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Health visitors do more than weigh babies! A mum’s story

11th December 2018

A guest blog by Sophie Lunn, a mum, who wanted to share her story of her personal experience of her health visitor after reading some posts on social media about the insignificance of health visitors. We shared Sophie’s story at our Annual Event last Tuesday – a big thank you to Sophie for sharing with us.

Kate and Alice now (taken at the weekend)

Kate and Alice now (taken at the weekend)

18 months ago I received my pre-birth home visit from my health visitor. Since that very initial visit, our journey with our two children has been a rollercoaster. I just want to say a heartfelt thank you to Hannah, from the Central Bicester Health Visiting Team. Our unusual circumstances were lucky to be matched with an extraordinary lady. I simply did not realise the importance of Hannah’s role would have on our lives when she turned up in June 2017, her calm, knowledgeable, and friendly manner put some of my initial worries at ease.

In August 2017, we were blessed with our beautiful second baby girl, Alice. At 3-days old, Alice began to grunt and then choke whilst she was laid in her co-sleeper. We were able to intervene, but noticed that she had a number of subtle signs that something was not quite right. She was jaundice, she was very floppy and sleepy, she had an unusually dipped in soft spot, and just didn’t seem quite right! Our fears led to us calling an ambulance, where she was admitted to the John Radcliffe Children’s Hospital, and soon after diagnosed with Bacterial Meningitis. At the very same time, whilst Alice was admitted and began treatment, my health began to deteriorate. I had a very high fever, felt very unwell, and needed to be quickly transferred to the opposite end of the Hospital at the Women’s Centre, where I was treated for Sepsis.

Alice's most recent admission, November 2018

Alice’s most recent admission, November 2018

Our start with Alice was far from ordinary, our world as we knew it was turned upside down. From previously having a relatively healthy 2-year old, and a life we considered to be normal, we were faced with a very serious set of circumstances. The feelings associated with experiencing such a trauma are hard to explain and still, 15 months after Alice’s arrival, are very raw.

Since Alice’s arrival into our world, we have experienced 12 further admissions to Hospital, and numerous episodes of illness. Alice is a loving, clever, and active little girl, however, she experiences regular fever cycles, and frequent infections, leading to hospital treatment and admissions. In February 2018, I was unfortunate to be diagnosed again with Sepsis, this time my life was threatened, and I required urgent medical intervention in order to survive.

Hannah, our health visitor, has supported and guided us through the whole experience. It feels like Hannah has lived this journey with us. Hannah has been a pillar of strength for both me and my family. She has guided us through the behavioural and emotional support needed for our older little girl, Kate, who sadly witnessed me become unresponsive when I was severely ill.

Hannah has cared, nurtured, and advocated for our family. She has called, text or visited every single week. She has liaised with Alice’s consultant, attended meetings to support the behavioural needs of our now 3-year old. Every visit, every message, and every intervention has enabled us to conquer this frightful experience. Health Visitors do more than weigh babies, they do more than mark centile charts and tick 2-year check boxes. For us, the impact has been enormous, our Health Visitor is extraordinary.

Thank you Hannah for restoring my confidence in the ability to parent my two beautiful girls. Thank you for the texts you sent, the smiling emojis, the supportive phone calls, and thank you for making me feel important, on every visit, in every email, in spite of how busy you are. Thank you so very much!

Sophie Lunn