Two first-time mums who went into labour two months early, ended up in adjacent beds in Craigavon Area Hospital’s neonatal unit, little knowing that they worked for the same company!
Megan Wilson, from Portadown, and Leanne Rolston, Armagh, only realised the connection when Megan heard her manager’s voice behind the connecting curtain.
Janette Rolston, of Care Plus domiciliary care, was there to visit her daughter, and was equally surprised to discover who was in the neighbouring bed.
And the women, along with their babies and partners were at the neonatal unit on Monday morning to present a cheque for £610, in recognition of the care they received.
Both babies are now doing well after what was a worrying start in life for their families.
Megan, whose partner is Brian Warnock, was due to give birth on December 5 but underwent an emergency Caesarean section on October 8 after a routine scan revealed her baby had stopped growing.
She said, “I went in for the scan at 10am and Abel was born at 11.30. He was nine weeks early.”
The couple’s son, who weighed just 2lb 7oz, spent six weeks in the neonatal unit, the first five of them on oxygen.
Meanwhile, Leanne Rolston and her partner Christopher Willis were looking forward to the birth of their first child on December 19.
However, on October 6, Leanne took a bad pain which was thought to be false contractions. The following day, the pain continued, and this time it was believed to be muscular.
But the pain persisted and the following day, Leanne again went to hospital. Her daughter Amber was delivered naturally just 40 minutes later, almost 11 weeks early and weighing 3lb 9oz.
Said Leanne, “It was a big shock, but the staff were brilliant, and I really wanted to show my appreciation by holding the coffee morning.
“My partner was very nervous about holding Amber at the start, because of all the tubes, but the staff encouraged him to hold her and showed him how to change her nappies as well.”
Megan, too, was wary of nursing her tiny bundle at the beginning, but said staff took the time and gave her the privacy and confidence she needed.
Janette, who was at the birth of her granddaughter, has thanked everyone who supported the coffee morning. The Care Plus staff also held a raffle, and among the prizes was a cut, wash and blow dry donated by Armagh salon, Platinum.
The money will be used to buy items for patients’ comforts or equipment.
Around 350 infants (about 10 per cent of births) are admitted to the neonatal unit each year for intensive, high dependency or special care.
The staff care for babies with a range of conditions or those who are very premature - some of them up to 15 weeks early or with birth weights as low as 500 grammes.
Length of stay in the unit can range from just a few hours up to several months.