A mum-of-three is creating care packages for families in Nottingham’s Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) as a thank you for looking after her babies.
Two of Sarah Massey’s children were born prematurely and treated at the neonatal unit at Queen’s Medical Centre.
In August 2012, baby Molly was born at just 28 weeks.
“I’d never even heard of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, but it became my home for the next few months.
“I was a Healthcare Assistant at the QMC. I went into work one Saturday on a night shift in the trauma unit and didn’t leave the hospital again until nearly two months later. I went into early labour that night and a whole new world opened up for me that I never knew existed.”
Molly spent the first three years of her life in and out of hospital. Sarah already had a daughter, Niamh.
And when son Ciarán was born in April 2019, at just 34 weeks, he too was cared for in NICU and spent his first year in and out of hospital.
“My children started to call QMC ‘my hospital’. We also entered the world of Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU); another world that you cannot explain unless you have been in there. Parents are put into these new worlds every day and their whole lives are turned upside down.”
In 2020, Sarah set up an online business – Ciarán’s Cupboard – selling his like-new clothes. It now sells donated children’s clothes, pre-loved children’s books, and provides a service selling clothes for a commission. This funds Ciarán’s Bags, which cost around £30 each to make up.
The idea is to try to help families in their time of need. They are filled with items such as toiletries, water bottle, mug, slipper socks, a notebook and pen, a first baby outfit, a knitted hat, snacks and some personal items.
“I was trying to think of ways to give back, so I decided to make these bags,” said Sarah, who lives in Balderton. “You don’t plan to go to these units so you haven’t packed a bag, you have nothing which happened to me a lot, so to be handed a bag like this would have meant the world to me.
“The messages I’ve had have been amazing. Having a baby in NICU is a very intense situation and it is nice to know someone is thinking of you.
“I want to be able to just give a little back to the two units that saved two of my children more than once. I hope the bags will put a smile on someone’s face.”
Sarah has delivered 30 bags to Nottingham’s hospitals, and has a further 40 ready to go.
She added: “I’d love to make the bags a permanent feature in as many hospitals as I can but as we know this will take money and time – I need to find a sponsor somehow.”
Barbara Linley, Neonatal Matron for Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, said: “We welcome and receive bags for parents like this and know they make a massive difference to mums and dads who unexpectedly have a baby needing neonatal care.
“Parents comment on the relief of having personal bags with gifts they can use to refresh with and feel cared for. They value the thought and understanding that has gone into preparing the bags, which recognises the challenges they face, and making their initial stay welcoming and so much easier.
“We’d like to thank Sarah for such a kind and generous act, which enables parents and carers receive personal belongings that have been thought about and reflect understanding of their situation and circumstances.”
To buy, sell or donate to Ciarán’s Cupboard visit https://www.ciaranscupboard.com/products/donations