'They’re little warriors' – parents of premature babies return to the Rotunda to celebrate second birthday

PARENTS and doctors returned to the Rotunda Maternity Hospital today to celebrate the second birthdays of their children who were born premature.

As part of World Prematurity Day, parents who had premature babies in 2017 were invited back to the hospital to celebrate their bundles of treasure.

Mullingar mother Lisa Corcoran told Independent.ie how her twins Fionn and Peadar were born premature at 24 weeks.

“It was very traumatic and very unexpected and I went into labour suddenly one Sunday evening and that was it, they were delivered,” she said.

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“It was a very scary time.”

Unfortunately after five and a half weeks, little Peadar fell ill and passed away.

“It was very hard to deal with but his memory lives on through Fionn and today is a happy day and we celebrate Fionn, but we never forget his brother Peadar,” she said.

“Fionn is doing wonderfully and he’s flying it, he’s amazing through everything,” she added.

Little Billy Moynihan from Blanchardstown was born to Kate Moynihan also at 24 weeks premature.

“It was a very, very stressful time and very traumatic, we weren’t expecting him to come so early, we were kind of in shock when he arrived,” she said.

“He stayed in hospital for a very long time and it was a very, very worrying time for us.”

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According to Ms Moynihan, Billy becomes stronger as time goes on.

“When he hit one, he got bigger bolder and stronger and that was a milestone for us, he hit two in march and as each year goes on he gets stronger and we worry about him a little less now,” she added.

Breda Hayes, the Head of Neonatology at the hospital, said how turning two is a big benchmark for premature babies.

“It’s a chance to celebrate all the good stuff. The parents go through a really difficult journey and the two year mark is a big mark as they transition.”

She emphasised the importance of having breastmilk donations for premature babies as some mothers may not have yet started producing breastmilk.

“It’s one of the most important things and we try to get breastmilk into our babies even within an hour of their birth,” she added.

“There’s no shortage of supply in donors in giving breastmilk and they often have been through the system of having a very sick baby or know someone who has had a very sick baby,” she said.

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Obstetrician and clinical director Mike Geary said that the staff are with the parents every way of the pregnancy.

“We see the mums during pregnancy when they have their complications and their risks and we handhold them during their time,” he said.

The event was themed around an octopus, as octopus stuffed toys are given to babies born premature to distract them from pulling feeding tubes from their mouth as they can pull on the octopus legs instead.

Mary Byrne (82), who lives in Saggart, has been knitting cardigans for premature babies for four years.

“One cardigan is one ball of wool and I can knit that in about two hours,” she said.

“It keeps me amused and active as it means I have to go down the road three times a week to the knitting club.

“I don’t have any patterns and I knit out of my head,” she said.

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