roots in the NICU. Her spirited laugh, boundless curiosity, and fearless embrace of life echo the care she received in those first fragile weeks. We thank God every day for her and for all the support we received to get her here and keep her.

The NICU, our unexpected haven, will forever be etched in our hearts. In this place, our smallest warriors are given their fighting chance, where hope is meticulously nurtured, and where each tiny victory is a leap towards a future bright with possibility. For “busy Izzy,” the NICU was not just a start to life; it was the foundation of her incredible story, and we are eternally grateful for that x

Thanks so much for sharing your personal story.

We get a lot of positive feedback from families in a neonatal unit who read these stories and feel strength, hope and positivity knowing that they are not alone going through these experiences and feeling certain emotions.

If you would like to discuss sharing the story of your neonatal journey, we’d love to hear from you. Please email

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  • The Little Miracles Trust provides support to families of premature or sick full-term babies as they make their journey through Neonatal Intensive Care, the transition home, and onwards. We do not receive any Government funding and are entirely reliant on the generosity of individuals, companies and organisations in the form of donations, value-in-kind donations, grants, sponsorship and fundraising events to supplement operating costs and fund our services and initiatives.
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