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Blog 5 – Just Keep Swimming

Published 10th March 2021

Blog 5  – Just Keep Swimming

‘Just keep swimming’ is a well-known quote from Disney’s Finding Nemo, but this phrase is also the mantra for many a parent whose baby (or babies) are in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Every baby’s NICU journey is so different, a rollercoaster of peaks and troughs, and there are times when all hope may seem lost.

It is incredibly easy to feel overwhelmed, especially when situations change in the blink of an eye and when you’re surrounded by so much uncertainty.

However, time and time again it seems this phrase is the one thing that cuts through the noise and is the fuel a parent needs to lift themselves and continue to move forward.

Committee member Julie reflects on the time when her son was in the Trevor Mann Baby Unit, and an encounter with The EBA Co-Chair, Heidi Crawford, gave Julie the helping hand she needed.

‘ When my son was in TMBU we were initially in a nightmarish situation where he was extremely unwell in ICU and no one knew why or what the outcome might be for him.

It was during this time that I saw a poster on the ward for an EBA coffee morning, and at the relevant time that day, I was free and so popped along to the parents’ area and had a chat with one of the EBA reps, Heidi, who was there.

I don’t remember that many details from our conversation but I remember being made a cup of tea, offered biscuits, and having the sense that I was talking to someone who had some idea of what I was going through, who had similarly walked in my shoes and had somehow come out the other side.

It was so helpful to be able to spill out my fears, worries and feelings to someone who understood as they had been there themselves.

There was one thing that Heidi said to me that almost felt like a penny dropping in my mind, as it was so simple and so clear. It somehow got through all the noise in my head.

It was a well-known quote from Finding Nemo, ‘Just keep swimming’.

Although I don’t remember many details of our conversation I remember hearing that so clearly.

Firstly it triggered happy memories as it’s a film I’d watched with my daughter (herself an ex premature baby and 3 years old at the time).

Secondly, it was so reassuring that all I had to try to do was just keep swimming. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and try to focus on the moment, keep going.

As otherwise I was getting lost and overwhelmed in a world of uncertainties. It let me know I could and would keep going somehow, no matter how hard things felt.

I’m always so grateful for the EBA coffee morning chat I had. I am now so pleased to be able to help the EBA offer that support to parents currently on the units in my role as an EBA Committee Member and NHS volunteer.

This means I have the great privilege of visiting the units, with Heidi, (in-person in non-covid times, virtually at the moment ) to run coffee mornings and help other parents to just keep swimming. ‘

Did you know that Andrew Stanton, writer and director of Finding Nemo was born prematurely?

In his 2012 TED talk Andrew says,

“…when I was born, I was born premature, that I came out much too early, and I wasn’t fully baked; I was very, very sick. And when the doctor took a look at this yellow kid with black teeth, he looked straight at my mom and said, “He’s not going to live.” And I was in the hospital for months. And many blood transfusions later, I lived, and that made me special.”

If you are a parent with a baby (or babies) in NICU and feel that you need support, please reach out to us.

You can drop us an email at info@earlybirth.co.uk or send us a direct message via our Facebook Page.

Our coffee mornings will resume on the units as soon as it is safe to do so but until then please reach out to us and we are more than happy to have a chat with you online.

Wherever you may be in your NICU journey, remember, just keep swimming 💛


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